Mar 28, 2011

The Excellency of Prayer - William Huntington

The Excellency of Prayer

(By William Huntington, in a letter to a friend.) Prayer is the blessed means which God has appointed to bring every grace from Christ to the believer. The believer is to let his requests be made known unto God, and for his encouragement God says that the prayer of the upright is His delight. Yes, He says that He loves to hear it. "Let Me hear your voice, let Me see your face! For your voice is pleasant, and you are lovely!" Prayer is the casting of our cares and burdens on the Lord. It is the pouring out of the soul before Him, the presenting of our troubles to Him. Prayer is communing and corresponding with Christ—and receiving grace from His fullness to help in every time of need. It is keeping open the communion between the Lord and His people. Prayer is their way of paying morning and evening visits to the King of kings and Lord of lords! It is their means of cultivating and keeping up perfect friendship with a Friend who loves at all times—and therefore it should never be neglected. Prayer is pouring out the soul unto God and placing before Him our troubles. It is "casting all our cares upon Him who cares for us."—and our burdens upon Him in whom we have "righteousness and strength." Prayer is opening the heart, the mind, and the mouth to Him who has said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble! I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." It is besieging the everlasting kingdom, moving the throne of grace and knocking importunately at the door of mercy—encouraged by the promise, "Knock and it shall be opened unto you." In prayer we must take no denial. If we have but a feeling sense of our needs, and a Scripture warrant of a promise to plead, we must argue, reason, plead, supplicate, intercede, confess, acknowledge, thank, bless, praise, adore, repeat, importune, watch, and take hold of whatever may be of use to the soul. Sinners, sensible of their lost estate by nature, who feel their need and poverty, have many invitations, encouragements, precedents and promises. They have, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, to plead and rely upon the covenant of Jehovah, the oath of God; the merits of Christ and all His covenant engagements, undertakings and performances; the covenant characters He sustains; His near relationship to them—together with all the glorious train of Divine perfections found in the proclamation of the Name of God to Moses (Ex. 34:6,7)—for these all sweetly harmonize and brightly shine in Christ crucified—who has never once yet disappointed the hope of a penitent sinner, but has graciously said, "Come unto Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" His promises, like Himself, are unchangeable, and this is one of them—"The one who comes unto Me, I will never cast out." Private prayer is the Christian's court-visit to his God—the life and breath of his soul. It is the ascent of the heart to the Almighty—and its returns are the descent of Christ to be the soul's help! Prayer is the assuagement of grief, the easement of a burdened heart, and the vent of a joyful heart. It is the rich aroma of mystical incense, the overflowing of a living fountain, an all-prevailing sacrifice, and the delight of the Almighty! Moreover, prayer is the greatest, most blessed and most glorious privilege, with which perishing sinners ever were favored! Prayer is a defense against the spirit of this world, a bar to the inroads of vanity, a maul upon the head of the 'old man', and a lash of scorpions for the devil. It is a bridle in the jaws of a persecutor, a triumph over a voracious enemy, a dagger to the heart of a heretic, a key to parables and difficult Scriptures, and a battering-ram on the walls of salvation—for "the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." Prayer uncloses the bountiful hand of God, opens the door of mercy, retains Christ on the throne of the affections, and covers every rival and usurper with shame and confusion of face! It is the believer's Royal Exchange, where he may take his cares, burdens, snares and troubles; his vexations, temptations, doubts and fears; his misgivings of heart, sorrows of mind, hardness of heart and ingratitude; together with his faintness, unbelief, and rebellion; also all his spiritual disorders—the leprosy of sin, the evil within, the plague of his heart, the plague of his head, his deaf ears, blind eyes, feeble knees, languid hands, halting feet and stiff neck! He may take all his sins there get rid of—and leave them all! In return for their troubles, believers receive from their heavenly Banker numberless deliverances, blessings and mercies; many spiritual refreshings, renewings, revivals and restorations; large returns of comfort, peace, love and joy; together with fresh discoveries, love tokens, wholesome truths, profound mysteries, glorious glimpses, bright prospects, celestial views, undoubted evidences, heavenly lessons; conspicuous deliverances, pledges and foretastes; reviving cordials; valuable banknotes in "exceeding great and precious promises," payable this very day, and every day—and even to millions of ages afterwards—signed, sealed, and delivered by Jehovah Himself—the "God who cannot lie!" Prayer has often scattered the confederate enemies of the soul, marred the schemes of opponents, frustrated the tales of liars, and made false teachers mad. Prayer counteracts the designs of Satan and his emissaries. It has made the believer to be an enemy to the world, the successful rival of deceivers, the envy of hypocrites, an eye-sore to the devil, the admiration of perishing sinners, a spectacle to the world—and a wonder to himself! He prays to his Father in secret, and his Father who sees in secret has engaged to reward him openly. By prayer the spiritual pauper comes up from the dust, and the beggar up from the ash-heap—to sit among the princes of God's people, and inherit the throne of glory! Prayer in faith has brought in countless providential mercies, as well as spiritual blessings. God could have granted them all without asking, but has condescended to honor the exercise of prayer by saying, "For all these things I will be inquired of by the house of Israel—that I may do it for them." Prayer engages the Almighty on the side of the suppliant, and establishes an alliance with God. "All things are possible to him who believes." "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Prayer has brought health to the sick, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, eyes to the blind, life to the dead, salvation to the lost; and has even driven the devil himself from the hearts of many—and brought the God of heaven to dwell in his place. Prayer is God's appointment, the Spirit's gift, the believer's privilege, and the scourge of Satan! Therefore, prize it and use it! God is well-pleased, and receives with pleasure, approbation, and delight— all who approach His throne of grace, sensible of their needs—in the name of Christ crucified. Hence faith in Christ becomes the only way of access to God—all other avenues are stopped up! The sword of justice is brandished to keep every other way to the tree of life closed. In Christ, we may come with boldness to the throne of grace; there is no obstacle, no hindrance, in this way. The sword of justice is sheathed, the law magnified, the ransom price paid, the devil dethroned, sin expiated, wrath endured, God wellpleased, sinners redeemed, enemies reconciled—that the Lord God might dwell among them!

Mar 6, 2011

The administration of the ordinance of baptism and the Lord's supper - J.C. Philpot

"As far as the administration of the ordinance of baptism is concerned, we have no doubt in our own mind that it is perfectly scriptural for any member of the church, say, for instance, the deacon, to administer such, where the place of the pastor is vacant.

As “all things are to be done decently and in order,” we give the preference of course to a minister of the gospel wbere his services can be procured, but we have no superstitious idea that it is indispensable to obtain them.

Both Peter and Paul (Acts 10:48, 1 Corinthians 1:14-17,) seem to have entrusted to others, most probably to what are called in ecclesiastical language “laymen”, the administration of baptism; and Philip, who was only a deacon certainly baptized the Samaritan converts.

And the wisdom and foreknowledge of the Holy Ghost seem to have been in these instances specially manifested.

The arrogant assumptions of the clergy, in which the essence of Popery exists, were foreseen, and foreprovided against by these instances left on record in the New Testament, Were there no example of Baptism or of the Lord’s Supper having been administered by other than the apostles, what strength would it have given to Rome’s arrogant claims, and to her daughter the Church of England’s no less bold pretensions, thaI the ordinances, or, as they term them, the sacraments, can only be administered by priestly hands.

And as there is a strong tendency in the modern dissenting priesthood to set up a similar claim, we are glad to take this opportunity of protesting against it, and of asserting the liberty of the churches.

As to sending for “an ordained minister,” the party that proposes that step should, to be thoroughly consistent, go a step further, and send for a Catholic priest.

If a man be sent of God to preach the gospel, he wants no ordination from man; and if God has not sent him into the vineyard, not all the ordination of man can make him a minister.

As Rushton well remarks, in the book which we lately reviewed, dissenting ordination “is but a pitiful imitation of the original. In the Church of Rome the dominion of an anti-christian priesthood appears in all its grandeur, but ours (dissenting ordination) has neither antiquity nor splendour to snpport it. ‘Theirs,’ says the ingenious Robinson, ‘is nature in the theatre of the metropolis; we are strollers, uttering bombast, in cast-off finery, in a booth at a fair’.”

Dissenting ordinations are, indeed, but a poor third-hand-mimicry, borrowed from the Church of England, which copied them from Rome.

We have spoken somewhat decidedly on this subject, as much of the clerical assumption of “Reverend,” wearing of robes in the pulpit, and other arts of priestcraft are clearly traceable to these dissenting ordinations, and are strongly stamped on some of our most zealous declaimers against popery, who do not see how inconsistently they act in condemning Rome when dressed out in her rags, and in protesting against her principles, when one of her strongest, the monarchical character of the priesthood, is manifested in all they say and do.

As we have in a previous number expressed our sentiments concerning the administration of the Lord’s Supper, we need not here repeat them. Suffice it to say, that we consider it quite scriptural for any member of a Gospel Church to break bread to the rest, their consent being obtained, where there is no Pastor."

By J.C. Philpot and John M’Kenzie – 1842

The almost intolerable load of imputed sin - J.C. Phipot

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34) It was not the nails driven through His hands and feet—it was not the crown of thorns placed upon His brow—it was not the stripes which mangled His back—it was not the languor and faintness under which He suffered—that caused the Lord to die. It was not the mere bodily agony of the cross—it was not the mere pain, though most acute and severe, of the nails driven through His sacred hands and feet. It was not the being stretched upon the cross six hours, that constituted the chief part of the Redeemer’s suffering. But it was the almost intolerable load of imputed sin — the imputed sins of millions — it was the tremendous pouring of the wrath of God into His holy soul — it was the hiding of His Father’s face, and the very pangs of hell that there caught hold of Him! Our suffering Savior drank the cup of the wrath of God to the very dregs—when our vile, dreadful, and horrible sins were laid upon Him! “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for sin.” (Isaiah 53:10)" -J.C. Philpot

Mar 5, 2011

Acts 2:38 - Robert Hawker

"...Repent and be baptized." Did Peter mean to say, that repentance was in every man's power to perform? Surely the Apostle could not, for in a subsequent discourse before the Jewish council, he expressly ascribes the work to CHRIST. Him, (saith Peter,) hath GOD exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins, Acts 5:30-31. What, therefore, is CHRIST’S gift, cannot be man's work."

2 Thessalonians 2:13 - William Button

"Mr. F. thinks his definition of faith as “the belief of the truth” must be just, because he says it is the definition the Holy Ghost himself has given” (p. 10) 2 Thess. 2:13. But remark how this belief of the truth is connected with the sanctification of the Spirit; only attend to the whole verse. “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” Now let me appeal to you, Sir, whether this does not carry in it the ideas just mentioned, the necessity of a supernatural and spiritual light, in order for faith. What is this sanctification of the spirit, but a spiritual and supernatural life communicated to the soul, a spiritual and supernatural light conveyed to the understanding, a spiritual and supernatural bias wrought in the will, a spiritual and supernatural turn given to the affections--in short, being created a-new in Christ Jesus by the powerful operations of the Holy Spirit? Then, and not before, will there be true and special faith in the soul. I am fully of Mr. Toplady's mind, “that if once the feeling or inward perception of God's Spirit, as a convincer of sin, and of righteousness, and of sanctification, were to be excluded from faith, there would presently be an end of all vital religion, and the power of godliness, would take its flight from that day forward” (Toplady's Sermon on the Creed of Devils, p. 69)." -William Button

"...the Holy Ghost useth motives..." - William Button

“It is,” says Dr. Goodwin, “from the Holy Ghost, the spirit of Christ given to us, and so working above the power of nature, and in that respect he is called the spirit of wisdom and revelation; as also elsewhere the spirit of faith, 2 Cor. 4:13” (Vol. 2 of his works, p. 58). But though the Doctor considers faith as above the power of nature, he does not consider it as destroying reason, neither do I. He says, (and I wish this to be particularly observed) “I will only give you a caution, that I may not be misunderstood; for as this is a great truth, so I would clear it from mistakes: the light of faith doth not destroy reason, but makes use of it, subordinates reason to itself, restoreth, rectifies it, and then useth it; even as reason makes use of sense, though the acts of reason, the thoughts of a man in a rational soul are clean differing to what he hath in the sensitive soul, yet reason makes use of sense; and thus the Holy Ghost makes use of all the rational discourses and descriptions of Christ in the word; makes use of the letter of the word, but by them conveys those spiritual thoughts of Christ, which all that letter cannot hold forth to a man: and as I said afore, if the angels from heaven should come and preach Jesus Christ to us, should, with all their pencils, go and paint out what knowledge they have of Jesus Christ, they could not beget one such sight of Christ in the heart, as the Holy Ghost doth when he comes to work faith; and yet the apostle tells us it comes by hearing, and in hearing; the more rationally the preacher discourseth out of the word, and lays open the meaning thereof in a rational way, so much the better, because it is suited to the minds of men; yet where the Holy Ghost works faith, he conveys a light beyond all that reason, though he makes use of that reason too: this word of God hath an harmony of reason in it, and if a man would open a place of scripture, he should do it rationally, he should go and consider the words before, and the words after; but yet still if the Holy Ghost comes not with a further light than all this rational opening of the word affords, a man will never believe, for faith is a fight beyond it; the Holy Ghost useth motives to move you to holy duties, but then he comes with a power joined with those motives beyond the moral force of them; he useth signs out of your own hearts to comfort you, but he comes with a light over and above those signs; for if you should stick there, you would never have comfort; so he useth reason; he destroyeth it not, but subordinateth it” (Goodw. Works, vol. 4. part 2. p. 7). I am, respectfully, Yours." -William Button

Mar 2, 2011

Deceiving their hundreds and thousands - Benjamin Taylor

"...looking to Christ and trusting in Him are either natural acts or spiritual acts: if natural acts, the kind of teachers alluded to are right with their general invitations and universal redemption, which may prove effectual or ineffectual, depending on the free-will of fallen nature; but if these are spiritual acts, such men are wrong and must be deceiving their hundreds and thousands. Looking to Christ and trusting in Christ are not such easy things, not such common everyday things as they are represented to be; these are scarce, something like silver and gold, which men do not pick up as they would pick up stones on the road. These are not to be found just when you will and where you will. We cannot, in winter time, go into our gardens and gather roses, carnations, and tulips. No, friends; I say no; looking to Christ and trusting in Him are acts which the quickened or spiritually dead can no more put forth than the dry bones, without life, could rise in the valley where they were found." -Benjamin Taylor

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