Nov 14, 2010

This is a Day of Compromise - J.C. Philpot

[quoted from the Gospel Standard Reviews by J.C. Philpot volume 2]

This is a day of compromise. The sharp, salient
edges of truth are mostly pared away with the nicest care, and rounded off
with the greatest assiduity, for fear, we suppose, lest any babe in grace should
inadvertently run against them and get a sad hurt. Should such a distressing
accident happen to any of the little ones who are just beginning to run alone,
how the tender nurses catch him up at once in their arms to soothe his
sorrows; and how they call out against that great, ugly table, or that naughty
chair, which has so hurt the little dear. "It is this ever preaching election
which does so much mischief; this telling the people that Christ died only for
just a particular few, and not throwing wide open the arms of mercy; this
always talking about a work of grace upon the heart; and how we must feel
the curse of the law and convictions of sin before we can know the comforts of
the gospel. This kind of preaching distresses the little ones, and puts a
stumbling-block in the way of those who are being drawn by love. Our way is
to preach Christ at once, and offer him, without exception, to all who will
accept him, and that immediately, without all this unnecessary bondage and
distress. No wonder there are so few rejoicing Christians. No wonder there is
so much moping, so much groaning and sighing, and hanging the head down
like a bulrush. What we like to see is, happy Christians; and the religion
which we think the best of is, cheerful piety, taking God at his word, believing
the promises, and living above doubts and fears.
" Now is not this just the
language of the day the in staple of scores of books and tracts, and the cry of
hundreds of popular pulpits? Need we, then, be surprised that our amiable
writers and our soft, mild, gentle preachers, with such views as these, are so
afraid of giving pain to their susceptible readers and their tender-hearted
hearers that, instead of blowing the trumpet in Zion, and sounding an alarm
in the holy mountain, they rather sing a perpetual lullaby. Nothing, they
think, is worse, or more alarming to the people, than brandishing before their
eyes a drawn sword; and the very idea of plunging it deep into the conscience
of any of their decidedly pious and most consistent and respectable hearers
fills them with the same feminine tenderness of blood and suffering as we may
suppose a recruit feels when he first screws on the bayonet, and advances to
the charge. Such writers and preachers are as tremblingly sensitive to the
tears of suffering on Christian faces as any mother whose darling boy has
fallen down and hurt himself. Deep distress of conscience, agonising fears of
the wrath to come, powerful convictions of sin, putting away of all hope or
comfort which does not come direct from the Lord, doubts, fears, and slavish
bondage under the curse of the law and the apprehended wrath of the
Almighty—such and similar experience is now almost universally set aside as
unnecessary to the new birth; and an easier path is held forth as equally safe
and far more comfortable. But, however plausible it may appear in theory,
and however pleasing it may be to the flesh, especially when dressed up with
eloquent language and enforced with strong appeals to the natural feelings,
what is all this soft and gentle preaching and writing but doing the very thing
which God has so denounced in his holy word? How he testifies against those
prophets who prophesy smooth things; who prophesy deceits; who know not
the way of the Lord, nor have walked in his counsel, but "prophesy a false
vision and divination, and a thing of nought and the deceit of their heart."
(Jer. 14:14.) How, too, the prophet Ezekiel denounces the false prophets of his
day, of whom one built up a wall, and others daubed it with untempered
mortar. How he testifies against those foolish women that sew pillows to all
armholes; and how he declares what the effect of all such smooth preaching is:
"With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made
sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from
his wicked way, by promising him life." (Ezek. 13:10, 18, 22.)

There is no greater mark of false ministers given in the word of truth than
healing the hurt of the daughter of God's people slightly, saying, Peace, peace,
when there is no peace. (Jer. 8:11.) If we carefully read the book of Jeremiah,
we shall see that the great sin and the chief deception of all the false prophets
who sprang up in scores during the period of his ministry was to build up the
people in a false hope; to assure them that they had no reason to fear the
judgments of God, for that the Lord would not execute against them what he
threatened. They therefore hardened the people in sin and disobedience, took
them off all repentance and forsaking of their sins, led them to trifle with and
despise the judgments of God, and built them up in a false confidence that,
because they were the people of God by external profession, they were his also
by regenerating grace. Thus they took the very doctrine of God's having a
peculiar people, whom he loved and would never forsake, and abused it to the
building up of an ungodly professing people upon the foundation of God's love
and faithfulness to his own elect. If our eyes were fully open to see the effect of
the false teaching of our day, we should see it equally dishonouring to God,
and pregnant with equally awful consequences. We should see hundreds of
dead professors built up without a foundation ever having been laid in their
consciences of repentance toward God. We should see sin made a little matter
of, the awful anger of the Almighty against it, and his terrible indignation
against transgressors passed by as a thing of little moment. We should see the
strait and narrow path widened out in all directions; the promises and
invitations torn away from their connexion; the distinguishing truths of the
gospel beaten down into, and amalgamated with, the grossest errors; the
precepts of the word dislocated and distorted; and the clear revelation of
God's mind and will given in the New Testament softened and accommodated
to the reasoning mind, and the proud self-righteousness of man. And it needs
must be so; for the word of grace is such a consistent and harmonious whole
that, unless it is held by the teaching of the Spirit in the hand of a living faith,
all attempts to interpret it must issue in confusion.

But to show more clearly the emptiness and inconsistency of the current
ministry of the day, let us take one familiar instance. There is, then, as it
appears to us, no greater or more widely-spread delusive teaching both in
town and country than the constant cry both from pulpit and press, addressed
to all, without explanation or exception, "Come to Jesus." We shall therefore,
attempt briefly to show the real nature and tendency of this ever-recurring

That which is the peculiar, the sole privilege of the sheep of Christ; that which
our Lord expressly tells us no man can do except he be specially taught and
drawn of the Father; that which is the particular act of a living faith, such as
is given to none but the elect; that which is intended for, and addressed to the
hungry, the thirsty, the weary and heavy-laden, the outcast and ready to
perish, is now made to be the duty of all men, an easy and simple act which
everybody is bound to do, and which anybody can do if he likes. "Come to
Jesus" is spread abroad in tracts by thousands; is printed in all types, sets,
and sizes; is thrown down area steps, spread about broad-cast at fairs, horseraces,
and executions; and is the standing stock-in-trade of every beardless
youth who, on a Sunday afternoon, can get round him a knot of idlers to
preach to in the parks. We may seem to be severe on this point; but to show
the fallacy and deceptiveness of this universal call to come to Jesus, at first
sight so scriptural and evangelical, let us assume that it is listened to and acted
upon. Step into that crowded chapel where, amidst the blaze of gas and
warmed with his subject, the fervid preacher is calling on his hearers to come
to Jesus, and to come at once. Assume that, wrought upon by his ardent
eloquence and his urgent appeals, the whole congregation, as if moved by an
uncontrollable impulse, at once started upon their feet, and cried aloud, as
with a universal shout, "Sir, we will do what you bid us, and we will do it now.
We will and do all of us come to Christ this very moment." Now would this
determination of theirs, or this act of coming, following upon their
determination, bring them one step nearer to heaven? If all of them, men,
women, and children, were to come to Christ in the feelings of their mind, as
well as the expression of their lips, without any divine breathing upon their
soul, without any teaching or drawing of God, without any descent of the Holy
Ghost upon their heart, as at the day of Pentecost, what would all this coming
to Christ be but an act of the natural mind, an emotion of and in the flesh, and
therefore neither pleasing to God, (Rom. 8:8,) nor of any profit to them?
(John 6:63.) Where, in all this mere mental, natural, carnal coming to Christ,
would be the new birth, without which there is neither seeing nor entering
into the kingdom of God? Where repentance unto life? Where any translation
from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son? Where any
divine light, life, or power? Where any teaching or testimony, work or witness
of the Holy Ghost? Where any one of his heavenly graces or spiritual fruits? It
is, in fact, man's substitute for the work of God, an insidious way of throwing
over the new birth, and of trampling down the strait gate and the narrow way.
It is putting the special prerogative of Christ, ("The Son quickeneth whom he
will,") into the hands of every man to do for himself, and thus, in fact, make
man his own saviour. All such preaching and all such coming begin and end in
the flesh. It is at best, therefore, but a kindling a fire and walking in the
sparks of it, of which the end at God's hand, if grace prevent not, will be to lie
down in sorrow.

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions