The Works of Thomas Hayburton (4 Volumes)
Thomas Halyburton was one of the great eighteenth century Scots theologians. Born on 25th December 1674 (into a family that did not celebrate Christmas due to its connection with a persecuting government), Halyburton was, like Matthew Henry in Wales, the son of an ejected minister. Unlike Phillip Henry, George Halyburton was persecuted into his gave and died in 1682, not living to see freedom to worship in 1688. His wife and family spent the next few years in exile in Rotterdam until the Glorious Revolution of 1688 allowed them to return to Scotland. Thomas followed in his father's footsteps and was ordained to the Ministry in 1700. In 1710 he was appointed Professor of Divinity in St. Mary's College, St. Andrew's. He died on 23rd September 1712 and was buried beside Samuel Rutherford.
Halyburton's public ministry covered just over twelve years and he died at the comparatively early age of thirty-seven. This accounts for the fact that his collected works occupy just four hardcover volumes (Vol. 1. 358 Pp, Vol. 2. 417 Pp, Vol. 3. 439 Pp, Vol. 4. 387 Pp). Yet these four volumes contain some of the best Reformed theology and preaching ever to come out of Scotland in the period.
Halyburton was no ivory tower theologian, he passed through deep waters and his writings are pre-eminently EXPERIMENTAL. He not only knew the doctrines of Grace and loved them, but he FELT them. With Joseph Hart he bears witness that
"True religion's more than notion,
Something must be known and felt."
No DRY doctrine is to be found in these volumes, but doctrine that is dripping with marrow and fatness. 'Rabbi' Duncan said, "I advise every theologian to acquaint himself with Halyburton." We would echo his advice.
This is without a doubt one of the best reprints of recent years. It is not just a reprint of a Victorian edition, but a completely new edition, re-typeset, fully indexed, and containing hitherto unpublished works of Halyburton. Each book is individually titled and indexed and bound in an attractive photographic hardcover binding.
Volume 1 has been titled 'Faith and Justification'. It contains three essays by Halyburton and ten sermons. The essays are:
'An Essay Concerning the Nature of Faith' discussing the nature of true divine faith.
'A Modest Inquiry whether Regeneration or Justification has the precedency in Order of Nature' deals with a question that still refuses to go away.
'An Inquiry into the Nature of God's Act of Justification' deals in particular with how God makes justification known to believers.
The sermons are all gems of experimental and doctrinal preaching - which we feel to be the sort of preaching the Church needs today.
Volume 2 has been titled 'Faith and Salvation'. It contains a work of Halyburton's entitled 'The Great Concern of Salvation'. It is doctrinal, practical, experimental and evangelistic. Beginning with an introductory sermon on Acts 10.29 cosidering the motives of those who call a Gospel preacher, Halyburton then lauches out into a demonstration of man's state by nature. He follows this with a clear display of the remedy, opening up the freeness of the Gospel, and finally deals with the life of a Christian. This is far more Biblical than a certain course which is still quite popular. Ministers might consider using Halyburton as a guide in dealing with the unconverted.
Volume 3, 'Faith and Revelation', is polemical in tone, embodying Halyburton's book 'Natural Religion Insufficient and Reaveal'd Necessary to Man's Happiness in His Present State; or, A Rational Enquiry into the Principles of the Modern Deists'.
As a young man, Thomas Halyburton's faith was all but destroyed by Deism (the heresy that teaches that God, having created the world, leaves it to carry on according to natural laws). Halyburton had been made to doubt the very existence of God by this scheme, so he knew its dangers. John Newton felt this book of Halyburton's to be among the most valuable in his library, and he recommended it to Thomas Scott when he was guiding him out of Deism.
Modern unbelief borrows heavily from Deism, and while the organised movement has faded, Halyburton's defence of the Bible is still utterly relevant to us today.
Volume 4 of Halyburton is perhaps the most valuable of the whole set. 'Faith and Experience' consists mostly of Halyburton's 'Memoirs'. This was one of John 'Rabbi' Duncan's three great autobiographies, Augustine, Bunyan and Halyburton. We would place Halyburton's 'Memoirs' with Warburton's 'Mercies of a Covenant God', Hart's 'Experience' (though Hart is far shorter), Fraser of Brea's 'Memoirs', John Kershaw's Autobiography, and of course the three works mentioned by Duncan. In short, it is one of the greats. It is the account of how a young man came through unbelief to Christ. This edition includes the preface of 1718 contributed by Isaac Watts.
Also included in this volume are two hitherto unpublished sermons by Halyburton, 'A Discourse Concerning the Obligation of Oaths on Posterity' (also hitherto unpublished), which is a defence of the Covenants of the Seventeenth Century and their binding nature on the Church of Scotland, and a short account of the death of Lady Anne Elcho. The last item is not by Halyburton, but is based on an account by him. Lady Ann Elcho was a godly woman who died after a tragic accident in which she was badly burned.
'The Works of Thomas Halyburton' are not for shallow non-doctrinal Christians. They are not for Christians who are afraid of experience either. But those who appreciate Biblical doctrine and experience will find in these volumes a true feast. 'Rabbi' Duncan compared Halyburton to Owen, and the two are alike except that Halyburton is easier to read! The clear typeface of this edition is another reason to applaud the efforts of the James Begg Society in bringing Halyburton back into print in a very up-to-date dress.
The Works of Thomas Halyburton are available at the price of £13 per volume and £45 the set from The James Begg Society Here. Individual volume prices include postage and packing within the United Kingdom, the price for the set includes postage and packing to anywhere in the world.