Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

10 July 1623 A.D. Another Scots Precopalian: Mr. (Rev.) Robert Blair

10 July 1623 A.D.  Another Scots Precopalian:  Mr. (Rev.) Robert Blair


We call Mr. Blair a Precopalian, that is, a Presbyterian in an Episcopal parish.  The best of both worlds brought together in this brief window in history. Mr. (Abp.) James Ussher, Church of Ireland, a top-flight scholar, and Prayer Book Churchman, was moderate and kind to other Reformed Churchmen.  Of note, Mr. Ussher accommodated Mr. Blair’s ecclesiological convictions and permitted presbyterial ordination rather than requiring episcopal ordination.  Sage, wise, kind and balanced.  (Of course, that would change with Laud.) Mr. Blair, a Scots Presbyterian using an old Prayer Book too, proceeded with his ministry.  Later, it would appear from this article, the “Laudian tyrants” began their divisive, angry and repressive actions against all-things Reformed.  But, in this window, we observe the Scots-Irish “Precopalian.”  A little bit of heaven on earth--a good Prayer Book service with a Reformed pulpit.

Myers, David T. “July 10: Rev. Robert Blair.”  This Day in Presbyterian History.  10 Jul 2014.  Accessed 10 Jul 2014.

July 10: Rev. Robert Blair

A Sweet Majestic Man Showed me the Majesty of God

Our title was a description of the preaching of the Rev. Robert Blair at St. Andrews in Scotland by an English merchant who heard him on the Lord’s Day one time. It spoke volumes about our post’s figure on this day. But it doesn’t do him full justice, as he ministered also effectively in Northern Ireland.

Robert Blair was born in 1593 to John and Beatrix Blair, the youngest child of six children. His father, a man of prayer, would die of tuberculosis when he was but five. He was able in God’s providence to go to the University of Glasgow in 1608. Becoming a school teacher in the same city, he has the oversight of 150 pupils. In 1616, after becoming acquainted with the principles of the university, he began to teach on the college level in Philosophy and Greek. It was during this time that he was encouraged to preach the Word and prepare of his life calling. A change of administrators at the school to Episcopalian brought an end to his association with that university. After considering a number of possibilities, an invitation to Ulster was made and accepted.

His arrival in Bangor, Ulster, or Northern Ireland, brought him to the same issue from which he left Scotland. The official church in Ulster was the Church of Ireland and Episcopalian in government and practice. Blair was a convinced Presbyterian. So the present Anglican bishops, with the encouragement of Archbishop Ussher, proposed and carried out his ordination by the laying on of hands of Presbyterian ministers in the land. That took place on July 10, 1623.

Blair’s first pastorate was large, with over 1200 members. He began to proclaim the Word of God four times a week with home visitation for the purpose of helping his educational backward people understand the Scriptures. It was said of him that he was the greatest instruments for preaching the gospel in the North of Ireland! Certainly, he was an outstanding Reformed minister just as that time who shaped the Scot-Irish in the land in Presbyterianism.

About eight years later, his ministry was brought to a sharp end with the bishops of the Irish Anglican church seeking to gain control. From that time in 1631 to 1638, he was to be suspended from the gospel ministry by the Anglican authorities, then reinstated, then suspended again by the bishops. Finally he, and three other Presbyterian ministers sought to flee to America with a hundred lay people. Tragically, that trip was not successful and they were forced to return to Ireland. Finally, he went back to Scotland, where he preached for 23 years as a pastor to the church of St. Andrews. It was there that the merchant of our title spoke of him. At last, he answered his Lord’s call, laying down his labors and entering upon his eternal rest in 1666. He died at Aberdour on 27 August 1666, and was buried in the parish churchyard.

Words to Live By:
The circumstances may be different, but today’s under shepherds of Christ’s flock have many trying times in their calling. This is why this author, who was a pastor for thirty-five years himself in Canada and the United States, frequently speaks of the importance of lay people to pray for their pastors. Scripture is clear. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:12
, 13 states, “But we request of you . . . that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give your instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.” (NASB)

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