Jun 29, 2013

Church of Wells - A false gospel of no assurance

Pastored by elders Jake Gardner, Sean Morris and Ryan Ringnald, the Church of Wells may appear to hold to the old gospel of sovereign grace that historic ministers like Rolfe Barnard proclaimed faithfully. However, in a portion of their church Manifesto, it is written, "For a man to believe himself in an eternal state of security (believing it an impossibility to fall from grace) while in this vile body of death, while sin and temptations still so easily beset him, is not only irrational but dangerous."

This quote is a direct contradiction to the gospel of God who declares righteous the ungodly freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus. Whatever the Church of Wells may confess of believing salvation is a sovereign work of God, their manifesto denies assurance of eternal justification through faith in the free grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. God declares righteous the helpless and weary sinner and not those who are working hard to be free from sin in order that they may have assurance that they are justified by Christ. Working for the assurance of grace makes grace no grace. "For what doth the writing say? `And Abraham did believe God, and it was reckoned to him -- to righteousness; 'and to him who is working, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt; and to him who is not working, and is believing upon Him who is declaring righteous the impious, his faith is reckoned -- to righteousness." (Romans 4:3-5) Consider how the true gospel is despised and mocked by the religionist and will worshippers of our day. "I wonder that ye are so quickly removed from Him who did call you in the grace of Christ to another good news; that is not another, except there be certain who are troubling you, and wishing to pervert the good news of the Christ; but even if we or a messenger out of heaven may proclaim good news to you different from what we did proclaim to you -- anathema let him be!" (Galatians 1:6-8)

Every poor and needy soul looking to Christ should be encouraged to have the same assurance of eternal life that David had. David was a man in a vile body of death while sin and temptations still beset him; yet the Holy Ghost was not irrational in leading him to confess "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..." After David despised the commandment of the Lord, committed adultery, fornication, theft, coveteous, and murder, the Spirit of God quickened him to cry in humility, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation..." (Psalm 51:12) The Holy Ghost brought to his remembrance the joyful promise of eternal salvation and the peace of God's love that he had left; "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake... Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." (Psalm 23:3, 6)

The Church of Wells Manifesto states, "For a man to believe himself in an eternal state of security (believing it an impossibility to fall from grace) while in this vile body of death, while sin and temptations still so easily beset him, is not only irrational but dangerous."

In scripture, the phrase "fall from grace" refers to those who fall into seeking to be declared righteous through Christ by works of the law. The Holy Ghosts's warns, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified [declared righteous] by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4) In light of this scripture, the Church of Wells Manifesto communicates to the child of God who falls into sin, "It is possible for you to fall under the curse of the law and for Christ to become of no effect unto you; God forbid that you should believe in the hope that Jesus Christ is your eternal life and everlasting justification. God forbid that you, a poor and needy sinner, should find peace through His cleansing blood while your sin still so easily besets you. It is irrational and dangerous!"

The Church of Wells Manifesto teaches that those who are still easily beset by sin and temptations must believe it is possible for them to be cursed by the law and for Christ to become of no effect unto them. John wrote to the church, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1) On 1 John 2:1, Robert Hawker commented, "Oh! what confidence might the faith of it produce, if grace was always in lively exercise, to come with it before GOD? Who would ever feel deadness, fears, doubts, misgivings, or even heart-straitenings in prayer, if he beheld the throne of grace, the pardon office, the mercy-seat of the LORD, thus encircled with mercy; JESUS, both the Propitiation for sin, and the Advocate for the cause of his people? What shall stop or silence the plea of JESUS CHRIST the righteous, with the righteous FATHER? This was our LORD'S own plea, when upon earth. 0 righteous FATHER! John 17:25. And it is his people's plea, taught by him, and offered up in him, now he is in heaven. And there is a great degree of blessedness in it, when rightly considered. For, when we thus plead, we plead upon the right and footing of GOD'S justice. When we look up to GOD, simply as we are in ourselves; we can only look up for pardon and grace, as helpless sinners.

The Church of Wells preaches a false gospel dressed up in a distorted view of God's unconditional electing love. They believe that God sovereignly elects some among the regenerate and others, among the regenerate, are forsaken and left unto eternal damnation for their unfaithfulness to maintain a "progressive" works righteousness. This view is a mixture of Weslyan Perfectionism and Baxterian Neonomianism. Here we have two massive errors combined into one message!

The Church of Wells Elder Sean Morris has written in his book, The Condescension of God, "Did you know that even though God loved Jeremiah with “an everlasting love”, the Lord intended to damn, and declaratively damned, Jeremiah during a specific time period of his sojourning as a prophet? This means that God was angry enough with Jeremiah that He desired to send him to hell. Jeremiah was disqualified from his prophetic office, promises, and covenant for a time, and he scarcely escaped damnation but by the surmounting mercies of an everlasting love. Jeremiah was loved with an everlasting love, and therefore was of “the elect” according to Romans chapter 9." In another place Sean wrote, “The Church, upon regeneration, is initially saved, and to be initially saved, then you have undergone the gospel experience called ‘imputed righteousness’. If you have imputed righteousness, then, lawfully speaking, you have the righteousness of Christ covering you. Therefore at this point, you are savingly in perfection/completion; you are savingly, perfectly, and completely joined to Christ! If a man has imputed righteousness, but then fails to maintain his saving faith, this is a failure to maintain unity with the life of the righteous Christ which indwells him; therefore he will not produce Christ’s works righteousness (called ‘My works’ [Rev. 2:26]). If a man does not have works righteousness, then he has dead faith, and if it is not revived or made alive again, then he too will be judged dead, without God, Christ, and imputed righteousness – thus he has fallen from perfection into blame. If a man falls from a saving relationship with Christ, which is by saving faith apart from works, and then those inward, immediate, and empowering qualities of the gospel are not walked out, which means that the powers of initial salvation are not presently and progressively experienced by the individual, then there is no present progressive works righteousness.”

Jun 21, 2013

1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins - Robert Hawker

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

I must beg the Reader's attention to another very sweet and interesting point, which the HOLY GHOST hath here dwelt upon, by his servant John. If we confess our sins, (saith John,) he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Is GOD'S faithfulness and justice concerned to forgive the sins of his people on their confession of them? Yes! for having received an equivalent payment, yea, more than an equivalent, in the death of CHRIST; the faithfulness and justice of GOD are both engaged, in Covenant engagements, to discharge the Principal Debtor, now the Surety hath made him free. And in the pardon of all CHRIST'S redeemed ones, the LORD remembers, and fulfils his everlasting Covenant, Isaiah 49:9; Zechariah 9:11. And the confession of sins in the pardoned, is not the cause of pardon, but the effect, This will always follow, where the grace of GOD brings salvation.

