Jan 29, 2011

JOHN BUNYAN by J. C. Philpot

JOHN BUNYAN by J. C. Philpot

John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" is known wherever the English language
is spoken. No, it has become known beyond those limits, by means of
translation into most of the European, and into some Oriental tongues. A
great critic and historian has said that the seventeenth century, so prolific in
writers, produced but two thoroughly original works, which would be handed
down to posterity; and it was noteworthy that both these were produced by
the pens of Dissenters—Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," and Milton's
"Paradise Lost."

Bunyan himself, we believe, was not aware of his own peculiar genius. Owing
nothing to education, his powerful intellect grew like a wild tree, unpruned
and unnailed to university wall, but it made up in strength for what it might
lack in symmetry. He possessed by nature three rare gifts, which education
might have refined, but could not have imparted, and possibly might have
weakened—a most vivid imagination,—a singular power of dramatic
representation,—and a most expressive style and language. The first and last
are self-evident; the second may require a few words of explanation. Bunyan
possessed, then, one of the rarest faculties of the human mind—the power of
so throwing himself into the very character which he was drawing that he
makes him speak exactly as that person would have spoken had he actually

A Puritan in principle and practice, he justly abhorred the theater; and yet,
without knowing it, he possessed in the highest degree that very talent in
which consists the perfection of that species of writing. By means of this
peculiar talent, his men and women are to us as substantial realities, as
thoroughly living, breathing characters as if they had actually existed.
Christian, Pliable and Obstinate, Faithful and Hopeful, with matronly,
prudent Christiana, and modest, maidenlike, timorous Mercy—we know them
all as if we had lived next door to them. This perhaps is his most striking
faculty, and has made the "Pilgrim's Progress" a spiritual drama. What life
and animation has this gift cast over it! Look, as a sample, at Obstinate's short
and characteristic sentences. "Tush! away with your book. Will you go back
with us or no?" "What, more fools still!" Compare these sharp, short, iron
sentences with Pliable's soft, wax-like, ductile words, "And do you think that
the words of your book are certainly true?" How his pliable disposition is
shown by this soft, drawling sentence to turn and wind itself round Christian's
belief! But what a peculiar gift was this to strike off with a few words two
characters which have imprinted themselves on the minds of hundreds of
thousands! But look also at his vivid, powerful, picturesque imagination. How
image after image comes forth with unflagging interest and boundless variety!
What force and power in his pictures! The Slough of Despond, and the Wicket
Gate, and the Hill of Difficulty, and the Castle of Giant Despair, the Valley of
the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, Faithful's trial, and the close of all—the
passage of the Dark River—why does the mere mention of these scenes recall
them at once so distinctly to mind?

Because they are drawn by a master's hand, giving form and body to scenes
pictured in his imagination as living realities. His hand but executed what his
eye saw; and thus his vivid imagination has engraved them more deeply on
our memory than many scenes which we have seen with our bodily eyes. Is
any book so well remembered? Has any made so vivid an impression? And all
without the least effort on the part of the writer.

The third striking feature is the plain, clear, strong, noble, good old Saxon
English in which it is written, a style so admirably suited to the great mass of
readers, and at the same time possessing, from its purity and simplicity, a
peculiar charm for the most refined English ear.

"But," suggests a reader, "you have merely noticed the genius of Bunyan!
What was that? It was only nature. There was no grace in that. Why do you
not speak of his grace and experience, and the teaching of the Spirit in his
soul?" But, my good friend, don't you see how the Lord bestowed this genius
on a poor illiterate tinker for a special purpose? Did not grace sanctify his
natural genius, and direct it to the glory of God and the good of his people?
And don't you perceive how this peculiar genius, of which you think so lightly,
was absolutely necessary to produce the "Pilgrim's Progress," a work which
will live when our heads are laid low? Bunyan was not striving after effect,
beyond the best of all effects—being made a blessing to the church of God. He
was not aiming at a dramatic representation of character, which a playwright
might well envy. He saw Christian with his mind's eye in the Slough of
Despond. His own feet had been fast held there. He saw and heard him in the
dungeons of Giant Despair. He had lain there himself, and the iron had
entered into his soul. He did not sit down as a play-writer to produce a drama,
of which every character and scene were thoroughly fictitious. He had himself
passed through all the scenes, and was, under the name of Christian, the
leading character, the hero of the piece. The successive scenes were all deeply
imbedded in his memory, and they came forth from his mind and pen as the
deepest and most solemn realities.

He therefore, under an allegory, described what he himself had seen, and
where he himself had been, as a voyager in the Arctic regions might depict the
frozen seas and piercing climate where the iceberg dwells in lonely grandeur;
or as a tropical traveler might retrace the bright skies and lovely isles where
the sun walks in its meridian glory. Thus Bunyan is himself reflected from
every page of the "Pilgrim's Progress." He is the pilgrim who progresses from
the City of Destruction to the heavenly Jerusalem. It is, in fact, his own
experience so far modified as not to be exclusive. He did not, like some, set up
his own experience as a standard from which there must not be the slightest
deviation. Mercy, who hardly knows why or wherefore she set out, except to
accompany Christiana, is drawn as a vessel of mercy as much as Christian,
who spends his nights in sighs and tears. But still he has drawn with vigorous
hand a certain definite path, in tracing which the highest genius and the
greatest grace combined to produce a work blessed beyond measure to the
church of God, and yet so animated with natural talent as to be handed down
to an earthly immortality. Who shall say the hand of God was not here? Who
but he raised the immortal tinker to this distinction? The same hand which
took David from the sheep-cotes to feed his people Israel raised Bunyan from
the tinker's barrow to feed the church of God; and the same power which
gave David strength and skill to sling the stone put into Bunyan's hand a pen
which has done far more execution.

But besides these extraordinary endowments of genius and grace, Bunyan's
experience was in itself peculiarly calculated to produce a work like the
"Pilgrim's Progress." Were we to characterize this experience in one short
sentence we should say it was the abiding power of eternal things resting on his
soul. He did not only believe, he saw. The word of God did not merely speak to
him; it entered into his inmost soul. Hell, with its sulphurous flames, Heaven,
with its glorious abodes, were to him more distinct realities than the earth on
which he trod; for the latter was but temporal, while the former were eternal;
the one but a passing shadow, the other an enduring reality. So when the law
sent its curses into his inmost conscience, he saw more clearly its lightnings,
and heard more distinctly its thunders, than his outward eyes ever saw the
vivid flash or his natural ears ever heard the pealing thunders of a passing
storm. The dark clouds of the natural sky soon rolled away, and ceased to peal
forth their terrors, but the Law knew no intermission for time or eternity.
Thus, too, when Christ was revealed to him, he saw him by the eye of faith
more distinctly than he ever saw any literal object by the eye of sense; for the
natural sun itself, the brightest of all objects, could but fill his eye, but the Sun
of Righteousness filled his very soul. When he talked with God, he talked to
him more really, truly, and intimately than he could ever talk with an earthly
friend, for to God he could unbosom all his heart, which he could not do to
any human companion. His spiritual sorrows far outweighed all his temporal
griefs, and his spiritual joys far surpassed all his earthly delights. The one
were measured by time, the other by eternity; man was but the subject of one,
God the object of the other. The experience of the power of eternal things
made Bunyan such a mighty preacher.

"For I have been in my preaching, especially when I have been engaged in the
doctrine of life by Christ, without works, as if an angel of God had stood at
my back to encourage me. Oh! it has been with such power and heavenly
evidence upon my own soul, while I have been laboring to unfold it, to
demonstrate it, and to fasten it upon the consciences of others, that I could not
be contented with saying, I believe, and am sure; methought I was more than
sure (if it be lawful to express myself) that those things which then I asserted
were true."

His was no cut-and-dried ministry, but the outpouring of his whole heart; and
as God had blessed him with remarkable powers of expression, he sent arrow
after arrow from his full quiver, lodging them in the hearer's conscience up to
the very feather. He was not what men commonly call eloquent, and yet was
so in the highest sense of the term, for his words were words of fire. The most
manly fervor was combined with the greatest simplicity; language which a
child could understand came forth from his lips, but a giant wielded the
words. Blow after blow, thrust after thrust came from his vigorous hand. The
subject was simple, the manner of handling it was simple; but the simplicity
was that of the life-guardsman's sword, of which the hilt is not gilded nor
blade filigreed. Ornament would be foreign to the massive strength of either.
Bunyan will make himself understood. He uses many words, but not a cloud of
idle epithets. He thus addresses at the same time the understanding and the
conscience, and reaches the latter through the former. The point of the sword
enters the understanding; one home-thrust carries the blade deep into the
conscience. This is the perfection of preaching—clear thoughts and words
which pass at once into the understanding, and home-thrusts which reach the
very soul. How many preachers and writers fail here! Confused ideas, cloudy,
long, entangled sentences, which require the utmost stretch of attention to
understand, perplex alike speaker and hearer. "What is the man driving at?
Poor fellow! he hardly knows himself what he means;" and similar thoughts
rise up almost involuntarily within. Others again speak and write with
tolerable clearness, but their words are like Jonathan's arrows. None hit the
mark. The arrow is beyond the lad, and the conscience is no more touched
than the great stone Ezel, behind which David hid himself.

Bunyan was a most prolific writer. His mind teemed with divine thoughts. His
heart was ever bubbling up with good matter, and this made his tongue the
pen of a ready writer. Besides the "Pilgrim's Progress" and "Grace
Abounding," his two best works, for in them his whole heart lay, his "Holy
War," "The Two Covenants," his little "Treatise on Prayer," his "Broken
Heart the Best Sacrifice," and others which we need not name, are deeply
impregnated with Bunyan's peculiar power and spirit. There is some powerful
writing in the three treatises contained in the little volume before us.
That he is in places somewhat legal, and speaks too much of the "offers" of
the gospel, we freely admit. This was the prevailing theology of the day, from
which scarcely any writer of that period was free. But he sometimes employs
the word "offers" where we should rather use the term "promises" or
"invitations;" these said "offers" being not so much offers of grace to dead
sinners as promises of mercy to God's living family who feel they are sinners.
But we are unwilling to dwell on his blemishes. The Lord, whose servant he
was, honored him in life, was with him in death, and his name will be dear to
the church of God while there is a remnant on the earth.

Jan 22, 2011

Duty Faith and Repentance by Samuel Trott

Duty Faith and Repentance by Samuel Trott

(from SIGNS of the TIMES: Vol.7, 1839)

An enquiry concerning the duty of the unregenerate to believe, repent or pray.

PART 1. Brother Beebe: - I will now notice the charge which Brother Meredith has been informed is made against the Old School Baptists, that they hold it "not to be the duty of the unregenerate to believe, repent or pray." I will in my examination of this charge endeavor to show what there is of truth and what of falsehood in its several items. I will commence with the subject of belief. The charge that we hold it "not to be the duty of the unregenerate to believe," has originated evidently from persons who do not know or distinguish the difference there is between believing the Son, and believing on the Son, or between believing the record that God gave of His Son, and believing on the Son of God. See John 3:36 & I John 5:10. Such distinction not only is made in the texts above referred to, but is evidently manifested in christian experience. The one, the believing on the Son of God, is no other than the exercise of that faith which is the gift of God, and is distinguishingly denominated the faith of God's elect. It is a reliance on that obedience which Christ has rendered to law and justice in behalf of His people, as our alone and complete righteousness before God and redemption from under the law, and a trust in Christ, as our whole salvation. But it is evident that, from a very early period in the travel of the church on to this day, a great proportion of the professed church of Christ have mistaken a simple belief of the truth of the record which God has given of His Son; or indeed a simple belief in the truth of the scriptures, for that faith which characterizes one as a believer in Christ. That is, the revelation made of Christ in the scriptures has been considered as a proposition presented to the minds of men for their reception; and the reception of this proposition either as dogmatically laid down, or on examination, has been understood as constituting one a believer in Christ, and the rejection of it, the ground of condemnation. Hence the solicitude that has been manifested to instill into the minds of children the knowledge and belief of certain summaries of what was considered essential points to be believed in order to constitute them christians. Hence the catechumenical system in the earlier ages of the church, and Sunday School and Bible Class plans of our day. Hence also creeds and catechisms as essential summaries of christian doctrine which must be driven into the minds of children by parental and priestly authority, and often beaten in by the rod of the schoolmaster, in order to make christians of them.

Owing to the mistake which has thus existed, when it has been asserted that the natural man is not required of God to exercise that faith which is peculiarly the faith of God's elect, and is not condemned for not exercising it, it has been construed into a denial of its being his duty to believe, that is, the record which God has given, or the testimony of the scriptures. The fact is, so far as I understand what is the Old School or apostolic Baptist doctrine on this point, it is this; that the peculiar faith which constitutes one a believer in Christ, in a gospel sense, and which goes out from one's self and from all he has done or felt, to rest upon, and plead Christ's obedience to the law, as his whole righteousness, and ground of acceptance with God, &c.; is a belief which the law knows nothing about; for the law is not of faith; and which can in no sense be considered a natural duty, it being not the acting of any natural powers or faculties of man as created of the earth earthy, but is the peculiar exercise of that spiritual life which was created in, and is derived from the Son of God, as the Head of His people; and which requires that a person be born of God to exercise it. Hence this faith in contra-distinction from its being a legal duty, is declared to be the gift of God. On the other hand, I understand the Old School doctrine to be, that it is the duty of all rational beings to believe all God has spoken in the scriptures as they have access to them directly or indirectly, and to believe the testimony of the works of creation and providence, where the scriptures have not come. To disbelieve the record, which God hath given of His Son, is to make God a liar (I John 5:10;) and surely no person can do this and be guiltless. The obligation man is under thus to believe God, arises, not from any demand which the gospel as such peculiarly makes upon him, but from the nature and fitness of things, and from what God is. It is a law of our creation.

The "duty of the unregenerate to repent," comes next under consideration. This owing to the confusion into which it has been thrown by the introduction of the various systems of conditionalism, and other causes is a difficult subject rightly to understand and explain in all its bearings. My own mind I confess has been much difficulted to draw a clear line of distinction between the different relations and senses in which the idea of repentance, is presented to our view in the scriptures, and between the idea of its being a duty incumbent on men at large, and that of its being a free gospel blessing bestowed by the exalted Saviour on the spiritual Israel of God. But as it is highly important that we should understand the true import of the scriptures on this subject, I have at different times elicited considerable enquiry from me; and such as I have, give I unto you. I will add that ever since I knew by experience what repentance is, as given by Christ, (as I have a hope that I do know it to some extent,) I have been fully convinced that the manner in which repentance is held and preached by the conditionalists of all grades, is altogether foreign from the scriptural view of it. On the other hand I have never been able to receive in all points as correct, the explanations which Doctor Gill and other sound brethren have given of it. There will be found some difference between the explanation of this subject which I have to give, and that given by Brother Beebe in No.14, more particularly in relation to John's preaching repentance; this difference I trust is not such as to break any bones.

I shall lay down the following positions, as waymarks, in the investigation of this subject. First: If we suppose that the original law of man's creation, or the law as published in Ten Commands from Sinai, commanded repentance as one of its requisitions, it will lead to the following insuperable difficulties. 1st. Repentance presupposes sin, therefore the law's commanding repentance as one of the conditions of its fulfillment, would be to command the previous existence of sin. 2nd. If the law commands repentance, then repentance is essential to that righteousness which the law requires, and consequently Christ in bringing in that righteousness and magnifying the law in behalf of His people, must have repented for them, as well as obeyed in their behalf in other respects. This supposition therefore I think cannot stand. 3rd. If we suppose that the gospel commands repentance as a condition of acceptance with God, then the gospel must in some sense be a law under which the human family exists. Consequently a failure to obey this command would involve condemnation. And if the gospel thus comes from God who changes not, with its demands upon the human family at large, then from the moment any individual existed as an accountable creature to God, he was obligated to render obedience to this gospel-law, and failing at any moment to do it, he incurred condemnation from it. If he lived twenty years, or more, or less, in impenitency or in transgression of this command of the gospel, and then became a penitent, his after repentance could not make satisfaction for his former neglect of it. Hence it is evident that all must be viewed as transgressors of this gospel-law. Now Christ redeemed His people from the curse of the law; but who is revealed as a redeemer from the condemnation of the gospel? And if not redeemed from it, must we not lie under the condemnation or suffer the penalty? If then no Redeemer is provided to save from gospel condemnation, who can be saved? If it be said that Christ redeemed from this as from the law, then as before He must have repented for His people. This is but one among several absurdities arising from a supposition of this kind.

4th. If on the other hand we suppose that the unregenerate are under no obligations to repent, we must consider them as justifiable in continuing on in their sins of whatever grade they may be. This I think none will admit; for there certainly are instances in the scriptures of unregenerated persons being exhorted or admonished to repent. The query then arises, Whence does this obligation to repent arise? This I will endeavor to answer, after a little. The difficulty on this subject has frequently been attempted to be solved by a reference to the fact of there being two kinds of repentance spoken of in the scriptures. There certainly are these different repentances brought to view, designated by different words in the original of the scriptures; but I find there is but one word in its formation and derivations, used in all those passages of scripture which are immediately connected with our present enquiry; such as Matt.3:2; 4:17; 11:20,21; Acts 8:22; 17:30; the same also is used in these, and the like texts, namely: Luke 24:47; Acts 5:31; also the word repentance as found in II Cor.7:9,10. (The word repented in this 10th verse, is a different word in the original and of different import.) Hence I think there is but the one kind of repentance we have to do with in this case. And I know not that it is here necessary for our present enquiry to consider this repentance as classed into outward, and heart repentances, or the like. The original word used in the above texts, metanoco, according to its etymology, signifies "To reflect on, or to be wise after the act, or to return or come to a right understanding." This repentance therefore imports a change of mind after an act has been committed, and which therefore implies a condemning of the act, and of course, sorrow for it, and a change of conduct. This sorrow may be natural or worldly sorrow, or it may be godly or spiritual sorrow, as the act is viewed in the light of reason, or in the light of the Spirit. If the former, it needs to be repented of again. But the main point in the idea of repentance, is I think altogether missed by conditionalists, and perhaps is frequently overlooked by others, and which in fact, is the substance of the thing. It is this, that as repentance is self-condemnation, it stands in direct opposition to all self-righteousness, self-justification, or reliance on our own acts for acceptance with God, &c. Hence the utter absurdity of making repentance a condition of salvation. In pursuing the enquiry concerning the obligation of men to repent, I shall have again to refer to the law of Ten Commands; and as I had occasion in the preceding communication, and have again in this to speak of it in distinction from the original law under which man was created, I wish here to guard against being understood as meaning that they are separate laws. I understand them to be in substance the same law, but differently revealed. In the original creation of man the law requiring him to love God with all his heart, &c., was not delivered to him verbally in so many words, nor in a series of implied prohibitions as in the Decalogue; but was written in indelible characters upon man. I do not say, nor mean in his heart; but upon his existence as a rational being, and upon all by which he was surrounded, for all declared the wisdom, power, and goodness of their Creator, and therefore reflected the obligation of man to love his Creator with all his powers and faculties. Thus it is said, Rom.1:19,20. "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Had man continued in the state of uprightness in which he was created, he would not have needed the specifications contained in the Decalogue to show him what was right or wrong. Though a test of his love and subjection to God was needed, and that was given him in the prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But man having sinned and come short of the glory of God, and sunken into a state of condemnation, God, in bringing in that dispensation which was particularly designed to typify the salvation in all its parts, of spiritual Israel; as well as to prepare the way for the manifestation of the Messiah, saw proper, to give a new edition of the law, or to declare it in Ten Commands from Sinai, which commands are but so many specifications by which are showed man's entire departure from the standard of right. Hence says Paul; "I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust except the law had said Thou shalt not covet." Rom.7:7. This law was given in the letter of it, in covenant form to national Israel; and was written on tables of stone to show that the law in itself cannot give life; that its commands in their outward address to man leave the heart as lifeless and hard as the stones on which they were written.

This law of Ten Commands, in its spirituality and as addressed to all, both Jews and Gentiles, I understand was given expressly to teach repentance. I do not say, to show that repentance was a part of the original requisition of the law, and a part of the righteousness it required; but that it is addressed to man as depraved and condemned, to call him off from self-confidence, and to repentance. I feel myself fully supported in this by the declarations of scripture, that the law was added by reason of transgression; entered that the offence might abound, &c.; and especially by this text, "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law" - for what? - "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." What is this but self-condemnation before God, that is designed to be accomplished by the declaration of the law? And what is such self-condemnation, but repentance toward God? It is then I think clear, that it is the law of Ten Commands in its spirituality that calls for repentance. But it may be asked, Is it the laws thus calling for repentance that makes it the duty of man to repent, or thus to be humbled and abased before God? I answer no; for the law calls for it only as it shows the nature and truth of man's case, that he is a guilty condemned creature, polluted in all his ways. The fitness, propriety and obligation of man to repent arises from the nature and truth of the case. If it is a duty of man to practice truth toward God and toward man, then it is his duty thus to be humble and abased before God and men, because the truth is that he is thus debased by his transgressions of the law; and to plead or trust to his works for justification is to plead and trust a falsehood, as showed by the Decalogue; for his works condemn him. However I would here remark that I doubt the propriety of using the term duty in a strict sense in relation to repentance, although it may be admitted in a loose sense. Of the fitness of repentance, and of the obligation man is under to exercise it, from his still existing as the creature of God, and a subject of His moral government, I have no doubt, that is, so far as the light of reason and external revelation can show them the evil of sin.

Let us now look a little at christian experience on this point; for the Spirit's teaching is truth. When a person is led by the teachings of the Holy Spirit truly to know the law and by it to know his guilt and depravity, he at once falls prostrate at the footstool of mercy, acknowledging the justice of his condemnation, and feels that from the fitness of things, he cannot be too much abased and humbled before God against whom he has sinned. It is true that in the former stages of his exercises, he may have sought to work himself up to a repentance, as a something that was to make amends for his transgressions and make his peace with God; but he now abhors this attempt to mock God and dishonor His law as much as any of his former open sins. And he would no sooner think of pleading the condemnation and contrition he now feels as a reason why he should escape punishment, than the criminal before a court would think of pleading the fact of his being clearly proved guilty, as a proper ground for his being cleared. This contrite penitent sees and feels that there is no way by which in justice he can be released from enduring the curse of the law, until he is led by faith to behold that satisfaction which Christ has made to the law for such sinners as he. He now feels that there is a natural fitness that he and every other person should be abased and humbled before God as transgressors of His law and abusers of His goodness. But further, being brought into the light of the gospel, he sees that it was sovereign grace alone which brought him thus to repentance, and that the condemnation which man lies under in consequence of his awful departure from God, is that he should be given over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient, or fit, or as the Master saith, that he should love darkness rather than light.

In accordance with what I have above shown as taught by experience, of the fitness and propriety of men's being thus humbled before God, the Apostle speaks of the goodness of God, that is, in the riches of His goodness, forbearance, &c., toward man, leading him to repentance, or in other words, as naturally tending to produce in him humbleness and contrition of heart, if he rightly viewed himself, but that instead of its having this proper effect, he, after his hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath, &c. See Rom.2:4-5. Now I understand the Old School doctrine thus to teach the natural fitness that all men, to be consistent with truth, should be abased and penitent before God as transgressors of His law. And farther, I understand it to be in accordance with Old School doctrine for a person, when he knows of another's committing any sin, whether he be regenerated or not, to exhort him to repent of that sin, as Peter exhorted Simon, Acts 8:22. But this exhortation will of course with propriety, be nothing other than a persuading of the person to use that light which God has given him, relative to this sin, whether that be the light of reason, or of grace. Such exhortations however must not be considered as, peculiarly a part of the ministerial office. If the above comes up to what others would import by saying that it is the duty of the unregenerate to repent, let them have this phrase, to convey the idea that men can or are required of themselves to exercise that repentance which is unto life, or that it is their duty to exercise repentance as a part of legal righteousness, or to make amends for a deficiency in that righteousness, or as a condition proposed by the gospel, in either of these senses the Old School doctrine does not represent it to be the duty of the unregenerate to repent.

Although I have already drawn out this subject to what many will think an unprofitable and unreasonable length, yet I cannot as I have entered upon it, feel satisfied without pursuing the enquiry as to what constitutes the preaching of repentance both under the day spring, and the sun rising of the gospel.

PART II. The branch of the above enquiry now before us is, What constitutes preaching repentance both under the day spring, and the sun rising of the gospel day? The day spring of course comes first, and under this we find both John and Christ preaching, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." In order to come to a proper understanding of the import and design of this preaching, it is necessary to refer back to the peculiar standing of the Jews. I have already remarked on another branch of this inquiry, that the law of Ten Commands in the letter of them, were given in covenant form to national Israel. Connected with these commands and as conditions of the same covenant, was the observance of the whole Jewish ritual as commanded by Moses. In the offering of sacrifices and in other rites, repentance or an acknowledgment of guilt and condemnation was implied and taught; also the hearing and reception of the Messiah, when He should come, was commanded. Deut.18:15-19. Hence the "foundation of repentance from dead works" is named, Heb.6:1,2, among the principles or first rudiments of the doctrine of Christ, which the believers from among the Hebrews were called upon to leave. Hence also when Messiah came, it was according to the Divine and revealed plan of His manifestation, that He should first present Himself to the Jews, nationally, for their reception or rejection; on the principles of the Sinai Covenant. Hence it is said, Christ "came to His own and they received Him not," &c. John 1:11. It was as I understand it, in accordance with this arrangement, and the provisions of the Sinai Covenant, that John came preaching repentance and that Christ preached it; and also that the Seventy were sent two and two to give notice of His coming, or that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. They preached repentance to show that according to the order of Messiah's kingdom, and to what had been figuratively taught in the Sinai ritual, repentance, and not self-righteousness, was requisite to a right reception of the Messiah, and to entering into His kingdom. They called upon them thus to repent upon the principles of that covenant under which they as a nation in a peculiar manner existed, and according to which Christ thus first presented Himself to them as the Messiah for their reception or rejection. It is true, as Brother Beebe said, in his remarks on repentance, that a special design of John's being sent preaching repentance was "to make ready a people prepared of the Lord." But still I think John's preaching, saying Repent, &c., was addressed to the Jews nationally upon the principles of their covenant; and that it was thus left to the Holy Spirit, whose province it peculiarly is, to make manifest the "people prepared of the Lord," to lead such through John's preaching to be convinced of their sinfulness and just condemnation, and to hope for the immediate manifestation of the Messiah; and as a fruit of their repentance, to renounce their self-righteousness, and their dependence on, having Abraham for their father, for justification; and were accordingly prepared to come to John's baptism as a baptism - not of self-righteousness for justification, but of "repentance for the remission of sins." Hence in the text already quoted, John 1:11, after it is said "He came to His own, that is nationally, and His own received Him not, it is further declared that to as many as received Him, to them gave He power, &c., which were born not of blood," &c. Thus showing that their being distinguished thus from the nation, was peculiarly of God. From this view of this subject, Pedobaptists may think it consistent to preach repentance according to John's manner of preaching, because they imagine their children to have been brought in under the Abrahamic covenant; but surely no consistent Baptist will think of blending the principles of the Sinai covenant with the gospel ministry in calling upon men to repent as a self-preparation for receiving the gospel.

I will now come to the preaching of repentance under the sun rising of the gospel day. On this point we have a plain direction in Luke 24:47, where Christ after His resurrection teaches His disciples that, "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." This I understand to be the particular instruction given how repentance is to be preached since the ascension of Christ.

1st. It is to be preached in His - Christ's - name. Not in Moses' name. Not as a demand of the law; nor as John preached it to the Jews on the principles of the Sinai covenant. Neither does preaching repentance in the name of Christ, consist with calling upon men to repent, for this implies that the repentance called for is such as the natural man can exercise, or the reflections of the natural mind will produce. Hence this preaching tends to build men up in the notion of their own ability and to satisfy them with such repentance as they are capable of exercising; and therefore tends to produce in their minds the very reverse to that repentance which Christ gives, a being abased in the dust as guilty, ruined, helpless sinners.

Repentance is truly preached in the name of Christ, when the law in its exceeding broadness, unchangeableness and spirituality as taught and illustrated by Christ, and established by the gospel is preached, as cutting off all human works as the ground of acceptance with God, "Stopping every mouth and presenting all the world as guilty before God." This is the preaching which, when the heart is opened by the Holy Ghost to receive it, and by Him applied, produces the fruits of genuine repentance, namely: a being stripped of all self glorying and self confidence and an abhorring of one's self and being humbled as in dust and ashes. But further in preaching repentance in the name of Christ, as He is "exalted as a Prince and a Saviour for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins," the sensible sinner [text obscured in original] should be pointed to Christ as Him who alone can melt his heart and give him that repentance which needeth not to be repented of. And the intimate connection between this repentance, and the receiving of the forgiveness of sins, must be clearly held forth; so that none, on the one hand shall indulge in the hopes of experiencing pardoning mercy through Christ, unless brought to know and feel the odiousness and exceeding sinfulness of sin; and on the other hand, that those who are mourning over their own vileness and ruin may be encouraged to hope for the forgiveness of their sins through Christ. Now I will leave it to Brother Meredith and others who have been alarmed at the cry against our Old School preachers, that they do not preach repentance to sinners, to judge whether the above described kind of preaching; or the calling upon the unregenerate to repent and the trying to scare them to it by dwelling on the horrors of hell, and thus leading them to infer that repentance is a bodily exercise, a mere excitement of the passions, appears the most consistent with gospel doctrine and preaching, and the most like preaching true "repentance toward God." But there is another point which it is incumbent on me to notice before I quit this subject, namely; Acts 17:30. "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." We must first notice the import of the expression now commandeth. If the obligation of the Gentiles to repent, rests upon this command, as a new law then instituted, as those who dwell so much upon this text seem to intimate, then their previously gross idolatry afforded no just ground for repentance, and they were guiltless in practicing it. But such a conclusion is entirely inconsistent with Paul's view of their case given, Rom.1:18-32. The true import of this expression as connected with the idea that God had heretofore winked at the times of this ignorance, appears to me to be this, namely: That although hitherto the law of Ten Commands as designed to teach the knowledge of sin, was confined mostly to the Jews, while the Gentiles were left without any special revelation to teach them their sins; yet now under the gospel dispensation, this law as connected with the gospel proclamation was "to be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations," showing the absurdity and wickedness of idolatry, and the guilt and condemnation of all as transgressors of the divine law. Hence wherever the gospel came among the Gentiles thus accompanied with the proclamation of the law, those Gentiles whose hearts were opened to receive the word, were led to renounce all their hopes arising from those idolatrous rites which they had performed and to fall prostrate before God as guilty sinners, needing His pardoning mercy; as were the Jews stripped of their legal righteousness. And not only this, but God is so revealed in the external testimony of the law and the gospel as human reason becomes convinced comes are more or less made to feel that they are dependent on, and accountable to the living God. In accordance with this view of the import of this text, I will add that the primary idea of the word here rendered command, is to instruct, teach, direct, and hence also it came to be used to denote commanding as one mode of directing; it further signifies to give notice or warning, &c. Hence I understand the text as designed, not to intimate that under the gospel God had instituted a new command or law for the Gentiles, or laid them under a new obligation to exercise repentance; but to show the bearing and effect the gospel proclamation as embracing an illustration of the spirituality of the law was designed to have upon all people, and that it was thus addressed to all, in distinction from what was the case under the former dispensation.

Lastly, the subject of prayer, or the enquiry whether it is the duty of the unregenerate to pray, demands attention. If the charge that Old School Baptists "believe it is not the duty of the unregenerate to pray," is designed to convey the idea that they do not hold, or preach that it is the duty of unregenerate persons, or right for them, to read or say over a form of prayer, as a regular or occasional task, and as means of salvation, or a condition of acceptance with God, whilst their hearts are insensible of the wants their words express; every consistent Old School Baptist, and every other person who knows the wickedness of mocking God with lip service, while the heart is far from Him, must plead guilty to this charge. But as this charge imports that we do not admit it right for any person, under a sense of his dependence on God and feeling his need of divine mercy or aid in any case to ask God for it; I think the charge is false. I for one believe it right for anyone to pray to God for any aid or mercy that he truly feels the need of, and is authorized by the Scriptures to believe that God bestows upon the sons of men.

To say it is the duty of unregenerate persons to pray, as a form of worship is to say that God requires of them that worship which is neither spiritual, nor from the heart. But Christ informed the woman of Samaria that, "God is a Spirit and they that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth." John 4:24. But for a person to pray, not as a form of worship, but simply to ask God for mercy because he feels he needs it, is the privilege of any; hence Peter exhorts Simon to pray God, if perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven him; under the impression, undoubtedly, that Simon from the sharp rebuke and warning he had given him, would see and feel the wickedness of his thought and the need of forgiveness.

I have thus traveled over a good deal of ground upon these subjects, whether Brother Meredith will be any better satisfied than with Brother Beebe's brief explanation, I know not. The confusion into which these subjects have been thrown by conditionalists and their use of them, seemed to require a general and particular examination of them. I cannot say that after all I have said, and my anxiety to place the subjects in a clear light, I have succeeded to any degree.

But I leave it. God may enable some others to set the subject in a clearer light, or may lead some to comprehend the ideas, I have attempted to convey; and if they are wrong to show the right.

Yours in the gospel of Christ,
Samuel Trott

Duty Faith by James K. Popham

We have been asked to state what is meant by the term "Duty faith," as some are perplexed by it. We comply with the request the more readily as the term is probably used loosely. And that we may be exact, by the Lord's help, it is desirable to understand the two words which constitute the formula.

1. Duty. Duty is thus defined: "That which a person is bound by any natural, moral, or legal obligation to do or perform; what has to be done as being due towards another."

2. Faith. We venture to define it thus: Belief, on adequate evidence, in God, and in everything He manifests and propounds in Scripture, in creation, and in providence.

Together, then, these two words mean that it is the duty of man to believe in God, and obey Him in whatever He says. This obligation arises out of law. No law no duty. This is the law of God given in Eden and written in man's heart, for man was made in the image and likeness of God in His law. And the Holy Ghost by Paul confirms this truth by showing that all impressions of the law in the hearts of men were not obliterated by the Fall; for that the Gentiles, who had not the advantage of the externally written law, yet did by nature things contained in the law; whereby, he says, they "show the work of the law written in their hearts" (Romans 2:14-15).

It was given to man as endowed with every advantage which belonged to a pure nature a free will, and power to render the obedience commanded. Within this law, which is holy, just, and good, is found the duty of man. And the duty must, of course, be co-extensive with the commandment. If the commandment reaches the heart, then disobedience thereis sin. It does reach the heart; it is universal: " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these " (Mark xii. 30, 31). Clearly, then, the whole duty of man means believing whatever God has been pleased to say and manifest of Himself, for that is essential to loving Him perfectly and keeping His commandments with all the heart. It means that as God made man upright, it is his indispensable duty to be perfect.

But the Fall changed man. " How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! " His understanding has become darkness. " Ye were sometimes darkness." His will is so perverse that his response to every command of his Maker and law Giver is, " I will not." His heart's love is turned to hatred. His power to obey no longer exists. And this his entirely evil state is, by divine inspiration, called death, Eph. ii. 1. But the law has not changed, nor is its authority weakened. " Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth ? " (Rom. vii. 1). There is no shadow of turning in the law Giver. Therefore our wofully changed state does not, cannot absolve us from our duty ; our duty is not affected by our voluntary change, loss of power, and rebellion. Sin procured inability to walk in them gives no freedom from divine statutes. Sin is no excuse from obedience. Our inability is our sin. Our solemn position therefore is this: We are not absolved from our obligations because we have rendered ourselves unable to meet them. It is our indispensable duty to believe every discovery God has condescended to make of Himself.

Therefore every man ought to believe in the Trinity. The Tri-Une, Tri-Personal God has revealed Himself. God said, " Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness." " There are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One." The record is that the Father decreed to set up His Son, and decreed His Incarnation ; the Son voluntarily consented ; the Holy Ghost entered into an agreement to beget the sacred humanity which should be the true Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. Hence, in the fulness of time, the manifestation of the Trinity. The Father sent His Son. His Son said, " Lo, I come." The Spirit overshadowed the virgin.

Further, man is duty bound to believe the Bible account of the creation ; the Fall of Adam and the imputation to his seed of his sin ; the election of the church in Christ in eternity; His vicarious life and death ; His resurrection; the resurrection of all men ; the j udgment to come; the everlasting felicity of the saints ; the everlasting perdition of the reprobates for their sin. All the above are Bible truths, written on the sacred page as with a sunbeam. They are a manifestation of God in His works; they are objects set up in the firmament of the Scriptures for the obedience of faith (Rom. xvi. 26). And can men cast them away, reject them, and not be guilty? " They have rejected the Word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them ? " (Jer. viii. 9).

Unbelief of God is the root sin : " Yea, hath God said ? " was the first seed of evil (Gen. iii. 1). Unbelief was the sin that kept Israel in the wilderness forty years (Heb. iii. 7 19). And that men ate obliged by the law to believe the record God has given of His Son in the gospel, is evident, for " he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son " (1 Jno. v. 10). And the Holy Ghost reproves the world of sin, "because," says Christ, "they believe not on Me" (Jno. xvi. 9).

And further, it is the nature of the gospel to give men ground to repent and seek God: for it discovers that there is forgiveness with Him that He may be feared, " through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus " (Rom. iii. 24); whereas the law accepts of no repentance or approach of a sinner to God, accepts nothing but the perfect righteousness of Christ, in order to let go its deadly hold of a sinner. There is, therefore, no way for a sinner to repent toward God without some kind of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; repentance and faith go together, whether natural or spiritual (Acts xx. 21; Mark i. 15; Jno. xii. 34 36); for to believe in Christ is to repent of unbelief. And all to whom the sound of the gospel comes are commanded to repent. So Paul to heathens: " The times of this ignorance " when the word of God was confined to Israel "God winked at, but NOW commandeth all men everywhere to repent," warning them of the day of judgment (Acts xvii. 30).

The ground given for this is the gospel: " Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand " (Matt. iii. 2 ; iv. 17). But this duty of men under the law to obey and believe the gospel on the testimony of Scripture, is not to believe their own interest therein ; nor does the law make any account of their inability to obey. To tell men that Christ died for them, and they have only to believe, is not warranted by Scripture, and is contrary to its testimony that Christ laid down His life only for His sheep (Jno. x. 15, 26) ; that all men are by nature " dead in trespasses and sins " (Eph. ii. 1, 2), and shut up together in the power of unbelief (Rom. xi. 32, margin ; iii. 9 20 ; Jno. vi. 44). For the law gives no power to obey, and yet requires the absolutely perfect faith of a sinless man; and this Christ gave, as part of the righteousness He wrought for all those His Father gave Him. So that the use of the law in respect of every man's duty of faith is "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God " (Rom. iii. 19).

Within the law, the covenant of works, which declares to man what is his only proper course, lies his duty. Naturally he is outside, or not under, any other covenant. The law of his creation binds him to an entire obedience, a full, unquestioning surrender of himself to God. This is proved by Christ's teaching: " And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life ? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind ; and thy neighbour as thyself. And He said, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Lu. x. 25 28). This word comprehends all we need do to please God in the covenant of works. " Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man " (Ecc. xii. 13).

It is also proved by the curse of the law. " For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. iii. 10). The curse never comes causeless. Duty is by law; disobedience is breaking the law; sin is the transgression of the law. There could be no transgression without law: " For where no law is, there is no transgression" (Rom. iv. 5). Punishment follows sin. " For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness " (Eom. i. 18). And the curse begins in this life. " And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave rhem over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" (Rom. i. 28). This is most just punishment for dereliction of duty. When men, through the pride of their hearts, will not seek after God, but choose their own ways, He chooses their delusions, and rains snares upon them. Because they receive not the love of the truth. that they might be saved, God sends them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: " that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness " (2 Thess. ii. 10 12).

"Therefore," says inspired Paul, " by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin." All the sons of Adam, the subjects of law, are judged and condemned by law, as breaking it. " Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God " (Rom. iii. 19). And it is exceedingly solemn for all. The Atheist, the Unitarian, the Papist, the worldling, the deniers of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Spiritualist, the Christadelphian, the critic, who holds himself at liberty to use his penknife on the sacred, the verbally inspired page; the man who denies the Holy Ghost and His saving work, these, and all who are " in the flesh," and so cannot please God, will find one day, if grace prevent not, that they will stand before Him, to believe and obey whom they refused, who will execute judgment upon them all for all the ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which they have spoken against Him. How much better for them never to have been born than to have lived in disobedience! Then will it be seen that the law lost none of its authority, was not robbed of its sanction, and that the law Giver is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. 0 how horror-stricken will be the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, when they hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and say to the mountains and rocks, " Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of His wrath is come ; and who shall be able to stand ? "But there is another covenant, the covenant of grace, full of inalienable blessings, and laying obligations on all who are made partakers of those blessings; and as the subject is large and vitally important, we propose taking it up in our next issue, if the Lord will. Meanwhile we crave a careful perusal of what we have set forth, relating to the whole duty of man.

By James K. Popham

Jan 16, 2011

A strange silence on the error of Duty-faith - William Styles

"Among the strict and Particular Baptists there is at present a strange silence on the error of Duty-faith, which strongly contrasts with the opposition it received from our predecessors. John Steven's Help for the true Disciples of Emmanuel was designed to refute it. John Foreman's Duty-Faith fully shows it's unscriptural character. james Wells rarely preached without denouncing it, and his Letters to Theophilus cogently disprove it. William Palmer was writing a series of Tracts which expose its evils, when his death brought them to a sudden termination in 1873... Several living ministers who once denied Duty-faith, now hold and preach it, and thus, "build again that which they destroyed," (Gal 2:18)... It is sometimes urged that-even granting that Duty-faith has no direct support in the Word of God-it is practically harmless, and often appears to be attended with good results in the more rapid conversion of sinners. But, good men, with holy David, should "hate and abhor lying," (Psa 119:163)-and the substitution of falsehoods for the Gospel is surely the worst form of untruthfulness... The late John Andrews Jones, in the Earthen Vessel for September 1863, conclusively shows that the Fullerian system of Duty-Faith "tends to overthrow the distinguishing and glorious doctrines of the Gospel." History substantiates this. The churches which adopted it at the close of the nineteenth centuries never contemplated abandoning the truths of the sovereignty of God in the election, redemption, and effectual calling of saving sinners. In how many of these churches, however, are these truths held to-day? The Down-grade is the natural and inevitable result of the departure from the truth which Andrew Fuller inaugurated." - William Styles (1902)

Jan 15, 2011

The life of all the graces and comforts of a Christian in this world - John Fawcett

"Christ Jesus is the life of all the graces and comforts of a Christian in this world. By the knowledge and contemplation of him, and of his death in our stead, faith lives, and is strengthened from day to day; all the springs of repentance are opened, and flow freely, when the heart is melted by views of a dying Saviour; love feels the attractive power of its gracious object, and is kindled into a holy flame; sin is mortified; the world is subdued; and the hope of future glory is supported, enlivened, and confirmed, so as to become sure and steadfast, like an anchor of the soul. But, without him, whom having not seen we love, these graces would wither and die, or, to speak more properly, they would have no existence." - John Fawcett

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions