...because the truth itself is fallen in our streets, therefore the love of the brethren for the truth’s sake faileth also. There is, however, a kind of charity prevalent amongst us, a spurious charity, which rejoiceth not in truth. It is now thought an evidence of a bigoted spirit, to contend earnestly for the peculiar doctrines of grace; and it is considered the mark of a candid disposition to bear with doctrines opposed to the truth, and to cover such opposition with the mantle of charity and forbearance. But how often does it occur that those amiable persons, who can easily forbear when only the honor of God and the glory of his Christ are concerned, have very little forbearance when their own dignity is wounded or their pride mortified. O how indignant are they when personally offended! how wroth, how implacable! Who would think that these amiable creatures, who are so charitable when the honour of Christ is wounded, could exercise so little forbearance when their own dear selves are injured?
Jun 25, 2012
“Every one,” without exception, young or old, high or low, rich or poor (for God is no respecter of persons) “every one,” whosoever he be, that exalteth himself, and not free-grace; every one that trusteth in himself that he is righteous, that rests in his duties, or thinks to join them with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, for justification in the sight of God, though he be no adulterer, not extortioner, though he be not outwardly unjust, nay, though he fast twice in the week, and gives tithes of all that he possess; yet shall he be abased in the sight of all good men who know him here, and before men and angels, and God himself, when Jesus Christ comes to appear in judgment hereafter. How low, none but the almighty God can tell. He shall be abased to live with devils, and make his abode in the lowest hell for evermore.
Jun 24, 2012
“The Publican standing afar off.” Perhaps in the outward court of the temple, conscious to himself that he was not worthy to approach the Holy of holies; so conscious and so weighed down with a sense of his own unworthiness, that he would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, which he knew was God's throne. Poor heart! what did he feel at this time! none but returning publicans, like himself, can tell. Methinks I see him standing afar off, pensive, oppressed, and even overwhelmed with sorrow; sometimes he attempts to look up; but then, thinks he, the heavens are unclean in God's sight, and the very angels are charged with folly; how then shall such a wretch as I dare to lift up my guilty head! And to show that his heart was full of holy self-resentment, and that he sorrowed after a godly sort, he smote upon his breast; the word in the original implies, that he struck hard upon his breast: he will lay the blame upon none but his own wicked heart. He will not, like unhumbled Adam, tacitly lay the fault of his vileness upon God, and say, The passions which thou gavest me, they deceived me, and I sinned: he is too penitent thus to reproach his Maker; he smites upon his breast, his treacherous, ungrateful, desperately wicked breast; a breast now ready to burst: and at length, out of the abundance of his heart, I doubt not, with many tears, he as last cries out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Not, God be merciful to yonder proud Pharisee: he found enough in himself to vent his resentment against, without looking abroad upon others. Not, God be merciful to me a saint; for he knew “all his righteousnesses were but filthy rags.” Not, God be merciful to such or such a one; but, God be merciful to me, even to me a sinner, a sinner by birth, a sinner in thought, word, and deed; a sinner as to my person, a sinner as to all my performances; a sinner in whom is no health, in whom dwelleth no good thing, a sinner, poor, miserable, blind and naked, from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, full of wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores; a self-accused, self-condemned sinner. What think you? would this Publican have been offended if any minister had told him that he deserved to be damned? would he have been angry, if any one had told him, that by nature he was half a devil and half a beast? No: he would have confessed a thousand hells to have been his due, and that he was an earthly, devilish sinner. He felt now what a dreadful thing it was to depart from the living God: he felt that he was inexcusable every way; that he could in nowise, upon account of any thing in himself, be justified in the sight of God; and therefore lays himself at the feet of sovereign mercy. “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Here is no confidence in the flesh, no plea fetched from fasting, paying tithes, or the performance of any other duty; here is no boasting that he was not an extortioner, unjust, or an adulterer. Perhaps he had been guilty of all these crimes, at least he knew he would have been guilty of all these, had he been left to follow the devices and desires of his own heart; and therefore, with a broken and contrite spirit, he cries out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Jun 18, 2012
What but self- righteousness could ever induce a preacher to imagine that he belongs to a different order from the church in general; and what but pride of the very worst description could lead him to expect his brethren to call him "Reverend?" This spirit of self- righteousness and pride in the ancient scribes called forth the severest invective from the patient and lovely Jesus. He even notices their carriage and their dress. "Beware of the Scribes, who love to go in long clothing." Not that their clothing was in itself of any importance, but as it indicated a spirit of clerical self- righteousness, it provoked the eyes of his glory. They loved to go in long clothing, they loved the chief seats, they loved to be called Rabbi, Rabbi. It was therefore on account of the spiritual pride of their hearts that our Lord uttered his solemn "Woe to the Scribes." It well becomes men to tremble when they hear a woe from the mouth of incarnate love! The "woe" of Jesus falls not upon men in this life, but in the world to come. Many, who are too righteous in their own eyes to imagine they are under his woe, live respectably and their death is honourable and hopeful in the sight of the world. Our Saviour himself has given us a solemn instance of this. [Luke xvi. 19- 31.] A certain rich but carnal professor, a nominal son of Abraham, was of elevated rank and enjoyed abundantly the fatness of the earth. There is reason to believe that his religious character stood high and that he cast of his abundance into the treasury. It is certain that he contributed to the necessities of a poor saint, though not from a right motive. It came to pass, however, that he died and was buried. It is highly probable that a sort of funeral eulogium from the lips of some chief priest recorded his pious and liberal actions and elevated him to the third heaven. But he died under the woe of God and the next account we have of him is, that in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments!
Jun 16, 2012
If sin itself be not transferable, but only its effects, then it is not true that Christ bore our sins. Their consequences in part he might bear, but our sins themselves he could not bear, unless they were transferred to him. "He shall bear their iniquities," saith the prophet: for the original word signifies to bear, as a porter carries a burden. The Old Testament saints were well acquainted with their God, as a sin-bearing God, and considered this the glory of his character. "Who is a God like unto thee, that beareth iniquity; and that passeth over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?"[Micah vii. 18.] But because it is impossible among mortals that guilt should be transferred, Mr. F. argues that it is impossible with God.
Jun 15, 2012
PREDESTINATION By Silas Durand, 1901
There are dear brethren who have thought that when Paul said, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose," (Romans 8:28) He meant only "all good things." I have always thought that He meant what he said, that "all things" that are connected with their experience of grace, from first to last, bitter as well as sweet, evil as well as good, as we distinguish the different things in our life experiences, calling the afflicting sense of sin, "evil," and the pleasant emotions of love and hope, "good." I have thought He included "the sufferings of this present time," and the vanity to which the new creature was "made subject, not willingly," and "the bondage of corruption," under which we groan within ourselves, and the infirmities which cause our supplications unto God, the intercessions of the Spirit within us, to be "with groanings which cannot be uttered," as well as the pleasant things that are given us by the way.
But let any candid man undertake to draw a line between those events, works, exercises, emotions which he would name "good things," and those that he would call evil or wicked things. Then let him name things which are on the dark side of the line, which are wicked, and which therefore he regards as outside of the purpose and predestination of God, and those things which are on the bright side, being good things, which do work together for good to them that love God.
Well, does the division answer his mind? Look over the dark list: is there no good at all mixed up with the evil in any of those wicked works? Joseph's brethren showed some good traits. Are they and their works all put on the dark side? They were kind to their father and to Benjamin, and when Joseph spoke roughly to them they felt sorry for what they had done to their brother, who was supposedly dead, as they thought. Besides, the very things in which they meant evil against Joseph, God meant unto good. So which side will you put these works? Then, did not that wicked thing work for good, to "save much people alive." (Genesis 50:20).
Do you know how to divide up those things so as to place them right? All through the Old Testament we find some very evil and wrong doings, which resulted in the opening of the eyes of others to the truth, and in bringing the doer of them down into depths, where he experienced true repentance and godly sorrow. Then the wicked men who with wicked hands crucified the dear Savior, who was delivered unto them by "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," (Acts 2:23) did "what God's hand and counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:28) Where, then, do you put these "wicked works," by "wicked hands"? on the bright or dark side? Where do you suppose God put them?
