Jul 9, 2011

Particular Exhortations - Philippians 4:8-9 - Robert Hawker

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." [Philippians 4:8-9]

What a beautiful train of exhortation is here given to the Church, as the blessed, and sure consequences to all that went before. And what a train of the most gracious effects flow from the doctrines of grace, when received into the soul, and acted upon, by the blessed influences of GOD the HOLY GHOST? Who will venture to charge the doctrines of grace, as leading to licentiousness? when, in fact, they are the only real check to the corrupt passions of men, to keep from it. When a child of GOD is truly, and savingly called by grace, and regenerated by the HOLY GHOST; then, and not before, is he brought into a capability of showing the faith of the Gospel, by his life and conversation. Make the tree good (said Jesus) and his fruit, good. Matthew 12:33. And it is one of the first, and leading principles of the Gospel, that a change of heart must take place, before the child of GOD can bring forth fruit unto GOD. Reader! if you know anything of a work of grace having passed upon your own foul, you cannot but know this. And that scripture is fully confirmed in your own experience. If ye by the SPIRIT do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. No man can mortify the deeds of the body any other way. Romans 8:13. Psalm 22:29.

Hence it should be observed, that these exhortations from the HOLY GHOST, are given to the Church, and to the Church only. To exhort the unregenerated to things that are true, things honest, or just, or pure; would be like bidding the Ethiopian to change his skin, or the leopard his spots. Some there are, indeed, that are mighty fond of this general address, of exhortations to good, and invitations to come to CHRIST, and offers to take CHRIST, being made to the carnal world, to allure them, as they call it, to faith, and repentance. But this they do, because they know not the Scriptures, neither the power of GOD. They are ignorant of the plague of their own heart, or they would not so reason. They place more stress upon the power, and ability of the creature, to turn himself to GOD, than either the word of GOD, (or their own experience, if they attended to it more,) warrants. Hence, they call upon the world at large, and exhort them to good works. They make offers of CHRIST to such, in direct contradiction to Scripture: and, instead of inviting, as JESUS did, the weary and heavy laden only; and as his servants were commanded to do, the thirsty; they invite all. Reader! I beseech you for a moment to consider this subject, and, if the LORD be your teacher, you will soon discover the fallacy of it; and learn, that such men are guided by the pride and vanity of their own heart, (as if they possessed the power of persuasion,) and are not taught of GOD.

And, first. Let the Reader look over the whole volume of Scripture, in both Testaments, and he will discover, that all the exhortations, like those of Paul to the Church of the Philippians, are confined to the people of GOD. There is not a word of exhortation given to the nations among whom Israel sojourned, in the Egyptians, Amalekites, Moabites, Babylonians, or in short, any of the people of the earth. On the contrary, the LORD declared, that his people were a special people, to be everlastingly separated from them. And, as it was in the Old Testament dispensation; so is it under the New. Invitations to come to CHRIST, And exhortations to follow CHRIST, are addressed only to the Church. Paul's exhortation in this place begins, finally brethren. And all his Epistles, are to the faithful in CHRIST JESUS, and the called to be saints. See Chap. 1:1, 2. and Commentary, And to such, in whose minds CHRIST the SPIRIT hath wrought a saving conversion; those exhortations sent by the SPIRIT, are made blessed by the SPIRIT, and his grace enables them to obey them.

Secondly. As exhortations for adorning the doctrines of GOD our SAVIOR in all things, are addressed but to the called in CHRIST JESUS: so, the promises of grace for power to perform them, are given to no other. All the promises of GOD in CHRIST JESUS, are yea, and Amen. All is your's, saith the Apostle, if ye be CHRIST'S. But upon no other terms, is there a promise given. Cast out the bond-woman and her son, is the language of the HOLY GHOST: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 2 Corinthians 1:29. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23. Galatians 4:22. to the end. Upon what grounds can men make offers of CHRIST to the world at large, in the face of these scriptures? It is like holding money to the view of a prisoner looking through his iron window on those passing by; but holding it out beyond all possibility of his reaching it.

Thirdly. As exhortations to follow CHRIST, and invitations to come to CHRIST, are wholly confined to the people of GOD: so offers of grace, are never found in the word of GOD as given to any other. When the Apostles, after the descent of the HOLY GHOST, were ordained to the ministry; their first sermon was wholly to this amount. There were multitudes of Jerusalem-sinners, which heard their preaching; but, while they preached as the LORD JESUS had commanded them, CHRIST to all the world; offers of CHRIST were made only to his people. The discriminating feature is strongly marked in their sermons. The promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off; even as many as the LORD our GOD shall call. Acts 2:39. And when Paul, under the same ordination, preached at Antioch, his words were these: Men and Brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among ye feareth GOD: to you is the word of this salvation sent. And what was the result of this preaching? This scripture records. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. As many as were ordained to it; whether of the stock of Abraham, or of the Gentile Church, in whose hearts GOD had put his fear, believed. While the multitude of un-believing Jews, contradicted, and blasphemed. Acts 13 through out. Galatians 3:14 to the end.

I expect that great opposition will be made to this statement, if it so happens, that my Poor Man's Commentary should fall under the eye of any of the Pharisaical characters I have been alluding to. But these things affect me, not. Those evidences I have brought, are sound, and scriptural. To show such men, that the powers of persuasion they think they possess, are more sound without meaning, as to do by them, as by the idols of Micah: taking away their gods, and what have they more? Judges 18:24.

But, say they, did not CHRIST give command, that the Gospel should be preached to every creature? To which, I answer, with holy joy and thankfulness: Yes! praises to his name, he hath. And, by the preaching of his everlasting Gospel, he hath in numberless instances, gathered to himself, as he said he would, his sheep which are scattered abroad. And here is the blessedness of it. Wherever his sheep are, to whom he sends his Gospel; he gives a blessing to the Gospel sent, in causing his sheep to hear his voice. John 10:27. And we know, and from Scripture authority, that the same Gospel preached by the same Preacher hath the different effect according to our LORD'S statement. Paul, when making manifest the knowledge of CHRIST in every place, was a sweet savor of CHRIST in them that were saved! and a sweet savor in them that perished. 2 Corinthians 2:14, to the end. Yea, when CHRIST himself was the Preacher, there were multitudes whom the LORD said, could not hear his word. John 8:42, 43. Were offers, of grace made to such? Can any man seriously believe, that JESUS invited them?

If men would, or could, read their Bibles under GOD the SPIRIT'S teaching, they would soon discover, the mighty difference, between preaching the Gospel, and inviting men to CHRIST, or making offers of CHRIST, whom GOD invites not, and to whom no offers are made. Preaching the Gospel, or preaching CHRIST, which is one and the same, is to be done to the mixed multitude, as the Apostles did. And the reason is given in the divine word. Because the children of GOD are scattered abroad. And, where the LORD sends his word, we may safely conclude, the LORD hath children to gather from among them, by his word; and he will own, and bless it to them. But we no where read, that the Apostles made offers of CHRIST, but where, as discerners of spirits, 1 Corinthians 12:10. they saw, that those before whom they preached, had faith to be healed. See a beautiful instance: Acts 14:8-10. It is indeed, the province of men, when ordained by the HOLY GHOST, to lift up CHRIST, as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness. And men, truly ordained by the HOLY GHOST, will do so. But they will go no further. Moses himself went no further. He lifted up the serpent, as a type of CHRIST: but we read of no offers, no invitations, no persuasions. These are the special gifts of GOD, and not man. Hence, Paul, after strongly reprobating false preachers, cried out: for do I now persuade men, or GOD: or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of CHRIST. Galatians 1:9 10.

Reader! ponder well the subject; for it is highly important. If seen would, or could discern, between preaching CHRIST, which, as I said before, if truly ordained by the HOLY GHOST, they are directed to do; and offering CHRIST, which is little short of blasphemy to attempt: they would shudder at the latter, and go forth with the deepest humility, and not fleshly pride, to the former. And yet, so little apprehensive are some of these self-taught men, of the vast difference, in the work; that they not only offer CHRIST without reserve, to all they meet, both in their preachings, and writings; but they urge their hearers, or readers; to an instant accepting, and to lay hold of the present opportunity, lest another should not be afforded them. If the subject was not so truly solemn as it is, one might be tempted to smile, at such ignorance, and presumption. As if their persuasion, and not GOD'S grace, was the cause of acceptance. And as if that grace depended upon the will of man, to improve it, in the moment of man's offer, or it would be lost forever. Oh! what a different statement the LORD the SPIRIT gives, of those, who received CHRIST which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of GOD. John 1:12, 13. See Colossians 3:12. and Commentary.

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