Moreover, it is among the precious testimonies of our enjoying communion with GOD, that we confess our sins before him. He that hath most communion and fellowship with GOD will be most open and communicative. It is with GOD'S friendship in this particular, as it is with man's: the more we love a man, the more we delight to unbosom ourselves to him. So with GOD in CHRIST, the more the LORD hath our confidence, the more we shall find grace to unfold to him, what we feel by reason of sin. Nay, as our sins and transgressions are all against GOD, the more sensibly we shall feel our love to him, the more we shall feel hurt at offending him. And, therefore, none will be so ready to rip open the soul before GOD, as that soul who loves GOD most, and dreads to do any thing so as to be shy before him. And, as we know, that the LORD knows all our secret sins, which are in the light of his countenance, before we can inform him: so we also know, that so gracious is our GOD, that he hath pardoned them before we have confessed them, and before we called for mercy, he hath answered, Isaiah 65:24. Oh! what a thought to comfort us. None but GOD'S friendship could admit a friendship like ours! His love, not our deservings, becomes the standard of his favor. Hence, our communion with him, is kept up on our part, in confessing our sins. And on his part, in pardoning them in JESUS.

1 John 2:1 - We have an advocate with the Father - Robert Hawker

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1)

He warns the Church against sin. But, aware what a body of sin and death the best of men carry about with them, be bids them, under all sin, and all discouragements, to look to CHRIST. And how blessedly he speaks. If any man sin. And who is there of the LORD'S people; which sins not? We have (saith he) an Advocate with the FATHER, JESUS CHRIST the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins. Observe. We, that is, the Church have this Advocate. We have not now to look out for an advocate. We have One, yea, an Almighty One. And he is both an Advocate, and a Propitiation; that is, he hath both paid our debt as a Propitiation, and now takes up our persons and our causes, as an Advocate, to see our sins all cancelled, and done away in his blood. And, observe yet further. This Advocate which we have, is with the FATHER. He who hath set forth CHRIST, as a Propitiation in his blood. So that GOD, who hath given CHRIST, and set forth CHRIST as a Propitiation, is He, with whom CHRIST hath to do, as our Advocate. And I pray the Reader yet further to observe. The Apostle doth not say, we have an Advocate with our FATHER: for though he is our FATHER in CHRIS JESUS, and very blessed it is to know him as such, in numberless instances and occasions; yet here, CHRIST is said to be an Advocate with the FATHER. Not only CHRIST'S FATHER, and our FATHER, but the FATHER. What! is there more in the expression the FATHER, than our FATHER, or CHRIST'S FATHER? Yes! upon the present occasion for which John writes. For let it be observed, that as John is holding forth this encouragement to the Church of CHRIST, that CHRIST is an Advocate and Propitiation for his people under the infirmities of sin; he is dealing with us as on the footing of GOD'S justice. He considers the FATHER, therefore, as GOD, holy and just; and One that will not clear the guilty, Exodus 34:7. Hence he tells the Church, that CHRIST is with the FATHER, both as a Propitiation for sin, having fully paid down on the judgment-seat, the compleat price for our redemption; and also while there (which he ever is,) he is an Advocate, to plead, and see that his Church is accepted, pardoned, justified, sanctified, and glorified, according to the agreement in Covenant-settlements.

Reader! what a blessed subject is here? Oh! what confidence might the faith of it produce, if grace was always in lively exercise, to come with it before GOD? Who would ever feel deadness, fears, doubts, misgivings, or even heart-straitenings in prayer, if he beheld the throne of grace, the pardon office, the mercy-seat of the LORD, thus encircled with mercy; JESUS, both the Propitiation for sin, and the Advocate for the cause of his people? What shall stop or silence the plea of JESUS CHRIST the righteous, with the righteous FATHER? This was our LORD'S own plea, when upon earth. 0 righteous FATHER! John 17:25. And it is his people's plea, taught by him, and offered up in him, now he is in heaven. And there is a great degree of blessedness in it, when rightly considered. For, when we thus plead, we plead upon the right and footing of GOD'S justice. When we look up to GOD, simply as we are in ourselves; we can only look up for pardon and grace, as helpless sinners. But, when we look up in the interest of CHRIST, from an union with CHRIST; we then plead on the score of justice. And hence, upon this account it was, that Paul called the crown, which he knew was laid up for him, a crown of righteousness; because it was the just earnings of CHRIST'S blood and righteousness. And Paul declared, that when it was given to him, it would be by the righteous Judge, 2 Timothy 4:8. Reader! what know you of these things? Are you so looking to the throne? Can you hear the awful threatenings of GOD'S holy law against sins; and yet look undismayed, under the consciousness of a broken law, to the LORD'S righteous judgment against every single breach of it, because you behold the whole law fulfilled, in the Person of your Almighty Surety, and know your security in Him? If so, then will you enter into a blessed personal enjoyment of this sweet scripture, in stedfastly beholding and resting upon him, who is your Advocate, and with the FATHER, JESUS CHRIST the righteous; and who is the propitiation for your sins! See Romans 3:25 and Commentary:

Jun 14, 2013

2 Thessalonians - 2:10 - William Odling

"Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thess 2:10) Here is, doubtless, mystical Babylon spoken of; and the awful ruin which is to befall her for rejecting God's truth. And is it not evident God has given them up to "Strong delusions to believe a lie, that they all may be damned who believe not the truth; " Verse 12; or condemned, as a body of people, to temporal calamity and destruction; and were it not for their obstinacy and blindness, they might be saved from it. So that we say, it was on account of their obstinacy, unbelief, and rejection of their Messiah, and his gospel; and they, as a nation, being cut off from all its privileges; and the dreadful destruction and dispersion coming upon them, (though unknown to him when it should take place. Matt. xxiv. 36;) which caused the great heaviness, and continued sorrow of heart which Paul felt: and he had such affection for his Jewish brethren after the flesh, who had been such a privileged people, being God's adopted as a nation, and he one of them; and he gave the highest instance of his love towards them, when he said, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:" or in other words, I could be content to die the most accursed death, and be treated in the most ignominious manner, if so be they might be saved, and not be cut off from being a nation, and become dispersed and outcasts. Rom. ix. 1—5. But he was aware, that their ruin was hastening upon them, except they repented: for they had rejected Christ their Messiah, and his gospel, and put it from them, and Paul had turned to the Gentiles on that account, (fifteen years before he wrote the above:) and said to them, " Beware lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets, " Behold, ye despisers and wonder and perish." See Acts xiii. 40—46. Perish by the Romans, and be lost eternally.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 and 1 Peter 4:17 - William Button

But, says Mr. F. sinners are punished for disobedience; and produces two texts, 2 Thess. 1:8-9, “Taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”—And 1 Pe. 4:17, “what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”—To which I reply, there is a reverential and obedient attention due to the gospel, as a revelation from God, stamped with divine authority, and every way worthy of himself; and where this is neglected, as it was by the unbelieving Jews, who despised and rejected it as folly, and not worthy of their attention, as well as by sinners in every age, it undoubtedly aggravates their sin, and will increase their punishment. But what has this to do with special faith, or with that evangelical and spiritual obedience of heart and life, which flows from the grace of faith in the soul?—However, as I have before given my thoughts on this subject, I take leave of the Third Proposition, and hope, Sir, you are satisfied with what has been said, and that you are convinced by this time, Mr. F. is entirely mistaken in his assertion, “That the gospel, though it be no law, but a message of pure grace, yet virtually requires such an obedience to it, which includes saving faith.”