Those who have been made alive unto God hate and abhor wickedness in themselves and others. But would we dare to undertake to put this terribly wicked deed, and that of Joseph's brethren, and that of Cyrus, "the ravenous bird from the East," (Isaiah 46:10-11) with many others, on the side of the line where those things are supposed to be which God did not predestinate? But some things seem to have just a little spice of wickedness in them, which is mixed up with a good deal of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. We would hardly know how to take forth the good from the evil in them. Sometimes the two are so mixed up and interwoven together that we cannot tell how to divide them justly; we have to leave that to the Word.
But look on the good side of the line: have we got that all right and sure? You placed one of my works there, for you have been very kind to me, and so all the brethren have, far more so than I deserve. But if you knew how many evil thoughts I had when I was doing that "good" work that you have placed among the good things, you would change it, I am sure. That time I was enabled to preach so that your soul was refreshed and comforted, you did not know how much of vanity, unbelief, doubt, evil thoughts, there was in my heart. The work was good in itself and was a work of obedience and of faith. The sermon was the truth, and I believe it was by the Spirit of God that I was enabled to preach it. But what a tangle of briers and thorns in my own heart I had to encounter and go through while preaching that truth to which the carnal mind is enmity! But you have put these things, and the kind of act for that poor man, and the refraining from the utterance of the anger I felt once when reviled, all on the right side, and it really makes me tremble to see them there. You cannot sift the evil out of them, but I hope the blood of Jesus, that precious blood, washed them and me clean before God. I am afraid after all that you have placed a smaller proportion of your own works on the "good" side, among the good things, than you have of any of your brethren.
We cannot divide between soul and spirit, only as the Lord gives us that sharp, dividing Word in our souls. We cannot "take forth the precious from the vile," only as the Spirit makes us speak as God's mouth. Then we are always astonished to see so many things counted precious which we had thought were vile, and so many things which had appeared to us as pretty, sweet, and good, now shown to us to be vile. When the King's "reign in righteousness" is felt in our hearts, then we no more call the "vile person liberal," nor the "curl bountiful," but we see things as they are in the sight of God (Isaiah 32:1-7).
One thing we know, that all good is of God. He gives us every "good gift and perfect gift, and with Him is no variableness nor shadow of turning" (James 1:17). He works the "good pleasure of His goodness in us," if it is ever to be there. We know also that there would have been no evil or wicked thing in the world if God had purposed that there should not be. His purpose must have embraced whatever transpires. We believe and know, that in the end of all things His wisdom and power will have been justified, the highest good for His people will have been accomplished, and the most exalted glory of His name attained. Does any true Christian doubt this? - "FRAGMENTS."
The apostle Paul speaks of justification and election as in the closest connexion. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Here he represents the elect as justified; does he speak of all the elect, or only a part of them? Doubtless of the whole; for had he spoken of a part only, he would certainly have specified the part intended. He does not say, who shall lay anything to the charge of a part of the elect, or those of the elect who believe? It is God that justifieth them; though that would have been a truth; but who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect; without either limitation or distinction; intimating that all the elect are justified, and that they are justified as persons elected. Now if they are justified as God's elect, their justification must be eternal; because they were his elect in eternity. It will be difficult to find a justified person who is not elected, and it will be no less difficult to find an elect person who is not justified in the sight, and in the account of God.
The same wise and holy apostle informs us, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Now when was he in Christ doing this? Perhaps, some will reply, when Christ was suspended upon the cross; when he poured out his soul unto death; and when he made atonement for sin; then the Father was in him reconciling the world of his people to himself. What, not before? Pray what was he doing when he set up his Son from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; when he laid help upon him, who is mighty to save; when the council of peace was between him and that Mighty One; and when he made the everlasting covenant of grace with him? Was he not then reconciling his chosen to himself? Did he not then appoint his beloved Son to bear all the sins, which they should in time commit; and to be the Lord their righteousness? Did he not then transfer the sins of his people, from them to him ; and impute his righteousness to them?
What this Covenant of Works is, and when it was given.
[What this covenant is.] The Covenant of Works or the law, here spoken of, is the law delivered upon Mount Sinai to Moses, in two tables of stone, in ten particular branches or heads; for this see Galatians 4. The Apostle, speaking there of the law, and of some also that through delusions of false doctrine were brought again, as it were, under it, or at least were leaning that way (verse 21) he saith, As for you that desire to be under the law, I will show you the mystery of Abraham’s two sons, which he had by Hagar and Sarah; these two do signify the two covenants; the one named Hagar signifies Mount Sinai, where the law was delivered to Moses on two tables of stone (Exo 24:12; 34:1; Deut 10:1). Which is that, that whosoever is under, he is destitute of, and altogether without the grace of Christ in his heart at the present. “For I testify again to every man,” saith he, speaking to the same people, that “Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law,” namely, that given on Mount Sinai—“ye are fallen from grace” (Gal 5:3,4). That is, not that any can be justified by the law; but this meaning is, that all those that seek justification by the works of the law, they are not such as seek to be under the second covenant, the Covenant of Grace. Also the Apostle, speaking again of these two covenants, saith, “But if the ministration of death,” or the law, for it is all one, “written and engraven in stones,” mark that, “was glorious, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit,” or the Covenant of Grace, “be rather glorious?” (2 Cor 3:7,8). As if he had said, It is true, there was a glory in the Covenant of Works, and a very great excellency did appear in it—namely, in that given in the stones on Sinai—yet there is another covenant, the Covenant of Grace, that doth exceed it for comfort and glory.
[When it was given.] But, though this law was delivered to Moses from the hands of angels in two tables of stones, on Mount Sinai, yet this was not the first appearing of this law to man; but even this in substance, though possibly not so openly, was given to the first man, Adam, in the Garden of Eden, in these words: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:16,17). Which commandment then given to Adam did contain in it a forbidding to do any of those things that was and is accounted evil, although at that time it did not appear so plainly, in so many particular heads, as it did when it was again delivered on Mount Sinai; but yet the very same. And that I shall prove thus— God commanded Adam in Paradise to abstain from all evil against the first covenant, and not from some sins only; but if God had not commanded Adam to abstain from the sins spoken against in the Ten Commandments, He had not commanded to abstain from all, but from some; therefore it must needs be that He then commanded to abstain from all sins forbidden in the law given on Mount Sinai. Now that God commanded to abstain from all evil or sin against any of the Ten Commandments, when He gave Adam the command in the garden, it is evident that He did punish the sins that were committed against those commands that were then delivered on Mount Sinai, before they were delivered on Mount Sinai, which will appear as followeth— The First, Second, and Third Command- ments were broken by Pharaoh and his men; for they had false gods which the Lord executed judgment against (Exo 12:12); and blasphemed their true God (Exo 5:2) which escaped not punishment (Exo 7:17-25). For their gods could neither deliver themselves nor their people from the hand of God; but “in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, He was above them” (Exo 18:11).
Again; some judge that the Lord punished the sin against the Second Commandment, which Jacob was in some measure guilty of in not purging his house from false gods, with the defiling of his daughter Dinah (Gen 34:2). Again; we find that Abimelech thought the sin against the Third Commandment so great, that he required no other security of Abraham against the fear of mischief that might be done to him by Abraham, his son, and his son’s son, but only Abraham’s oath (Gen 21:23). The like we see between Abimelech and Isaac (Gen 31:53). The like we find in Moses and the Israelites, who durst not leave the bones of Joseph in Egypt, because of the oath of the Lord, whose name, by so doing, would have been abused (Exo 13:19). And we find the Lord rebuking His people for the breach of the Fourth Commandment (Exo 16:27-29). And for the breach of the Fifth, the curse came upon Ham (Gen 9:25-27). And Ishmael dishonouring his father in mocking Isaac was cast out, as we read (Gen 21:9,10). The sons-in- law of Lot for slighting their father perish in the overthrow of Sodom (Gen 19:14). The Sixth Commandment was broken by Cain, and so dreadful a curse and punishment came upon him that it made him cry out, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Gen 4:13). Again; when Esau threatened to slay his brother, Rebecca sent him away, saying, “Why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?” hinting unto us, that she knew murder was to be punished with death (Gen 27:45) which the Lord Himself declared likewise to Noah (Gen 9:6).3 Again; a notable example of the Lord’s justice in punishing murder we see in the Egyptians and Pharaoh, who drowned the Israelites’ children in the river (Exo 1:22); and they themselves were drowned in the sea (Exo 14:27). The sin against the Seventh Commandment was punished in the Sodomites, etc., with the utter destruction of their city and themselves (Gen 19:24,25). Yea, they suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Also the male Shechemites, for the sin committed by Hamor’s son, were all put to the sword (Gen 34:25,26). Our first parents sinned against the Eighth Commandment in taking the forbidden fruit, and so brought the curse on themselves and their posterity (Gen 3:16). Again; the punishment due to the breach of this Commandment was by Jacob accounted death (Gen 31:30,32). And also by Jacob’s sons (Gen 44:9,10). Cain sinning against the Ninth Command- ment as in Genesis 4:9, was therefore cursed as to the earth (Verse 11). And Abraham, though the friend of God, was blamed for false-witness by Pharaoh, and sent out of Egypt (Gen 12:18- 20) and both he and Sarah reproved by Abimelech (Gen 20:9,10,16). Pharaoh sinned against the Tenth Commandment, and was therefore plagued with great plagues (Gen 12:15,17). Abimelech coveted Abraham’s wife, and the Lord threatened death to him and his, except he restored her again; yea, though he had not come near her, yet for coveting and taking her the Lord fast closed up the wombs of his house (Gen 20:3,18).
[Further Arguments.] I could have spoken more fully to this, but that I would not be too tedious, but speak what I have to say with as much brevity as I can. But before I pass it, I will besides this give you an argument or two more for the further clearing of this, that the substance of the law delivered on Mount Sinai was, before that, delivered by the Lord to man in the garden. As, first, “death reigned over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression”—that is, though they did not take the forbidden fruit as Adam did; but had the transgression been no other, or had their sin been laid to the charge of none but those that did eat of that fruit, then those that were born to Adam after he was shut out of the garden had not had sin, in that they did not actually eat of that fruit, and so had not been slaves to death; but, in that death did reign from Adam to Moses, of from the time of his transgression against the first giving of the law, till the time the law was given on Mount Sinai, it is evident that the substance of the Ten Commandments was given to Adam and his posterity under that command, “Eat not of the tree that is in the midst of the garden.” But yet, if any shall say that it was because of the sin of their father that death reigned over them, to that I shall answer, that although original sin be laid to the charge of his posterity, yet it is also for their sins that they actually committed that they were plagued. And again, saith the Apostle, “For where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom 4:15). For “sin is not imputed when there is no law; nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses.” saith he (Rom 5:13,14). But if there had been no law, then there had been no transgression, and so no death to follow after as the wages thereof; for death is the wages of sin (Rom 6:23) and sin is the breach of the law; an actual breach in our particular persons, as well as an actual breach in our public person (1 John 3:4).
Again; there are no other sins than those against that law given on Sinai, for the which those sins before mentioned were punished; therefore the law given before by the Lord to Adam and his posterity is the same with that afterwards given on Mount Sinai. Again; the conditions of that on Sinai and of that in the garden are all one; the one saying, “Do this and live,” the other saying the same. Also judgment denounced against men in both kinds alike; therefore this law it appeareth to be the very same that was given on Mount Sinai. Again; the Apostle speaketh but of two covenants—to wit, grace and works—under which two covenants all are; some under one, and some under the other. Now this to Adam is one, therefore that on Sinai is one, and all one with this; and that this is a truth, I say, I know, because the sins against that on Sinai were punished by God for the breech thereof before it was given there; so it doth plainly appear to be a truth; for it would be unrighteous with God for to punish for that law that was not broken; therefore it was all one with that on Sinai.
Now the law given on Sinai was for the more clear discovery of those sins that were before committed against it; for though the very substance of the Ten Commandments were given in the garden before they were received from Sinai, yet they lay so darkly in the heart of man, that his sins were not so clearly discovered as afterwards they were; therefore, saith the Apostle, the law was added (Gal 3:19). Or, more plainly, given on Sinai, on tables of stone, “that the offence might abound,”— that is, that it might the more clearly be made manifest and appear (Rom 5:20). Again; we have a notable resemblance of this at Sinai, even in giving the law; for, first, the law was given twice on Sinai, to signify that indeed the substance of it was given before. And, secondly, the first tables that were given on Sinai were broken at the foot of the mount, and the others were preserved whole, to signify that though it was the true law that was given before, with that given on Sinai, yet it was not so easy to be read and to be taken notice of, in that the stones were not whole, but broken, and so the law written thereon somewhat defaced and disfigured.
Jun 14, 2012
"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:34-36)
In this part of our Lord's discourse, we have a subject equally interesting with the former; but Jesus takes another form, by way of discriminating his people from the world. He adopts a beautiful figure, of an house, and family; in order to shew the striking difference. He represents the image of that fallen state of Adam, by reason of sin, as a servant; and shews, that every one who committeth sin, is the servant of sin. And the similitude is just. Every son and daughter of Adam, by transgression hath forfeited all right of inheritance; and is in bondage to sin and Satan. The Lord calls his people, the lawful captives of the mighty; and the prey of the terrible. Isaiah 49:25. And the Lord represents the children of his kingdom as his, by virtue of his adoption; and shews, that by his abiding in his own house, as a Son for ever, he preserves them, and makes them free. Whereas the servant, having no inheritance, is shortly turned to the door. This forms a beautiful illustration of the subject. As the whole Adam-race, were all alike involved in the ruin of the fall; they all come forth from the womb of nature in the same natural bondage of sin; all alike serving divers lusts, and pleasures; all under the guilt of sin, the curse of sin, the dominion of sin, the punishment due to sin; the wrath of God, and the terrors of his justice. It is only such as the Son of God makes free, that are free indeed!
"Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (Isaiah 43:24-25)
...least people should think, that when the Lord proclaims this grace in the text, of blotting out iniquity and transgression, he looks for some qualifications and dispositions, that may be amiable to win so much grace from him; do but observe, I pray, (and it is very observable indeed) the two or three verses before my text; you shall see plainly how careful the Lord is to take off all such conceits from men, all imagination of any such expectation. There must be first graciousness, they must be first well qualified, and then their iniquities shall be blotted out, so might some think; mark how the Lord takes it off; for in these two verses, he draws to the very life the qualifications and conditions of those, whose iniquities he blots out; mark them well, "Thou hast not called upon me; thou hast been weary of me; thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities:" and then upon, these words follows the text; "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thine iniquities for my own sake; and will not remember thy sins." Mark, the words [thy transgressions] have reference to the persons spoken of before, "that hast not called upon me; thy transgressions, that hast been weary of me; thy transgressions that hast wearied me; and thy transgressions, that hast made me to serve with thy sins." So that the point from hence is this; "That the Lord, for his own sake, blots out the transgressions, and remembers not the sins, even of those that have not called upon him, that have been weary of him, and wearied him, and made him serve with their transgressions.
“What!” you say, “Does God actually account His Son to be a sinner?” Yes, He does. His Son agreed to be the Substitute, to stand in the sinner’s stead. God begins with Him at His birth. He puts Him in a manger. If He had considered Him as a perfect man, He would have provided Him a throne. But considering Him as a sinner, He subjects Him to woe and poverty from beginning to end. Now, see Him grown to manhood: See Him—griefs pursue Him; sorrows follow Him. Griefs, why follow ye the Perfect? Why pursue ye the Immaculate? Justice, why dost thou not drive these griefs away?...The answer comes: “This Man is pure in Himself, but He has made Himself impure by taking His people’s sin.” Guilt is imputed to Him, and the very imputation of guilt brings grief with all its reality. At last, I see death coming with more than its usual horrors. I see the grim skeleton with his dart well sharpened. I see behind him, Hell. I mark the grim prince of darkness and all the avengers uprising from their place of torment. I see them all besetting the Savior. I notice their terrible war upon Him in the garden. I note Him, as He lies there wallowing in His blood in fearful soul-death. I see Him as in grief and sorrow. He walks to Pilate’s bar. I see Him mocked and spit upon. I behold Him tormented, maltreated, and blasphemed. I see Him nailed to the cross! I behold the mocking continued, and the shame unabated.36 I mark Him shrieking for water, and I hear Him complaining of the forsakings of God! I am astonished! Can this be just that a perfect being should suffer thus?—Oh, God, where art Thou, that Thou canst thus permit the oppression of the innocent? Hast thou ceased to be King of Justice? Else, why dost Thou not shield the perfect One? The answer comes: “Be still. He is perfect in Himself, but He is the sinner now. He stands in the sinner’s stead. The sinner’s guilt is on Him; therefore, it is right, it is just, it is what He hath Himself agreed to that He should be punished as if He were a sinner, that He should be frowned upon, that He should die, and that He should descend to Hades unblessed, uncomforted, unhelped, unhonored, and unowned. This was one of the effects of the Great Exchange that Christ made.
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24)
That fact is that Christ Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree. This fact is the sum and substance, the pith and marrow of the whole Gospel, so, lay hold of it, feed upon it and live by it. God, of old, in Infinite Justice, determined that sin must be punished, but He also determined to save His people, whom He had given to His Son by the Everlasting Covenant. How could both these results come to pass? Divine Wisdom devised the plan of substitution and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became Man, that He might be able to be the Substitute for sinners. It was fitting that He should take that position, for He had, by His Covenant with the Father, assumed the place of Head of the race of mankind—the second Adam, the Lord from Heaven. The people, whom He had chosen as His own, were all represented in Him and, therefore, He was fully qualified to stand in their place and to serve and suffer in their place. And He did so, first, because the sins of God’s people were laid upon Him. What says Isaiah? “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” If you carefully read through that 53rd Chapter of Isaiah, you will notice that, several times, in so many distinct words, the sin of Christ’s people is said to have been transferred to Him and borne by Him. I remem- ber, once, hearing a certain Divine assert that sin could not be transferred—but it was, for Holy Scripture again and again declares that it was. “Blessed is the man,” says David, “unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity.” The man has committed iniquity, but it is not imputed to him because it has been imputed to Christ Jesus, his Substitute, who stood in that sinner’s place and took upon Himself that sinner’s sin. In vision, I can see the Christ of God coming forth from the Father, bearing upon His shoulders the enormous load of His people’s guilt. It well near crushes Him with its awful weight, but He presses on. He is Himself perfectly innocent, but sins not His own are reckoned to Him, for “He was num- bered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many.”
Jun 12, 2012
Fragments: The Common Salvation
Written by Silas Durand
This expression is used by Jude, and does not occur elsewhere in the Scriptures, This inspired writer addresses his epistle "to them that are sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." To them he says, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." There is but one salvation that can be called common, that is, common to all the sanctified, or elect, of God, and that is the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, that salvation from sin and death unto eternal life, which is the theme of all the inspired writers. That this is that salvation which the apostle designates as "the common salvation," is clearly evident by the reason which he gives for the necessity of writing to them about it.
"The faith which was once delivered unto the saints," is not that grace of faith which "is the fruit of the Spirit," but that doctrine and order of the gospel in which the salvation of God is made known to the saints in the world. This is that "mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest unto his saints," and this mystery "is Christ in them the hope of glory." (Eph. iii. 5; Col. i. 26, 27.) This doctrine of salvation by grace, and the order of the gospel, was delivered unto the saints on the day of Pentecost, when the gospel church was established. The apostles were charged with the authority to teach it to the saints, and to set all the commands of Jesus concerning the church in order, as judges sitting upon thrones, to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. All this gospel system is made known to the faith of God's people. It is not understood by the natural mind, but by an understanding especially given for this purpose. (1 John v. 20; Eph. i. 17-23.) This doctrine of God is spoken of as "the faith of the gospel." Paul uses the word faith in this sense, as a system of faith, in Romans i. 5; xvi. 26; Gal. i. 23, and in other places. This faith, or doctrine, in which the eternal salvation of the saints is declared and made manifest in the world, is of the utmost importance and value to the saints. It is more than all the world to them. It sets forth and declares "the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory."--I Cor. ii. 7. It declares the ways and wisdom of God in salvation, as contrasted with the ways and wisdom of men. It was once delivered unto the saints in the morning of the gospel dispensation, and it is needful that they earnestly contend for it, for the whole world, and all the influences of the world, are opposed to it.
I have said that there is no other salvation which is common, either to all men naturally or to the saints. Natural salvation, as salvation from wounds or death in battle, from shipwreck, from loss or destruction by earthquake, fire, flood or disease, from misfortune or affliction of any kind, cannot be called a common salvation, for all are not saved from these things. Nor can that salvation of the Lord's people from error, from a fleshly walk and the loss or death that results from it, from stripes on account of transgression, which may be called a time salvation, be called common, for all are not saved in this sense. Some do walk after the flesh and die; some do transgress, and are visited with the rod. This liability to wander from the right way, and yield to temptation in some of its many forms, and so suffer, is referred to by all the apostles, and is made the subject of faithful, earnest and tender admonition and exhortation. But some do yield to the temptation for a time, and suffer the sad consequences. There is an experience of the weakness of the flesh on the part of all of the saints in some measure, so that every one who is received is scourged and chastised. (Heb. xii. 6.) All must learn that they are dependent entirely upon the care and grace of God for the orderly walk which shall secure to them this time salvation, so that they shall not depend upon themselves, i as Peter did, but upon the Lord. They must learn that "we have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead." Some, through the faithful of brethren,' are saved from death. (James v. 19, a0.) Ministers, faithful labor in the gospel, save themselves and them that hear from false doctrine and practice. (1 Tim. iv. 16.) All this is the work of grace. But some are left to see more fully, and more deeply, the corruption, depravity and untrustworthiness of flesh, even going so far in an ungodly walk that they are "deliver unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
All for whom Jesus died are saved with an everlasting salvation and shall finally be restored from all their wanderings, healed from their backslidings, and brought home to glory, to the praise of the riches of God's grace. This everlasting salvation is common to those who are sanctified, set apart, chosen, by God the Father. These who are the elect are preserved or saved in Jesus Christ, as the eight souls were saved in the ark. In him they were buried by baptism death, and so satisfied the law. In him they were raised up from death and so death has no more dominion over them. In God's own appointed time each one of them is called by grace to a knowledge of this salvation, which is wrought in them.
A common inheritance, or an inheritance in common, is one in which each heir has an undivided part of the whole. It cannot be divided it; it all belongs to each one. It may be illustrated by the light in a room full of people; the whole light belongs to each one in the room. No one can have a right to more than another, though one may be in a condition to enjoy more than another. So with this salvation, one of those who are called has a right to all of it. It is the common salvation, common to the whole family of God. They are joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ to this inheritance, and shall finally, all them, be conformed to his image, and enter upon the full realization of this common inheritance in glory.
But the enjoyment of this common light, this common salvation, while here in the flesh, is more in some than in others. To enjoy an inheritance which cannot be divided the heirs must be as one, must be of one mind and one soul. And so it is with the Lord's people when they are in the Spirit. Then they dwell together in unity, the unity of the Spirit, and find how good and how pleasant it is. (Psalm cxxxiii.) But when the flesh prevails in the case of any, and they strive to walk by sight instead of faith, then their right to that salvation is not fully enjoyed. Sometimes their birthright is sold for some fleshly good, and they are deprived for a season of the light and comfort. But they cannot dispose of their inheritance, though they suffer loss in their daily experience. It was needful for them, therefore, that the apostle should exhort them to contend earnestly in their daily life, in their walk and conversation, for that faith, that doctrine and order of the gospel church, unto the obedience of which they have been called, and that they attend with care to all that pertains to the church of the living God, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, above all worldly things. The grace which brought them salvation taught them all this proper gospel walk. (Titus ii. 11, 12.)
The salvation which is eternal, and the salvations of various kinds which are experienced by the saints in time, bear the same relation to each other which the sun in the heavens and his beams upon the earth bear to each other. We know nothing of the Sun till his light falls upon us; we know nothing of Jesus, who is our salvation, and the Sun of Righteousness to us, till his healing beams are felt in our souls. "In thy light shall we see light." It is by and in our daily experience that we learn all that we can know here in time of our eternal salvation. In every experience of suffering, of tribulation, of stripes, and of salvation from these evils, we learn more of this salvation, and only in tribulation do we learn anything concerning it. Whatever Jesus tells us is told us in the darkness, but we speak it in the light. Jesus is our salvation here in time, and to eternal days.
Here is an example of horrific false teachings among reformation era ministers. We find here the close relation of two false doctrines: Hypothetical Universal Redemption and Duty-Faith. Holmes implies that Christ died for every man's common nature and that men under the gospel are threatened and damned for not believing that Christ died for them. Hebrews 7:25 exposes this error in that Christ does not offer or intend to save anyone apart from His everlasting intercession. Notice, Holmes's consistent train of thought in running with duty-faith (duty-faith must make room for an offered universal atonement).
"For further clearing of what has been said, this question would be followed whether election and redemption are not somehow opposite? for election is expressed but of some, redemption is offered to all. To which we answer, though we touch on it afore. That though redemption itself, be in the first act larger than election: viz., in Christ dying in the common nature of man, not in that of angels, and thereby brings human nature near to salvation, than the common nature of angels, so that man’s nature in general, is saveable, where the wicked angels are not (“For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, Heb. 2:10, which is but the renewing of that covenant with Adam, Gen. 3:15). For otherwise men under the gospel, could not be justly damned for unbelief, but would be threatened for not believing a lie, namely that Christ died for them, when as in no sort he did. But this distinction of Christ’s dying for the common nature, solves that difficulty, shows what interest all men haver in Christ’s redemption, and the fault of them to whom it is made known, not in claiming it and closing with it. I say, though, in this first act, redemption seems of greater latitude than election, yet in the last and ultimate act they are equal; which is the last act is to make particular persons (that are only saveable in the common nature) to be actually saved in their particular persons, which is done by Christ’s special act of Mediatorship, viz., Intercession, John 17:20, “I pray for them which shall believe on me,” whereas the other saveability is done by Christ’s common act of mediatorship of making atonement by death. So that evenly to an hair2 those only that are elected, are effectually redeemed. For though in God’s election there be no necessary compulsion, yet there is in it a necessity of infallibility, of infallibility else God should not know what would befall his own purpose. Yet not compulsion, and, therefore, we must not charge upon election which belongs not to it. As that non-election does effect and force us out of salvation. We must not confound God’s decree, and the execution of his decree, or cut off the rest of the links of God’s predestination, namely, vocation, justification, conformation to Christ, &c., Rom. 8, from the first act of election choosing of some, and so on the contrary. For non-election cannot damn us, unless we refuse vocation, &c.3" -Nathaniel Holmes
Jun 10, 2012
BROTHER BEEBE: - I propose to occupy a little space in your columns in compliance with a request made by brother S. H. Durand in a private letter, that I should write through the SIGNS on Isa. Iv. 6, 7: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
I feel incompetent to instruct brother Durand, and like I had better ask information of him; but such as I have give I unto him, and others who may take time to examine what I have to say. It seems to have been found out by many that it will not do to take all that I have written to be true, and my desire is that nothing that I may write shall be received as truth that falls short of it.
It appears scarcely necessary to notice the freaks and whimsical fancies of Arminians in endeavoring to make this and other similar portions of scripture harmonize with their theory of "general invitations," as they call them. A little attention to the foregoing and following parts of the chapter will make manifest their folly. The address in the text is, to no more than every thirsty sinner, just such as the Savior spoke of when he opened his mouth and taught his disciples, saying, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness," which are blessed with life and holy desires - not such as are "dead in sins," and "past feeling;" and therefore the chapter commences by saying, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters;" as Jesus in John vii. 37: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." The scriptures always define the characters addressed therein. The pronouns ye, you, your, thou and thee, as they occur in the five preceding verses, clearly evince this fact, and the same thirsty character is addressed all the way through the chapter. The same thirsty character is commanded to "buy wine and milk without money and without price." A singular way of buying. This is not what modern missionists teach, that much money is requisite to acquire these blessings, for they come to the poor, thirsty soul "without money." Not that works or anything else can be given by us as price, for they are freely given to the poor "without price." Still the conclusion would be that something must be parted with, given up. Hence it is asked in the second verse, "Wherefore do YE (the same thirsty ones) spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not?" It is evident that all the money theory, and all the labor or work-mongrel theory is to be abandoned, yielded up, but not as a price for the precious boon. Thus the poor, thirsty one is directed to come to the Redeemer penniless, thirsty, hungry, saying, "Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to thy cross I cling," and receive the sure (not conditional) mercies of David, (the spiritual David) who is given for a witness, a leader, a commander to his people. In the fifth verse allusion is had to the calling of the Gentiles who shall run unto his people; but he says to them, it is "because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee." It is certainly the same character that is thirsty, that is to come to the waters without price, that is admonished to give up all else, to hearken to the Lord, that is promised the sure mercies of David, that he has glorified, the same YE that is called upon in the language of the text, saying, "Seek YE the Lord while he way be found," and not such characters as Jesus addressed in John vii. 34, where he says, "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come;" and viii. 21, "Ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come." The language in the text evidently shows, as the words of Christ declare, that there are times and circumstances when, and under which, he cannot - yea, shall not, be found. Some there were who once sought him because they ate of the loaves and fishes and were filled; and doubtless many in our day seek him on similar occasions; those "whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things," and whose leading desire seems to be to fill that avaricious belly with the trash of this world. The truth is, "there is none that seeketh after God," until he first seeks and finds them; and he therefore says, "I will seek that which was lost, I will bring again that which was driven away." And Paul, quoting from Isaiah the Lord's words, says, "I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me." But when he finds and gives them to see their need of a Savior, and reveals himself to them, then they are prepared at his bidding to say, with David, "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." - Psalm. xxvii. 8. Such are directed to "call upon him while he is near;" and we are not left to mere conjecture as to when or to whom he is near. When we see a poor, thirsty, hungry, heart-broken sinner, we at once recognize the character; for the scripture says, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as are of a contrite spirit." - Psa. xxxiv. 18. He it is that wounds and that heals. - See Deut. xxxii. 39. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." - Psa. cxlvii. 10. And we are assured that, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." And none can call on him acceptably, or "say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Jesus said to such, (not to graceless, unborn, dead sinners, as Arminians do,) "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" and none of his are sent empty away, for "he that seeketh findeth." - Matt. vii. 7,8.
The language is still addressed to the same subject when he says, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts." Who are they that sensibly see and feel their wickedness and unrighteousness? Not the self-righteous, not the blind, the deaf, nor the dead in sins, who have neither eyes to see, ears to hear, nor capacities to understand. Nay; for when the Lord speaks to his living children, he uses language that they can feel and apply to themselves. Such as he came "to seek and to save;" not the self-righteous boaster, but living, feeling sinners; such as he has "granted repentance unto life." But this little "let" has a signification in the scriptures very different from the one that is generally attached to it now. As in the first chapter of Genesis, "Let there be light; let there be a firmament; let it divide the waters," &c., and such must be the meaning of the word in the text; not a mere permission to suffer things to occur, but a direct command that they shall take place. A command as imperious as when he said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind;" or, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth;" or, "Come unto me, all ye that labor." And to show that such commands must be obeyed, he says, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." "He speaks and it is done; he commands and it stands fast." But what way is this that the wicked must forsake? The children of God have only to call to mind the time when they first saw themselves so wicked and unrighteous, and the way they hoped to find relief, and the matter will be understood by them. Our thoughts are apt to be, when in that condition, that we have gotten ourselves into a bad fix by doing bad, and now we must get ourselves into a better one by doing better; and at it we go in good earnest. But what progress do we make? Instead of getting better, we seem to grow like the old gentleman's young wolf did, "one day older and two days worse." The poor blind arminian can get along finely in that way if he will only "hold out faithful;" but it will not do for those whose eyes the Lord opens to see the wickedness, unrighteousness and utter depravity of their carnal natures. We are made then to see that no outward reform can reach or heal the deep-seated malady within. Shut our mouths that we may speak no evil word, tie our hands and feet that we may perform no overt act; but here lies the uncurbed monster, the heart! "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." This is a critical period with us. Now the plaintive poem suits us,
"By wandering I have lost myself,
And here I make my moan;
O, whither, whither have I strayed?
Ah, Lord, what have I done?
The seeds of all the ills that grow,
Are in my nature sown;
And multitudes of them have sprung;
Ah! Lord, what have I done?"
Complete exhaustion, prostration, helplessness, paralyzes all our formerly supposed powers. Not until now can we understand the wise man when he says, "There is a way that seemeth right unto man; but the end thereof are the ways of death." - Prov. xvi. 26. Sin revives and we die. Not until now can we realize that we are "dead to the law." Here we forsake our own way and our thoughts. Not until now can we understand and appreciate the assertion of the dear Redeemer, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." Now it may be said with propriety of that disconsolate, heart-broken one, "Let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and unto our God for he will abundantly pardon." Like sheep these sons and daughters of Adam whom the Father gave to Christ, wandered far off from him, and became so deeply involved in debt, so terribly polluted in a loathsome sink of sin, that the fiery law of God hurled its awful denunciations against them. The separation was so complete that it was nothing short of death; (for death is simply a separation) and thus he found them, "dead in trespasses and sins," and under the curse of the law. But, before the world was, our God had made every requisite provision for the release and return of every one of these straying and lost sheep, by the setting up of a Redeemer or Mediator, "whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting." All their sins and iniquities were charged to, or laid on him as the surety of his wandering sheep, and now the mandate can go forth, to deliver them from going down to the pit, for a ransom is found. Just the ransom price that the Redeemer paid was indispensably necessary for their release; nothing more was required by the violated law, nothing less would suffice. He must give his life a ransom, "shed his blood" to wash away their sins. The law demanded it, the ends of justice could not be met without it; and therefore the way for their return must forever have been sealed, the flaming sword of justice must guard the way, and all arminian attempts to approach it must have met, as they always will meet, a disastrous repulse. But blessed be his holy name, he has "redeemed us from all iniquity;" and now hear his consoling, heart-healing language, saying, "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins; return unto me for I have redeemed thee." - Isa. xliv. 22. Nothing now in heaven, earth or hell can ever prevent their return when the Lord commands it, and the predestinated time arrives for its accomplishment; for the Redeemer has said, "All that the Father giveth me SHALL come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." And Isa. xxxv. 10, "The ransomed of the Lord SHALL return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrowing and sighing shall flee away." They return unto the Lord; (turn away from, abandon, forsake their former way and former thoughts) and there find the mercy of the Lord, the pardon of our God.
"What matchless mercy here is found;
Mercy and pardon here abound;
Mercy to soothe sin's dreadful smart,
To heal the broken, contrite heart."
And while enraptured with the gushing emotions of that mercy, the poor lawfully delivered captive is enabled to return unto the Lord; yes, to OUR God, and there find pardon in rich profusion, untold abundance. What a boon! What a treasure! OUR God! The relieved sufferer can now say as the spouse, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." Now the question propounded in Jer. iii. 19, is solved: "How shall I put thee among the children?" And the ransomed child can say by the spirit or law of adoption, "My Father."
"Here every bowel of our God,
With soft compassion rolls;
Here peace and pardon sealed with blood,
Are food for weary souls."
And how certainly will all this be accomplished.
For the consolation of all who know what it is to thirst after righteousness, let us remember that "our God" is the speaker throughout the chapter. That he addresses no more, nor less than every one that thirsteth, or in other words, all his children who have had life, light and sensations given them to feel and see their own wickedness and unrighteousness; to whom he has revealed in its superiority, and caused to thirst for his own righteousness, as spoken of in the close of the preceding chapter, where he says to them, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." Then, the closing part of this chapter assures all such, that all that he has promised and commanded will be fully and effectually consummated. After telling us that his ways and thoughts are higher than ours, as the heavens are higher than the earth, (from which we may learn that ours will always prove abortive and result in perplexity, while his will always be crowned with success) he confirms the fact by saying, "As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I send it." How consonant is this language with the feelings experienced by the children of God, and produced by the Spirit's work within them, and how humiliating and at the same time how encouraging too! While they are taught in their weakness that they have no more power to command or call down the blessings than the earth has to call down the rain from heaven, they are also taught on the other hand, that the earth could as easily remand the rain and snow to heaven, and thereby prevent the desired or designed effect upon it, as the child of God could fail or refuse to partake of the "feast of fat things" sent "down from the Father of lights" by the resistless power of his love. Each can say,
" 'Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced me in,
Else I, if left to my own will,
Had perished in my sin."
Thus it is that we are "made willing in the day of his power." And when our devious ways lead us into difficulties, bewilderment, and sometimes almost to despair, we are constrained gladly to forsake them, and return to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. With what paternal care he watches over us in our wanderings, and with what endearing, mild and yet forcible language he addresses us: "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." And how readily they respond, "Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God." Now they heartily hymn the poem,
"Lo! glad I come, and thou, blest Lamb,
Wilt take me to thee as I am;
My sinful self to thee I give,
Nothing but love shall I receive."
I present the foregoing essay to brother Durand, and others who may give it any attention, and cannot complain if it should fail to give satisfaction; for I am not satisfied with it myself. Of course I believe it to be true in sentiment, but cannot express it as I wish.
Most truly and affectionately your brother,
J. F. JOHNSON.
Georgetown, Ky., April 25,1862.
MY DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I some time ago received a letter from my esteemed friend and brother, John Messmore, of Fayette County, Ohio, in which he says:
"As this is a day of cavil and differences, no marvel if there should be a slight difference among the children of God, and that on every important subject, too. We, as a church, at Waterloo, have been favored in regard to differences as much as any church in Ohio. Brother N. Loofbourrow has come to the conclusion that he would make a judge of brother Johnson, if he would be so good as to give his views through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES. The difference is in respect to the command set forth by Paul to the Athenians, Acts xvii. 30, latter clause: 'But now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.' We wish you to be particular on the ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent."
I hope my brethren will excuse me for respectfully declining to be a judge in the case. I am willing, however, to do the best I can with my limited capacity in aiding them to recognize the conclusion arrived at in relation to this and all other subjects by the King who reigns in righteousness and the princes who rule in judgment, those who were seated upon twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel; "For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our King," &c. It may not be amiss to observe; First, that the apostle was addressing the "too superstitious" Athenians, exhibiting to them THE UNKNOWN GOD (whom they ignorantly worshiped) as the God of providence, not of salvation by grace, knowing that it was HIM only that could "GIVE grace and glory," and that grace and salvation were never designed to be taught by man to men who were not "born of the Spirit," as grace and all things that pertain to salvation are spiritual gifts, which natural men receive not, and cannot know. He presents God, therefore, to them as the Creator and Preserver of all things, the providential Benefactor of all men; and that he is not worshiped, with men's hands, as though he needed anything, as he gives, to all life and breath and all things; that he has made of one blood all the nations, and appointed their times and the bounds of their habitation. "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us." There is a marked difference in this language of the apostle to those who "ignorantly worship," and that used to those who "worship in spirit and in truth." The language to them is, "Seek, and ye SHALL find;" but here it is, "If haply they might," &c. This word haply signifies, "by chance, perhaps it may be." Paul could not say, as it is said to Christ's disciples, Seek, and ye shall find, nor yet as work-mongers do, that all may or can find the Lord by seeking after him, for he knew that none by seeking could find him out; but he uses the word haply because it was not known to him whether they were to find him or not. And then this other expression, "feel after him," seems to represent to me something like one groping or feeling in the dark, or without light. He then informs them that he is not far from every one of us; for in him we live and move and have our being, as certain of their own poets had said, For we are all his offspring. And as that fact had been admitted by them, they ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art and man's device. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at." While he had not made any special revelation of himself as the God of providence to any nation save the Jews, he winked at their ignorance and superstition, as though he did not see it, (for, to wink is "to close the eyes, to seem not to see;") or in, other words, he withheld his judgments, and did not punish the heathen for their sacrilege, as he did the Jews for theirs, to whom he had by so many outward demonstrations made known himself as their divine Superintendent, and upon whom he so frequently sent his judgments and just retribution for their idolatry. But as he had now made so many visible displays of his eternal power and Godhead to all nations by numerous miracles, signs and mighty wonders, by relieving the demoniac, healing the sick, raising the dead, magnifying or multiplying a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands, calming the raging tempest, allaying the high rolling billows, with many other open and outward manifestations of his Deity, he "now commands all men everywhere to repent," turn away, or cease from serving those dumb idols. Now, as before intimated, I do not understand the apostle here to be treating upon or undertaking to teach those idolaters the way of life and salvation, of presenting the Lord to them in the relation of a Savior of sinners, nor of speaking of that repentance which is unto life, from the fact that this repentance is a command, that is always spoken of in the scriptures as a gift. Hence we read in Acts v. 31, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to GIVE repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." And again xi. 38, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles GRANTED repentance unto life." Thus the scriptures clearly distinguish between the repentance that is a command and that which is a gift. Idolatry is a most fruitful source of evil, and the Lord in this particular case, as well as in many others, commanded the nations, or all men everywhere, to repent, turn away from or cease from their sacrilegious services. He has certainly the undisputed right to command his rational creatures to cease from their outward acts of rebellion against him - he has in many instances forbidden such rebellion, and often have the nations writhed under his sore chastisements, by disregarding his authority and bowing down to idols. How often did he command the Jews, as a nation, (not as christians, nor to make them such,) to abstain from their idolatry, and how often did he visit them with righteous retribution for their disobedience! And now that he has so conspicuously portrayed his divine power as the wise and provident God of the universe, showing that he gives to all life and breath and all things, no nations need expect to escape his rod when they look to idols, and worship them instead of him. It matters not whether they are made of gold, silver, wood or stone, or whether those set up in the imaginations of men. If we pay adoration to a god that cannot save without men as means or instruments, or one that is desiring very much to save everybody, but cannot, because they will not repent, believe, &c., or one that cannot reach the case of the heathen without Missionary Boards, men and money, or in short, one who does not work all things after the counsel of his own will, cause his counsel to stand, and do all his pleasure, we are, to all intents and purposes, worshiping an idol, and ought, as rational beings, to repent of our wickedness, and turn away from it. When such commands are given, and we obey them to the letter, we reap the fruits of our obedience amply in this world, but that has nothing to do with preparing us for another. Let us not forget, then, that a command to repent, and a gift of repentance, are very different. A command is not a gift, neither is a gift a command; and these two are diverse in their nature, operation, tendencies and effects. When a crime has been committed, a command from an authoritative source, given to repent, and that command obeyed strictly, it does not place the individual or nation in any better condition than he or it occupied before the commission of the crime, or repentance occurred. When the Lord had placed the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, blessed them with the plenitude of its fruits, and the high privileges they enjoyed, when they went after idols, and he commanded them to repent, and they disobeyed, he punished them rigorously for their sacrilege. If they did repent, he simply restored them to their former prosperity and privileges. They were not enhanced thereby, but set back rather to their previous condition. Not so, however, with that repentance which is a gift. It manifests an onward and upward tendency. The possessor is developing a more exalted position than was occupied before the gift was bestowed, and, therefore, it is said to be "repentance unto life," and "not to be repented of." There is nothing more loquacious than the argument that Arminians attempt to sustain by this text, that the Lord is commanding all graceless men to repent and turn to God, that they may be saved. "Salvation is of the Lord," &c., and all that pertains to that eternal life to which his people are saved is from the same source, as Peter has declared, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue."
But my brother wishes me to be particular in noticing the "All men everywhere to repent." I have no objection to giving this command its widest possible latitude, and admitting it to be obligatory in its true and legitimate sense upon every man that ever did or ever will hear it. But it is evident from the connection with which this text stands, that the apostle was addressing the Athenians in a national and not in an individual capacity. After being encountered by the Epicureans and Stoics, he was taken and brought to Areopagus or Mars' Hill, which was the highest court in Athens, and there publicly addressed them in their national character; and upon the subject of God's creating all nations, sustaining and providing for them, and therefore, his right to command and require their obedience. How perfectly absurd then is the notion of conditionalists who contend that this is repentance unto life, and that all individuals are thus commanded to repent as a condition of salvation! How many myriads of men have lived and died since the utterance of this mandate, who never heard of this command! Men who thus argue seem to have no general idea of the scriptures, but must particularize every general expression, and confine each to local or individual cases. Thus, in Luke ii. 10, it is said, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE" Was it and has it been good tidings and great joy to every individual person? What great joy was it to Herod and ALL Jerusalem with him when they heard the news? See Matthew ii. 3. The truth of the case is, that the Lord was about to transcend the narrow limits of Judea and Palestine with the revelation of himself, and the people of all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews, were to be glad and rejoice in the name of a Savior. Again, in Acts ii. 12, it is said, "And they were ALL amazed and in doubt, saying one to another, what meaneth this?" In the fifth verse of this same chapter it is said, "There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, DEVOUT MEN out of every nation under heaven," who said, "We do hear in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." Are we to conclude because the word ALL is used here, that each individual of that immense concourse heard in their own tongues the wonderful works of God, and were amazed and in doubt? If so, why is it said in the very next verse, "Others mocking, said, These men are full of new wine?" The truth is, that the all who heard it and were amazed and in doubt, were those devout characters, and the all people in the former text are simply to be understood as referring to people of different nations, and neither can reasonably be understood to have reference to all individual persons. The fact is, as before observed, that Paul was addressing the people in their national, not their individual relations, proclaiming God as the sole Ruler and wise disposer of men and things. Those were the subjects of his discourse, and not that of the salvation of sinners. And when he refers to Christ, it is not in the relation of a Savior or Mediator, but that of a JUDGE. He, therefore, bases the command to repent upon the consideration that God will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. This widespread development of the Deity in which the Lord has so extensively made himself known to the different nations, or all men everywhere, leaves them in a condition different from the one in which they stood in the former times of their entire ignorance of him, and in which their superstition is not to be "winked at," as previously, and therefore, he commands all men everywhere to repent. But, we should remember that the mere repenting in the sense of this text, and abstaining from the worship of idols, beneficial as it may be to nations or individuals here in this world, has nothing to do in preparing them for another, or for the spiritual service of God; for the preparation of the heart for that service is from the Lord. See Prov. xvi. 1. It has nothing to do with saving sinners from their sins, for Christ has done that once, effectually and forever; it has nothing to do with giving them eternal life, for that is the Lord's work exclusively. That repentance that God gives to his people is different, widely different. They are not driven to the exercise of it by a command, but led by the goodness of God himself. - Rom. ii. 4. They are not satisfied merely to cease from sacrilege, but they pant for God as the hunted hart pants for the cooling water brooks; not content with merely forsaking their sins, but they hunger and thirst after righteousness. Not set back to a former state of uprightness, but moving onward and upward in a higher, holier, happier sphere, and finally "raised to a paradise of bliss, where God triumphant reigns." Wide indeed is the contrast between the repentance which is a command, and that which is a gift. But that gift is beyond the extent of mortal arms! Beyond the scan of mortal wisdom; and beyond the control of mortal powers to reach, see, or exercise, until God is pleased graciously to bestow it!
I have now tried to comply with the request of my brethren, as well as I can. If what I have written is in accordance with the scriptures, I hope they will be satisfied, notwithstanding its homeliness; if not, I trust that some friend will correct the error.
I freely submit this, brother Beebe, to your disposal, and still continue to be, as I trust, the friend and brother to you, and all the household of faith.
J. F. JOHNSON.
We confidently believe no quickened child of God can hate or resist this doctrine of salvation by grace. Some may fail to understand it; but so far as it is opened to their understanding they are obliged to love it, and to rejoice in it. But the trouble is with many, if not all, to know that they are embraced in this great salvation. That assurance and consolation they can only receive through faith. When their faith prevails above their fears, then they set to their seal that God is true; and then they can and do rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. As the carnal Israelites could not enter into rest, because of unbelief, so when darkness and doubts, and unbelief from our fleshly nature prevails over our mind, we labor and toil through wearisome nights through which we pass; but when the eyes of our understanding are enlightened that we may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in his saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead; then, believing we rejoice, and enter into rest.
The form or manner in which satisfaction was made by Christ; which was by bearing the sins of his people, under an imputation of them to him, and by dying for their sins, and for sinners; that is, in their room and stead, as their substitute; these are the phrases by which it is expressed in scripture. First, By bearing the sins of his people, which we first read of in Isaiah 53:11, 12 where two words are made use of, both alike translated: “And he bare the sin of many,” he took, he lifted them up, he took them off of his people, and took them upon himself; and again, “He shall bear their iniquities,” as a man bears and carries a burden upon his shoulders; and from hence is the use of the phrase in the New Testament: the author of the epistle to Hebrews in 9:28 observes, that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;” pointing at the time when he bore the sins of many; it was when he was offered up a sacrifice to make atonement for them; and the apostle Peter observes where he bore them; “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree!” (1 Pet. 2:24). “He bore them in his own body,” in the body of his flesh; when that was offered once for all; and “on the tree,” upon the cross, when he was crucified on it. Now his bearing sin, supposes it was upon him: there was no sin “in” him, inherently, in his nature and life; had there been any, he would not have been a fit person to take away sin, to expiate it, and make satisfaction for it; he was manifested to take away our sins; that is, by the sacrifice of himself; and in him is no sin (1 John 3:5), and so a fit sacrifice for it: but sin was upon him, it was “put” upon him, as the sins of Israel were “put upon” the scapegoat, by Aaron.
Jun 8, 2012
...in time, the Holy Spirit quickens (An Old English word which means to “make alive,” or “to smart” or “be pricked” etc.) those that are saved by Christ on the cross, giving to them spiritual life. This is referred to in Scripture as “being born from above,” or “begotten again,” and often Bible students call it regeneration. Freewillers call it “getting saved.” Hollywood artists call it “being born again.” However, these terms are rather confusing and often inaccurate. “Begetting” takes place before “birth.” A sensible sinner will already be “begotten,” but may not as yet have been “delivered” in birth. Principally, regeneration in both places in the Bible where it is used seems to refer to the re-introduction of life into someone prior to the resurrection of the body. But, we will not now go there. Rather, let us still “simply put” the order of the gospel of Christ.
The spiritual life begotten and conceived in a previously dead elect sinner produces various effects. They can now feel the awful sinfulness of their sins very clearly. Their conscience is quickened. They smart under the felt judgment of God's law. They now know their acute need for salvation. They now desire evidences that God loves them, and that Christ died for them. They now are brought by the Holy Spirit under the condemnation of God's holy law. They now mourn, being depressed spiritually, over their sinfulness. They have spiritual eyes to see their need, and feel that they yet walk in darkness. (Isaiah 50:10.) They become beggars at mercy's door, longing for a hope and evidence that they are one of God's people. Simply put, they are alive! They are in the process of birth – “being born from above.” (John 1:12-13.) And the first step in this process of birth is the begetting and conception, which is called quickening. This gracious and necessary work will ultimately and unfailingly be produced in them “at the appointed time.” (Galatians 1:15.) They are sinners, and will immediately confess themselves to be such. As sensible sinners they are the only kind of people for whom Christ came to save. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Again, “Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6.) Simply put, the gospel is that Christ did in fact die only for sinners; that is, those who are in time made feeling so. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal this sinnership to them; and that Christ died for such sinners as they! That is gospel!
- 06 Joshua 24:15 - Choose you this day whom ye will serve (1)
- 19 Psalm 02:12 - Kiss the Son (3)
- 19 Psalm 04:05 - Put your trust in the LORD (2)
- 19 Psalm 10:4 - Seek after God (1)
- 19 Psalm 40:8 - Delight to do thy will (1)
- 2. Prayers by Robert Hawker (4)
- 20 Proverbs 01:22-30 - Turn ye at my reproof (4)
- 20 Proverbs 08:17 - Seek me early (1)
- 20 Proverbs 08:17 - Understand wisdom (1)
- 20 Proverbs 23:26 - Give me thine heart (1)
- 40 Matthew 03:2 - Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (2)
- 40 Matthew 05-07 (1)
- 40 Matthew 11:21 - They would have repented (2)
- 40 Matthew 13:19 - Lest he should believe and be saved (1)
- 40 Matthew 13:58 - Because of their unbelief (1)
- 40 Matthew 19:16 - What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life (1)
- 40 Matthew 21:28-32 - The two sons (1)
- 40 Matthew 22:01-14 - As many as ye shall find bid to the marriage (3)
- 40 Matthew 23:37 - Ye would not (1)
- 41 Mark 01:15 - Repent ye and believe the Gospel (1)
- 41 Mark 05:36 - Be not afraid only believe (1)
- 41 Mark 06:12 - They preached that men should repent (1)
- 41 Mark 12:01-9 - The wicked husbandmen (1)
- 41 Mark 16:16 - He that believeth not shall be damned (5)
- 42 Luke 03:3 - Preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (1)
- 42 Luke 07:50 - Thy faith hath saved thee (1)
- 42 Luke 13:03 - Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish (1)
- 42 Luke 13:24 - Strive to enter in at the strait gate (2)
- 42 Luke 14:16-24 - Compel them to come in that my house may be filled (2)
- 42 Luke 19:27 - Those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them (2)
- 42 Luke 24:47 - Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name (1)
- 43 John 03:18-19 - He that believeth not is condemned already (1)
- 43 John 03:36 - He that believeth not the Son shall not see life (1)
- 43 John 06:27 - [Labour] for that meat which endureth unto eternal life (2)
- 43 John 06:29 - This is the work of God that ye believe on him whom he hath sent (3)
- 43 John 06:37 - Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (1)
- 43 John 06:53 - Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood (1)
- 43 John 08:46 - If I say the truth why do ye not believe Me (1)
- 43 John 10:24-29 - Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep (1)
- 43 John 12:36 - believe in the light that ye might be the children of light (3)
- 43 John 14:1 - Ye believe in God believe also in me (2)
- 43 John 16:8-9 - He will reprove the world of sin because they believe not on me (2)
- 43 John 20:31 - These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (1)
- 44 Acts 17:30-31 - [God] now commandeth all men every where to repent (3)
- 45 Romans 01:05 - Obedience to the faith (1)
- 45 Romans 04:23-24 - If we believe (1)
- 45 Romans 05:01 - Being justified by faith (1)
- 45 Romans 10:16 - They have not all obeyed the Gospel (1)
- 45 Romans 9:31-32 - They sought it not by faith (1)
- 47 2Corinthians 04:3-4 - Them that believe not (1)
- 62 1John 1:09 - If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1)
- 62 1John 2:01 - We have an advocate with the Father (1)
- 66 Revelation 22:17 - Whosoever will (1)
Free Grace Expositions
- DG19 - Psalm 003:08 - Salvation belongeth unto the LORD (1)
- DG23 - Isa 01:4-9 - A people laden with iniquity (1)
- DG23 - Isa 02:02 - All nations shall flow unto it (1)
- DG23 - Isa 03:10 - It shall be well with him (1)
- DG23 - Isa 04:03-4 - Every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem (1)
- DG23 - Isa 43:24-25 - He that blotteth out thy transgressions (1)
- DG43 - John 01:05 - The darkness comprehended it not (1)
- DG43 - John 03:03-8 - Ye must be born again (1)
- DG43 - John 04:04 - He must needs go through Samaria (1)
- DG43 - John 08:34-36 - ye shall be free indeed (1)
- DG43 - John 11:47-53 - He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad (1)
- DG45 - Rom 01:05-7 - By whom we have received grace (1)
- DG45 - Rom 07:01-4 - She is free from that law (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 01:02-3 - Unto the church of God (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 01:08-9 - Confirm you unto the end (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 01:18 and 21 - Preaching to save them that believe (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 01:26-29 - God hath chosen (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 01:30-31 - Of him are ye in Christ Jesus (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 02:14 and 16 - We have the mind of Christ (1)
- DG46 - 1Co 03:21-23 - All are yours and ye are Christ's (1)
- DG49 - Eph 1:04-5 - He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world (1)
- DG49 - Eph 2:08-9 - By grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves (1)
- DG50 - Php 1:01-2 - Grace be unto you (1)
- DG50 - Php 1:06 - A good work in you (1)
- DG50 - Php 1:29 - Unto you it is given (1)
- DG50 - Php 3:21 - Fashioned like unto his glorious body (1)
- DG50 - Php 4:02-3 - Whose names are in the book of life (1)
- DG50 - Php 4:08-9 - The God of peace shall be with you (1)
- DG50 - Php 4:13 and 19 - Christ which strengtheneth me (1)
- DG60 - 1Pe 2:24 - His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree (1)
- Q-Against Duty Faith (38)
- Q-Against Indiscriminate Offers (2)
- Q-Antinomianism (7)
- Q-Arminianism (4)
- Q-Assurance (3)
- Q-Baxterianism (4)
- Q-Believer's Rule of Life (4)
- Q-Biographies (1)
- Q-Church Ordinances (4)
- Q-Comfort (12)
- Q-Compassion for the Lost (2)
- Q-Divorce and Remarriage (3)
- Q-Electing Love (6)
- Q-Encouragement to Pray (4)
- Q-Eternal Sonship Defended (3)
- Q-False Teachers (20)
- Q-Gospel Error and False Brethren (3)
- Q-Guilt Transferred to Christ (13)
- Q-Hymns (2)
- Q-Infant salvation (2)
- Q-Justification from Eternity (7)
- Q-Law and Gospel Distinction (2)
- Q-Neonomianism (8)
- Q-Particular Redemption (12)
- Q-Providence (10)
- Q-Regeneration precedes Conversion (6)
- Q-Sanctification (6)
- Q-Sensible Sinners (2)
- Q-Testimonies (6)
- Q-The Gospel Call (8)
- Q-The Nature of Faith (10)
- Q-The Old and New Man (2)
- Q-The Proper use of the Law (9)
- Q-Time Salvation [Gospel Salvation] (3)
- Rewards According to Labor (1)
- Time Salvation [Gospel Salvation] (6)