Dec 30, 2009

Thoughts upon the date of Justification - Part 3 by Job Hupton

The numbering, bold lettering, and additional paragraph forming have been added as a help for the reader.

Having stated my views of the subject to which you object, I would submit to your consideration the subsequent answers to your objections.

1. Object. 1st. « God in the scripture, positively declares, that those who believe not in Jesus Christ, are under condemnation. John. iii. 19." It is, I think, evident upon the face of this objection, that the reasonings of your mind are something like the following : " a person cannot be, at the same time, in a state of condemnation, and a state of justification; but unbelievers are in a state of condemnation; therefore, unbelievers are not in a state of justification." This reasoning is false, and it affects some other grand leading truths of the everlasting gospel, as much as it does eternal justification; truths which are delivered by the lip of divine eternal truth, in terms equally strong, positive, and unequivocal, with those in which the condemnation of unbelievers is expressed; and which it is thought you, Sir, with all your objections, would confess, as a part of your creed, and publish without hesitation, as the glory of the gospel : the truths to which I allude, are the eternity of God's love to his elect, their eternal blessedness in Christ, and their redemption from the curse by the death of Christ. The following arguments, framed upon the same principle as the above, which is supposed to militate with justification before faith, might be introduced, with some degree of plausibility, to prove that the love of God to the elect, their blessedness in Jesus, and their redemption are not prior to faith.

Thoughts upon the date of Justification - Part 2 by Job Hupton

The numbering, bold lettering, and additional paragraph forming have been added as a help for the reader.

1. Justification is a simple act of the divine eternal mind, or the absolute determination of God not to impute sin to his people, and to place the righteousness of Christ to their account. Deny the eternity of this determination, and where is the immutability of deity? Can it be said, with truth, that new resolutions are formed in the mind of God, and yet that he is unchangeable ? Surely not, for in that very moment in which he forms a new design, mutability attaches to his character, and his glory is tarnished. Let us then be careful, not to maintain a favourite notion at the expense of our Maker's glory. He is the Lord; he changes not. His thoughts, his counsels, his purposes and decrees, are, like the perfections of his nature, without the shadow of a change.

Thoughts upon the date of Justification - Part 1 by Job Hupton

The numbering, bold lettering, and additional paragraph forms have been added as a help for the reader.

1. Gospel justification is an act of the gracious will of God, by which the elect are constituted completely and immutably just, or righteous, in Christ Jesus, by the imputation of his righteousness to. their persons. Union with the glorious Mediator is the basis upon which it rests ; as no man is justified who is not united to him, so no man is unjustified who is united to him. We have no authority whatever in the Holy Scriptures, to say either that a person who is not in him is righteous, or that one who is in him is unrighteous : it is in him that all the seed of Israel are justified ; because in him they have righteousness.

ARTICLE 24 - On Gospel Invitations by J.H. Gosden

Commentary on the Gospel Standard Baptist Articles of Faith
ARTICLE 24 - On Gospel Invitations
by J.H. Gosden

"We believe that the invitations of the gospel, being spirit and life (that is, under the influence of the Holy Spirit), are intended only for those who have been made by the blessed Spirit to feel their lost state as sinners and their need of Christ as their Savior, and to repent of and forsake their sins." As distinct from general invitations and promises of temporal benefits and national blessings, which are conditional, divine gospel invitations and promises cannot be fortuitous, but must surely be determinate (Eph. 1. 11). If God intends saving good to a person, nothing can frustrate that intention (Rom. 8:28-31). Through the effectual operations of the Holy Ghost, gospel invitations eventually meet with a heart-felt response from those to whom they are given, as being exactly answerable to their condition. They are spoken to definite characters, and usually have attached to them gracious promises of suitable blessing upon compliance. What, for instance, could be more fitting for heavy laden, weary labourers than to be invited to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, who assures them rest in Himself (Matt. 11:28)? But what meaning would such an invitation and promise have for those who never felt the weight of guilt, and were never wearied with labouring without success to keep the whole law of God. How suitable to thirsty people is an invitation to the all-satisfying waters of divine life and grace, mercy, love and truth which issue from the river of God which is full of water and the streams whereof make glad the city of God (Isa. 55:1, Psa. 46:4)! And what more congruous than for bankrupts, fraudulently insolvent, to be bidden come and regale themselves with wine and milk, and enrich themselves with gold tried in the fire, on gospel terms -without money and without price?" Christ charged on the Laodiceans the folly of an ignorant imagination of independence., and discovered to them their entire wretchedness, before inviting them to "buy" the enriching provisions of His free market (Rev. 3:16-18).

God's intention does not rest upon the concurrence of the persons invited, but their compliance arises from the divine determination to do them good (Jer. 31 40; Phil, 2, 13). Without doubt there is a concurrence between the inscrutable sovereign will of God (His intention of grace) and the renewed will of a regenerate sinner. Divine power brings this about, according to the important and discriminating word of Christ: "All that the, Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). Very definitely the Savior denies that any others ever do come to Him (ver. 44). Who would say that the invitations and promises are intended for those who never come? Would an all-wise and righteous God invite those from whom He withholds the requisite influence of invincible grace to bring them into compliance with His holy gospel? Or is His knowledge so imperfect that He is unaware who will and who will not respond, and consequently must issue invitations promiscuously? It is surely blasphemy to think thus! Can it therefore be other than misleading for ministers indiscriminately to scatter invitations among a mixed congregation?
True, our knowledge of who are the Lord's elect people can be but very imperfect and partial. "By their fruits ye shall know them," is a divinely-given rule. Consequently it is imperative first to describe the character of sin, to show the condition of mankind under the law, their need of mercy and salvation; then to preach salvation as accomplished by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to "testify repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20. 21), describing the character of those who are invited - the lost, the lame, the halt, the blind, the sick, and not the whole. Fitness for Christ's outstretching invitations and His attractive promises is not in creature merit, but is in an urgent felt need of the very blessings contained in the gospel of salvation. Hunger and thirst after righteousness is a condition indicative of soul life and health, into which divine grace alone can bring one. These only are the intended objects of gospel invitations and promises; to them God determines and ultimately conveys the blessings of a full and free and everlasting salvation. Similarly, the state of godly mourning for sin, fitting a person for the enjoyment of divine pardon, accompanies free grace, and is pre-supposed in the invitations. Inviting people to repent or to come to Christ, apart from such "breaking up of the fallow ground," is much like sowing amongst thorns, which appears strangely inconsistent (Jer. 4:3; Hos. 10. 12), Yet we must guard against discouraging a coming sinner by imposing conditions. One hymn-writer puts it very simply:

"All the fitness He requireth,
'Tis to feel your need of Him:
This He gives you
Its His Spirit's rising beam."

Whilst it is solemnly true that in a state of nature NONE of the sons of men will come to Christ for life (John 5:40), it seems most inappropriate to invite such as have no realization of their desperate need to come for what they can have no desire, Let a man be first convinced of his sin and ruin, and shown the all sufficiency of Christ for salvation, then invitations are blessedly fitting, and gospel promises most attractive and amazing. Yet such is the condition of a convicted sinner that the invitation requires almost to take on the nature of "compulsion" to overcome the diffidence frequently felt.

"Why was I made to hear His voice,
And enter while there's room
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?

"'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced me in,
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin-

It behooves us poor, ignorant, sinful mortals to consider with deepest reverence divine "intentions," But in-so-far as God has revealed Himself in His Word, it is preposterous to think otherwise than that He intends precisely what He says, and says exactly what He intends. "I saith not to the seed of Jacob. Seek ye me in vain" (Isa. 45:19). When He said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find-, knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Christ was inviting His disciples to importunate prayer, assuring them of success (Luke 11:1-13). For whom would this be intended but for those who felt needy, helpless, outcast and poor? How many fearful, tempted sinners not as yet assured of their interest in the blessings of the gospel, have been emboldened by such divine invitations to venture to ask, seek, knock and to wait with an expectancy based upon the gracious pledge of success! When a minister perceives in his congregation such poor, hungry, guilty, troubled sinners how he will "draw out his soul unto them" (Isa. 58:10) and "compel" them to come in (Luke 14:23)!

But it will be said that that very parable shows many who were bidden but found excuses, and does not that really prove that the invitations of the gospel are intended for them also? We think not, The secret purpose of God concerning every individual of the human race (and every angel and devil), though hidden from us, is determined in the divine mind (Rom. 9:18 2Pet.2:4-5). That many never repent or believe the gospel, who yet come under the outward sound of the Word and hear mention of the invitations, is not in our mind the same thing as God intending to bless them with salvation if only they will concur. That would make gospel blessings contingent on man's will. Ultimately all the elect of God are "made willing in the day of Christ's power" in their own experience, and being then thoroughly convinced of their sin and brought to repentance, the invitations and promises of the gospel are made spirit and life in their producing a heart-felt thankful response.

"Lo, glad I come. and Thou, blest Lamb,
Shalt take me to Thee as I am
Nothing but sin I Thee can give,
Nothing but love shall I receive."

When the Lord Jesus circulates that broad invitation, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17) His intention was to extend it - and to limit it to those possessed of a willingness. Whence comes this willingness? Divine grace alone produces it, changing that inveterate "will not" of John 5:40 into a sweetly compliant, "Behold, we come unto Thee for Thou art the Lord our God" (Jer, 3:22). Where is a willing sinner but is taught the truth of Hart's word:

"Death's within thee, all about thee
But the remedy's without thee:
See it in thy Saviour's blood"

In regard to the solemn inexcusability of all who despise the gospel under the sound of which they may be brought through divine providence, the Lord's own words are': "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust" (John 5:45). Grace, through faith and repentance - Christ's own precious gifts - alone can deliver from condemnation. If yye believe not that I AM (He), ye shall die in your sins." "Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish" (John 8:24. Luke 13:3). Paul strikes a solemn note of warning: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" - an antidote to fatalism, without suggesting a contingent salvation.

"Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest and causest to approach unto Thee" (Psa. 65:4), Making divine invitations effectual in the heart's experience. Eternally blessed they who shall receive that final invitation, that welcome command: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34).

You can read much of the book, "What Gospel Standard Baptists Believe" HERE

Dec 29, 2009

Universal invitations incompatible with the very concept of redemption by John Foreman

Universal invitations incompatible with the very concept of redemption

We are aware that while the arminians will, irrespective of what the truth of God really is, or what awful consequents such a saying must involve, as that of making out God to be but like one of themselves in the final issues of the mightiest work of his arm, unreservedly say that `There are thousands in hell for whom Christ died, who might have been in heaven.' Many of the duty faith and universal invitation men will not out and out say so much, nor speak so plain on the absolute failure and coming to nothing of the redemption work of Christ; but with much more studied cunning, aim at a sort of middle way, by so construing Christ's

redemption as that all men individually might go to heaven by it, and so as to make it out the duty of all men to do so, and that all men should be exhorted and invited to do so accordingly; and so making out the redemption of Christ as a kind of might be universal, and yet so as to be complete, and in no way failing, though it be finally but particular only in its real saving effects.

And to establish this more cunning than wise, more subtle than true, more diabolical than righteous and divine scheme, no pains have been spared to denounce and discard every thing in the shape and character of a direct and honourable commercial transaction from the atonement and redemption work of Christ; because any thing in the nature, order, and character of a commercial transaction considered therein, would determine the work of Christ to be too exact, definite, particular and certain, on grounds of equity, and not leave it loose, vague, indiscriminate, unmeaning and uncertain enough, to allow place for universal invitations with any sort of countenance; and so it has been said, `The redemption work of Christ is no bargain.' But the very word redemption of itself carries every thing in it that belongs to the nature, order and character of a commercial transaction; as in that of a real outlay or price paid, one that pays it, one that receives `the price of redemption,' and an object freed and rescued by such price paid, or outlay made. Sins are compared to debts, sinners to debtors, and the offended to a creditor, Matt vi 12; Luke xi 4; vii 41,42. And the church is said to be `bought with a price,' 1 Cor vi 20; and to be the Lord's `purchased possession,' Eph i 14, `which he hath purchased with his own blood,' Acts xx 28. If to purchase with a price ever was a commercial transaction, the redemption of Christ is hereby declared to be in the very nature and order of such a transaction, by a real purchase, with a real price, to a real possession. And as to a'bargain,' there is so much of the specificate nature and order of a determinate bargain in the redemption work of Christ, that he is at once called a surety, with an `Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?' Heb vii 22; Luke xxiv 26. And from whence comes this ought on Christ, but from a contract-like engagement entered into according to all the afore-written scriptures concerning him? Luke xxiv 44,46. And what is this glory that he ought and will enter into, but the entire possession of all the mediatorial rights and claims stipulated to him on his accomplishment of his sufferings? Luke ix 30,31. And what are those rights and claims of Christ, as Mediator, less than the full and immortal possession and life, in his own life, of

all and every one for whom he made `amends for the harm done,' Lev v 16, whom he redeemed from the curse of the law, unto God by his blood, made peace for, and reconciled to God by the death of his cross, through his full discharge of his contracted ought of sufferings for them, saying, `It is finished?' The glory of Christ lies not in his sufferings, but in the issues perfectly secured, according to the purposed ends and designs thereof; and so he suffers first, and then enters into his glory of a perfect possession of the fruits thereof, without defect or failure; even as the Holy Spirit in the prophets `testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.'

Now to say, for the purpose of making out some sort of a plea for universal invitations, that Christ's redemption is really in any way or form universal, while salvation evidently is not so to a large extent, is, - (1) To say there was none of that order and regularity in it, nor final issue determined, as recorded of it in the truth of the above scriptures. (2) That there is that in the redemption of Christ that might be for good, but will in reality be altogether fruitless and in vain to as large an extent as salvation is not universal. (3) That the sins of all those who are not saved, will, contrary to all laws, human and divine, be twice punished, and that in the full penalty of the guilt thereof by law each time; first, in Christ being made a curse to the full amount the righteous law of God could curse their sins on him as their surety, and next in their being fully damned for the same sins, as though Christ had not suffered for those sins at all; while the sins of those who go to heaven, are but once punished in the sufferings of Christ; and which sufferings were for them a complete atonement and eternal redemption obtained, without once consulting their goodwill or their ill will, whereby to make it to them effectually, eternal redemption. (4) That the will of men, and not the sufferings of Christ, is to determine his entry into his final salvation glory, and the final number of the redeemed inhabitants of heaven. (5) That in regard to the lost, God the Father knowingly punished Christ in vain, and that Christ suffered knowingly in vain, or God the Father must be denied the perfection of his foreknowledge of the ‘end from the beginning;' and Christ's Godhead and foreknowledge must be denied, and he be considered to suffer in ignorance, and as a short-sighted man only, as to the final effects thereof.

These appear to me to be awful conclusions, and yet they are only what universal notions of redemption, as an only plea for universal invitations, must bring us to. The first sin on earth was a sort of religious sin, in man's aspiring to be as God; and now the awful religious sin on the earth is, a making God out to be as one of us, and to wait for the will of man; but without this there is no footing, countenance, or plausible plea whatever, that can be made out for universal invitations; as they must ever stand a direct contradiction to every doctrine of discriminating and sovereign grace; and especially so to the scripture truth of the atonement and redemption of Christ as particular, and as the infallibly determinate boundary of God's salvation covenant, purpose, and promise in, and by Christ Jesus our Lord; and for these reasons I have drawn out my remarks to the length I have on redemption, and shall now pursue another course of ideas on duty faith.

(Duty Faith by John Foreman)



As it is impossible to give any thing of a tolerable countenance to universal invitations on particular redemption premises, so, as a sort of plea for universal invitations to salvation, the work of our Lord Jesus Christ is mauled about into all manner of shapes and forms of a something universal; but forced to be therewith of consequent uncertainty, and perishable fallibility. Because none pretend to affirm that salvation is or will finally be universal, but intimate that on the work of Christ being universal, salvation might be if men would But according to this, so far as salvation fails to be universal, just so far the whole work of our Lord Jesus Christ in life, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ever living intercession, must fail, prove in vain, perish, and come to nothing. Universal invitation principles must bring us to this awful, God-dishonoring, yea, God-denying conclusion; because, according to the word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham, came into our world, and did, suffered, and accomplished all he `finished,' with no other object, aim, end, and intent, than that of salvation; so that if salvation fail in any one instance, the work of our Lord Jesus Christ is declared to fail, perish, be in vain, and come to nothing in every such case. Universal invitation men must admit and come to this conclusion, or accurse their own universal notions to the public gibbet of condemnation, there to hang till they be dead; and God in the glorious Trinity of his persons, and in all his perfection, and in all his God-like works and ways, be honoured, magnified, and declared God over all, blessed for ever, in having mercy on whom he will have mercy, and in saving with an everlasting salvation all whom he will save.

Did Christ die intentionally for the elect and provisionally for the rest?

It has been said, that `Christ died intentionally for the elect, and provisionally for all the rest of mankind, and that there is merit enough in the blood of Christ for the redemption of all men, if they would apply for it.' This is as easy said as any thing else, and is very pleasant to flesh and blood, but it is not easy to be proved and sustained for truth by any one text in all the word of God; because in relation to eternal salvation, God has borne no such testimony in any part of his word, either of man, or of himself, of his will and intention, or of his work, or the worth that is in it. The Lord's plans are all drawn in his own mind before he begins his work; the counsel of his own will, indeed, is his one great and entire plan, and to this plan he will work all things until he has fulfilled all he has purposed, promised, meant and intended; for as he is of infinite understanding, and sees the end from the beginning, all his provisions, operations, promises and intentions, are in conformity to, and all tend infallibly to secure that full end and design; for `I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it,' Eccl iii 14; so that `All God's works shall praise him, and his saints shall bless him.'

Did Christ die for all sin, not persons in particular?

It has been said, `That Christ died for sin, for all sin, and not for persons in particular.' This is a very convenient loop-hole for the bringing in of universal invitations, and human conditions for the personal acquirement of eternal life; but is this the truth of God that endureth for ever? Death is the wages of sin, and if Christ died for all sin, then is there now no more death for sin to any one. Death is the full penalty of sin, and so much of sin as Christ hath died for, so much of death that came by sin hath Christ for ever destroyed. And if Christ died for all sin, then hath he for ever abolished, swallowed up in victory, and destroyed all death, that came by sin, or by dying he hath not destroyed death at all, and in that case what has he done by dying? But according to the truth of the word of God, so far as Christ hath died for sin, so far death that came by sin, and is the wages and penalty of sin, is destroyed, so as to have no more power or existence in relation to the sin for which Christ died; and as far as sin was condemned in the flesh of Christ, so far is condemnation for ever ended on the sin for which Christ died, Rom viii 1,3. For wherein Christ by dying for sin is death's destruction, there, and to that full extent, is he life's sure, full and happy fountain for ever, John xi 25,26; and to this truth the Holy Ghost leads the convinced heirs of salvation for the hope of eternal life, and to realize, by humble persuasion under his divine testimony, that on the ground of this truth, `the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made and doth make them free from the law of sin and death,' Rom viii 2; with the happy, `Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,' verse 34. Sin is called a debt, and that Christ should pay off that debt by dying, without an immediate regard to the debtor, appears to me most senseless. Sin is an offence, and that Christ should suffer death, which is the utmost penalty for the offence, without an immediate regard to the offender, and his sure escape too, appears to me to be anything but divine truth, reason or common sense; because we might just as well say, that Christ died to pay debts and to suffer penalties without any regard whatever to either debtor or creditor, offender or offended; or without any real design.

Is redemption universal but men do not avail themselves of it?

It has been said, `That redemption is universal, and that the reason why salvation is not universal, is because men do not avail themselves of the advantages of redemption.' This gives plenty of scope for universal invitations, and just suits the pride of the human heart, because it gives to man a sort of self-dispensing power over the eternal favours of God, and denies God's sovereignty in the dispensations of his own blessings. This also makes the redemption work of Christ to come a certain distance toward the sinner, but not to reach all the way to him as a sinner, without strength, dead in sins, and at enmity against God, in order to fetch him out from that very state. But if the ladder which Jacob saw had not come all the way to the earth, it could have marked out no way of intercourse for him with heaven, or heaven with him: and so the work of Christ would do nothing if it did not reach all the way to the sinner's case as a sinner. But quite contrary, and very happily so, to the above nonsense of the sinner's availing himself, the apostle Paul declares the work of our Lord Jesus Christ to extend to the sinner as a sinner considered, and not to him merely considered as a coming saint: saying, `When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly,' Rom v 6; `While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,' verse 8; `When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,' verse 10. And this the apostle calls God's commendation of his love to us, verse 8; and considering this being done in the great love of God, that there is now a much more abundant certainty, that all shall be finally saved from wrath, for whom this work of Christ has thus been done.

And this notion of man's `availing himself of the advantages of redemption,' leaves the Holy Spirit's work out altogether, as having nothing to do with the matter of personal godliness and salvation in such gentlemen's theology; although our Lord himself hath so plainly said, `When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment,' John xvi 8-11; `He shall testify of me,' xv 26; `He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you,' xvi 14. And this notion of self availing' goes also to say, that man's not availing himself of certain things in his own strength and of his own will, does more for the saint's everlasting ruin in hell, than all the good will, the love, the promises, and all the gracious works of the Lord will finally avail to save it; and that Christ has redeemed in vain, or redeemed with a redemption that may turn out to be no redemption at all, unless the ruined will consent to its being effectual! And I think how happy and pleased such men as the above must feel in their dear good selves, as being so good as to avail themselves of the advantages of redemption, while there are so many who are so much more naughty and wicked as not so to avail themselves, Luke xviii 9. But when God by mercy shall take in his prodigals, and righteously turn out his never-offending, and shew up the full truth to effect, that nothing but God's workmanship, and none but new creatures in Christ Jesus, who are born of God and of incorruptible seed, shall inherit the kingdom of God, how will this self-availing scheme stand then in the judgment of God?

The work of Christ is particular and effectual, not universal and uncertain

It has been said, `That redemption is universal, but the application particular; and that a universal redemption is a necessary preliminary to a particular application.' What can men of learningand talent think the redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ really to be, to speak of it in this way? For the word redemption itself must be well known to have no such meaning, acceptation, or use among men by any analogy under the whole heavens. It is well known that the word signifies buying back, a rescue, a release, a reclaim, a freedom obtained by an adequate price paid for the same, with the consideration that there is no such freedom without such price, and that no such price is paid without such freedom being obtained and secured without any further consideration, and which is accordingly called `The price of redemption.' Lev xxv 51,52. And the word redeem will apply to land mortgaged, to any thing put in pledge for money, to a person who has forfeited his liberty by misdeeds, and to persons taken prisoners in the field of battle, and led away captive by the conqueror; and in all these and such like cases where redemption is required, and is to be effected, the price of redemption is the full price of complete freedom and deliverance always. Deliverance by power, without any other immediate outlay, is called redemption, Jer xxxi 11; but no sort of price paid is ever called redemption without deliverance effected and secured thereby. The apostle useth the word in regard to saving of time by Christian diligence, watchfulness, &c., saying, `Redeeming the time,' Col iv 5. Now it is the time saved, the deliverance wrought, the rescue and freedom actually effected and secured, that is called, and is properly the redemption; and not the diligence employed, the power outlaid, or the price paid, for they are but the means; so that whatever be the price paid, the power or outlay employed, the deliverance and salvation itself only is the redemption, as we so fully and plainly read in the word of God saying, `The angel which redeemed me from all evil,' Gen xlviii 16; `The Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,' 2 Sam iv 9; `Out of all distress,' 1 King i 29; `Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,' Psalm ciii 4; `I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death,' Hosea xiii 14; `That he might redeem us from all iniquity,' Tit ii 14; `Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,' Gal iii 13; `From your vain conversation,' 1 Peter i 18; `Which were redeemed from the earth,' Rev xiv 3; `These were redeemed from among men,' verse 4; `Which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt,' 2 Sam vii 23; `And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,' Rev v 9.

From the word of God, therefore, so full and so plain on the point, it is undeniably evident, that a real deliverance only effected and ensured is redemption; and that without a real, proper, and actual deliverance and freedom ensured from the thralldom considered, whatever is done, it is in no shape redemption at all, by any known meaning and proper use of the terms redeem, redemption, redeemeth, redeemed, redeemest. And on what ground, then, our Lord Jesus Christ's proper redemption of souls, by the full price of `Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,' Ex xxi 23-25, in suffering, bloodshed, and obedience even unto the death of the cross, should be so mauled about as above, and subjected to those drawbacks, imbecilities, failures and defects, contrary to all and every idea of a real and proper redemption in every other matter, case or instance known among men, for which the true and proper sense and meaning of the word redemption is known to stand, I cannot make out or understand; otherwise than that such men, professing to receive the truth of God, at the same time cannot bear the plain, free, discriminating, absolute grace, shape and order of that truth, and, consequently, not its real nature and design.

I hope I have as large a heart and soul for the salvation of sinners as any man living, and subject to the sovereign will and operative power of God, work as hard at least as any second-rate labourer in the Lord's name, to promote that end; but I must confess that I have never been able to make that out to be redemption at all, which does not really and properly redeem, but leaves its intended objects, from certain still existing causes, enthralled, undelivered, unrescued, and liable, after all, to all the misery and woe to which exposed without such a falsely called redemption. Nor that to be atonement that does not really and properly atone, by `making amends for the harm done,' Lev v 16, by `covering the sin,' Ps xxxii 1, so as to ensure forgiveness of all offences concerned, according to the word of the Lord, saying, `And the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him,' Lev iv 26,30,31,35; v 10,13,16,18; vi 7. Nor that to be reconciliation that does not really and properly reconcile, but leaves the disagreement so far unsettled, as that the parties concerned are liable to be as far off as ever on the old grounds of offence. Nor that to be a propitiation that does not really and properly propitiate, but leaves all the offence, anger and frown, liable to remain and to break out in full effect after all; and even the more so by far, from what has been done to appease than otherwise, according to the duty faith gospel! Nor that to be justification that does not really and properly justify its intended objects from all condemnation and the causes thereof, but leaves them still subject to certain liabilities of charge and condemning consequents. The above five plain words (i.e. redemption, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation and justification) are employed in the sacred scriptures, to declare the good will and truth of God in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; but there is not one of them that is or can be allowed, by the duty faith and universal invitation system, to have its proper meaning finally and effectually carried out and established by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ alone, without being suspended on the hazard of some creature conditions, which subjects the whole to a wide extent, according to that scheme, to an entire failure; but which failure, and the system that must admit it, duty faith men are much more prepared to receive, love and hold fast, than they are to embrace the divine doctrine of `I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy;' but in which form will the last great day shew up the dispensation of God's favours?

The work of Christ is salvation; and whatever he has done for the salvation of one soul, the very same he has done for the salvation of every soul for whom he has done any thing at all for salvation. So that if the work of Christ to save be universal in any part of it, it must be universal in every part of it; and in such case every part of the work of Christ must fail and be in vain in the case of every soul that is lost. But if the work of Christ be salvation to one or more, as it really is, and from which alone he is called the Saviour, how is it that every one is not saved by the work of Christ, if that work was done alike for all?

I think I may safely challenge all the duty faith schools, divines, and advocates in the world, to prove from the sacred text that the redemption of souls by our Lord Jesus Christ is more or less than one complete and uniform redemption, or that it is at all divisible into sections of different lengths, strength, character, design, or effectuality, in relation to any different portions of the redeemed, as arising from any difference of circumstances whatever on their own part. If such a thing can be proved, where is the sacred text in the evident mind of the Spirit to prove it? We claim the right to take our stand at this point, because if this cannot be proved by the word of God, then redemption in itself must be as particular as salvation is and has been in all ages discriminate; by redemption I hereby mean the entire saving work of Christ as a systematical whole; for redemption being but one, what it is to one soul, it must be to all the redeemed; and what it is not to all the redeemed, it cannot be to any one. If one redeemed soul be lost, why not all? And if the redemption of Christ be the salvation of one soul, so it is and must be of all the redeemed; and the reason why all men are not saved, is that they are not redeemed; for while the eternal salvation of the soul lies, by divine purpose, embodied and secured in redemption, the available essence of redemption lies in the worth and merit of it, solely as wrought out and obtained by Christ himself in his life and death; the gospel of it, operative power about it, application and personal evidence of it, being no additions whatever to it, but consequents growing out of it, as ensured by it. For as redemption can and doth make singers of its redeemed, while singers cannot make nor add anything to redemption, Rev xiv 3; so redemption grace will make and produce believers, but believing never did nor can make or add any thing of interest or security to redemption, but openly declare, as by grace given evidence, such souls to be redeemed ones; for `the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head,' Isaiah li 11. They are not redeemed for returning, but return because they are redeemed; nor are they redeemed for singing, but their redemption shall make them all sing for joy; because it is the redeemed, without pointing to any part, or to any circumstance relating to one part of them more than another, for God names only their being the redeemed, as the who shall return, and as the why they shall return.

We are not opposed to a large redemption, but to the notion of any being lost whom Christ bath redeemed; and to that of his having done any part of his saving work for those who will be lost. In my opinion, it is as far off from the truth of God, and as awfully opposed to the truth of God, to say that Christ, who is the God-Man mediator of the better covenant, hath wrought out a universal redemption, but which will prove all in vain, perish, and come to nothing, from certain causes in man, as far as salvation fails to be universal, as it is to say, `that Christ hath wrought no redemption at all, and that he only lived a good and holy life, and died a martyr, to set us an example, that by following the same we may go to heaven by a good moral life.' Both these notions are alike opposed to the truth of God, only one holds that he hash done the greatest and most glorious of all his works, to a vast extent in vain; and the other holds that he hath done no such work at all. Both these are strongholds of Satan, but the first in the present day commands the popular piety.

(Duty Faith John Foreman)

Dec 27, 2009

Faith, Repentance, and Good Works - John Gill

5. Fifthly, I shall close this chapter with a brief answer to some queries relating to faith, repentance, and good works; as, to what they belong, whether to law or gospel.

5a. Whether faith is a duty of the moral law, or is to be referred to the gospel? to which it may be answered, that as the law is not of faith, so faith is not of the law. There is a faith indeed which the law requires and obliges to, namely, faith and trust in God, as the God of nature and providence; for as both the law of nature, and the law of Moses, show there is a God, and who is to be worshipped; they both require a belief of him, and trust and confidence in him; which is one part of the worship of him enjoined therein: moreover the law obliges men to give credit to any revelation of the mind and will of God he has made, or should think fit to make unto them at any time; but as for special faith in Christ as a Saviour, or believing in him to the saving of the soul; this the law knows nothing of, nor does it make it known; this kind of faith neither comes by the ministration of it, nor does it direct to Christ the object of it, nor give any encouragement to believe in him on the above account; but it is a blessing of the covenant of grace, which flows from electing love, is a gift of God's free grace, the operation of the Spirit of God, comes by the hearing of faith, or the word of faith, as a means, that is, the gospel; for which reason, among others, the gospel is so called; and it is that which points out Christ, the object of faith; and directs and encourages sensible sinners under a divine influence to exercise it on him; its language is, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved", Ac 16:31".

5b. Whether repentance is a doctrine of the law or of the gospel? the answer to which is, that such who sin ought to repent of sin; this God has commanded, the law of nature teaches; and so far as this is to be considered as a duty incumbent on men, it belongs to the law, as all duty does; but then the law makes no account of repentance for sin; nor does it admit of it as a satisfaction for it; nor gives any encouragement to expect that God will receive repenting sinners into his grace and favour upon it; this is what the gospel does, and not the law; the law says not, repent and live, but do and live. Moreover, there is what may be called a legal repentance and contrition; for by the law is the knowledge of sin, without which there can be no repentance; and it works a sense of wrath in the sinners conscience, and a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation from an incensed God; but if it stop here, it will prove no other than a worldly sorrow, which worketh death. The Spirit of God may make use of this, and go on and produce spiritual repentance, such a repentance as is unto life, even life eternal; and unto salvation, which needeth not to be repented of: but such a repentance is not the work of the law; for life and salvation come not by any work of the law; but true repentance, which has salvation annexed to it, is, as faith, a blessing of the covenant of grace; a grant from God, a gift of Christ as a Saviour, and with it remission of sins; a grace produced in the soul by the Spirit of Christ, by means of the gospel, which only encourages to the exercise of it; see "Acts 5:31 11:18 2Co 7:10 Ga 3:2". And so is a doctrine of the gospel, and not of the law, as appears from the ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who exhorted and encouraged to repentance from gospel motives; and preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, "Matt 3:2 Mr 1:4". But what has the law to do either with baptism or the remission of sins? His ministry was evangelical, and ran in the same strain with the apostles, as appears from their answer to a question put to them; "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" A serious question, put upon thought and reflection by persons upon the bottom of a covenant of works {1}, as the Jews rally were; and especially under a sense of guilt, as those were, desirous to know what must be done by them, that they "might be saved"; as it may be supplied from the jailor's words, when in the same case; or whereby they might make atonement for, and obtain the pardon of so great a sin, of which they were guilty {2}: to which a proper answer is returned, putting them off of legal works for such purposes, and directing them to evangelical ones; "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, for the remission of sins", "Acts 2:37,38". And this is also clear from the story of Christ himself; who came, not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance; which was not a legal, but evangelical repentance. He began his ministry thus; "Repent, and believe the gospel", see "Matt 9:13 Mr 1:15". With which agrees the ministry of the apostles in general; who, by the direction of Christ, preached repentance and remission of sins in his name; which most certainly was the gospel; the one, as well as the other, a doctrine of the gospel, "Luke 24:47". And the apostle Paul, who was a most evangelical preacher, divides his whole ministry into these two parts; "Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ", "Acts 20:21".

5c. Whether good works belong to the gospel, or to the law? or rather, whether there are any works that belong to the gospel distinct from the law? to which it may be replied, That the gospel, taken in a large sense, as has been observed in the beginning of this chapter, includes both the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel; and the one, as well as the other, are taught, and directed to be observed; yea, all good works, which the law requires, are moved and urged unto in the ministry of the gospel, upon gospel principles and motives: the gospel of the grace of God, which brings the good tidings of salvation, instructs and urges men to do good works, and to avoid sin, "Titus 2:11,12 3:8". But the gospel, strictly taken, is a pure declaration of grace, a mere promise of salvation by Christ. All duty and good works belong to the law; promise and grace belong to the gospel; the works of the law, and the grace of the gospel, are always opposed to each other, "Rom 3:20,24,28 Eph 2:8". And if there were any works distinct from the law, and not required by it, which, if not performed, would be sin; then the apostle's definition of sin, as a transgression of the law, would not be a full and proper one, "#1Jo 3:4" since then there would be sins which were not transgressions of the law; wherefore, as all evil works are transgressions of the law, all good works are required and enjoined by it.

-John Gill, The Body of Divinity: Of the Gospel

Commentary on the Gospel Standard Baptist Articles of Faith by J.H. Gosden

Commentary on the Gospel Standard Baptist Articles of Faith
ARTICLE 26 - On Duty Faith by J.H. Gosden

"We deny duty-faith and duty-repentance - these terms signifying that it is every man's duty spiritually and savingly to repent and believe. We deny also that there is any capability in man by nature to any spiritual good whatever. So that reject the doctrine that men in a state of nature should be exhorted to believe in or turn to God."

Whatever our worthy predecessors intended by the terms of this Article, they certainly did not mean to minimize the sin of unbelief. The purpose was to rebut the flesh-pleasing error taught by the Arminian that man in his natural state (that is, dead in trespasses and sins) is possessed of some latent power to exercise savingly the spiritual acts of faith and repentance. Our belief is that fallen man has neither power, nor will, nor inclination to anything spiritual. Scripture abundantly teaches this (I Cor. 2:14 Rom. 8: 7,8; Matt. 15: 19; John 1:11-13; 3:3-7). But this notwithstanding, we believe that all men are under obligation to believe and obey God. Though the Adam Fall utterly depraved and alienated human nature from God and goodness, rendering him as entirely incapable as unwilling to submit to God's law, yet the divine Lawgiver has not lost His power to command and to judge. Man's inability does not exonerate him. While some entertain a wholesome fear of the very term duty in relation to God, through its frequent misapplication, both Solomon and his divine Antitype speak of man's duty. On the completion of his extensive survey, the wisest man came to the conclusion that to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man (Eccl.12:13). And the all-wise God-Man said, "When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10).

To the unregenerate the thought of duty Godward either does not arise or is soon dismissed with some formal religious service. What to innocent humanity must have been delightful is to sinful man irksome. Before regeneration he is capable neither of acceptable obedience nor worship. At the same time, unbelief is a chief sin, the root of all other sins (John 16:9; Rom. 1. 19, 28). But what is every man duty-bound to believe? Surely not that each individual is himself interested in the redemption work of Christ, Man is not called upon to believe a lie. No, but as God has revealed Himself in His Word and works, man is inexcusable in his unbelief. Here caution is needed. Men require to be thoroughly warned of their lost state under the law, convinced of their inability to meets its demands and told of their accountability to God and of his revealed wrath against all unrighteousness of men. Thus warned of "wrath to come" repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ may be properly preached (Acts 20:21). As the convincing power of the Holy Spirit attends the ministry, the elect are sought out and brought in guilty before God. To them Christ will be attractive as held forth in the gospel. It is the sick soul who wants the Physician, and it is the minister's duty and privilege to minister the consolations of the gospel to such.

Faith being the peculiar gift of God's grace, and repentance a spiritual grant of heaven (Eph. 2:8 Acts 11:18; 5:31), neither can originate in the will or power of the creature or be the act of the unregenerate. Even when duly convicted, a sinner proves that to exercise repentance and faith is more than he is able for [capable of], apart from the empowering grace of the Holy Spirit. "Duty-faith" and "duty-repentance" are little use to one who feels himself lost and helpless. To demand it from such is to strike the dying dead. But it is as life from the dead when he is enabled by the blessed Spirit so to believe in Christ as to find power and courage to confess sin (unbelief is well as all other sins) to God, and to plead for pardon and mercy for His sake. Then, when witness is borne in upon the confessing sinner's heart of his grace-given interest in the redeeming blood of Christ, and the love of God is shed abroad in his heart with sweet dissolving efficacy producing deep contrition, it is the believer's delightful privilege (call it duty who will) to believe and to repent with an evangelical repentance unto salvation not to be repented of (2 Cor. 7:10). Accompanying this faith and repentance is deep reverence and unbounded happiness and sweet liberty. True worship, embracing adoration, admiration, trust, thanksgiving, praise, submission and absolute surrender, flows front the liberated spirit of the pardoned child; while the gracious fruits of humility and love and beauty to the garments of salvation which clothe the soul (Psa. 149:4, Isa. 61:10). This is the purpose of the gospel ministry, as said Christ to the Apostle Paul: ". . . to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me" (Acts 26:18). Paul "warned every man, and taught every man" of the Colossian church in order to their being presented perfect in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:28). He did not unconditionally exhort every individual to believe in Christ, but showed those to whom He was sent "that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance 11 (Acts 26:18-21).

Indiscriminately to call upon all in a mixed congregation to do their duty, i.e. savingly and spiritually to believe in Christ, is to imply either that each individual person in the assembly is regenerate and convinced of sin, or that there is in those who are dead power to act Godward. This appears contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit who instructs gospel ministers both what to preach and where. Even the apostles were forbidden to preach the Word in certain places for certain periods. Presumably most Godsent ministers know in some measure the influence which emanates from the Holy Spirit through the presence of some in their congregation whom He inhabits, or whom [He] will bless and instruct through the ministry-, and the totally different influence sometimes felt when some particular opposition to the truth is being entertained by some hearers. Mysteriously, but no less truly, the Holy Ghost controls the ministry of His Word according to the purpose of electing love and the condition of those present. In former and better days this was more clearly manifest than now.

We are charged by some with preaching only to the elect, instead of "evangelizing" the world. We have no zeal to boast, but can appeal to the great Searcher of hearts that we are painfully anxious for the success of the gospel the weight of immortal soul's is heavy. But we are equally anxious not to deceive into a false notion of faith (as we much fear is frequently the case) those who have never been convinced of sin. We venture to say that those who think themselves quite capable of exercising faith at will because it is their duty to believe, and are satisfied with their faith, have probably never yet learned the power of God in which Paul desired the faith of the Corinthians should stand (I Cor. 2:5), nor yet discovered the true Object of faith a revealed, not a "letter" Christ.

One good man said:
"O could I but believe,
Then all would easy be:
I would but cannot, Lord, relieve,
My help must come from Thee."

Paul attributed to the Holy Ghost the power through which hope, joy, peace and faith should abound in the Roman saints (Rom. 15, 13). lie also prayed that God would fulfill in the Thessalonians "the work of faith with power." All which implies what every child of God proves in experience - that faith is the gift of God's grace, Christ is its Author, and for every subsequent prevailing act of faith the believer is dependent upon the reviving power of the Spirit of Christ who said, "I am the resurrection and the life." Definitely Paul teaches believing to be the result of the exertion in the soul of that very same power exerted in raising Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20). So that to reach that saving faith is a mere duty, for which a sinner is quite capable, is solemnly wide of the truth. Truly the just shall live by his faith - not on it, but by it, as it is drawn out into exercise upon its blessed Object, its Author and End, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Besides, it appears very far removed from the compassion (which it affects) to command unconvinced people to believe. The creation of believers is not a work for mere man, though "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). The mercy of God, which is His compassion, is shown in giving faith. "He bath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all" (Rom. 10:32). And it is most solemnly written: "He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth" (9. 18). "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18), and "put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (15:9). "Not of ourselves" but "the gift of God" is the saving faith of God's elect, and of a totally different nature from the faith into which impenitent unregenerate sinners may be persuaded. The latter does not purify the heart, nor work by love, nor separate from the world and sin. "It is dead, being alone" (James 2. 17). The professing world is filled with these nominal believers. But in giving living faith to some, the Lord makes effectual the preaching of the gospel, as in the case of Peter: "God at first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14), If Adam's guilt is transmitted to the human race, and all are born in sin and are dead to God by nature (Eph. 2:1) is it not a grievous error to suggest that by a general exhortation men can be awakened from that sleep of death, and of themselves savingly repent and believe the gospel? As good Berridge says:

"None can raise to life the dead
But He who raised Himself indeed,
And for dead sinners died."

While we definitely believe that it is the duty of man to believe all God has declared, and that unbelief is guilt, we consider it seriously erroneous to call upon all persons indiscriminately to perform such spiritual acts as repentance and faith as if they possessed in themselves an inherent power of spiritual life. In the fervency of a minister's appeal, much depends on the spirit and the emphasis; but all vitality depends on the Holy Ghost. Vital power does accompany the preaching of the gospel, both in conviction and killing, in making alive and delivering, and it is an unspeakable honour to be the instrument of conveying the gospel ministerially to poor lost sinners. But as we have so frequently pointed out, there is a vast difference between preaching the gospel in a mixed congregation, and offering Christ and salvation indiscriminately to all. Some who came to John's baptism were met with a solemn rebuff: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:7,8). Owen most truly says "Faith without repentance issues in presumption; repentance [that is, conviction] without faith issues in despair.
Isaiah asks: "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" plainly implying that faith results from divine revelation. It was something more than response to mere human exhortation to believe that enabled Peter to declare his faith in such emphatic terms: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," The Saviour Himself declared whence that faith came: - Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17).

We conclude with the simple statement that whereas we believe it to be every man's duty to credit God's Word both as to the law's demands and the record God has given of His Son, yet to address assemblies in such a way as to suggest that every person is capable of exercising saving faith and producing evangelical repentance is but to mock men. But solemnly to tell sinners that they have broken the holy law of God which therefore condemns them, and that "there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" but that of the Lord Jesus Christ who is exalted a Prince and Saviour for to give repentance and forgiveness of sins; to testify that Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth in Him, that in Him there is full pardon and plenteous redemption, and that God honourably justifies the ungodly who believe in Christ; to declare that however deeply convinced of sin, Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come by Him to God, and that He will in no wise cast out any who come; to proclaim to all who deeply feel their ignorance that there is an infallible Teacher,the Holy Spirit, whom Christ hath promised shall be give to, who asks Him, of the, Father (Luke 11:13), to guide them into all truth (John 16:13)- this we believe is to preach according to the tenor of the Word of God.

But though faith, "cometh by hearing", it does not necessarily come to all who hear. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). Application is the sovereign prerogative of the Holy Ghost. The great apostle, perceiving that in preaching Christ he was the savour of life unto life to those who were saved and the savour of death unto death to those who were lost, exclaimed, "Who is sufficient for these things?" How much more reason have we to confess our insufficiency! Our mercy will be ever to prove with Paul that "our sufficiency is of God." This will not impair the earnestness of our appeals to the unconverted, but it will temper our addresses with a sobriety becoming the solemnity of the eternal issues involved.

Dec 23, 2009

Addressing the Unconverted by E. White

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The Scriptural Method of Addressing the Unconverted by E. White (1893)

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From The Earthen Vessel
Paper read at Pastor's Conference, Little Alie-street, September 29, 1893.

AS ministers of Jesus Christ we desire to make full proof of our ministry, and to rightly and faithfully discharge every part of the solemn trust we have received from our Lord and Master. We are anxious that we may be able to say to our hearers in the language of the apostle, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." We have the flock of God to feed which He hath purchased with His blood, and who are savingly brought to know Him. But we have to seek the wandering sheep who are of His fold, and yet they are far from Him by blindness, alienation, and rebellion.

How shall we address men in a state of unregeneracy? This is the question, which occupies our consideration at this time. Shall we indiscriminately tell all men that Christ died for them, and now He waits for them to take His offered mercy? Nay, this is to deny the, plainest statement of Scripture, and contradict the distinguishing doctrines of grace, which are as clear as the sun at mid-day to eyes spiritually enlightened. Shall we command men who are dead in sins to do spiritual living acts, such as godly repentance, which is given by an exalted Saviour, or evangelical faith which is a free grace gift of God to His own elect: " For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God "? Shall we tell unregenerate men that every sermon they hear, if they do not repent and believe the Gospel, will add each time to their damnation? Such statements as these make the Gospel, instead of a message of good tidings, a law of terror. The Gospel is wholly remedial and not punitive; it brings the mews of salvation, and not of avenging justice. Shall we beseech, implore, entreat, and persuade dead sinners to turn to God, and tell them they will be damned for not doing so? We are not lacking in tenderness of spirit towards our fellow-sinners, and deep anxiety for their salvation, but we dare not tell them to do what we know is impossible, and for which we have no scriptural warrant. Amidst these conflicting opinions and self-contradictory assertions, let us seek out! The more excellent way. We turn to Holy Writ and seek not only our matter, but our method from that pure fount.

I. We insist upon the authority of that Word. It unhesitatingly and clearly shows man's lost and ruined condition as a sinner in the sight of God. It shows what a rebel he is; and the holiness and majesty of God. It charges him with guilt, and convicts him as a criminal. It lays the axe to the root of the tree unsparingly, and denounces sin in all its forms. It condones; mitigates, or extenuates man's guilt in no way whatever. Thus would we show the unconverted man his state, speaking especially against those crimes we may know certain persons to be guilty of; as Peter showed in the days of Pentecost that his hearers were guilty of imbruing their hands in Christ's blood; and Paul when speaking before the adulterous Felix, reasoned with him of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.

II. We would explain and enforce the holiness and inflexibility of God's law; that though man has fallen and become a ruined, helpless creature, the law has not changed nor relaxed in the least any of its claims. It still demands perfect obedience, and metes out its punishments unsparingly against every offender. It curses and condemns for the least transgression; and we should point out to every unconverted man, whether he prides himself on his morality, or is living in open, flagrant sin, that by his works he cannot be saved: that he is already under the curse of a broken law. We would show the spirituality of that law; that it takes cognizance of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We would follow our Master and explain the law in the light of the Sermon on the Mount. All ungodly men are prone to think sin a trifle and God's denunciation an unmeaning threat. The devil still insinuates his infidel doubts against the truth of God's Word. “Ye shall not surely die " is whispered in every sinner's ear by him. We must denounce his falsehood, and constantly assert God's truth, the purity and unchangeableness of His law.

III. We would declare to the sinner the consequence of his sin in the punishment it entails: that the punishment is just; that it is endless in its duration; that a never-ending hell is not a human theory, but that it is based on Scripture, and as clearly revealed in Scripture as salvation from sin. We shall speak of this solemn subject with no hesitancy: in no trifling, flippant mood. We shall speak as those who know the terror of the Lord; as those who have been snatched as brands from the burning, and saved as hell-deserving sinners, and know by terrible experience what it is to feel ourselves to be in the hands of an angry God. Hell is real to us because we have felt it in our own conscience, and feared it would be our everlasting doom. We shall speak of these things with intense earnestness; our fellow-sinner's danger in an ungodly state will be an awful reality to us whenever we deal with this solemn theme. This subject, though so terrible, must not be kept back, but in the faithful discharge of our ministry we must always proclaim that " the wages of sin is death."

IV. We would continually insist on the sinner's helplessness to remedy his state by his own efforts: that he is bound hand and foot by the chains of disobedience: that he has no power to rectify his condition no prayer or penance will avail to atone for his past sins, or blot out one transgression: that all his works are nothing worth. The best obedience of his hands will not be accepted, because it is all tarnished with sin and pride: and, moreover, it comes short of God's demands. He is a bankrupt debtor owing 10,000 talents, with nothing to pay with; therefore he is hopelessly involved, and can by no means extricate himself. This is discouraging to the guilty sinner, but it is the teaching he needs, for he wraps the flimsy rags of his own righteousness about him, and thinks they will prove a covering: he promises himself to repent and turn to God at a future time; he thinks he has the power to do so. We must show his error, strip him of his self-sufficiency, and cut the ground of his doings and willing from beneath his feet, and leave him without one refuge of his own to hide himself in; but stripped, helpless, bound, condemned, all exposed, with only one way of escape, and that not in himself at all.

V. We would ever show the sinner's only hope is in Christ: that there is no way of deliverance for the guilty but by His perfect righteousness imputed, and His sacrificial blood applied. This is the one and only way a sinner can be saved. We would preach Christ in His person: show what He is in His power to save as God. We would declare the perfection of His work; that while the sinner comes short in everything; Christ is the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. We would dwell on the eternal all-sufficiency of His expiatory sacrifice for guilty, helpless, sensible sinners: that His blood cleanseth from all sin: and that while sin is damning and defiling, Christ's atonement removes every blot and charge. Someone has said, "The best way to preach sinners to Christ is to preach Christ to sinners." And thus would we open and allege that He must needs suffer; explain His work; the necessity of it; for whom it was intended; and show its security, its grand issues, its greatness, and glory. We would show its admirable suitability and adaptation to the sinner's every need. It meets all his guilt helplessness, and misery as a poor, lost, undone wretch. The whole of the Gospel scheme views man as a sinner; all its provisions are made for him as such: thus it expects no doings from him, but does all for him, and bestows all freely upon him, without merit, without price, or deserving on his part. This preaching does not laud up man's doing, but God's free grace, and Christ's worthy merit.

VI. We would explain to the sinner how these blessings are enjoyed, that they are by grace through faith. Thus we shall have to explain the nature of faith: What is its object? Who is its Author? its necessity; its experience as it is felt and exercised in the soul. We shall not shout or vociferate Believe! Believe! without showing what it is to believe: we shall be careful to point out the difference between historical belief in the Bible as a revelation of Divine truth, and that faith which is of the heart unto righteousness, a gift of God; not the bare assent of the intellect unto certain truths; but a faith which trusts all to Christ, clings to Him with all the affection of the heart, casts the soul's entire burden upon Him in unreserved dependence on His merit and blood. We shall be careful to show the sinner that faith is not a work in any way; that his believing is not putting the top stone on Christ's work and making salvation complete thereby to himself: that while he cannot keep the - perfect law, God has made another law of faith which he is to obey, and thus be saved by that. We must ever insist that faith comes empty-handed, is simply a receiving grace. It looks to Christ for all, and claims no merit of its own. We would endeavor to show the free and gracious manner in which these blessings are dispensed: that God is ready to pardon the guiltiest offender fully through Christ, and justify completely on the grounds of His merit every coming, penitent sinner, and that their coming is of His constraining grace operating on their hearts and consciences by the power of the Holy Ghost in quickening and calling them.

VII. We would joyfully tell of the blessedness of an interest in Christ, and by contrast the state of those who have no interest in Him: the security of the man who has passed from death unto life, whose guilt has been put away by the sacrifice of his great Surety; who enjoys in his breast that assurance by precious faith; whose heart is at peace with God; whose conscience is freed from those dread alarms the ungodly have; the joy which now fills his soul, which he never knew in the happiest days of his unregeneracy, nor ever yet was known by an unconverted man. The ungodly man clothes religion with melancholy, but we would show him otherwise. Then the possession of the godly man is far beyond the perishable things of earth, or all it can yield; and also the happiness found in the paths of holiness and communion with God, which yield more real delight than all the pleasures of sin for a season. Also that the Christian has the present smile and approbation of his God, while the wicked have His frown and wrath resting upon them. And lastly, the differing prospects before the two: heaven's glory; hell's dark shades; the palm; the welcome home; the everlasting bliss with Christ! The dread depart; the companionship of devils; the worm; the never-ending torment throughout eternity! And as that judgment bar, that grand assize, is before our vision, before which preacher and people all must stand, it will cast a lurid light upon our ministry, stimulating us to faithfulness in dealing with the souls of men; it will stamp our work with grave and solemn responsibilities in view of that eternity to which we are fast hastening.

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions