Jan 28, 2010

Light thrown upon the four Gospels [duty faith book] by William Odling

Light thrown upon the four Gospels, being a treatise on the indispensability of the distinction to be made betwixed natural faith and repentance, as a duty according to Law: and Spiritual Faith and Repentance as a Sovereign Gift; or New Covenant Blessings According to the Gospel. by William Odling

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or you can read the book online in the same format HERE

Below is a small portion from the book from the introduction.

1. Must it not appear to every mind that is not deeply tainted with infidelity, deism or atheism, that God is a God of truth ? Deut. xxxii. 4. And that nothing contrary to truth can proceed from him; nor can the Spirit of God teach anything but that which is consistent with truth. Should it be asked, What is truth ? the reply is, " Thy (God's) word is truth." John xvii. 17. And " he that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness; but a false witness deceit." Prov. xii. 17. " I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee." 3 John iii.

2. There are numerous opinions among men, upon the different branches of truth, as recorded in the Scriptures; and there are those who consider themselves true teachers, who presume to say, that one person's opinion is as likely to be right as another's; but is not such a notion bordering on infidelity, and is it not a disbelief of the harmony of the sacred oracles ? and must not such a mind be unestablished in the truth, and opposed to much evangelical truth ; and think that every man is at liberty to believe any thing that his vain reason may dictate ? Oh! let us look for a better guide than this; for there is such a thing as " a form of sound words which are to be held fast." 2 Tim. i. 13. " Holding fast the faithful word, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." " Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men that turn aside from the truth." Titus i. 9—14. " But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed." Titus ii. 1, 7, 8. It is true, that every man has an undoubted right to think for himself; but then, there are right and wrong thoughts, even as there are but two classes of characters on the face of the earth—the righteous and the wicked, (though many different shades and complexions); so there are but two kinds of doctrine disseminated—truth and error; and
" Nothing but truth before God's throne
With honor can appear."
3. Oh, then, for a heart instructed in divine things, so as to know the truth, love the truth, enjoy the truth, speak the truth, and be established in the truth; for
" Firm as a rock God's truth shall stand,
When rolling years shall cease to move."
4. There are others who tell us that the sense of the Scriptures are privately conveyed and confined to the brains of the pope and the priests, hence they endeavour to withhold them from every one else. But we read that "no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation;" (2 Peter i. 20,) and " that the Fathers are to teach them to their children, and children's children." Deut. iv. 9. And the injunction of him who spake as never man spake, is, " Search the Scriptures." John v. 39.
5. When the Holy Ghost inspired his servant to write his sacred truth, he well knew the conflicting opinions, the errors, the false notions, the vain philosophy, the traditions of men, the flesh, and world-pleasing doctrines that would abound. 2 Thess. ii. 7—10. Hence, the many strong and striking admonitions, cautions, and warnings interspersed throughout the truthful volume; such as," Take heed how ye hear, and what ye hear." " Beware of false prophets," (Matt. vii. 15,) for " many false prophets shall arise and deceive many." Matt. xiii. 11. "Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ." Col. ii. 8. " Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines, for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace," (or truth). Heb. xiii. 9. " Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits," (Johniv. 1,) by the word of truth. " Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth." Gal. iii. 1.
6. And notwithstanding the many cautions, and admonitions, we find that many have been bewitched with talent, with philosophy, with false notions, with traditions, with subtle sophistry and seducing eloquence, so that they do not obey the truth; and " by reason of whom the way of truth is evil spoken of." 2 Peter ii. 2. And who often endeavour to link the interests of Christ and the world together. Talent, eloquence, and philosophy are admirable in their place; but they are not to be set up in Dan as a calf to bow down to; nor published in the streets of " Askelon" as a god to be worshipped; nor placed in competition with truth, for it is a lamentable fact, that great talent in general, is guided by "vain philosophy," or human reason, rather than divine truth.
7. Sophistry, or human reason, with all its native appendages and acquirements, when it sets itself up as an expounder of God's truth, if it does not analogise and harmonise, it is but an ignis fatus to the mind—a false light. "We have numbers of talented teachers, who have the effrontery to say, that " to harmonise God's word is a business which they are not required to attend to;" and even boast in saying, that " to reconcile the difFerent parts of Scripture is not their work." But is not this " vain philosophy, and great swelling words of vanity ?" 2 Peter ii. 18. With such then, the Scriptures may be made to mean anything that reason and fancy dictates, or that talent and eloquence can utter. But is this in accordance with the method of the Great Apostle of the Gentiles ? for he says, "Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth," but that which is taught in the Scriptures by the Holy Ghost, " comparing spiritual things with spiritual." Was it not Paul's business then to harmonise and to reconcile ? Hence," if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." Bishop Heber's estimate of human reason, may not be improperly placed here, which is as follows:
" Vain human reason boasts himself a light,
Though but a wandering meteor of the night;
Yet the impostor would aspire to be
Esteem'd a son of noble pedigree,
Vaunting his father's titles and his race,
Though you see mongrel written in his face.
In vain he seeks on pilgrims to impose,
In vain he strives to lead them by the nose;
The cheat's discover'd, and bright Truth prevails,
When humble faith doth hold the sacred scales.
Season and sense are but deceitful guides,
A better convoy God for us provides :
Celestial Tbtjth dwells in th' abyss of light,
Wrapt up in clouds from human reason's sight;
He that would see her as she's thus conceal'd,
Must look by Faith, believing what's reveal'd.
Rest then, my soul, from endless anguish free'd,
Nor reason is thy guide, nor sense thy creed.
Faith is the best insurer of thy bliss,
The bank above must fail before this venture miss."

8. It has been the desire of the writer of the following Treatise, to lay aside human reason as a guide to expound the said text; and to keep his eye and mind steadidly fixed on sacred truth; and he has endeavoured to harmonise, to reconcile, and analagise. And by this method, he trusts that his labour has not been in vain upon the work assigned to him; and he is desirous that it may stand or fall, when justly compared with that word which " shall not pass away." For for many years it has been his desire to contend, hot for victory, but for Truth ; for which he feels himself accountable, for a proper use, or abuse of; and by which he will be judged at the last great day ! Rev. xx. 12. And when he becomes useless to God, to his cause, and his people in this vale of tears, he may drop into the dust from whence he came, and his soul return to God who gave it. Eccles. xii. 7.
9. He has considered the text as being highly metaphorical, and that it cannot be taken in its grammatical or literal sense; because if understood so, it has no parallel in the Scripture, but much to contradict it; whereas that cannot be admitted.
10. In the fourth division, i. e., the council and advice given; it may be thought by some, that there is much in it superfluous, or foreign from the subject; this will be obviated, if it be duly considered that this part of the text (though metaphorical) is analagous with the Old Testament precept, council, and advice given to the Jews by the Prophets, concerning their promised Messiah; and that it embraces the substance of Christ's precepts to the Jews concerning himself, as recorded in the four Gospels. The writer has long been fully persuaded, by sacred truth, that in his youth, he was taught (from the pulpit and otherwise,) to pervert many of these portions, by taking them up abstractedly, and making them to mean exhortations to spiritual things ; whereas, if they are taken with their context and parallels, they have no such meaning in them. And if the reader will take the pains to examine, impartially and studiously, every chapter and verse therein set forth; weigh the contexts; investigate and compare the parables; as the writer has done—it is presumed that the conviction will be, that they are not perverted, or used improperly. But be not deceived, it is impossible to understand the sacred volume by a superficial reading; for it requires the most serious and studious attention and investigation to find its beauty and harmony. For a proof of this, and how a knowledge of it is to be obtained, see Prov. ii. 1, 5.
11. When a book is published, it, of course, meets with all kinds of readers; such as the critic, the captious, the sarcastic, the bigot, the malevolent, the careless, and those who are guided by mere fancy; and if not composed and expressed in their own fancied style, is little thought it of and spurned. Allow me to recommend to all the old adage, as a motto, namely, " Honesty is the best policy." And a book honestly written, has but little to fear from an honest and candid reader.
12. While reading the following pages, endeavour to bear in mind that the text was addressed to the Jews ; exclusively so, at the time it was spoken; and that to the unregenerate; and that they were still under a national, legal, and conditional covenant; and that their national covenant was not abrogated till after Christ's death. Hence, the Apostles and seventy Disciples did not preach spiritual remission of sins by the sacrifice of Christ previous to his death; they did not understand it till after his resurrection—then how could they preach it ? Neither is it to be found in all the four Gospels that they did; but much that declares to the contrary; itis true,that this is against the stream of general opinion; but if the subject is closely investigated, not to make it bend to our preconceived, or predetermined views, but with a mind divested of prejudice, and open to conviction; with a desire to have the sense of the four Evangelists upon it, it must be clearly seen as demonstrated in this Work. The harbinger of Christ understood it, and spake of it; but he was soon put to prison and death. Christ himself preachedit(at times) plainly to the multitudes, but, whenever he did it so enraged them that they called it" blasphemy:" they said, " who can forgive sins but God?" He preached it privately to his Apostles, but" they understood none of these things." They did not understand the nature of his kingdom, as being spiritual; they understood it to be earthly and temporal, and a deliverance from the Romish yoke, which they were under for their national sins and transgressions.
13. But the drift of the Apostles' preaching to the Jews, the three years previous to Christ's death, according to the four Evangelists, was a legal, natural, or human repentance ; a reformation of their manners and errors, which they had imbibed, and in which they were living ; and a belief in Messiah, as being come according to prophetic promise, and that his kingdom was at hand. This will appear obvious, when we consider, that it was highly necessary that this should be preached to them, that God might be just when he " judged them;" and clear when he destroyed them as a nation, for the abuse of those privileges and advantages with which they were favoured; their nonrepentance of their errors, and their unbelief and rejection of the Messiah.
14. It is true, that at the period of the birth of Christ, there were several good old saints waiting for the Messiah, or, "the consolation of Israel;" who understood Christ's mission into the world, as being a spiritual Saviour, and to die for the sins of his people : the shepherds, and the wise men from the east who came to worship him; Elizabeth and Zecharias; Anah, the prophetess; and good old Simeon; and it was revealed to Joseph and Mary. But let it be observed, that this was at the birth, and it was about thirty years before either John the Baptist, Christ or his apostles, began to preach. And these good old saints who were then well stricken in years, (and Simeon was ready to depart,) appear to have all died off before the public ministry of Christ; for we hear no more of them afterwards, with the exception of Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Christ was secluded in early life for thirty years, with one exception, at twelve years of age. In the mean time, the Jewish nation seem to be sinking deeper into error and every abomination than at any former period.
15. Do not meet those unpopular truths, which are set forth in this work, with a mind barred to conviction by early impressions, and opposite views imbibed, because I have not trod in the footsteps of men, but have endeavoured to move on in the track of Truth. But examine fairly, and judge accordingly; and let it be your humble position to bow to Revelation with that reverence and respect which is due to it; and never be too proud and self-willed to recant anything and everything that you can perceive to be inconsistent with truth.
16. It has been the aim of the writer to distinguish betwixt natural or legal faith as a duty according to law; and spiritual, or supernatural faith as a New Covenant gift according to the Gospel; betwixt natural or legal repentance and spiritual repentance; betwixt a legal conditional covenant of works, which was binding on the Jews, and wherein lay their accountability; and the covenant of grace, which Christ came to establish, which is sovereign, free, and unconditional. Natural or legal faith was a duty devolving upon the Jews, and a virtue belonging to, and required by, the moral law; and was one of the weightier matters of it: hence Christ said, " Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith." Hence, many presume to preach what is called duty faith; i. e., that it is the duty of all men to believe to the saving of the soul, and that man is accountable for it, though he has no power to perform it. This is evidently a gross mistake and mischievous error, and little less than blasphemy; for it is an infringement on the province of God, and robs him of his sovereignty, because salvation from first to last, and all things connected with it, are of special and sovereign grace.
17. But it must be admitted, that it is the bounden duty of all men, who are favoured with the scriptures, legally to believe them; and that to be a confirmed Infidel, is a most awful sin. It will be seen in the subsequent pages, that the Infidel Jews found it so; and " He that (legally) believeth not God, (who ever he be) hath made him a bar." 1 John v. 10. But this is very different to that belief, which is connected with salvation.
18. Man's accountability arises from that which is given him to make a proper use of, and which is within his power to perform; from privileges and advantages improved or abused; hence, " Where much is given much will be required." Luke xii. 48. God has given man a law within, or a conscience, or the light of nature, which tells him right from wrong; and when he is favoured with the scriptures, he has the law of God written in legible characters, and all who die under these laws will be judged by them; (Rom. ii. 12—15,) and God will render to every man according to his deeds. Verse 6. And had the Jews been actuated by their laws given, and improved their advantages and privileges, Christ would not have had occasion to have addressed them in the language of our text, nor would they have been visited by the judgments of God, in their national destruction, and dispersion unto the present day.
19. Moreover, man's accountability arises from his dependence on God. Being dependent on God, as his Creator, Preserver, and kind Benefactor for life, for health, for soundness of mind, restraining grace, protection from the great enemy satan, and all things pertaining to this life—and those things which were promised to the Jews on condition of their obedience; which may be clearly seen throughout the Old Testament ; and especially in Ezekiel xviii. and xxxiii. Hence, man is accountable to God for his mental capacity, his time, his talents, his moral conduct, his distrust of God, his forsaking and despising God, serving satan and the creature, and his own lusts more than the Creator; and if not saved by sovereign grace and atoning blood, according to the extent of his crimes on earth, so must be the extent of his punishment hereafter. And if, for every idle word that man shall speak, he shall give an account thereof, (Matt. xii. 36.) how much more for his immoral conduct ? The duty of man, is, and that which God requireth of him, is, " to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with God." Micah vi. 8. " All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Matt. vii. 12. Ah, morality is one thing; and spirituality is another. And what numbers there are who ground their hopes of heaven on a well spent life : if so, where is their affections for, and love to, a Saviour and Redeemer ? Why, like the Jews of old, they are ignorant of God's righteousness, and go about to establish their own. Rom. x. 3. For there is no merit in all that a man can do; hence " when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable sarvants; we have done that which was our duty to do." Luke xvii. 10. And man can never make reparation for one breach of the law; (which reaches to the thoughts and intents of the heart,) nor satisfy divine justice ; hence, " cursed is every one who continueth not in all the book of the law to do them." Oh!
" What curses doth the law announce
Against the man that fails but once."
20. Where is the individual to be found, when brought to the bar of divine law and justice, but must plead guilty? Yet the difficulty is, to be really convinced of it. And the man who does feel his sinnership, and impotency, and the necessity of a Redeemer, Mediator and Saviour, will fervently exclaim;
" Go you that rest upon the law,
And toil and seek salvation there:
Look to the flame that Moses saw,
And shrink! and tremble! and despair!
" But, I'll retire beneath the cross,
Saviour, at thy dear feet I'll lie;
And the keen sword that justice draws
Flaming and red shall pass me by."
21. These prefatory remarks, may serve to show something of what the following pages contain. And if the reader can go through the latter part of the work, i.e., the Gift Promised, and the Father's sealing, and behold the sufferings of an immaculate Christ, without any emotions of soul; it is much more than the writer could do when he penned it. And now to the only wise God and Saviour, who worketh all things after the council of his own will—that which I have written I desire to leave in his mighty hand; and so far as it is consistent with his truth, may he own and bless, and make that use of it, which seemeth good in his sight. And to the triune Jehovah, be the honour, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
William Odling.
Foot's Cray, Jan. 1851.

Duty-faith Expositions

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