The Marrow Controversy

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jn. 3:16

“Then Jesus said unto them…  my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.”

Jn. 6:32-33

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”

Jn. 4:10



Order of Contents

Where to Start?
Read the Marrow!
The Marrow Men
Continuators of Marrow Theology
Documents & Primary Sources




The Marrow Controversy was an intriguing doctrinal dispute in the Church of Scotland between 1718-1723 over a reprinted book entitled The Marrow of Modern Divinity.  John Macleod gives a synopsis of the Marrow theology:

“This seems to be the true ‘Marrow’ view of the assurance of faith, that the hearer of the gospel is warranted to cherish in view of God’s free grant of Christ as a Saviour to sinners of mankind.  He is warranted to feel assured that Christ as a Savriour is held out to him in the Gospel to be taken as his own.

Of this gift thus held out the believer says: ‘I take Him as my own.’  Here is faith’s fiducial [trusting] act.” (Scottish Theology, p. 161)

The Marrow of Modern Divinity  Buy  was written in 1645 and was intended to be a compendium of the ‘marrow’, or essence, of the lately current (largely English), orthodox, doctrinal and practical theology.  The Marrow was attributed to an E.F., which may have stood for Edward Fisher.  The original printing had recommendations by Joseph Caryl, Jeremiah Burroughs and William Strong, who were members of the Westminster Assembly.

The Marrow was apparently largely unknown in its own day, though it rose to prominence in the early 1700’s as it was read and promoted by Rev. Thomas Boston in the Church of Scotland, and reprinted in 1718.  The book came under fire in the Church of Scotland, giving rise to controversy over the nature of the atonement and the Gospel Offer, Assurance, the nature of sanctification, evangelical motives to ethical obedience and the Christian’s relationship to the Law.  

The Marrow was accused of teaching a universal redemption, as it included a phrase from Ezekiel Culverwell (1554-1631) that Christ’s death was a ‘deed of gift and grant’ for all mankind.  The Marrow men urged that this referred to all humankind having warrant as ‘mankind-sinners’ to come to come Christ through the revealed proclamation of the gospel.

The Marrow also included a phrase from John Preston (1587-1628) that, referring to the gospel-hearer, ‘Christ is dead for him’.  The Marrow men denied that this meant that Christ necessarily had died (past tense) for the gospel-hearer with respect to the Decree, but that in the call of the gospel Christ was presently Revealed (present tense) as crucified and that the atonement was fully offered to him.  All of the Marrow Men clearly opposed the doctrine of a universal atonement (with the exception of Hog).

The controversy also revealed elements of neonomian legalism and hyper-calvinistic anti-nomianism in the Church of Scotland at the time, these tendencies being especially brought out in the debates over:

– Whether assurance is of the essence of faith

– Whether holiness is necessary to salvation

– Whether fear of punishment and hope of reward are proper motives for obedience

– Whether the believer is under the Law as a rule of life

Twelve ministers, having believed that the General Assembly, in condemning the Marrow in 1720, had condemned some ‘precious gospel truths’, entered a complaint to the 1721 General Assembly. 

The specific issues differed upon, which form a summary of the theological controversy, are summarily elucidated by Thomas M’Crie (the younger) in 6 points in Story of the Scottish Church, pp. 458-9.  John Brown of Whitburn gives representations of both sides in parallel columns in 4 points in his Appendix 2.

The Assembly’s 1720 Act was upheld and the Marrow Men were rebuked, though allowed to continue in their ministries.  The fervor continued to grow as the Marrow Men continued to openly teach and promote what the Assembly had condemned.

The Marrow Theology continued prominently in the Secession Church of Scotland from its founding in 1733 through the 1700’s, the Secession Church being the main evangelical light in Scotland during that time.

With respect to the doctrinal issues, the Marrow and its defenders were, “more in harmony with the reformed orthodoxy of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and, on balance, with the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.” (Lachman, Dictionary)



Where to Start?


Lachman, David – ‘Marrow Controversy’ in Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology  Buy  1993

The Dictionary is worth the price.  Flip around in it like a kid in a candy store.  It contains many articles that pertain to the Marrow Controversy, under the headings of the various persons and doctrines involved which fill out the Marrow scene in much more detail than simply the main article on the topic.

Ferguson, Sinclair – ‘The Marrow Controversy’  2004  44 pp.  being 3 lectures: (1) Historical Details, (2) Danger of Legalism, (3) Danger of Antinomianism

For classic Scottish pieces on the controversy, see M’Crie, Macleod and Beaton below.



Ferguson, Sinclair – The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters  Buy  2016  256 pp.



Read the Marrow, it’s great!

The Marrow is a dialogue between four friends.  ‘Neophyte’ is a new Christian.  ‘Evangelista’ is an evangelical and the voice of the author, Edward Fisher.  ‘Nomista’ is a legalist and ‘Antinomista’ is an anti-nomian (one who throws out God’s Law).


Fisher, Edward – The Marrow of Modern Divinity, with Notes by Thomas Boston  PDF  Buy  1st ed. 1645, rep. 1718  375 pp.





M’Crie, Thomas, the elder – ‘Account of the Controversy respecting the Marrow of Modern Divinity’  Edinburgh Christian Instructor, Edinburgh, 1831, xxx, 542 ff.

M’Crie, Thomas, the younger

‘The Marrow Controversy: with Notices of the State of Scottish Theology in the beginning of last Century’  The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, II, (June 1853), pp. 411-440

Pt. 2, ch. 3, ‘1717-1732’ of The Story of the Scottish Church, pp. 450-464  1875

M’Crie, Charles, G. – Three Articles in the British and Evangelical Review  1884

This M’Crie was the grandson of Thomas M’Crie the elder, and a minister and historian in the Free Church of Scotland.

Walker, James – pp. 53-60 of Lecture 2, ‘The Atonement’  in The Theology and Theologians of Scotland, Chiefly of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries  1872  The Cunningham Lectures

MacEwen – A Chapter in Studies, Historical, Doctrinal, Biographical



Henderson, Henry F. – ‘The Marrow Men’  1905  24 pp.  in The Religious Controversies of Scotland, pp. 20-43

Beaton, Donald – ‘The ‘Marrow of Modern Divinity’ and the Marrow Controversy’  1926  22 pp.  SCHS  This is virtually a reprint of the same article in the Princeton Theological Review, IV, no. 3 (July, 1906), pp. 317-338

Beaton was a theological tutor in the Free Presbyterian Synod in Scotland.  “…quite a competent account of this passage of doctrinal history…” – John Macleod, Scottish Theology

Macleod, John – Ch. 5, ‘The Neo-Nomians and the Marrow Controversy’  in Scottish Theology in Relation to Church History since the Reformation  Buy

Macleod (1872-1948) was a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland minister who became a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.

McIntyre, David, M. – ‘First Strictures on ‘The Marrow of Modern Divnity”  The Evangelical Quarterly, X, (Jan. 1938, pp. 61-70

MacIntyre (1859-1938) was the principal of the Bible Training Institute of Glasgow.

Mechie, Stewart

“The Marrow Controversy Reviewed,” The Evangelical Quarterly 22.1 (1950): 20-31

‘The Theological Climate in Early Eighteenth Century Scotland’  in Reformation and Revolution, ed. Duncan Shaw, pp. 258-272  1967

Murray, Ian – ‘The Free Offer of the Gospel Viewed in the Light of the Marrow Controversy’  1958  Banner of Truth Magazine

Murray, John J. – ‘The Marrow Controversy – Thomas Boston and the Free Offer’  Preaching and Revival. The Westminster Conference  Buy  (London, 1984) pp. 34-56

MacLeod, Ian – Ch. 2, ‘Willison & the Marrow Controversy’ & ‘Willison’s Conclusions on the Marrow Controversy’, pp. 43-59  in The Sacramental Theology and Practice of the Reverend John Willison (1680-1750)  PhD thesis, 1994

Philip, William J.U. – ‘The Marrow and the Dry Bones: Ossified Orthodoxy and the Battle for the Gospel in Eighteenth-Century Scottish Calvinism’  Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 15 (Spring 1997) 1:26-51

Hall, Joseph H. – ‘The Marrow Controversy: a Defense of Grace and the Free Offer of the Gospel’  Mid-America Journal of Theology, 10 (1999) 239-257

McIntosh, J. – ‘The Marrow Controversy’  1999  a lecture given at a public meeting of the Inverness Branch of the Scottish Reformation Society



Procee, G.R. – ‘The Marrow Controversy’  Download  n.d.  19 pp.  This paper is hosted on the net by the Free Reformed Churches of North America

Makidon, Michael – ‘The Marrow Controversy’  2003  13 pp.  in The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society

Macleod, Donald – pp. 11-15 of ‘Reformed Theology in Scotland’  2009  being one of the Cunningham Lectures

Wilson, Andy – ‘A Righteousness Apart from the Law That Is Not against the Law: The Story and Message of The Marrow of Modern Divinity’  in Ordained Servant Online, an organ of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church  Rev. Wilson is a pastor in the PCA.

Fentiman, Travis – ‘The Marrow of Modern Divinity on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel’   2015

Somerset, Douglas – ‘Thomas Boston and the Authorship of ‘Queries to the Friendly-Advisor”  Scottish Reformation Society Historical Journal, 1 (2011), 39-58

Irons, Lee – ‘The Law in the Hand of Christ’  2017  9 pp.

Irons’ writings are generally not recommended, but here (out his fondness for the ‘republication doctrine’, which the Marrow of Modern Divinity did teach, though in a more orthodox way than the modern revision) Irons documents the phrase and idea of ‘the law in the hand of Christ’ in:

Edward Fisher, Samuel Bolton, Simon Ford, Thomas Worden, Robert Traill, the Marrow Men, Thomas Boston, Ebenezer Erskine, Ralph Erskine, John Gill, John Colquhoun & Joseph Kerr.




Lachman, David – The Marrow Controversy, 1718-1723: a Historical and Theological Analysis  Buy  1988  500 pp.

A first rate dissertation and the standard for a full, detailed investigation into the controversy from the primary documents.

Moore, Jonathan D. – English Hypothetical Universalism: John Preston and the Softening of Reformed Theology  Buy  2007  320 pp.

While the context of the passages relating to the Atonement that the Marrow quotes out of John Preston are consistent with the Revealed Will of God (as the Marrow men held and as Dr. Lachman shows), yet, as Moore demonstrates, other passages in Preston are distinctive of English Hypothetical Universalism.

Moore also gives evidence that the phrase ‘Christ is dead for you’ (which the Marrow men took as relating to the Revealed Will of God in the call of the gospel), was synonymous in Preston’s time with ‘Christ died for you’, relating to the purpose of the Atonement.

Thus, it seems, the Marrow Men, while holding to their own theology which they believed was consistent with Limited Atonement, did not realize that a main figure from whom they were drawing from, Preston, had elements of Hypothetical Universalism in his various works. 

VanDoodewaard, William – The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition: Marrow Theology in the Associate Presbytery and Associate Synod Secession Churches of Scotland (1733-1799)  2009  330 pp.

Chrisco, Gerald – Theology of Assurance within the Marrow Controversy  2009  145 pp.  Masters thesis, Reformed Theological Seminary 



The Marrow Men


Boston, Thomas – Memoirs of the Life, Time and Writing of Thomas Boston  570 pp.

Watson, Jean L. – The Pastor of Ettrick: Thomas Boston  1883  

Thomson, Andrew – Thomas Boston of Ettrick: his Life and Times  1895  263 pp.

Addison, William – The Life and Writings of Thomas Boston of Ettrick  1936  200 pp.

Bruggink, Donald – The Theology of Thomas Boston, 1676-1732  1956  PhD thesis, Univ. of Edin.

McGowan, A.T.B. – The Federal Theology of Thomas Boston  1990  365 pp.


James Hogg

Hogg, James – Memoirs of the Public Life of Mr. James Hogg and of the Ecclesiastical Proceedings of his Time, particularly of some General Assemblies that met posterior to the Revolution  1798  142 pp.

Moffatt, Charles – James Hog of Carnock (1658-1734), Leader in the Evangelical Party in Early Eighteenth Century Scotland  1960  PhD thesis, Univ. of Edin.


The Erskines

Kerr, John – The Erskines: Ebenezer & Ralph  1881  67 pp.

Erskine, Scott – The Erskine-Halcro Geneology. The Ancestors and Descendants of Henry Erskine, minister of Chirnside, his wife, Margaret Halcro of Orkney, and their sons, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine  1895  75 pp.

MacEwen, A.R. – The Erskines  1900  155 pp.  Famous Scots Series

MacEwen (1851-1916) was a minister in the United Presbyterian Church and the United Free Church of Scotland (post-1900) and a professor of Church History in New College, Edinburgh.  MacEwen described himself  as liberal and evangelical, and a ‘resolute advocate of central and unifying beliefs’.

Sell, Alan P.F. –  ‘The Message of the Erskines for Today’  The Evangelical Quarterly 60.4 (Oct.-Dec. 1988): 299-316


Ralph Erskine

Fraser, Donald – The Life and Diary of the Reverend Ralph Erskine of Dunfermline, one of the founders of the Secession Church  1834  565 pp.

Watson, Jean L. – The Life of Ralph Erskine  1881  105 pp.


Ebenezer Erskine

Fraser, Donald – The Life and Diary of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine of Stirling, father of the Secession Church, to which is prefixed a Memoir of his father, Rev. Henry Erskine  1837  565 pp.

Brown, James Campbell – The Annals of Portmoak during the Ministry of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine from 1703 to 1731, gathered from the Session Book  Published in the Kinross-shire Advertiser, 1889

Muirhead, Andrew T. N. – Religion, Politics and Society in Stirling during the Ministry of Ebenezer Erskine, 1731-1754  1983  M.Litt. thesis, Univ. of Stirling

Myers, Stephen G. – “The Gospel in its Majesty”: the Theology and Ministry of Ebenezer Erskine  2008  Univ. of Edinburgh  reprinted as Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition



Continuators of the Marrow Theology

See also the ‘Biographies’ section under ‘The Secession Church’ section on our Scottish Church history page.


Brown, John, of Whitburn

Appendix 1: ‘Notices of Several Divines, particularly of the Church of Scotland, who were friends to the Doctrine of Grace, not among the Twelve Representers’  1817  13 pp.  in Gospel Truth Accurately Stated and Illustrated, pp. 437-449

Includes biographical sketches of: Robert Trail, Frazer of Culross, James Webster, Mr. Warden, Mr. Hamilton of Airth, Mr. Brisbane, Mr. Lindsay of Bothkennar, John McLaren of Edinburgh, William Wilson of Perth, John Gib of Cliesh, Neil M’Vicar of West Kirk, Edinburgh, Alex. Wardrop of Whitburn, Robert Riccalton of Hobkirk, Mr. Mair of Culross, Mr. Simpson of Morebattle, John Grant of Auchinleck, Robert Lithgow of Ashkirk and others.

Appendix 9: ‘Opinions of Modern Evangelical Divines, which Accord with those of the venerable Marrow-Men’  1817  18 pp.   in Gospel Truth Accurately Stated and Illustrated, pp. 470-487

Associate Presbytery – Act of the Associate Presbytery, concerning the doctrine of grace: wherein the said doctrine…  is asserted and vindicated, from the errors vented and published in some acts of the assemblies of this Church [of Scotland]…  1st ed. 1744  75 pp.

The Associate Presbytery was the Secession Church.  This work is not included in this online edition of Adam Gib’s A Display of the Secession Testimony, vol 1, pp. 171-210.  The reason may be that the act of the Church of Scotland condemning the Marrow is technically still in effect, and the Edinburgh Theological Seminary may not feel comfortable making the piece available (which criticizes the Church of Scotland on this point). 

A View of Evangelical Subjection and Obedience to the Moral Law, pp. 211-220 (which was also part of the Marrow Controversy) is also left out of this online edition. 

Gib, Adam

The Open Door of the House of Mercy  1774  7 pp.

This is the best theological analysis of the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel.  Gib posits the grounds of the Sincere Free Offer in the Revealed Will of God, as opposed to the Decrees of God and the Extent of the Atonement.  He distinguishes and guards the doctrine from a General Atonement of the Arminians on the one hand, and relates it to Biblical Limited Atonement on the other hand.  Gib was a mid-1700’s Scottish minister from the Seceder tradition.  

Concerning the Gospel Call and the Warrant of Faith  1747  31 pp.  from his The Present Truth: A Display of the Secession Testimony, vol. 2, Progression 5.  With an introduction by Rev. Fentiman.

This is the larger section from which the above shorter article was selected.  Read the whole thing!

Brown, John, of Whitburn – Gospel Truth Accurately Stated and Illustrated, by James Hog, Thomas Boston, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine and others, occasioned by the republication of the Marrow of Modern Divinity  1817, 1831  500 pp.

Brown (1754-1832) was the oldest son of John Brown of Haddington and was a minister in the Associate (Burgher) Synod. 

“In the Memoirs of James Hervey (E. 1806, 1821), he chronicled the life of an English Non-conformist whose understanding of the gospel was drawn from the Marrow theology.  He also edited his father’s Select Remains (L, 1789), and popular digests of literature which adhered to the Marrow outlook.” – Dictionary of Scottish Church History & Theology  

Hervey, James

ed. Brown, John, of Whitburn – Memoirs of James Hervey  1822

Hervey (1714-1758) was ‘an English Non-conformist whose understanding of the gospel was drawn from the Marrow theology.’ (DSCH&T)

Theron and Aspasio, or, a Series of Dialogues and Letters upon the Most Important and Interesting Subjects, vol. 1, 2 (in 2 vols) in vols. 2 & 3 of his Works

“…he published…  in 1755 a much more famous work, ‘Dialogues between Theron and Aspasio,’ in three volumes.  This work he dedicated to Lady Frances Shirley, a kinswoman of Selina Hastings, countesse of Huntingdon [q. v.] Aspasia endeavours to convince Theron of the doctrine of imputed righteousness.  The ‘Calvinistic controversy’ was then at its height, and Hervey, as a Calvinist, drew down upon himself many opponents, especially John Wesley, who wrote some ‘Remarks’ on ‘Theron and Aspasio’ which were not very complimentary either in matter or style.  Hervey wrote ‘Eleven Letters’ in reply, which were all but ready for the press when he died, and which were published by his brother, William Hervey, in 1706.  These are the most important of his works…” – DNB

A Defence of Theron and Aspasio  1761  300 pp.

Bell, Thomas – Treatise on the Nature and Effects of Saving Faith  1814  120 pp.

Bell was a minister in the Relief Church.

Calhoun, John

The Works of John Colquhoun

Colquhoun was a Church of Scotland minister.  See especially his View of Saving Faith, ch. 4, ‘The Warrant for Believing or Trusting in Christ’ and ch. 6, ‘The Assurance and Full Assurance of Faith’, as well as his A Collection of the Promises of the Gospel and A Treatise on the Law and Gospel.

Agnew, David C.A. – The Theology of Consolation: or an Account of many old writings and writers on that subject  1881  420 pp.

Agnew was of the Free Church of Scotland.  For details about this work and its contents, see Beaton, p. 134.



Documents & Primary Sources


A Full and True State of the Controversy Concerning the Marrow of Modern Divinity as Debated between the General Assembly and Several Ministers, 1720-21  1773  185 pp.

Brown, John, of Whitburn – Gospel Truth Accurately Stated and Illustrated, by James Hog, Thomas Boston, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine and others, occasioned by the republication of the Marrow of Modern Divinity  1817, 1831  500 pp.

Brown (1754-1832) was the oldest son of John Brown of Haddington, was the father of John Brown of Edinburgh, and was a minister in the Associate (Burgher) Synod.

“…a work that a man should look up who wants to have in handy form a ‘Marrow’ exposition of the merits of The Marrow controversy…  This is an exposition of the subject that will be of interest to anyone who desires to learn what the teaching of Boston and his fellows was which told so much upon the thinking of Evangelical Scotland.” – John Macleod, Scottish Theology


Pro, for the Marrow

General Assembly and the Marrow Men – The Twelve Queries Proposed by the Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1721, to the Marrow Men, with their Answers  1812  82 pp.

“A considerable literature was produced in the course of the controversy…  Few of the works are of enduring value; perhaps the best are the [Marrow] brethren’s Answers to the Commission’s Queries (E, 1722), Robert Riccaltoun’s Sober Enquiry (E, 1723) and Thomas Boston’s 1726 edition of the Marrow, with copious notes.” – D. Lachman, Dictionary


Boston, Thomas


‘Christ the Saviour of the World’  1724  on 1 Jn. 4:14  in Works, vol. 6, p. 294 ff.

‘Christ, the Son of God, Gifted to Sinners’  on Isa. 9:6  in Works, vol. 10, p. 188 ff.

‘The Mystery of Christ in the Form of a Servant’  in Works, vol 7, p. 520 ff.

“…are also expositions of the Marrow theology.” – Beaton


Riccaltoun, Robert


The Politick DisputantChoice Instructions for Quashing a Stubborn Adversary  Ref  1722

For a specimen of this piece, see Beaton, p. 132.

“In the pamphlet warfare, the edition of The Marrow of 1726, with Boston’s notes and two pamphlets from the pen of an unordained licentiate, Robert Riccaltoun, are perhaps the most valuable documents.  Riccaltoun’s Politick Disputant exposes Hadow’s method of attack in a thorough and scathing and sarcastic fashion, such as [John] Witherspoon at his best might employ.” – John Macleod, Scottish Theology

Ch. 4, ‘Of the Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Covenant of Grace between God and Man by the Mediator’  1723  46 pp.  from A Sober Enquiry

Riccaltoun (1691-1769) was the Church of Scotland minister at Hobkirk, Roxburghshire. His ‘Sober Enquiry’ is a masterful review and adjudication of the issues debated in the Marrow Controversy.

‘Riccaltoun attempted to mediate, though making it clear that the Marrow Brethren had the better argument and faulting [Principal James] Hadow for widening breaches rather than seeking peace.’ (The Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology) 

Riccaltoun corrects misrepresentations among opponents, examines the real import of the Marrow of Modern Divinity’s unfamiliar phrases, and points to the common ground held by all true sons of the Church of Scotland. Though the Sober Enquiry has never been reprinted, the book contains an exceptionally able treatment of the role of the mediator in the covenant of grace, and the instrumentality of faith.” – Sherman Isbell

‘Christ’s Suretyship’  from A Sober Enquiry, ch. 3  1723

A Review of An Essay Upon Gospel and Legal PreachingIn Several Letters to a Friend  Ref  1723

In response to a pamphlet below by George Logan.

‘Administration and Discharge of Christ’s Office Towards Sinners’  being ch. 8 of A Treatise on the General Plan of Revelation, in Works, vol. 2, pp. 156-181  1771



A Sober Enquiry Into the Grounds of the Present Differences in the Church of Scotland  1723  446 pp.

“His Sober Enquiry is looked upon as perhaps as able a piece of writing as was called forth in the whole course of the controversy.  It was the work of a man who showed himself to be at home in handling questions of Christian doctrine.” – John Macleod, Scottish Theology

“This is decidedly one of the ablest defences of the Marrow theology.” – Beaton, p. 188


James Hog

The works of James Hog at PRDL

A Conference Betwixt Epaphroditus and Epaphras: wherein the very Reverend Principal Hadow’s sermon, preached before the Synod of Fife, April 7th, 1719, is fairly enquired into, in so far as he findeth fault with Mr. Marshal on Sanctification, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, and the explication of passages excepted against in the Marrow   Ref  1719

Hog reviews the first public sermon against the Marrow.


Ralph Erskine

Gospel Sonnets

“Ralph Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets, at one time so highly prized by the serious minded in Scotland, and her sons beyond the seas, is a book steeped in the Marrow doctrines.” – Beaton

‘The Word of Salvation Sent to Sinners’  in Works, vol. 3, p. 288 ff.

‘Law Death, Gospel Life: or, the Death of Legal Righteousness, the Life of Gospel Holiness’  in Works, vol. 2, p. 9 ff.

“…Ralph Erskine’s sermons, and in them we have the essence of ‘Marrow’ teaching.” – John Macleod, Scottish Theology

‘The Pregnant Promise, with her Issue, or the Children of Promise Brought Forth and Described’  in Works, vol. 4, p. 91 ff.

‘The Giving Love of God and Receiving Property of Faith’  in Works, vol. 3, p. 198 ff.

‘Christ the People’s Covenant’  1722


Ebenezer Erskine


‘The Warrant and Duty of Sinners to Believe the Gospel’

‘Christ in the Believer’s Arms’  in Works, vol. 1, p. 148 ff.

‘The Law of Faith Issuing Forth out of Mt. Sion’  in Works, vol. 1, p. 424 ff.

‘The Assurance of Faith Opened and Applied’  in Works, vol. 1, p. 205 ff.

‘The Necessity and Profitableness of Good Works Asserted’  in Works, vol. 1, p. 125 ff.


Contra the Marrow

Hadow, James

‘The Record of God and Duty of Faith therein Required’, A sermon … before the Synod of Fife at St. Andrew’s April 7th, 1719  Buy  

Hadow (c.1670-1747) was the leading opponent of the Marrow and the principal of St. Andrews.  This sermon included the first public attack on the Marrow.

“This sermon… has been described as a creditable performance, though somewhat marred by imputations of rigidity and uncharitableness towards Hog.” – Beaton, The Marrow

A Commentary by James Hadow, Principal of St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews 1707-1747, on “The Marrow of Modern Divinity” [reprinted edition, Edinburgh, 1718]  Ref  1719  6 pp.

A Review of A Conference Betwixt Epaphroditus and Epaphras  Ref  Buy  1719

A review of Hog’s work above.

The Antinomianism of the Marrow of Modern Divinity Detected. Wherein the letter to a private Christian, about believers receiving the law, as the law of Christ, is specially considered  Ref  1722

Hadow’s most extensive work against the Marrow.  “Hadow’s work was characterized by a narrow dogmatism, a tendency to wrest his opponents’ arguments to fit his own preconceptions, and an inability to accept any terminology other than his own.” (Lachman, Dictionary, p. 384)  This work was answered by Riccaltoun in his Sober Enquiry.

Anonymous – The Snake in the Grass: or, Remarks upon a book, entitled, The Marrow of Modern Divinity: touching both the covenant of works and of grace, etc. Originally done by E.F. about the year 1645: and lately revised, corrected and published by the Reverend Mr. James Hog  (Edinburgh, May 14, 1719)  47 pp.

The learned author of the tract aligned quotes from the Marrow, in sequence from the book, and gives his remarks on them, many of which are legitimate criticisms.  Worth reading.

A Minister of the Church of Scotland – Remarks upon the Answers of the Brethren to the Queries Proposed by the Commission  1722  91 pp.

Multiple – Some Observations Upon the Answers of the Brethren to the Queries Propos’d to Them by the Commission of the Gen. Assembly, Upon Their Representation Humbly Offered to the Judicatories of the Church  Ref  Buy  1722 86 pp.

A Minister in the Church of Scotland [Logan, George] – An Essay upon Gospel and Legal Preaching  Ref  1723  142 pp.




See the bibliographies in Lachman, VanDoodewaard and Beaton above.

Low, George D. – Appendix 2, ‘Bibliography – B. – The Marrow Controversy’  1907  5 pp.  in A General Account of My Life by Thomas Boston, pp. 361-5

The list is divided into two parts: (a) for the Marrow, and (b) against the Marrow.

“The fullest bibliography of books and pamphlets connected with the Controversy [as of 1926]…” – Beaton




Related Pages

Scottish Church History

Historical Theology

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Thomas Boston on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Ralph Erskine on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Ebenezer Erskine on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

John Brown of Haddington on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

John Colquhoun on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

The Atonement




Bible Verses on Degrees of Reward in Heaven

Bible Verses on Degrees of Punishment in Hell

The Mosaic Covenant