Romans 1:5 - William Button

I now proceed to the second proof of the Third Proposition, which is, that faith is called obedience, “They are described as obeying the gospel, obeying the truth and obeying Christ.” Now, says Mr. F., “It is generally supposed, that nothing deserves the name of obedience, but what is a conformity to some duty. If therefore faith were not their duty previous to believing, that believing could not with propriety be termed obedience” (p. 59). To which I answer, the passages referred to by Mr. F. none of them prove faith to be an act of obedience, they only shew that obedience is the fruit of faith. The passage in Rom. 1:5, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith,” must, I think, to every common understanding, clearly appear to point out the grand design of the gospel ministry, which is (through the blessing of the Holy Spirit) to bring men to obedience to Christ, the object of faith, and to the doctrine of faith. And when faith is produced in the soul, evangelical obedience follows; faith must be prior to obedience, I mean evangelical and acceptable obedience; for without faith it is impossible to please God. “Those acts of holy obedience (says an excellent writer) which the subjects of supernatural faith yield unto God, are fruits of that faith, and accompany it: but they are not that faith itself; or, that faith does not consist in acts of obedience, though acts of obedience flow from that excellent grace” (Animadvertions upon the Letters on Theron and Aspasio, p. 34).

Acts 26:29 - John Foreman

"And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" Acts 26:29. Here was a good opportunity, and one in which we might reasonably expect to find something of duty faith and universal invitations principles, in some one form of countenance or another, if any such thing had been in either Paul's creed or commission. For 'Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,' verse 28. And why did not Paul snatch up this opportunity that was so widely opened before him, and at once tell Agrippa and all that heard him that day, that it was their duty to believe unto salvation, and to be altogether as he was in the faith of Christ: and accordingly exhort and invite, and enforce upon them to be so without delay? He did not do so, and his not doing so could not be from fear, for he spoke freely before the king, verse 26; nor could it be from a want of zeal for the cause of God, for he counted not his life dear compared to that, Acts 20:22-24; nor for want of love to souls, because he wished all that heard him that day to be altogether as he was in the faith and hope of the gospel, if the Lord's will. But he did not appeal to Agrippa and the rest, or any of them, on duty faith principles, saying that it was their duty, and that they ought to be so; but made his appeal to God, if it were his will, to make them so; as that it was in God's power only to make them so, and that the divine will, and not man's, must determine whether it should be or not; and that with all his best wishes, Paul had no authority to speak otherwise of the matter. Here the apostle said not a word that was not in harmony with the counsels of God, and all the truths of the free grace gospel and sovereign salvation of God. And why did he not? but first, because he had no such thing in his commission from the Lord; second, because he knew of no such thing in his own faith; and, third, because he knew of no such thing as duty faith and universal invitations in his own personal coming into the faith of Christ and hope of eternal life: nor as any way relating to his own free grace salvation, which he so fully maintained to be by the power of God, according to eternal purpose.

Acts 20:21 - John Gill

Acts 20:21

Ver. 21. Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks,.... To the Jews first in their synagogue, and then to both Jews and Greeks, or Gentiles, in the school of Tyrannus; opening and explaining to both the nature and use, urging and insisting upon, and proving by undeniable testimonies the necessity,

of repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ: the former of these is not a legal repentance, but an evangelical one; which flows from a sense of the love of God, and an application of pardoning grace and mercy, and is always attended with hope, at least of interest in it, and as here with faith in Christ Jesus: it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, as exceeding sinful, being contrary to the nature and law of God, and a deformation of the image of God in man, as well as followed with dreadful and pernicious consequences; and in a godly sorrow for it, as it is committed against a God of infinite purity and holiness, and of love, grace, and mercy; and it shows itself in shame for sin, and blushing at it, and in an ingenious confession of it, and forsaking it: and the latter of these is not an historical faith, or an assent of the mind to whatsoever is true concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ; but is a spiritual act of the soul upon him; it is a looking and going out to him, a laying hold and leaning on him, and trusting in him, for grace, righteousness, peace, pardon, life, and salvation. Now these two were the sum of the apostle's ministry; this is a breviary or compendium of it; a form of sound words held fast and published by him: and as these two go together as doctrines in the ministry of the word, they go together as graces in the experience of the saints; where the one is, there the other is; they are wrought in the soul at one and the same time, by one and the same hand; the one is not before the other in order of time, however it may be in order of working, or as to visible observation; repentance is mentioned before faith, not that it precedes it, though it may be discerned in its outward acts before it; yet faith as to its inward exercise on Christ is full as early, if not earlier; souls first look to Christ by faith, and then they mourn in tears of evangelical repentance, Zec 12:10 though the order of the Gospel ministry is very fitly here expressed, which is first to lay before sinners the evil of sin, and their danger by it, in order to convince of it, and bring to repentance for it; and then to direct and encourage them to faith in Christ Jesus, as in the case of the jailer, Ac 16:29 and this is, generally speaking, the order and method in which the Holy Spirit proceeds; he is first a spirit of conviction and illumination, he shows to souls the exceeding sinfulness of sin, causes them to loath it and themselves for it, and humbles them under a sense of it; and then he is a spirit of faith, he reveals Christ unto them as God's way or salvation, and works faith in them to believe in him. Moreover, these two, repentance and faith, were the two parts of Christ's ministry, Mr 1:15 and are what, he would have published and insisted on, in the preaching of the word, Lu 24:47 so that the ministry of the apostle was very conformable to the mind and will of Christ.

Jun 13, 2013

1 John 5:20 - William Button

Mr. F. quotes another scripture of the same import with the former, 1 John 5:20, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” You see the same distinction is here made as in the former passage between believing on Christ and believing Christ and God, though Mr. F. cannot see this distinction. You may here observe, who it is that hath made God a liar. It is not said he who believes not on the Son, but he who believes not the record God hath given of his Son. That is, as one expresses it, practically to slight, contemn, despise, reject or willfully neglect the word of God, and the record therein contained. But for a soul not to enjoy what God has not given, or not to be what God has not made him, does not make God a liar; and the dispute is not, whether that unbelief which is condemned in the scripture, be the work of men, and a wicked work? But whether a person not having a blessing, which never was given him, nor ever was in his power to obtain, be the wicked work intended” (Johnson’s Faith of God’s Elect, p. 171).

Let me now invite your attention to what is said in p. 28. “This view of faith seems to be plain and easy, and does not embarrass our minds with a number of words without ideas.” A handsome compliment to those who do not think Mr. F.’s account of faith so plain and easy as he does! Give me leave just to quote a few definitions others have given, and then to ask your opinion whether his reflection of “embarrassing the mind with a number of words without ideas” be just. Shall I call to your mind Mr. Polhill’s description of it, which I mentioned in my second letter; “precious faith is a grace of the Holy Spirit, whereby the heart supernaturally illuminated, doth so believe the testimony of God in the sacred scriptures, as in a way of trust or dependence to resign and yield up itself unto Jesus Christ as mediator, and in and through him unto God according to his word” (Precious Faith, p. 6). Does he embarrass the mind with a number of words without ideas? Again, let me cite Perkins; “faith is a gift, whereby we apprehend Christ and his benefits” (Perkins’s Works, vol. 2. p. 240). Does this good man embarrass our minds with a number of words without ideas?—Shall here also give you an extract from a confession of faith drawn up and signed by three Protestant bishops, and seven eminent clergymen, who were imprisoned in London for the gospel, shortly after the coronation of Mary. They say thus, Faith is not only an opinion, but a certain persuasion wrought by the Holy Ghost, which doth illuminate the mind, and supple the heart, to submit itself unfeignedly to God.” This was signed by Coverdale, bishop of Exeter, Farrar, bishop of St. David’s, Hooper, bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, with Taylor, Philpot, Bradford, Crome, Sanders, Rogers, and Lawrence (Toplady’s Hist. Proof. v. 1. p. 328, and v. 2., p. 384). Do these excellent men embarrass our minds with a number of words without ideas?—Dr. Gill, speaking of faith, says, “special and spiritual faith, to which salvation is annexed, is not of a man’s self, it does not owe its original to the creature—it is not of the law of works; for as the law is not of faith, so neither is faith of the law;--it is a blessing of the covenant of grace; the operation of the spirit of God; he produces it by his mighty power in the soul; he enlightens the mind, reveals the object, brings near Christ, his righteousness and salvation, and enables the sensible sinner to look to him, lay hold on him, and receive him as his saviour and redeemer” (Gill’s Serm. And Tracts, v. 1. p. 75-76). Does the Doctor here embarrass our minds with a number of words without ideas? I think these definitions are short and full, they are not, it is true, quite so concise as Mr. F.’s, which contains but five words, “the belief of the truth;” but then they are more full, and in my opinion much easier comprehended. Indeed this gentleman himself is obliged to employ several pages to explain his meaning, being sensible, I presume, such a definition could not be readily understood, and that people in common were very likely to remain in the dark about it. The foregoing accounts are self-evident, they are at once, without “embarrassing our minds with a number of words,” convey to us true and beautiful ideas, and, it appears to me, give us such ideas, that clearly demonstrate it cannot be the duty of unregenerate men to believe with a special faith in Christ. If the mind must be supernaturally illuminated—if it is a new covenant blessing—a special gift of God peculiar to the elect—wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost in the heart—consists in an apprehension and reception of Christ, and such an apprehension and reception as transform the soul into his image and likeness, and make him closely adhere to him for ever, and issue in everlasting life—surely it is absurd to the last degree to say it is the duty of all men to have it.

But respecting their duty in this matter, I shall be led more particularly to treat of in my next, when I propose giving you my sentiments of the second part of Mr. F.’s book. I shall now only in the general say, that if this faith be the duty of man, and required by the law, it is then undoubtedly a work; and when the apostle says, Eph. 2:8, By grace ye are saved, through faith, we must consider him as joining grace and works together, contrary to the general tenor of his epistles, which is to set for the freeness and the riches of grace in the salvation of sinners; as in Rom. 4:16 he says, “It is of faith that it might be by grace:” but if faith is a duty (and so a work) the apostle should rather have said, It is of faith that it might be by works; but since faith is a blessing of the covenant of grace, a fruit of electing grace, and the operation of the spirit of grace, there is a propriety and beauty in the apostle’s words.

I shall now conclude this epistle with the just observation of a late writer, “That the religion of Jesus Christ stands eminently distinguished, and essentially differenced, from every other religion that was ever proposed to human reception, by this remarkable peculiarity: that, look abroad in the world, and you will find that every religion, except one, puts you upon doing something in order to recommend yourself to God. A Mahometan expects to be saved by his works. A Papist looks to be justified by his works. A Free-willer hopes for salvation by his works, compliances, endeavours and perseverance. A Pagan, if he believes that there is a future state, expects to be happy hereafter, by virtue of the supposed good he does, and of the evil he leaves undone. A Mystic has the same hope, and stands on the same sad foundation. It is only the religion of Christ which runs counter to all the rest, by affirming that we are saved, and called with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to the Father’s own purpose and grace, which was (not sold to us on certain conditions to be fulfilled by ourselves, but was) given us in Christ before the world began” (Toplady’s Serm. on James 2:19, p. 49-50).

The Lord grant this religion may be more and more precious to both you and me.

I am

Luke 24:47 - John Gill

Luke 24:47

Ver. 47. And that repentance and remission of sins,.... Which are the sum of the Gospel ministry; see Ac 20:21 the doctrine of "repentance" is not of the law, which neither requires, nor admits of it, but of the Gospel. The Persic version calls it, "the Gospel of repentance"; a doctrine preached by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles; and the thing itself is a blessing of the covenant, a gift of God's grace, and in the hands of Christ to bestow; and therefore the doctrine of it is published in his name, as well as remission of sins; which, though it springs from the free grace of God, is procured by the blood of Christ, and through him it is preached. These two are joined together, not because repentance is the cause of pardon; for repentance makes no satisfaction for sin, or atonement for it; nor does the law at all regard it: tears of repentance will not wash away sin; notwithstanding these, iniquity remains marked before God; Christ's tears themselves did not take away, nor atone for sin; his blood must be shed, and it was shed for the remission of it; and that is the only meritorious cause it. The Syriac version wrongly reads, "repentance for the remission of sins": the Jews {c} indeed have a notion that repentance atones for sin; but it is a very bad one, and has no countenance neither from the law of nature, nor the law of Moses: but these two are put together, because there is a connection between them, as there is between repentance, and life, and salvation: repentance issues in these things; and to whomsoever the grace of repentance is given, to them the forgiveness of sins is applied; nor need any truly repenting sinner despair of the pardon of his sin: and indeed, there is no true evangelical repentance without views, or at least hopes of pardoning grace, and mercy; for that is attended with faith in Christ, and is heightened by the discoveries of forgiving love: such who have the fullest view of the remission of their sins, have the clearest sense of sin, and have the most sorrow for it, and loath themselves on account of it, and are ashamed of it, and do most frankly confess it, and most thoroughly forsake it. And now it was necessary, according to Old Testament prophecies, that both these

should be preached in his name; in the name of the Messiah; by his authority, and as coming through him; since the remission of sin is by his blood; and he is exalted as a prince, and a Saviour, to give both repentance and forgiveness of sins to all the Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles; and therefore it is fitting and proper that these should be preached,

among all nations; of the world, where God's elect are; that so they may be brought hereby to repentance, and receive the forgiveness of their sins:

beginning at Jerusalem; from whence, according to the Old Testament, the word and doctrine of the Lord were to go forth, Ps 110:2 and is particularly mentioned, because the Gospel was to be first preached to the Jews, and be the power of God unto salvation to them; and because that in Jerusalem lived those who had been concerned in crucifying Christ, to whom repentance and forgiveness must be preached; and which would be a great encouragement to the vilest of sinners, to hope for mercy and forgiveness, since such received both.

{c} T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 7. 1.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 - William Button

2 Thess. 2:10-12, where the coming of antichrist is said to be “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Now, says Mr. F., “This plainly intimates, that their not receiving the love of the truth, or, which is the same thing, not believing with such a faith as that to which salvation is promised, is here assigned as the cause of their being given up of God, and carried away with all deceivableness of unrighteousness—of God’s sending them strong delusions that they should believe a lie, and be damned” (p. 79). I have here to observe that what Mr. F. asserts to be plainly intimated, doth not appear altogether so plain to me. The sense of the text seems to be this: That antichrist should come, as is expressed, with all deceivableness or righteousness; but then his deceptions should only have place in them that perish, or those and those only should be finally deceived by him. He would deceive, if possible, the very elect; but that is impossible. They are only the non-elect, the reprobates, that shall be totally seduced, here spoken of as those that perish; but then it might be asked, who are these? How shall they be known? By what shall they be made manifest? Whence shall it appear there are such persons who shall utterly perish? Why, says the apostle, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. This is the grand evidence of interest in salvation; and those who have it not are evidently of that number who perish. And for this cause, viz. their being in a perishing state, already in a state of condemnation as sinners, God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie; that is, God shall (according to his sovereign will) give them up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart, leaving them to their own hearts’ lusts, whereby they would become the willing followers of antichrist, embracing his absurd doctrines and wicked practices, that they all might be damned who give evidence of their lost condition in that they believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Viewing the words thus, what can you perceive in them to prove “God has threatened and inflicted the most awful punishments on men for their not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Leaving what I have written on this fifth proposition to your candid perusal— I remain

Most cordially

Luke 19:27 - William Button

“But those mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:27) ...Our Lord is there evidently speaking of himself as the king Messiah, whom I have all along supposed the Jews ought to have received, having sufficient testimony of his being sent of God; and their rejecting of him was a very sufficient reason for their being slain before him.

John 3:18 - William Button

John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God.” This text he seems to exult in, and with it to triumph over all his opposers. “The passage (says he) which was last considered, was thought to prove nothing; because, though it declared that he that believeth not should be damned, yet it did not assign the want of faith as the procuring cause of damnation; but that cannot be pleaded here. Here is expressly said, such are condemned because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God” (p. 77). But this passage, like the other, contains nothing more than a descriptive character of persons who are not, and who are condemned. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but I presume his believing on him is not the cause of his not being condemned, but his union to Christ, and being interested in his obedience and death is what secures him from condemnation. And his believing is no more than an evidence of his union and interest in him: so the not believing, or continuing in unbelief, is an evidence of a person’s not being in Christ and so of his being under condemnation. Great stress indeed is laid on the word because, which is put in capitals, and is considered as a very strong proof that his unbelief is the cause of condemnation; but if Mr. F. has no better argument than this to support his cause, it must sing, for this will not bear up. In John 16:27, the same word is used, where Christ addressing his disciples says, “The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me.” Now, as has been observed by a late writer, “this cannot be understood of their love being any foundation, or moving cause of the Father’s love, to which the words of the apostle John had been a direct contradiction, I John 4:10, Not that we loved God, but he loved us. But through their love to Christ; or, because they loved Christ, it appeared the Father had loved, and drawn them to his Son, by the cords of his everlasting love, we loved him because he first loved us” (Johnson’s Faith of God’s elect, p. 163-164). Now then as in the one place the love of the disciples (though the word because is before it) is nothing more than an evidence of interest in the Father’s love; so in the other, the want of special faith (though the word because is before it) is nothing more than an evidence of being under condemnation. And in the next verse our Lord informs us of the cause of condemnation; “and this is the condemnation,”—that is the cause of it (not that they had not special faith) but that though light was come into the world, even the glorious Messiah, the sum and substance of the types, shadows, and prophecies, yet they loved darkness rather than light, that is, the greater part of them, as Dr. Gill expresses it, “preferred the darkness of the ceremonial law, and the Mosaic dispensation, and even the traditions of the elders, before the gospel revelation made by Jesus Christ.” They persisted in opposing and rejecting the Messiah, and all his sayings, because their deeds were evil; all which is indeed cause enough for condemnation, without adding thereto the want of special faith, which it had not pleased God to bestow upon them.

Mark 16:16 and John 3:18 - Israel Atkinson

In the whole business of salvation, from first to last, the least commixture of works is inadmissible, and the doctrine that teaches the contrary, in the lightest form, should be unequivocally condemned. Those Scriptures, therefore, which indicate the connection existing between faith and salvation, cannot be justly interpreted as enjoining a duty. In the words, "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned;" Mark 16:16; we have, simply, a most important instruction, given to all whom it may concern, of what shall be to believers and unbelievers. By this, to use a favourite expression of the apostle John, we know who will be saved, and who will not.

Substantially, the same interpretation is to be given to the words, "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18. We learn here that every one who with the heart believes in Christ unto righteousness is passed from a state of condemnation, and that he who does not, is already condemned. If the conjunction (oti) "because," which connects the concluding parts of this sentence, creates a difficulty in any man's mind, let him compare this occurrence of the word in its relation to the verb believe here with that which is found in John 16:27. Nothing more can be needed to set any understanding at rest; and it is unnecessary to pursue this part of the subject any further.

Jun 12, 2013

Jeremiah 31:33 - William Button

Jer. 31:33, "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."

I apprehend also Mr. F. has not given the sense, or however the whole sense of Jer. 31:33, which he quotes in the same page, when he says, “The spirit and conduct of Christians, so far as they are formed after the image of Christ, must be the same; that is, nothing more nor less than an entire conformity of the moral law.” For, adds he, “It is not any new law, but the same divine law that is written on their hearts in regeneration, as was written on Adam’s heart in his state of innocence.”—That the law God promises to put into the inward parts, and write in the heart of his people includes the moral law, I don’t dispute; that he influences the mind to obedience, that he disposes the heart to pay a regard to this law at regeneration, and makes the believer willing to take it as the rule of his life, is a fact. But is this all which is meant here? I think not. But that it includes also what the apostle calls the law of the mind, in Rom. 7:23, by which I suppose, with Dr. Gill, is meant “the principle of grace wrought in his mind, called the law of it, because it was the governing principle there, which reigns, and will reign in every regenerate person through righteousness unto eternal life, though the law of sin opposes all its force and power against it” (Expos. on Rom. 7:23). I would take in all these in that great new covenant promise, and especially as the apostle uses the word in the plural number when he quotes the passage in Heb. 8:10, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God; and they shall be to me a people.”—Taking the words in this sense, (and I think it is a just one) it appears the believer possesses more than Adam in innocence, and that his spirit and conduct are more than a conformity to the moral law, notwithstanding Mr. F. ventures to assert to the contrary.

And pray why is it we read of the believer’s being predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.—and, as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly—and why does the apostle speak of Christ being formed in the Galatians—and of Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, in the Ephesians—if there is no essential difference between the principles in Adam and that in believers? Surely, when Paul speaks of being conformed to the image of God’s Son, he means more than a being conformed to the image of Adam.—Surely he means to intimate that our state by grace is far superior to our state by nature. Dr. Owen tell us, “It was the old pelagian figment, that what we have by nature we have by grace” (Owen on the Spirit, p. 452).

In page 118, it is said, “The terms by which our conversion to God is expressed, imply a similarity between the principles lost by sin, and those produced by grace.” And Mr. F. begins “first, with observing, we are then said to return to God: but how this could be is difficult to conceive, if the state into which we are brought at conversion essentially differs from that which we were in previous to our departure from God.” I answer, it is true, at conversion a sinner returns to God; but I apprehend it is equally true he returns with such a principle as he never had previous to his departure: let it be observed, that prior to conversion there must be regeneration. A distinction is here necessary, though that distinction Mr. F. has passed unnoticed. IT has been said, and I think with truth, “Regeneration precedes, and may be considered as the foundation and spring of conversion and sanctification. For that is the principle from which both arise. Grace as a principle of spiritual acts is first communicated, and from that proceeds all acts of a holy spiritual nature, both internal and external. Neither of the latter can be, until the first is wrought. And when that is effected, both the latter certainly follow. In the first, we are merely passive, in conversion and sanctification we are active” (Brine on various subjects, p. 126). And it has also been observed by another, “Regeneration is a spiritual change, conversion is a spiritual motion. In regeneration there is a power conferred: Conversion is the exercise of this power. In regeneration there is given us a principle to turn; conversion is our actual turning; that is, the principle whereby we are brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace” (Charn. Works, vol. 2. p. 70). And this principle Adam in innocence never had, he never needed it: it is something new, and only given to the elect of God, and the want of it will never be the cause of the condemnation of sinners.

As to the terms used in Titus 3:5, the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, mentioned in the same page, I am ready to grant, they suppose man to be in a polluted state, and that at regeneration the soul is restored to a state of purity, but question, whether this regeneration does not mean more than a restoration of man to his original state; I think it does; why else are such phrases as these made use of to describe it?—the new man—a new heart—a new spirit—a new creature?—If the believer is a partaker of no other principle than Adam lost by sin, then he is only restored to his old state. It is not a new man—a new heart—a new spirit—a new creature that he is the subject of and is made,--but it is the old man—the old heart—the old spirit—and the old creature restored.—I don’t imagine that a sinner at regeneration has a new soul, but I believe that grace makes such a change in the soul, as that there is a difference, and a very essential difference between his former and his present state: Yea, between what he as a believer enjoys, and what Adam possessed. I think at the resurrection the same body that dies will be raised, but I think the state in which it will rise will be more than circumstantially, it will be essentially different from that in which it was laid in the grave. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Now I say, here is an essential difference, except corruption and incorruption; dishonour and glory; weakness and power; natural and spiritual are essentially the same.

You shall hear what good old John Bunyan says on this subject. His words are these: “Adam’s state even in innocency, seems to crave for help; wherefore it is manifest that state is short of that we attain by the resurrection of the dead; yea, for as much as his need required earthly help, ‘tis apparent his condition was not heavenly: The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. Adam in his first estate was not spiritual: That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. Wherefore those that think it enough to attain to the state of Adam in innocency, think it sufficient to be mere naturalists; think themselves well, without being made spiritual: yea, let me add, they think it safe standing by a covenant of works; they think themselves happy, though not concerned in a covenant of grace; they think they know enough, though ignorant of a Mediator, and count they have no need of the intercession of Christ.

“Adam stood by a covenant of works; Adam’s kingdom was an earthly paradise; Adam’s excellency was, that he had no need of a Saviour; and Adam’s knowledge was ignorant of Jesus Christ: Adam in his greatest glory wanted earthly comforts: Adam in his innocency was a mere natural man” (Bunyan’s Works, vol. 1. p. 12).”

I conclude this part of the subject, in the words of Mr. Charnock, “As grace excels nature, and Christ surmounts Adam; so much more excellent is the state of a Christian, a real Christian above that of a man. Can there be a greater excellency than to have a divine beauty; a formation of Christ, a proportion of all graces, suited to the imitable perfections of God? Man is an higher creature than others, because he hath an higher principle; a life or reason is more noble than of sense. To live by sense, is to play the part, and live the life of brutes; to live by reason, is to live the life of a man: But he that lives by the spirit, lives the life of God, answers the end of his creation, useth his reason, understanding, will, affection for God, by whom they were first bestowed; acts more nobly, lives more pleasantly, than the greatest angel could do without such a principle. A new creature doth exceed a rational creature, considered only as rational, more than a rational doth a brute” (Charn. Works, vol. 2. p. 110).

Mr. F. sums up all under this head, by saying, “The only question to which the whole ought to be reduced is this; whether supreme love to God, would not necessarily lead a fallen creature, who has the gospel preached to him, to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and his way of salvation” (p. 120). I answer, supreme love to God will lead a man to embrace any revelation God makes of himself, but it will not, it cannot lead a man to embrace what God does not reveal.—Supreme love to God would not lead a heathen to embrace Christ in any sense, because Christ is not revealed even in an external manner.—Supreme love to God would have led the Jews to embrace Christ as the Son of God, and the Messiah, because they had an external revelation of him as such; and because they did not do so, our Lord said, “I know you, that you have not the love of God in you,” John 5:42-43. But supreme love to God would lead no fallen creature to embrace Christ in a way of special faith without Christ being revealed, and revealed in an internal manner by the Holy Ghost. There is no true believing without revelation, without evidence. Supreme love to God doesn’t bind a man to any such faith. God doesn’t require any such faith.—Whether this be a sufficient reply to the question, I leave with you to determine.

I remain,

John 14:1 - William Button

John 14:1. “Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.” This I think very evidently appears to be a direction and encouragement, and not so much to carry in it an injunction and command. He had been telling them many discouraging things they should meet with, and particularly informing them of his departure; this greatly affected them; he saw it, and his bowels yearned over them, and therefore he thus addresses them, Let not your hearts be troubled; don’t be overwhelmed with sorrow; ye believe in God; I know ye do; ye believe him to be faithful and true: faithful in keeping covenant, and true in accomplishing all the promises he has made: Ye may also with equal confidence, repose in me: Yes, believe in me, when I tell you, though I go away, it is to prepare a place for you, and I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also. Cheering words, containing a kind direction and heavenly encouragement.

And let me add, that some of those scriptures cited by Mr. F. related to nothing more than to Christ as the promised Messiah, whom it was the duty of the Jews to have acknowledged, the evidence of his mission being so full and clear: and their refusing to acknowledge him in that capacity, in opposition to the most undeniable evidence, was practical and criminal unbelief. It is for want of making these distinction, I apprehend, Mr. F. and others have run into mistakes, and misunderstood various passages of scripture.

John 12:36 - William Button

Mr. F. having produced these two scriptures from the old testament, now proceeds to the new; and here expresses himself very positively, thus, “In the new testament we find true saving faith enjoined upon unregenerate sinners, as plain as words can possibly express it” (p. 40). The first words which are to him so very plain are in John 12:36, “While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” But I think a little examination into the context, will shew these are not to the purpose, and demonstrate that Mr. F.’s misunderstanding and misapplication of these words, is owing to his not observing the distinct modes of speech made use of in holy writ. These are evidently words of direction to enquiring people. Our Lord is here speaking not as a lawgiver, but in a ministerial way. He had just entered Jerusalem: many attended him both Jews and Greeks: they made enquiries respecting his doctrine, and person. He had been speaking of his death: they were stumbled at it, and they said, v. 34, “we have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever,” referring, I suppose, to such passages that speak of the perpetuity of his priesthood, and the eternal duration of his kingdom; and so they ask; how sayest thou, the son of man must be lifted up? This seems inconsistent with scripture, and they further ask, “Who is this son of man?” In reply to the last question, he tells them, this son of man was the light of the world; and then goes on to shew them the importance of believing and walking in him. This light (says he) is for a little while with you, and this is what I have to say, and wish you to notice it, who are thus inquisitive for knowledge: that if ye would wish to be children of light, and to give evidence ye are so, it is absolutely necessary that ye believe in the light, and walk while ye have the light, otherwise darkness will certainly come upon you. Or if we consider it as an address to the audience in general, then viewing him as speaking in a ministerial way, his words were (as one expresses it) “persuasive, by way of admonition; to move his audience to make the best improvement in their power, of the opportunity they were favoured with. For they did enjoy his preference with them, who is the true light; and had the light of the gospel published amongst them. And then the admonition was, to receive Christ and his gospel, according to that light in which he had revealed himself to them: And not to believe in a light which God had not afforded them: or to receive Christ internally, while he had only been revealed externally. It was to believe in that light which they actually had; and had the Jewish nation taken that advice, they had (in a national way) continued to be the children of light. For God did not root them out of their habitation, because they were not blessed with saving faith; but because they rejected the Messiah, and despised the record which God gave of his Son” (Johnson’s Faith of God’s Elect, p. 145). If we take the words in the former sense, they appear to contain a ministerial admonition, and not a compulsive precept; a direction to enquiring persons, and not a command to the multitude in general; an information of what is essentially necessary to evidence them children of light, and not a command to make themselves so. If we take them in the latter sense, they only contain an exhortation to act agreeable to the light they had. View them in either way, they will not prove what Mr. F. wishes them to prove, the duty of all to believe with a special faith.—At present shall only add

I remain

Jeremiah 6:16 - William Button

The next scripture mentioned is Jer. 6:16. “Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls; but they said, we will not walk therein” (p. 39). That the persons here addressed are wicked, unregenerate sinners is granted—that the ways they are to stand in and see, and the old paths they are to ask for, may mean the ordinances and commandments of God, I think is probably: and that the good way may have reference to Christ, I will not deny: But what is all this to the purpose? Why Mr. F. seems to lay a stress upon the exhortation “walk in that good way,” which he says “can be nothing short of true faith in him, seeing it is promised that they had so done, they should have found rest for their souls” (p. 40). But suppose this walking in the good way does mean true faith in Christ, yet do you not perceive this way must be discovered to them first? They were to stand and see, look out and enquire: that is, diligently attend the means, and when it was the good pleasure of God to shew them the good way; when the Holy Spirit should enlighten their dark understandings, and discover to them their wretched state, and shew to them the good and only way of salvation, it was their duty to walk therein.—It was their duty to enquire for it, but I should suppose not their duty to walk in it till they had found it. And I suppose also they could not find it to purpose, till it was discovered to them. Then they would walk in it, and ought to walk in it, and to seek no other. This sense of the passage (and I hope it is not a forced one) sets aside the sentiment of faith being the duty of the unregenerate. All the duty of the unregenerate here pointed out, is their diligently waiting on public ordinances. I say diligently, in opposition to what Mr. F. intimates respecting those who differ from him, “Here (says he) they were enjoined to stand and see, not barely to attend public ordinances, and lie in the way, as some express themselves” (p. 40). We don’t’ say, Sir, they are barely to attend in a careless and indifferent manner, and lie in the way in an indolent posture, indulging themselves in sloth and sleep, as he insinuates, though he knows better. We say it is the duty of sinners to attend the means constantly and diligently, with a who can tell but the blessing of the Lord may be conveyed through these channels. And when the blessing comes, when the Holy Ghost opens the eyes of sinners to see their sin and danger, and shews them the good way Christ, then it becomes their duty to walk in him; and this their duty they will readily attend to, under the influences of the same Spirit.

Acts 16:31 - William Button

"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31) ....the words of Paul and Silas to the Jailor, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” This does not appear by the context so much a command as a word of direction and comfort. The poor man had his eyes just opened to see his wretchedness and misery, and cries out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Do? Said the good men, you have nothing else to do, but venture your soul on Jesus: if you cast yourself on him you are safe: there is hope for you, be encouraged, both you and yours if you believe on him shall be saved.

