22 September 2007

downame on the visible church

John Downame was a well-regarded figure and theologian in his day, the younger son of William Downame, the bishop of Chester, and brother to George Downame, the Puritan bishop of Derry and chaplain to James I. Born sometime in the early 1580s, John Downame received his education at Christ's College, Cambridge, where his Puritan convictions likely took definitive shape. He died in 1652.

Between 1609 and 1618, Downame wrote and published his best known work, The Christian Warfare, establishing his reputation as a Reformed pastoral theologian. In the 1630s he grew to prominence among London Puritan leaders, joining in a 1640 petition against Laud's book of canons. Subsequently his leadership was drawn upon by the same Parliament that called together the Westminster Assembly, often acting in coordination with that Assembly, though he was not himself a member. In 1643 he was appointed a licenser of the press, granting imprimatur to theological works, and in 1644 he was chosen as one of the ministers would examine and ordain public preachers. In 1645, along with a number of the Westminster divines, he served as an editor and author of the Annotations upon all of Books of the Old and New Testament.

On my website, I've posted an excerpt drawn from Chapter 3 of the Second Book of Downame's The Sum of Sacred Divinity: first briefly and methodically propounded and then more largely and clearly handled and explained, published in London, probably in 1630.

In his overall order of topics, Downame moves directly from the mediatorial work of Christ into the doctrine of the church visible with her preaching and sacraments as the means by which God communicates his salvation to sinners, setting his consideration of the ordo salutis within a broader ecclesiological context. He helpfully sets out a Puritan understanding of the indispensibility of the church visible, the nature of Christian profession, common operations of the Spirit, and temporary faith.

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