May 12, 2010



My dear Sir,

In one of your letters you express the wish that I should give my views upon this point, Why, in my judgment, the law is not the believer’s rule of life......In doing so I shall take the occasion to offer my thoughts on these three distinct points:

1. Why the law is not the believer’s rule of life.

2. What is the rule.

3. Disprove the objection cast upon us that our views lead to doctrinal or practical antinomianism.

By a believer, I understand one who by faith in Christ is delivered from the curse and bondage of the law, and who knows something experimentally of the life, light, liberty and love of the glorious gospel of the grace of God. By the law I understand chiefly, though not exclusively, the law of Moses. And by the rule of life I understand an outward and inward guide, by following which a believer directs his walk and conversion before God, the Church and the world.

It is very necessary to bear strictly in mind that we are speaking wholly and solely a believer. What has the law to do with a believer in Christ Jesus? Is he required by the revealed will of God to take the law as a guiding rule in his life? I answer, No; and for several reasons.

1. God does not leave us at liberty to take at will one part of the law and leave the other. It must be taken as a whole or left as a whole, for God has so revealed it. I cannot find in any part of God’s Word any mitigation of its terms, or any halving of it, so that, according to the views of many divines who have written on the subject, we may be dead to it as a covenant, yet alive to it as a rule. The essential and distinguishing characteristic of the law is that it is a covenant of works, requiring full and perfect obedience, attaching a tremendous curse to the least infringement of its commands. If then I, as a believer, take the law as my rule of life, I take it with its curse; I put myself under its yoke, for in receiving it as my guide, (and if I do not this it is not my rule,) I take it with all its conditions and subject to all its penalties....The indispensable connection between a covenant and its rules is clearly shown in Ga 5:1-6 where the apostle testifies to "every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to the whole law". It is idle to talk of taking the law for a rule of life, and not for a covenant; for the two things are essentially inseparable; and as he who keeps the whole law and yet offends in one point, is guilty of all Jas 2:10 so he who takes but one precept of the law for his rule, (as the Galatians took that of circumcision,) by taking that one, virtually adopts the whole, and by adopting the whole puts himself under the curse which attaches to their infringement.

People speak very fluently about the law being a rule of life who think little of the resulting consequences; for amongst them is this, that its written precepts and not its mere spirit, must be the rule. Now, these precepts belong to it only as a covenant, for they were never disjoined by the Authority that gave them, and what God hath joined together let no man put asunder. To show this connection between the precepts and the covenant is the chief drift of the Epistle to the Galatians, who were looking to the law and not the gospel, and having begun in the Spirit, were attempting to be made perfect by the flesh. Read with enlightened eyes, this blessed Epistle would at once decide in favour of the gospel as our guiding rule of Christian conduct and conversation. Observe how Paul chides those who would so act: he calls them "foolish Galatians", and asks who hath bewitched them that they should not obey the truth (that is, the gospel), "before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among them." He appeals to their own experience and asks them: "received ye the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" He draws a line of distinction here between those works which are done in obedience to the law as a guiding rule, and that power of God felt in the heart which attends a preached gospel when heard in faith, and asks them under which of the two they had received the teaching and testimony of the blessed Spirit. But observe, further, how he bids them "walk in the Spirit" Ga 5:16 Now to "walk" is to live and act, and the rule which he here gives for this living and acting is not the law but the Spirit, and he tells them of the blessedness of this divine leading and guiding: "If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law": that is, neither as a covenant nor as a rule - that they were free from its curse as a condemning covenant, and from its commands as a galling yoke which neither they nor their fathers could bear Ac 15:10 But to show them that deliverance from the law did not set them free from a higher and more perfect rule of obedience, he bids them "fulfill the law of Christ", which is love, a fruit of the Spirit and not produced by the law which worketh wrath and gendereth to bondage Ro 4:15 Ga 4:24

If we are willing to abide by the inspired Word of Truth we need to go no further than this very Epistle to decide the whole question. For in it we have laid down the rule according to which believers should walk, which is a "new creature" (or a new creation): "For in Christ neither circumcision aveileth anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and on the Israel of God" Ga 6:15-16 Is the law or the Spirit’s work upon the heart held out here as the rule of a believers walk? The law is strictly a covenant of works; it knows nothing of mercy, reveals nothing of grace, and does not communicate the blessed Spirit. Why, then, if I am a believer in Christ and have received his grace and truth into my heart, am I to adopt for the rule of life that which does not testify of Jesus either in the Word or in my conscience? If I am to walk as a believer, it must be by a life of faith in the Son of God Ga 2:20 Is the law my rule here? If it be, where are those rules to be found? "The law is not of faith". How, then, can it lay down rules for the life of faith? If I wish to walk as becomes a believer with the Church, what help will the law give me there? To walk as such must be by the law of love as revealed in Christ and made known in my heart by the power of God. If I am to walk in the ordinances of God’s house, are these to be found revealed in the law?

We give the law its due honour. It had a glory, as the Apostle argues 2Co 3 as the ministration of death and condemnation, but this glory is done away, and why are we to look to it now as our guiding rule? The ministration of the Spirit, of life, and of righteousness "doth much more exceed in glory", and why are we to be condemned if we prefer the Spirit to the letter, life to death, and righteousness to condemnation? A rule must influence as well as guide, or else it be a dead rule. If you chose to be guided by the killing letter which can only minister condemnation and death, and we chose for our rule that which ministers the Spirit, righteousness, and life, which has the better rule? It is much to be feared that those who thus walk and talk have still the vail over their heart, and know nothing of what the Apostle means when he says: "Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. But we all with open face beholding, as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as the Spirit of the Lord" 2Co 3:17-18

But not only have we these deductions to influence the mind in rejecting the law as a rule for a believers walk, but we have the express testimony of God as a warrant for so doing. We read, for instance, that "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God" Ro 7:4 As a believer in Christ, the law is dead to me, and I am to it. The Apostle has clearly and beautifully opened up this subject. He assumes that a believer in Christ is like a woman is remarried after the death of her first husband; and he declares that "she is bound by the law of her husband as long as he liveth, but if the husband be dead she is loosed from the law of her husband" Ro 7:2 Of course the first husband is the law, and the second husband is Christ. Now adopting the figure of Paul’s, may we not justly ask: Which is to be the rule of the wife’s conduct when remarried, the regulations of the first or the second husband?

2. What, then, is the believer’s rule of life, is he without rule? a lawless wretch because he abandons the law of Moses for his rule has no guide to direct his steps? God forbid! for I subscribe heart and soul to the words of the Apostle: "Being not without law to God, but under law to Christ" 1Co 9:21 (footnote - not under THE law, as our version; there being no article expressed or implied in the original). The believer then has a guiding rule which we may briefly call - the gospel. This rule we may divide into 2 branches. The gospel as written by the divine finger upon the heart, and the gospel as written by the blessed Spirit in the Word of truth. These do not form two distinct rules, but the one is the counterpart of the other; and they are mutually helpful to and corroborative of each other. One of the promises of the New Covenant Jer 31:21-34 Heb 8:8-12 (compared), was: "I will write My law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts." This writing of the law of God in their heart, I need not tell you, is that which distinguishes it from the law of Moses which was written on tables of stone: and becomes an internal rule whereas the law of Moses was but an external rule. This internal rule seems to be pointed out in Ro 8:2 where we find these words: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death." By "the law of the Spirit of life", I understand that guiding rule (for a rule in Scripture is frequently called a law; the word law in Hebrew signifying literally "instruction") which the Spirit of God, as communicating life, is in a believers heart. It is, therefore, the liberating, sanctifying, guiding influence of the Spirit of God, in his soul which, as a law or a rule, delivers him from "the law of sin and death"; by which I understand not so much the law of Moses, as the power and prevalency of his corrupt nature.

If this then be a correct exposition of the text, we have a guiding internal rule distinct from the law of Moses, and a living rule in the heart, which that never was nor could be; for it did not communicate the Spirit Ga 3:2-5 But this internal rule as being "the law of the Spirit of life", has power to lead all the children of God; for in the same chapter Ro 8:14 the Apostle declares that "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." This leading which is peculiar to the children of God and is an evidence of their sonship, delivers them from the law; for if we are led by Spirit we are not under the law Ga 5:8 either as a covenant or as a rule, for we have a better covenant and a better rule Heb 8:6 What is the main use of a rule but to lead? But who can lead like a living Guide? How can a dead law lead a living soul? The very proof that we are the children of God is that we are led by the Spirit; and this inward leading becomes our guiding rule. And is it not a desparaging of the guidance of the blessed Spirit to set up in opposition to His guiding rule a dead law and to call those Antinomians who prefer a living guide to a dead letter? This living guide is that holy, and blessed Spirit who "guides into all truth" Joh 16:13 Here is the main blessedness of the work and grace upon the heart, that the leading and guiding of the blessed Spirit form a living rule every step of the way; for He not only quickens the soul into spiritual life, but maintains the life which He gave, and performs (or finishes - margin) it until the day of Jesus Christ Php 1:6 This life is eternal, as the blessed Lord at the well of Samaria declared, that the water that he should give the believer should be in a well of water springing up into everlasting life Joh 4:14 It is then this springing well in a believer’s soul which is the guiding rule, for, as producing and maintaining the fear of God, it is "a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death" Pr 14:27

But lest this guiding internal rule be abused, which it might be by enthusiasm, and that they might not be left to substitute delusive fancies for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the God of all grace has given to His people an external rule in precepts of the gospel as declared by the mouth of the Lord and His apostles, but more particularly as gathered up in the epistles as a standing code of instruction for the living family of God. Nor do these at all clash with the rule of which I have just spoken, but on the contrary harmonize entirely and thoroughly with it; for, in fact, it is one and the same rule; the only difference between them being that the blessed Spirit had revealed the one in the written Word, and by the application of that Word to the soul makes the other to be a living rule of heart.

Now there is not a single part of particle of our walk and conduct before God or man which is not revealed and unculcated in the precepts of the gospel; for, though we have not minute directions, we have what far excels all such unnecessary minutiae - most blessed principles enforced by every gracious and holy motive, and forming, when rightly seen and believed, a most perfect code of inward and outward conformity to the revealed will of God, and of all holy walk and conduct in our families in the church and in the world.

I would say that a believer has a rule to walk by which is sufficient to guide him in every step of the way; for if he has the eternal quickenings, teachings and leadings of the Spirit to make his conscience tender in the fear of God, and has a law of love written upon the heart by the finger of God; and besides this has the precepts of the gospel as a full and complete code of Christian obedience, what more can he want to make him perfect in every good word and work Heb 13:21 Can the law do any of these things for him? Can it give him life, in the first instance, when it is a killing letter? Can it maintain life, if it is not in its power to bestow it?

But it may be asked: Do you then set aside the two great commandments of the law: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" etc.. and "thy neighbour as thyself?" No, on the contrary, the gospel as an external and internal rule fulfills them both, for "love is the fulfilling of the law." Ro 13:10 So this blessed rule of the gospel not only does not set aside the law as regards its fulfillment, but so to speak absorbs into itself and glorifies and harmonizes its two great commandments, by yielding to them in obedience of heart, which the law could not give; for the believers serves in the newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter Ro 7:6 as Christ’s freeman Joh 8:32 and not as Moses’s bondslave. This is willing obedience not a legal task. This will explain the meaning of the Apostle: "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man": for the new man of grace, under the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit, delights in the law of God, not only for its holiness, but as inculcating that to do which fills the renewed heart and the inward delight - love to God and His people.....



Preached at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street London, on Lord’s Day Evening, July 7, 1844.

"Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." Isa 45:22

WHEN in a solemn moment of spiritual meditation, and such, through mercy, we sometimes have we take a review of what, has passed through our hearts, dropped from our lips or occupied our minds, during any space of time, say, the last week, what little genuine religion do we seem to find in our souls. When we separate from the Spirit’s work all the doctrines we have learned in the flesh, all the practice we have performed through fear of man, and all the false experience that Satan has deceived us with; and, in a solemn moment, weigh up in the balances of the sanctuary what God has given and taught us, and done in and for us, how small the amount appears. But what a mercy it is to come to this conclusion! What a mercy to feel to have so little religion!

Some may say, "I do not understand what you mean by that expression, that it is a mercy to feel to have so little religion; I cannot agree with you there; for I feel it to be no mercy at all, as my desire is to have a great deal more than I seem to possess." But suppose that you and I had all the religion which we wish to have, would there not be a great danger of our setting up that religion in the place of Jesus Christ; and instead of coming poor and needy, empty and bare to the Lord, as we are now obliged to come, having nothing and being nothing in ourselves, should we not be rather disposed to come to Him with our religion as something to rest upon, and recommend us to His favour?

Is it not, then, really a mercy to find and feel we have so little religion, if it bring us poor and needy empty and bare, to receive out of Christ’s fullness, and grace for grace? For the less we feel to have, the more we want to possess; the more empty we find ourselves, the more we desire to be filled, as well as have a greater capacity to receive; the more weak we are. the more we want Christ’s strength to be made perfect in our weakness; the more foolish we feel, the more we need God’s teaching, as well as the more is God’s wisdom magnified in our foolishness; and the more helpless we are, the more we need help from the Lord. So that, instead of its being a sad and deplorable thing to feel that we have so little religion, when we come, under a sense of our emptiness, to receive supplies out of Christ’s fullness, it is our mercy to be sensible how little we have. We then come, not under the description of the rich whom the Lord "sends empty away," but of "the poor" whom He filleth with "good things;" and instead of being among the "mighty" whom He putteth down from their seats, we are found among the humble and meek whom the Lord exalts to honour, "setting them among princes," and "making them to inherit the throne of glory."

Now, if we look at the Lord’s invitations in the Scriptures, to whom are they addressed? Are they not spoken to those who are poor and needy, hungry and thirsty, wearied and heavy laden? Are not these the very characters, whom the Lord enriches, feeds, refreshes, and blesses? Look, for instance, at the words of the text. There is an invitation in it; for the Lord speaks and says, "Look unto me." But to whom are the words addressed? "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." He does not, then, speak to those who are near, but to those who are afar off, the ends of the earth, and to them He addresses this gracious invitation.

I. -In examining these words, let us, First, look at the characters to whom this invitation is addressed, "The ends of the earth."

II. -Secondly, at what the Lord says to them, "Look unto me, and be ye saved."

III. -Thirdly, at the gracious reason why they should look to Him, and why they are saved by looking, "For I am God, and there is none else."

I. -"Look unto me all the ends of the earth." To all the ends of the earth, then, the Lord here speaks. Now He cannot mean the literal, or natural earth, for that has no ears to hear, being nothing but so much gross, inanimate matter; He must, therefore, certainly speak to the inhabitants of the earth, to those who dwell in the ends of the earth, and not to the earth itself. But what characters, experimentally and spiritually, are here called "the ends of the earth," to whom the Lord thus addresses Himself? An expression in Ps 61:2, throws a light upon the question. "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." "The ends of the earth," then, represent characters at the farthest possible distance from God in their feelings, at the remotest bounds of creation, and separated by all this wide interval from that God whom they desire to fear, and in whose approving smile they long to bask.

1. Let us see, with God’s blessing, what it is that brings the soul to feel itself to be in this spot, for it is soul feeling here spoken of. Let us see how a vessel of mercy gets to the ends of the earth; because he must come spiritually into that place to feel the suitability and enjoy the application of the promise. Before the Lord, then, quickens our soul into spiritual life, we can draw near with our lips when our heart is far from Him; are full of presumption, pride, and ignorance; and can come into the presence of the Majesty of the Most High without one check in our conscience, one conviction in our soul, or one sense of brokenness before Him. But no sooner do light and life enter together into the soul, than the character of God is made known in the conscience, and our own character too, as standing naked and guilty before His great tribunal; and when we thus see and feel the purity of Jehovah, and our own impurity and vileness, and are spiritually shown what wretches we are by nature and practice, a sense of guilt falls upon the conscience, and by that sense of guilt we are driven out from the presence of the Lord.

It was so with our forefather Adam; when sin lay upon his conscience, he hid himself from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden; and so it is with every sensible sinner -he departs from the presence of the Lord, because it is too terrible for him to bear. Like Jonah, he will flee unto Tarshish, or the remotest parts of the earth, to get from the presence of the Most High. Guilt, then, charged upon a man’s conscience, will drive him out to "the ends of the earth," and place a barrier between the Lord God and his soul. And if a man has never felt guilt, and experimentally known distance and separation from God in consequence, the promise does not belong to him, nor does the Lord speak to him in the text.

2. Not guilt only, but shame also and confusion of face join to drive the soul to "the ends of the earth." We never know the filthiness of sin till it is opened up in our conscience; we may know indeed something of its guilt, and what sinful wretches we have been; we may fear too the punishment of sin; but we can never know its filthiness, till, in the light of the Spirit, we see God’s purity and holiness, and then shame drives us out from the presence of a holy God. Till Adam knew sin he knew not shame.

3. Darkness of mind also -an experience we are utterly unacquainted with till light and life make it manifest -darkness coming upon our soul, such as fell upon Abraham, when the sun was going down Ge 15:12, drives us from Him who is pure light, to the very ends of the earth, where the rays of the sun seem no more to shine.

4. If the Lord has ever brought us near to Himself, and we have basely departed from Him, backslidden from His gracious ways, been overcome by the world, been entangled in Satan’s snares, or our own vile lusts and passions; if we have done things unbecoming and inconsistent with our profession and who here can hold up his head, and say he has not so done? these things bring guilt on our conscience, and banish us in soul feeling to the ends of the earth far away from the presence of God.

But when, in soul feeling, we are thus at the ends of the earth, we learn lessons there which cannot be taught us in any other place. There we learn what it is to be at a distance from God, with a desire to be brought nigh; there we are brought to know the exceeding sinfullness of sin, and there begin to learn the value of the blood of Christ to purge the conscience; there we become clothed with shame and confusion of face; there we are taught to feel our thorough helplessness and complete inability to bring ourselves spiritually and experimentally nigh, and feel what it is to wander in confusion without being able to get near the source of light, life, and truth, or feel access of soul to God. Thus, to be at "the ends of the earth," is a painful but a profitable place; for there we learn lessons which we could not learn anywhere else, and are taught to feel something of the purity of Jehovah. and of our own defilement before Him. Now, it is to those who thus feel themselves to be at "the ends of the earth," that the Lord speaks in the text. He will never encourage presumptuous professors, those I mean who daringly rush on without His sanction, leadings, or drawings. It is better to tarry at "the ends of the earth" all our lives long, than to rush unbidden into the sanctuary, or advance presumptuously into the presence of the Most High. For there is a day coming when the Lord will "thoroughly purge His floor;" and then how many presumptuous intruders into His sanctuary, how many burners of false fire, and offers of unclean sacrifices, will be detected, and driven out! If the will of God be so, it is better to be poor, condemned criminals at "the ends of the earth," waiting in humility for a smile, pleading in sincerity for a promise, than rush presumptuously on, and claim His gifts as our right and due.

II. -It is, then, to these poor sinners, these self-condemned wretches, these guilty criminals, who have no hope but in God’s sovereign mercy, that the Lord speaks in the text, "Look unto me." They are the only persons that will look, the only characters that need so gracious an invitation; others can save, comfort and deliver themselves; but these poor wretched outcasts cannot move a step without the Lord’s drawings. The Lord, therefore, takes them in hand, for being in these desperate circumstances, they require the high and out-stretched hand of God Himself to pluck them from deserved ruin. And as the more they look at themselves, the worse they get, He says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else."

The invitation must be spoken to the heart that with the promise power may come; and when power comes with the invitation, then the scales drop from the eyes, the vail is taken from off the heart, and strength is given to do that which the text invites; they "look unto him," though it be from "the ends of the earth," and as they look, they are "lightened, and their faces are not ashamed." The grace of Jesus shines in the invitation for He is the speaker here; and as this comes into the conscience, they see the King in His beauty, and behold the land that is very far off. "Look unto me," says the Mediator and Advocate, the Friend of sinners, the Saviour of the lost! At His word they look, and what do they see in Him?

1. They behold, first, His glorious Person, that divine mystery couched in the words, "I am God!" And O, what a subject for contemplation is this! What a sight for living faith to behold! The glorious Person of the Son of God! This is the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh! And what does faith see in the glorious Person of Christ, but the Mediator, the Intercessor, the High Priest, the Advocate betwixt an avenging God and a guilty soul? But till, in soul feeling, we are at "the ends of the earth," we have no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no hearts to feel what a glorious Mediator there is at the right hand of the Father. Being, in our experience, at this distance from God, we are led to see and feel that He who alone can bring us near, must Himself be God, for we are confident that none but an almighty arm can pluck us from "the ends of the earth," and bring us near to the Most High. Our own righteousness, our tears, prayers, promises, resolutions, cannot, we feel, bring us near unto God; and we learn the meaning of those words, "And came and preached peace to you which were afar off. and to them that were nigh; for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."

Thus the more we feel to be at "the ends of the earth," the deeper is our need of Him; and as the Spirit unfolds the mystery of the glorious Person of Christ, and reveals His beauty, the more does He become the object of the soul’s admiration and adoration. And O, what a Mediator is held out in the word of truth to living faith! What a subject for spiritual faith to look to, for a lively hope to anchor in, and for divine love to embrace! That the Son of God, who lay in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the second Person in the glorious Trinity, should condescend to take upon Him our nature, that He might groan, suffer, bleed, and die for guilty wretches, who, if permitted, would have ruined their souls a thousand times a day -what a wonder of wonders!

We cannot enter into, nor feel the power of this mystery till we are reduced to such circumstances, that none but such a Saviour can save our souls. Can we do anything to save ourselves? Then we want not help from that mighty One on whom God has laid help; and we secretly reject Him. Can we heal ourself? Then we want not the good Physician. But when our eyes are opened to see our own thorough ruin and helplessness, and to view the glorious Person of the Son of God, faith is drawn out to flee to and rest upon that glorious object.

2. In looking at His glorious Person from "the ends of the earth," a glimpse is caught of His atoning blood: for the blood is seen to derive all its efficacy from His glorious Person; it is seen as the blood of the Son of God, and Deity giving efficacy to the blood of the humanity, it is seen to have a divine virtue to purge a guilty conscience, and speak pardon arid peace to a broken heart. This meritorious blood of the only propitiating Sacrifice is that which is held up to the eye of the poor sinner at "the ends of the earth," to the guilty wretch, to the self condemned criminal; and God the Holy Ghost testifies of it as speaking "better things than the blood of Abel." The eyes of the understanding are enlightened to see the nature and efficacy of this precious blood, and there is a looking to and resting upon it, as speaking peace to the guilty conscience, as the only propitiation for sin, as reconciling enemies, as pardoning rebels, as justifying the ungodly.

3. In inviting the soul to look to Him, the Lord invites it also to look to His glorious righteousness. Now what do we know, what can we know, of Christ’s glorious righteousness, except we are brought to feel how naked, how needy, how undone we are without it? But when a soul lies at the "ends of the earth," naked and trembling, fearing to meet a never-ending eternity, terrified in his conscience at a thousand crimes presenting themselves to view, if the Lord does but speak with power, "Look unto me;" and spreads out that glorious robe of righteousness, which is "unto and upon all them that believe," how it encourages the poor soul, lying at "the ends of the earth," to shelter himself under this garment of glory and beauty, and take refuge under the skirt of this heavenly Boaz.

4. In saying, "Look unto me," he also says, "Look at My dying love. At its heights, lengths, depths, and breadths, which pass knowledge. Look unto Me in all My suffering circumstances. My agony. My bloody sweat, and all that I endured for poor sinners." He invites those at "the ends of the earth" to look unto Him as suffering for them; and when they are enabled to see and feel His dying love, a measure of peace flows into the conscience, and the poor soul at the very "ends of the earth," is encouraged and enabled to draw near to the Father.

III. -The Lord says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved." There is salvation then in a look. There is no need, in order to be saved, to heap up numerous treasures of our own righteousness, to accumulate a vast store of good deeds, to make up a certain amount of piety, or to work up ourselves into the heights of creature holiness. A look of faith is all that is needed, an eye opened by divine teaching to see who and what Jesus is. He therefore calls upon "the ends of the earth" to look to His Person. His blood. His righteousness, His love; and to see in Him all that we need, and all that we desire. And when we look unto Him, as He invites and as He enables, and see who He is, and what a sufficiency for every want, we desire no other salvation and no other Saviour.

How often we seem not to have any real religion, or enjoy any solid comfort! How often are our evidences obscured and beclouded, and our minds covered with deep darkness! How often does the Lord hide Himself, so that we cannot behold Him, nor get near to Him; and how often the ground on which we thought we stood is cut from under our feet, and we have no firm standing! What a painful path is this to walk in, but how profitable! When we are reduced to poverty and beggary, we learn to value Christ’s glorious riches; the worse opinion we have of our own heart, and the more deceitful and desperately wicked that we find it, the more we put our trust in His faithfullness; and the more black we are in our esteem, the more beautiful and comely does He appear in our eyes. As we sink, Jesus rises; as we become feeble, He puts forth His strength; as we come into danger, He brings deliverance; as we get into temptation, He breaks the snare; and as we are shut up in darkness and obscurity, He causes the light of His countenance to shine.

It is by being led in this way, and walking in these paths, that we come rightly to know who Jesus is, and to see and feel how suitable and precious such a Saviour is to our undone souls. We are needy. He has in Himself all riches; we are hungry. He is the bread of life; we are thirsty. He says. "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink;" we are naked, and He has clothing to bestow; we are fools, and He has wisdom to grant; we are lost, and He speaks, "Look unto me, and be ye saved." Thus, so far from our misery shutting us out from God’s mercy, it is only the requisite for it; so far from our guilt excluding His pardon, it is the only thing needful for it; so far from our helplessness running our souls, it is the needful preparation for the manifestation of His power in our weakness; we cannot heal our own wounds and sores; that is the very reason why He should stretch forth His arm. It is because there is no salvation in ourselves, or in any other creature, that He says. "Look unto me, for I am God, and there is none else."

1. That He is God, is the very foundation of His salvation; for it is His eternal Godhead that gives virtue, efficacy, and dignity to all that as man He did and suffered for His chosen people. If He were not God, God and man in one glorious Person, what hope would there be for our guilty souls? Could His blood atone for our sins, unless Deity gave it efficacy? Could His righteousness justify our persons, unless Deity imparted merit and value to all the doings and sufferings of His humanity? Could His loving heart sympathize with and deliver us, unless, "as God over all," He saw and knew all that passes within us, and had all power, as well as all compassion, to exert on our behalf? We are continually in circumstances where no man can do us the least good, and where we cannot help or deliver ourselves; we are in snares, and cannot break them; we are in temptations, and cannot deliver ourselves out of them; we are in trouble, and cannot comfort ourselves; are wandering sheep, and cannot find the way back to the fold; we are continually roving after idols, and hewing out "broken cisterns," and cannot return to "the fountain of living waters." How suitable, then, and sweet it is, to those who are thus exercised, to see that there is a gracious Immanuel at the right hand of the Father, whose heart is filled with love, and whose bowels move with compassion; who has shed His own precious blood that they might live, who has wrought out a glorious righteousness, and "is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him." The Lord says, therefore, to His people, who are at the very "ends of the earth," who fear to draw nigh, that He is the Mediator between God and man. He says to the guilty, "I am your pardon;" to the naked, "I am your clothing;" to the ungodly, "I am your righteousness;" to the defiled, "I am your sanctification." Being at "the ends of the earth," the purity of God would keep them there for ever; but there being a divine Mediator, a glorious Intercessor, an almighty Advocate, an Immanuel, God and man in one glorious Person, though at "the ends of the earth," they may draw nigh through Him, for they are blessed and accepted in Him. They are indeed at "the ends of the earth," and through guilt and shame dare not draw near; but let Jesus give them one glance, or put forth one touch, and their poor, needy, naked souls will leap forward, spring into His embrace, and find nearness of access to the Father; for by that glance they see there is a Mediator between God and them, an Intercessor and Advocate sitting for them upon a throne of mercy and grace.

Now, if they had never been at "the ends of the earth," never been cast out in their feelings, never known themselves to be filthy and vile creatures, they would never have felt what a suitable and precious Saviour there is at the right hand of God. They would have been swollen with pride, swallowed up in business, satisfied with a form of godliness, contented with being Satan’s servants and doing his work, or have been buried in their sins and lusts. If they had never felt themselves shut out from God’s presence, and driven to "the ends of the earth," they would never have longed to be reconciled, pardoned, and brought near. But when they are there, and the Lord does but speak with power to their souls, "Look unto me," all the distance is removed, the barriers fall down, the separation is at an end, and they draw nigh unto God, and they see how God can be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.

To this spot, "the ends of the earth," sin and shame may drive them again and again; and repeatedly may they have to feel many cutting sensations, and learn many humbling lessons; they may fear again and again that they may die, and never see Him whom their souls long to see and love; and yet when the Lord again speaks, "Look unto me;" the barrier is broken down, and they can again draw near through the propitiation that the Son of God has made for sin.

2. The Lord says, therefore, to such, "I am God, and three is none else." You may look at your own righteousness, it is but filthy rags; at your own resolutions, they are but cobwebs; at your promises, they will be broken before night comes on; at your consistency, it is but a tangled and defiled web; at yourselves out of Me, and what are you but a mass of filth and sin? He says, therefore, "I am God, and there is none else." You may go to every other physician, try every other remedy, and look to every other quarter; but all will leave you unpardoned, unaccepted, and unjustified; "for I am God, and there is none else." "Look unto me," He says to all the ends of the earth; and when He speaks for with the word of a king there is power, strength is given unto the soul to look, and be saved.

Now, I dare say, some of you know what it is in your feelings to be at "the ends of the earth." You cannot get near unto God, cannot feel His presence, cannot see the light of His countenance, cannot taste His love. Sin darkens your mind, burdens your conscience, and oppresses your soul; so that you cannot feel pardon, reconciliation, acceptance, nearness, and peace. There is a distance, a barrier, a separation between God and your soul, and you cannot draw near with holy boldness. How suitable then, how encouraging it is to such sensible sinners, to see that you may draw near under such circumstances. Have I said or done things unbecoming or inconsistent? Has guilt come on my conscience, and despondency filled my heart? Am I therefore to stay at "the ends of the earth?" The Lord says, "Look unto me," that my guilt may disappear. Am I a poor backsliding wretch, roaming after every base idol? Am I to stay therefore at the broken cisterns? The Lord says, "Look to me," that the poor idolater may come back to the fountain of living waters.

When we take a solemn survey of what we are daily and hourly -of what we have been, say, through the past week -what vile thoughts, sinful desires, and base lusts -what vanity, inconsistency, engrossment in business, love of the world -in a word, what base workings of a depraved nature we have had, must we not plead guilty? Perhaps the guilt of these things now lies on the conscience; but shall they operate as insuperable, impassable barriers? When the Lord says. "Look unto me, all the ends of the earth." And the soul is enabled to do as the Lord invites, does it not see Jesus as its wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? and does not this bring comfort to the poor, guilty backslider once more? Does not this encourage him once more to draw nigh? Does not this break the heart of the most stubborn, and draw, as with a cord of love, the poor wretch who can see nothing in himself but a mass of defilement?

If we know, by painful experience what it is to be at "the ends of the earth," the Lord does not say, "Heal yourselves, make yourselves better." He does not give us a long list of duties to be performed, or of observances to be attended to; and when we have done this, and performed that, and made up the tale of bricks in full number and weight, He will look upon us. But the Lord speaks to us in our sad condition: "Here you poor, guilty, wretched backsliders; you that have nothing but sin and guilt; you that cannot bless, save, or comfort yourselves; look unto me." He does not say, "Do this, and then I will appear; help yourselves a little, and then I will come down to help you;" but He says to us, as we are in our filth, guilt, and shame, "Look unto me;" and as He speaks, He gives the power. And no sooner do we look, than we are saved by the look, blessed by the look, healed by the look. So that all we have to do is to look to Him, as He speaks. It is true, indeed, that He Himself gives power to do it, for "without him we can do nothing." To behold by the eye of faith His glorious Person, atoning blood, justifying righteousness, and dying love, will do us more good, and bring into our hearts more true peace, than we could get elsewhere in a thousand years.

Now, to know these mysteries by divine teaching, is to know what vital godliness is. What is vital godliness? To make myself good and holy; to make myself religious and serious, and a decidedly pious character? Such husks may satisfy swine, but they will not satisfy a living soul. What must I do, then, to make myself better? Nothing. Can I, by any exertion of creature will or power, change my Ethiopian skin, or wash out my leopard spots? But when the soul lies at "the ends of the earth," and the Lord says to it, "Look unto me," "thou art complete in Me, saved in Me, holy in Me, and accepted in Me;" all the barriers betwixt God and the guilty conscience fall, the darkness flies away, the distance is removed, and the soul, black in itself, is manifested as comely and acceptable in the sight of God. To be spiritually led into this mystery, to go on increasing in the knowledge of it, and to feel day by day less and less in self; to become more foolish, weak, and powerless; and yet, as poor, needy, weak, and helpless, to be drawing supplies out of Christ’s fullness, and to live a life of faith on the Son of God -to know something of this, is to know something of what true religion is; and to know a little of this, will make a man more outwardly and inwardly holy than all the good works or pious resolutions in the world.

Perhaps there may be present here some of these poor wretches at "the ends of the earth;" doubting, fearing, and almost at times despairing, whether mercy can ever reach their souls. Now are you not secretly looking to find something good or holy in yourselves? Is there not some dim hope and expectation of becoming by and by a little better and holier? All this secret leaven of self-righteousness must be purged out; and you may have, under this operation, to sink lower, and yet deeper and deeper into the slough and filth of your vile nature. But there is this comfort for those who feel they can do nothing, that all that is to be done is what the Lord does in us; all that is to be felt, is what He works by His Spirit in us. This is the sum and substance of all salvation and all holiness; Look unto Me, and be ye saved, by what I have done and suffered.

There is no other way for health, salvation, pardon, peace, and deliverance to come into our souls; for He is God, and there is none else. There is no other salvation, no other Saviour; no other way of escape from the wrath to come, but by looking unto Him as He enables us, believing on Him as He empowers us, and leaning upon Him as He works in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight. Though you may now seem to yourselves to be at the very "ends of the earth," the Lord sees you there; and He says unto such, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Ye are not out of the reach of Mine arm, nor the sight of Mine eye, "for I am God, and there is none else." And thus, sooner or later, are all the elect manifestly saved, and experience the sweet testimony and blessed revelation of it in the heart and conscience.

Is it not a mercy to be weaned, emptied, and purged from creature righteousness, natural piety, and a long list of creature duties, not one of which we can properly or acceptably do? Is it not a mercy to have nothing at all to do, except simply what the Lord does in us and for us, and to look to Him in whom salvation is, and from whom salvation comes? O what a rest and respite for a poor guilty wretch, labouring at doings and duties, and by them all only increasing his guilt, to feel and find that all is done for him, and that he has nothing to do but take it; that the feast is provided, and all he has to do is to banquet at it; that atoning blood has been shed, and all he has to do is to feel the power of it; that salvation is finished, that all that is to be done is done already; and all this is freely given "without money, and without price;" freely communicated and brought into the conscience by the operation of God, that He may have all the glory first, and all the glory last, that we may have all the profit and comfort that He can bestow. What a sweet and blessed way of salvation this is to a poor wretched sinner!

How much is contained in those words, "It is finished!" Everything, then, needful for a sinner’s salvation is already done for him; the whole work is accomplished, and everlasting salvation brought in; all that remains to be done and the Lord does that, or it never would be done at all, is, for the sinner to receive it into his heart, and live under the blessed unction and power of it.

May this be our soul’s happy experience. May we, even from "the ends of the earth," then be enabled to look unto Him, and know that He is God, and none else. Thus may we continually come to Him, believe in Him, and rest on Him, as all our salvation, and all our desire.

May 6, 2010

Luke 14:16-24 - Robert Hawker

Luke 14:16-24

(16) Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many; (17) And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. (18) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. (19) And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. (20) And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. (21) So that servant came and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. (22) And the servant said, Lord, it is done, as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. (23) And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. (24) For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Our Lord took occasion, from the observation of one that sat at the Pharisee's table with him, to deliver this precious discourse. It is much to the same purport as that sermon delivered, Matthew 22:2, &c. The prophet Isaiah was taught by the Holy Ghost to represent the Gospel under the figure of a royal feast, Isaiah 25:6. The only difference in the representation is, that in one place it is called a dinner, and here the Lord calls it a supper. Perhaps, the former was in allusion to the early manifestations of grace; and the latter to intimate the final revelations in the person of Christ himself. Hebrews 1:1, and 9:26.

By the certain man, no doubt the Lord Jesus meant God the Father; for Christ is God's salvation to the ends of the earth, Isaiah 49:6. And by the servant sent to call them that were bidden, must mean Christ; for so God speaks of him, Isaiah 42:1, &c. And in the great work of redemption, for the recovery of his Church from the ruin into which, by her Adam-nature, she was fallen, Christ came as Jehovah's servant, Philippians 2:6,7. This being bidden can mean nothing more than the outward ministry of God's word to the Jewish nation. With them were committed the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. But all are not Israel which are of Israel, Romans 9:4,6. For when Christ came to his own; that is, his own nation, his own received him not. John 1:11. So that the special distinguishing grace, which distinguished the people, differed widely from this outward call; that being accompanied with an inward work upon the heart, inclining them to come. Psalm 110.

The different excuses form a most apt representation of the several causes, which prevent, according to the view of natural causes, all the unawakened and unregenerated world from coming to Christ. The piece of ground, and the yoke of oxen, and the married state, are strikingly expressive of the three great causes John describes: namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16. Under one or other of these all of the unrenewed of mankind may be found. And what an awful state the whole is!

The dismission of the servant to the highways, and lanes, and streets of the city, to call in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind, is, in the language of the Gospel, to shew that God hath given the heathen to Christ for an inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for his possession, Psalm 2:8. And the characters here described are to be considered spiritually. It is the poor in spirit, it is the maimed by sin, it is the halt in the faculties of soul, and the blind, who by nature are strangers to Christ, and all whose minds, by the gracious call of God, are brought into a sense of their lost and utterly helpless state in themselves, which are here set forth. And what a beautiful view doth the representation afford of the infinite fullness of God's provision, that when multitudes are brought, and are feasted with grace and salvation, the Lord sends again to use an holy violence, and to compel every poor, needy, self-condemned, and sensible sinner to come, that Christ's house may be filled.

Reader! pause over this delightful view! Behold and observe what the language of grace saith, Yet there is room. Yes, there is room as there was then, so now, in the fullness of covenant settlements formed among the whole persons of the Godhead before the world was made. The thousands that were then unborn when Jesus spake this parable, and which have since been born in nature, and new born in grace, have found the blessed truth to their soul's everlasting joy: and still room for the thousands yet to be born until the consummation of all things, equally interested in the covenant of promise. Room in the everlasting love of all the persons in the Godhead, chosen by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called by the gracious and regenerating mercy of God the Holy Ghost. And as there hath always been, and is, and always will be, room for all whom the Father hath given to the Son, both Jew and Gentile, for all the purposes of manifesting grace here; so is there, and everlastingly must be, room in the upper and brighter world of glory hereafter, for all the blessings prepared for the Church of God, in that eternal kingdom of God and the Lamb. John 14:2,3.

There is no difficulty of apprehension, concerning those who were first bidden to the feast, but by their contempt of it for ever rejected, if we keep in view that the chief scope from the parable, is to shew the difference of outward means to inward grace. The Gospel hath been, and from the very necessity of the case must be, openly published and proclaimed, like the public bell, which causeth to assemble, in the hearing of all. But herein is the wisdom and equity of God manifested. The enemies of God and his Christ reject the counsel of God against their own souls. Christ is the one ordinance of heaven, and the only one for the recovery of our Adam-nature from the ruins of the fall. If this be slighted and despised, there is no other, Acts 4:12. The Scribes and Pharisees fell under this condemnation; and those Scriptures in them were fulfilled. Many are called, but few chosen. Go to this people, and say, Hear ye indeed, but understand not: and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Isaiah 6:9. Matthew 13:14, &c. And thus the sovereignty of Jehovah is manifested, and their rejection of his appointed means becomes an everlasting testimony to his justice.

Acts 26:20 - William Styles

Acts 26:20, “I,” Paul, “showed unto them at Jerusalem and to the Gentiles—that they should repent and turn to God,” etc. From this it is sought to prove that it was St. Paul’s practice to exhort men everywhere to repent spiritually as a natural duty.

It is conceded that “neither a national nor a legal Repentance (as some have averred) is here intended, but an evangelical one.”—Dr. Gill, in loco. It is, whoever, denied that St. Paul states that he preached evangelical Repentance as the duty of all men. He is describing the character of his ministry to King Agrippa, and informs him that the necessity for and the nature of Repentance were insisted on by him wherever he went. To regard his words here as a dogmatic statement would be to misapply them. He is speaking in the most popular and general way. It cannot be doubted that his method of enforcing Repentance was similar to that of the other apostles (whose way of preaching Repentance has been considered). The text before us may be regarded as parallel with Acts 20:21—“Testifying, or bearing witness to the Jews and also to the Greeks, concerning” the origin, nature, and necessity of “Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” To testify to Repentance is one thing. To command natural men to perform a spiritual act is another.

May 5, 2010

Romans 10:16 - John Gill

Rom 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the Gospel,.... Who hear it, and to whom it is preached; for though ministers may be regularly sent forth, and rightly preach the Gospel in the purity of it, yet there is no success without the power of God attending it: ministers may preach, and men may hear, and yet not obey the Gospel; that is, cordially embrace the doctrines, and sincerely submit to the ordinances of it:

for Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report; or "our hearing", agreeably to the Hebrew word in Isa_53:1, שמועתנו, and which designs not the "hearing" with which the apostles heard Christ, though what they heard from him, they made known to men; but the hearing, or the word heard, which others had from them, namely, the report they made in their ministry, of the person and grace of Christ, which was disregarded, when the arm and power of the Lord were not, revealed and exerted: this was the case of the Jews in Isaiah's time, and the same in the times of Christ and his apostles, and is always the case, when divine power does not attend the preaching of the Gospel.

May 2, 2010

Revelation 3:20 - John Gill

Revelation 3:20.

Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,

[1] Bellarmia. de Gratis el. Lib. Arbitr. 1. 1. c. 11; Remonstr. in Coil. Hag. art. in. and 4:p. 274; Whitby, p. 286; ed. 2. 279.

Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 - John Gill

Revelation 2 and Revelation 3.

[1] Revelation 2:4, 5. Vid. Limborch, 1. 5. c. 83, sect. 19, p. 721; Whitby, p. 432, 458; ed. 2. 420, 438.

[2] Revelation 2:10. Vid. Whitby, p. 4,30, 431; ed. 2. 419,420.

[3] Ibid. p. 431; ed. 2. 420.

[4] Ibid p. 432; ed. 2. 420.

[5] Vide Whitby, p. 432,433; ed. 2. 420,421.

[6] Whitby, p. 422; ed. 2. 411.

[7] Revelation 3:16. Vide Remonstr. in Coil. Hag. art. t. p. 14.

Jude 1:21 - John Gill

Jude 1:21.

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the money of our Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal 1ife

[1] Whitby, p 87. 398,422,458; ed. 2. 86, 188,410,411,438.

[2] Vorstius and Grotins in loc.

1 John 2:2 - John Gill

1 John 2:2.

And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for
the sins of the whole world

[1] Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. 2:p. 133; Curcellaeus, p. 358; Limborch, p. 321.

[2] Whitby, p. 127, 128. 184; ed. 2. 124,125,131.

[3] Ibid. p. 134.

[4] Whitby, p. 132; ed. 2. 129.

[5] Talmud. Roma, fol. 7l. 2.

[6] Bava Metzia, fol. 33.2.

[7] Megilla, fol. 22. 2.

[8] Horaiot fol. 13. 2.

[9] Vid. Mill. Formul. Talmud, p. 41,42.

[10] Page 466; ed. 2. 446.

[11] Talmud, Rabbet, and Zohar. Vid. Jarchi in Isaiah lilt. 5. Vid. Shemot Rabba, fol. 98. 3, and 99. l,: Shirhash, Rab. fol. 24.1.; Jarchi and Kimchi, in Zechariah 9:1.

[12] Vid. Shemot Radda, fol. 98. 3, and 99. 4: Shirhash, Rab. Fol. 24. 1; Jarchi and Kimchi, in Zechariah 9:1.

[13] Succa, fol. 55. 2.

Duty-faith Expositions

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