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November 2016 - Considerations on Lots

by John M. Mason

Synopsis: In his “Lectures on Calvinism,” (1898), Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper listed dancing, theater attendance and card playing (and dicing) as the three diversions no serious Christian, especially the Calvinist, would dare to engage to participate. Undoubtedly, many professing Christians today view various card games and board games as innocent diversions. Many very likely will find any suggestion that they are not only of dubious use but embody elements which strike against the Third Commandment as absurd or, worse, a kind of stifling legalism. Nonetheless, in an age wherein Christian practice has been so lax and Christian thinking so thin, it behooves serious believers to challenge their complacent worldview.

“Considerations on Lots” explains what a lot is and why it is involved in various games played with cards and dice. Dr. Mason explains the connection with the Third Commandment and then chronicles numerous evils attendant upon the abuse of the lot. Mason’s series of letters on lots provides a cogent and relatively easy to understand exposition on the subject. To this work, several other pieces on the lot have been added in this publication. There is a letter from Thomas McClellan, a 19th century Reformed Presbyterian minister, addressing the question of card playing, in which he recommends Mason’s “Considerations.” William Ames (1576-1633) was an English Puritan of high reputation. In the extract from his work on Conscience, he distinguishes between several kinds of lots and reasons upon their use in gaming. This is followed by an extract from New England Puritan Increase Mather (1639-1723) on the sinfulness of abusing lots in dicing and playing at cards. Finally, there is a chapter from Pike and Haywards’s masterful “Cases of Conscience” (written by Samuel Pike [1717-1773]) in which the subject of card playing is addressed and the matter of the lot discussed.

Author(s) Bio: John Mitchell Mason was born in New York City, March 19, 1770. He was the son of John Mason, a Presbyterian minister who emigrated to the United States from Scotland, in 1761. In May, 1789, he graduated from Columbia College, New York. In 1791, he went to Scotland to complete his theological education at the University of Edinburgh. In 1792, the sudden death of his father brought him back to New York and, in April, 1793, he became pastor of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation of New York City. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by the university of Pennsylvania, in 1804. Beginning in 1806, he edited the “Christian’s Magazine” for several years, writing many of its articles, including the one on lots serialized in this pamphlet. In 1810, he was appointed professor of theology for the A.R. church; and, in 1811, he became Provost of Columbia College. During his life, Dr. Mason was noted for several controversies but his works on church government and practical religion met with broad approval. Among his published works, there were numerous sermons on doctrinal subjects, including Hope for the Heathen (1797), The Warning Voice to Christians on the ensuing election of a President of the United States (1800), Pardon of sin by the blood of Jesus (1801), A Sermon on ‘Christian Assurance’ (1829). After a period of extended illness, he died, on December 26, 1829. 


October 2016

Church and State: Three Lectures by James Kerr D.D.,

There are many theories about the proper relation between Church and State. There is one, in particular, that is held up for scorn not only by the ungodly but also by many professing Christians—that the Church and State should be in alliance. The belief in national establishments of religion is not very popular amongst the churches throughout Western societies. It is often accounted both outdated and incompatible with the tenets...

September 2016

Jesus "Crowned with Glory and Honor" by Thomas Martin

Today, many people associate Reformed Presbyterians with the practice of acapella Psalm singing. This is due to the decline of Psalm singing amongst professing Presbyterians. However, prior to the twentieth century, Reformed Presbyterians were known for a very different distinctive principle and practice. That principle revolves around the Headship of Christ and his Mediatorial reign over the nations...

August 2016

The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women by John Knox

The egalitarian notion that men and women are equal is accepted as axiomatically true by most people today. As a result, feminism has made increasing advances in modern churches. But, does Christianity provide a basis for dismissing the natural order between the sexes? “The First Blast of the Trumpet” is Knox’s first attack on the rising class of female sovereigns. In the course of explaining why women should not be heads...

July 2016

Instrumental Music in Public Worship by Rev. Robert Johnson

It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that most Protestants, especially Presbyterians, had to face what would often be known as “the organ question.” Prior to this, most of these congregations had worshipped a cappella. This had been their practice since the Reformation, a practice they shared with the early church. With the advent of revivalism, and the “new measures” proposed by Charles Finney (who began his...

June 2016

Messiah, Governor of the Nations of the Earth by Alexander McLeod & The Written Law, Or The Law Of God Revealed In The Scriptures, By Christ As Mediator; by James R. Willson

The doctrine of the Mediatorial reign of Christ has formed the subject of those principles accounted distinctive to the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Christ’s kingship over the nations and the implications of this doctrine will not be popular amongst a people deeply compromised with the spirit of the age. The prescription may seem tough but the results of centuries of ignoring this doctrine have left the church effete and gutted when it...

May 2016

Sermon on the Baptizing of Infants by Stephen Marshall

Many people today consider the topic of baptism a matter of lesser moment, a non-fundamental about which too many have placed too much emphasis in times past. Yet, it is also forgotten that baptism was highly controverted not only because of the errors of Rome regarding sacraments but because of the dangers posed by the rise of the Anabaptist movement. If Rome attributed too much to the power of baptism (e.g., its washing away of original...

April 2016

"A Sermon on The Vow" by J. R. Willson

What is the relationship between covenanting, or vowing, and the reception of the Lord’s supper? Today, it is to be feared that few people take seriously the nature of the oath and vow implied in the sacramental reception of the Lord’s supper. The practice of close communion is rarely enforced in Reformed churches and, with its abandonment, the enforcing of terms of communion is all but non-existent. The Lord’s supper has become...

March 2016

Advantage Of National Establishments Of Religion By William White

Many people living in “post-Christian” Western societies have probably never given serious thought to the proposition of national religion and its establishment. For many, their faith in the Enlightenment doctrine of separation of church and state seems to preclude any possibility of any such arrangement. Disestablishment and rejection of national religion is, after all, the basis for our modern secular utopias in the West. How could...

February 2016

Observations on the Public Covenants Betwixt God and the Church  by Archibald Mason

What happens when a nation professes the true religion and makes this profession explicit by publicly swearing to uphold and practice that faith? Clearly this happened in Israel under the Old Testament administration of Moses. However, is this practice advisable or even lawful for nations under the New Testament? After all, what do New Testament Christians have to do with Old Testament practices? These are questions which challenge...

January 2016

The Obligation of the Covenants by Samuel B. Wylie together with The Duty of Social Covenanting by Thomas Sproull

Many Presbyterian and Reformed Christians today are familiar with covenant theology and they have often heard about the Covenant of Grace. Few have considered some of the implications of this doctrine or one of its practical consequences for the church—social covenanting. Fewer yet are aware that the Westminster Standards are one of the results of social covenanting. There was a time when the Reformed Presbyterian Church was known to others by...

December 2015

Amusements and The Christian Life by L. C. Vass

When the Christian life and the idea of separation from the world was taken more seriously, all evangelical churches (and even many that were not evangelical) believed and taught that professing Christians should abstain from worldly amusements. The first pamphlet contained in this book was written during the moral decline that followed the devastating “civil” war between the Northern and Southern states. Upon reading...

Amusements and The Christian Life | Booklet Video

November 2015

Letters on the Constitution, Government, and Discipline of the Christian Church by John Brown

In purer days, Presbyterians were interested in, and thought much upon, the subject of church government. There were broad debates over whether or not God had established any particular form of government in the church, or if it was allowed to adopt that form most convenient. There were more narrow debates wherein different parties asserted their’s to be the only form of government existing by divine authority and...

Letters on Government of the Christian Church | Booklet Video

October 2015

Popery, The Mystery of Iniquity by William Symington

There was a time when being Protestant entailed the declaration and belief that popery was the mystery of iniquity and the pope was that man of sin seated in the church. Protestantism was predicated upon a rejection of popery in its doctrine and practice. In the evolving conceptions of what it means to be a Christian today, thanks in large part to evangelicals holding hands...

Popery, The Mystery of Iniquity | Booklet Video

September 2015

View of the Rights of God and Man by James McKinney

While still in Ireland, in the early 1790s, James McKinney began to preach a series of sermons designed to encourage men to advance the cause of revealed religion in the realm of politics. So far from seeking to set the Covenanter testimony on a new footing in the New World, these sermons, on the Rights of God and Man, were first delivered in the Old World in the midst of Irish political...

View of the Rights of God and Man | Booklet Video


August 2015

Antipharmacum Saluberrimum by John Flavel

Imagine living in a country once professedly Christian, but now overtaken by increasingly secularizing political forces. Through various steps of defection, the church had ceded its authority and its message to gain favor with the world. In this climate, there are ever increasingly hostile parties opposed to biblical Christianity, and the Reformed faith in particular. This political and cultural...

Antipharmacum SaluberimumBooklet Video


July 2015

Church Fellowship by John Black

The early 19th century was a time when American sensibilities sought to overtake Christian sensibilities. The Enlightenment dogmas of equality and a boundless liberty of conscience in matters of faith were blazing through historically Reformed churches and normalizing the idea of denominationalism. In this climate, when a false characterization of the principle of Christian charity...

Church Fellowship | Booklet Video


June 2015

The God of Paul's Fathers by Andrew Symington

Questions and confusion about the doctrine of the Trinity is nothing new. From her earliest days, the Christian church has had to combat various misunderstandings many of which grew into damnable heresies. One of the earliest and most subversive heresies was called Sabellianism, the belief the God was one person perceived by believers under three different aspects. Sabellius was a third...

The God of Paul's Fathers | Booklet Video


May 2015

The Mystery of Magistracy Unvailed

As Western societies become increasingly secular and tolerant of every kind of belief and practice contrary to Scripture, they are confronted with the lack of cohesion that the Christian religion used to provide. In the wake of its absence, the state has assumed the duties that used to pertain to the church, especially when nations had national establishments of religion. Where the...

Mystery of Magistracy | Booklet Video


Apr. 2015

The Doctrine of the Atonement by Alexander Mcleod

In the early part of the 19th century, the Reformed churches were greatly troubled over the matter of Hopkinsianism. It was a theological system which arose out of certain speculative notions found in the writings of Jonathan Edwards and systematized by Samuel Hopkins, hence its name. Besides tampering with and modifying many views of the traditional New England Puritans, it became...

Doctrine of the Atonement | Booklet Video


Mar. 2015

A Short Account Of The Old Presbyterian Dissenters by Authority Of The Reformed Presbytery In Scotland

In 1806, the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland, the Covenanters, were desirous of giving an account among themselves and to the world for, what seemed to many, their peculiar emphasis on testimony bearing. The testimony bearing of the Covenanting societies had become more and more pronounced in the early 18th century and reached its height of confessionalization in 1761. Due to...

Old Presbyterian Dissenters | Booklet Video


Feb. 2015

Observations Doctrinal and Practical, on Saving Faith by Archibald Mason

What is the nature of saving faith? What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? These are questions that remain pertinent to all who are concerned with the nature of true religion. In a relatively short compass, Archibald Mason seeks to answer these questions and more. Mason’s treatment is brief and easy enough for believers of average intelligence...

Observations on Saving FaithBooklet Video


Jan. 2015

Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion by The Reformed Presbytery

In 1801, the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland, the Covenanters, were poised between two centuries and a situation not unfamiliar to church officers. Should they remain true to the historical interpretation (i.e., confession) and implementation (i.e., practice) of the church’s standards? or, Should they seek a more congenial relation to changing society through some alteration...

Explanation and Defence of Terms of CommunionBooklet Video


Dec. 2014

Creeds and Confessions Defended by John Paul

In a time and place where sloganeering often carries the weight of theological argument, we are often treated to the chant, “No creed but Christ” or “No creed but the Bible.” For Protestants, professing the doctrine of sola Scriptura, this might seem like an obvious and, more importantly, Biblical position. The problem with this view is that Protestants, particularly Lutheran and Reformed, never...

Creeds and Confessions Defended | Booklet Video


Nov. 2014

An Essay Upon the Sacred Use of Organs in Christian Assemblies

In a day, and amongst a culture steeped in entertainment, the premise of this pamphlet will meet with some resistance. Fallen men are hostile to the things of the Spirit of God. Increasingly, worship conducted in the simplicity of the Gospel is eschewed in favor of a sensual atmosphere that attempts to be bigger and louder than ever. More and more numerous instruments, orchestras, and choirs fill the more...

Essay Upon the Sacred Use of OrgansBooklet Video


Oct. 2014

Regnum Lapidus, or the Kingdom of the Stone by Archibald Johnston

The doctrines advocated in this essay contained too much Old Light, even in 1817, to find ready acceptance amongst the contending parties developing in the American Reformed Presbyterian church. Commissioned by the Synod of 1817, this essay was submitted for review to a leader of the emerging "New Light" faction and never returned for publication. Only the fact that a copy remained in the hands of Archibald...

Regnum LapidusBooklet Video


Sept. 2014

The Government and Order of the Church of Scotland by Alexander Henderson

When the Assembly of Divines, meeting at Westminster, turned their attention to the matter of uniformity in the matter of church government, they sought advice from the Scottish church. In order the reform the government of the English church, according to the “example of the best Reformed churches,” (Solemn League, art. I) there was no church closer, or more noted for being Reformed, than the Church of Scotland...

Government and Order of the Church of Scotland | Booklet Video

Aug. 2014

The Social Position of Reformed Presbyterians or Cameronians by William Sommerville

In a day when many are at ease in Zion, this small book will present a challenge. Covenanter minister William Sommerville traces the lines of historical Covenanters and shows that many, who may claim to be faithful to Covenanter principles, are not standing in their line. The nineteenth century saw many branches of Presbyterianism making claims to be descendants of the Cameronians, or Covenanters. In fact, many...

Social Position of Reformed Presbyterians | Booklet Video


July 2014

The Two Witnesses by David Steele

One great fact separated the claims of the Romish party from those of Protestants. In defense of which doctrines were biblical and which were not, the early Protestants confidently asserted that not one controverted truth between them had been sealed by the blood of the martyrs. Papal supremacy, purgatory, transubstantiation, the cult of the saints, and other corruptions of doctrine and practice...

The Two WitnessesBooklet Video


June 2014

The Only Songs of Zion by Donald C. McLaren

The practice of Psalm singing, though not common today amongst Presbyterian churches, was the standard practice of Reformed churches from the time of the Reformation. In this small book, Donald C. McLaren presents the reader with a concise overview of the excellence of the Psalms and their inherent suitableness for praising God, under the New Testament. Writing at a time when Reformed churches...

The Only Songs of ZionBooklet Video


May 2014

Principles of Church Fellowship by John T. Pressly

In the age of NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council), it might seem as though the Reformed churches were closer to achieving some kind of working unity amongst various bodies with sometimes conflicting confessional standards. An Inquiry into the Principles of Church Fellowship represents a concise and tightly reasoned primer dealing with several topics of related to present ecclesiastical concerns. The spirit of the age is one seeking unity...

Principles of Church FellowshipBooklet Video


Apr. 2014

The Superfluity of Naughtiness by Thomas Wall

Head coverings on women are not ceremonially significant and, therefore, not matters pertaining only to the worship of God. Yet, head coverings and long hair on women, as well as men donning short hair, are customs which found place in the Church (cf. 1 Cor. 11:13, 14). These are customs founded in nature (i.e., customs according to nature), as Paul notes; but fallen men have found out other customs which are vain (i.e., they are habits against nature; cf. Jer. 10:3)...

Superfluity of Naughtiness Booklet Video


Mar. 2014

The Duty of Nations by Gilbert McMaster

In her earlier and purer days, the Reformed Presbyterian church, like many other Presbyterian and Reformed churches, appointed annual days of fasting in the Spring and thanksgiving in the Fall. On May, 24, 1809, the Reformed Presbyterian church constituted her supreme governing body a synod. When the first Thursday of November, 1809, was appointed as the day of thanksgiving to be observed in all the congregations of the Reformed Presbyterian church, the matter of ecclesiastical...

The Duty of NationsBooklet Video


Feb. 2014

True and Visible Markes of the Catholic Church by Theodore Beza

Since the beginning of the Reformation, Rome has laid the charge of schism at the feet of the Protestant reformers. Rome asserts that she alone is that catholic church to which all men must resort if they would be saved. In order to sustain her claim against Protestants, she has maintained that the true church had always been visible and, furthermore, that its visibility was centered in the Romish papacy. Outside of this institution, Rome asserted, there is no ordinary possibility of salvation...

True and Visible Markes of the ChurchBooklet Video


Jan. 2014

The Two Sons of Oil by Samuel B. Wylie

In 1802, at the “Forks of the Yough,” a place well situated for such an occasion, Samuel Wylie and John Black, his brother-in-law, officiated over what was very likely the first communion season to be held by Covenanters in the frontier that was the western part of Pennsylvania, since the re-organizing of the Reformed Presbyter, in 1798. The sacramental observance was a five day event, which began with fasting and ended with a day of thanksgiving. It was also a time of spiritual reflection featuring numerous sermons and...

Two Sons of Oil | Booklet Video