The Shorter Writings of George Gillespie - Volume 1

The Shorter Writings of George Gillespie - Volume 1

Reformation Heritage Books

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Gillespie is best known for his two major works on worship and the relationship between church and state, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (1637) and Aaron’s Rod Blossoming (1646). The first is in print in a recent critical edition, while the latter, Gillespie’s largest single work, and a masterpiece in Scottish ecclesiastical theology (James Walker), awaits such careful treatment. However, in addition to his two main works, Gillespie’s shorter writings and sermons amount to material twenty percent larger than the two larger works combined and includes his more succinct and some of his best writing. This three-volume set will present all of Gillespie’s known shorter works, carefully edited for the most accurate texts, including newly transcribed manuscript material and writings not included in the 19th century edition of his works.

Volume 1. This first of three projected volumes in the Naphtali Press Special Editions series. Volume 1 includes, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, which in two parts covers the office of ruling elder and the warrant for and authority of assemblies of the church above the local session of elders, a work “remarkable for its thoroughness and is moderation” (James Walker); and it includes four anonymously published tracts known to be by Gillespie, which includes perhaps his most controversial work, Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty. Also appearing will be brief notes from the sermon Gillespie preached soon after arriving in London for the Westminster Assembly on the topic of Why Christmas Day ought not to be Observed.


Volume 1

  • Memoir of the Rev. George Gillespie by W. M. Hetherington.
  • An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, in the points of ruling elders, and of the authority of presbyteries and synods. Anonymously published in 1641. Significantly augmented and correct text than that in Gillespie’s Works (1846).
  • Reason for which the service-book urged upon Scotland ought to be refused. 1638.
  • Why Christmas Day ought not to be Observed: A Transcription from Manuscript of Notes from a Sermon by George Gillespie, December 24, 1643.
  • Faces About: Or, A Recrimination charged upon Mr. John Goodwin, in the point of fighting against God, and opposing the way of Christ. 1644.
  • A Late Dialogue Between a Civilian and a Divine, Concerning the Present Condition of the Church of England. In which, among other particulars, these following are especially spoken of: 1. The sin and danger of delaying Reformation 2. That there is a certain form of Church-Government Jure Divino. 3. That there was an Ecclesiastical Excommunication among the Jews. 4. That Excommunication is an Ordinance in the New Testament. 5. Concerning the Toleration of all Sects and Heresies. 6. Some Answer to a late Book come from Oxford. 1644.


“Chris Coldwell … has been untiring—and remarkably successful—in his efforts to further and foster new research in the post-Reformation period. His own productions have found their way into the hands of more than one thankful historian in Cambridge and into many libraries around the world.” —Chad Van Dixhoorn, PhD

“George Gillespie lived a short life, but one of great significance. For half of his just mere ten years of public ministry, he participated in and contributed to the Second Reformation in Scotland, and the other half he spent in London helping to create a confession of faith and catechism that would mark the high point of Reformed confessionalism. In participating in the Westminster Assembly, he contributed greatly to these confessional documents that the church still uses widely today. He was a profound and precise thinker, marked by devotion to the Lord and His church. This new edition of Gillespie’s shorter writings invites readers to dig into works that are lesser known today yet highly valuable. The miscellaneous questions alone (v. 3) will repay any time invested in them. Helping us understand theology and practice generally, and seventeenth-century Scottish Presbyterianism particularly, this set will serve the church well in by promoting a broader picture of one strand of thought that fed into influenced the Westminster Standards, and by providing insights into Scripture that can feed our souls.” —Ryan M. McGraw, academic dean and Morton H. Smith Professor of Systematic Theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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