Psalm 4:5 - William Button

“To these (says Mr. F.) might be added such passage of scripture as command men to put their trust in the Lord, and blame them for the contrary practice” (p. 45). But to trust in the Lord is a natural duty, as God is infinitely benevolent, all-sufficient in his power, inviolable in his truth, and invariable in his faithfulness, he ought to be trusted, the light of nature and reason declare it. But what has this to do with evangelical trust, and special faith in Christ? Psa. 4:5 is here produced, “offer the sacrifices of righteousness; and put your trust in the Lord.” To which is added, “a trust connected with the sacrifices of righteousness, must be a spiritual trust” (p. 46). But what are these sacrifices of righteousness? Why, says an excellent commentator, “things righteously gotten, for the Lord hates robbery for a burnt-offering, Isa. 61:8. Some respect may be had to the unrighteous acquisitions of Absalom and his men (on the occasion of whose rebellion this psalm is supposed to have been penned) and who were now in possession of Jerusalem, and of the altars of the Lord, and were sacrificing on them; in which they gloried, and to which this is opposed” (Dr. Gill on the passage). Now it may be considered as an address to these men, and so carries in it a sharp rebuke for their conduct in presenting robbery for a burnt-offering, and in trusting in it when they had done. Though I rather think it is an address of David’s to the good men who were with him, and abode with him in this time of trouble; and the first part of the verse contains advice, not to act as their enemies had done, offer what was unrighteously gotten, but to offer sacrifices of righteousness; and the latter part is an encouraging direction what to do in this season of distress. Don’t, as if he had said, be cast down, the Lord (as is observed in ver. 3) has set apart him that is godly for himself, the Lord will hear when I call upon him.” Therefore wait upon him, put your trust in him, be of good courage, he shall strengthen your hearts, and deliver both you and me out of all our troubles. This passage then will not at all apply to Mr. F.’s point. I mean it will by no means bear him out in his doctrine of spiritual trust and special faith being commanded to wicked and unregenerate men.

Mr. F. says, p. 46, “It is certainly impossible in the nature of things, that any one should really trust in Christ until he is really dead to the law, that is, tell he ceaseth to trust in himself; but surely that does not prove that he ought not to leave the one and cleave to the other. Is it not every one’s duty to be dead to the law? Surely, since man has broke the terms of the first covenant, it is not now his duty to expect life from it.” That man ought not to expect life by the law, since God has declared, and his own conscience must tell him, he has broken it; and that as Christ is so plainly revealed to be the only Saviour, that he ought not to expect life and salvation from any other quarter, is what I readily grant. “The mysteries of redemption by Christ (says Mr. Brine) are expressed in language which is not above the capacities of men; and therefore they are able to perceive the truth of those mysteries, though they are not capable of understanding the real nature of them without an additional supernatural revelation, or illumination of the mind is graciously vouchsafed to them” (Motives to Love and Unity, p. 40); and that men ought to pay a reverential regard to the truths of the gospel, and not reject them as idle tales, is what must be allowed. But what then? Does it follow that men in general ought, that it is their duty to trust in Christ for salvation, by special faith, an a divine and steady confidence? I think not.

Revelation 22:17 and John 6:37 - William Button

"...the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37)

“But,” says Mr. F. “every man has a warrant so to trust in Christ” (p. 47): and where is it? Why, two scriptures are brought; “that declaration, whosoever will, let him come” (says our author) “is a sufficient one.” But this encouragement surely is limited—it is whosoever will: now all have not a will; therefore it is not a warrant for every man.—The next text mentioned is, “and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” This, says Mr. F. “is another as sufficient;” but is not this limited to the elect, who are by efficacious grace brought and made willing to come? “All that the Father hath given me shall come, and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” Here’s election asserted; here is the certainty of the call of the elect declared, “they shall come;” and here is the encouragement for all those who do come; “they shall in no wise be cast out.” But where is the warrant to call every man to come? I confess, I have not penetration enough to discover it.

Romans 9:31-32 - William Button

Rom. 9:31, 32, “Israel hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law, for they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” Now, says Mr. F, “ought they not to have sought it by faith? Why then are they blamed because they did not? Did they right and what they ought to do in stumbling at that stumbling stone? Why then are they in so doing said to be disobedient?” (p. 45).

By faith here is meant, not the grace, but the doctrine of faith, the gospel; as appears clearly by its being opposed to the law, and this was the stumbling stone at which they stumbled, as we are expressly told in 1 Pet. 2:8, “which stumble at the word being disobedient.” Taking the words in this view, I thus answer Mr. F.’s questions. The doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Jesus Christ being clearly revealed in the gospel, they ought to have received it, and were to blame for treating it with contempt; but I will not say they ought to have received this righteousness by special faith, or that they ought to have been clothed with it, nor do I find them any where blamed for being destitute of it. No, all they are blamed for is, for not receiving the doctrine, and not because they did not receive the thing itself.

Acts 8:22 - William Button

"Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." (Acts 8:22) It is further observed, Simon Magus was exhorted to pray to the Lord for pardon of sin. Who denies it? Prayer is a natural and moral duty binding on all men. But what has this to do with special faith? Why, says Mr. F. “spiritual blessings, all will allow, cannot be found but in the way of faith in Christ.” That is true; but they may be sought after in the use of means without that faith: and that is all which is here exhorted to, not to find or to get pardon of sin, but to pray for it.

Isaiah 55:6-7 - William Button

Mr. F. says “wicked men are commanded to seek the Lord while he may be found, and that in the character of the God of grace, promising mercy, and abundance of pardon to them that seek him, Isa. 55:6-7.—Arminians quote this passage as a proof there is a day of grace, which, if men improve, they may enjoy the favour of God; but if they let it slip, if it be once elapsed, there is no more opportunity of meeting with him. To whom Dr. Gill thus replies, “They are an exhortation to public worship, signified by seeking the Lord, and calling upon him; the time for which with the Jews was on the seventh day of the week, and with us Christians on the first, these being times in which he might be found, it became the Jews of old, and us now, to attend public ordinances, in expectation of meeting with God” (Cause of God and Truth p. 42). And this I think is a sufficient answer to Mr. F.

John 5:21 - William Button

John 5:23 - [Fuller writes] “It is the Father’s will that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father” (p. 43). To adopt Mr. F.’s own words in answer to a quotation from Mr. Brine; “Perhaps it would puzzle a common reader to discern any declaration of the necessity of faith” (p. 43), and much more to discern the duty of faith in this passage. It must be very evident to every one who reads it in connection with the preceding verses, that our Lord is there asserting and proving his equality with the Father, and that nothing more is intended than that the same divine reverence, adoration and honour, should be given to him as to the Father. And the honour here referred to is the honour due to him in the character of a judge, and not of a saviour, for they are closely connected with v. 22, “For the Father judgeth no man (i.e., without the Son) but hath commited all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father:” that is, in that capacity: yes, and all men shall be obliged to honour him too, by bowing their knees before him at the last day in judgment. Now for Mr. F. to say “this passage not only proves Christ’s equality with the Father, but the obligations of mankind to believe in him” (p.43) appears to me “a most unwarrantable force put upon it.”

Jun 11, 2013

Guilty of denying eternal sonship - John Gill

"...who hath trodden under foot the Son of God: this seems to be a stronger expression than crucifying him again, Heb 6:6 and is to be understood, not of what was in fact committed, but in will by persons; who, could they have had their will of him, would have pulled him from his throne, and trampled upon him: it is a phrase expressive of the utmost scorn, contempt, and ill usage; and which such are guilty of, who deny his deity, and eternal sonship; who render him useless in his offices, undervalue his sacrifice, despise his righteousness, and strip him of the glory of his person, office, and grace. And this is aggravated by his being the Son of God who is thus used, who became the son of man for the sake of men, is superior to men, and equal with God." Commentary on Hebrews 10

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions