The Grace of God
As Depicted In The Oracles of God.
In Seven Chapters
Minister of the Gospel; High Wycombe, Bucks
PSA 72:18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
19 And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
E. Palmer and Son, 18, Paternoster Row.
I AGAIN appear before the public, in the character of an author ; and as my object is to publish truth, that the creature may be abased, the church of God fed, the work of the Redeemer unfolded, the love of the Father extolled, the ministry of the Holy Ghost honored, and the glorious fullness of Jehovah Jesus held forth, for the edification of the blood-bought objects of everlasting love; I cannot conceive that any apology is needful, from me, to those for whose -use this little work is designed. And as to men who know not what truth is,. because not under the guidance of the Spirit of Promise, it is neither my desire, nor is it in my power, to adduce any argument that will justify me before them in its publication. But though the cold-hearted critic may condemn, though the self-righteous Pharisee may despise, though the conceited theorist may sneer, and the bold infidel scoff; yet I hope, in the Lord's hand, what I have written will prove beneficial to those " who would see Jesus," and are enquiring their way to Zion, with their faces thitherward." Many such are labouring under the thought that the doctrines of grace have a licentious tendency ; which thought has been gendered by the harsh epithets affixed to the lovers of truth by the enemies of Christ, who (" by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,") and nursed in the heart from the fear of indulging sentiments of so God-dishonoring a character as Antinomianism certainly is, in the common acceptation of the word.
But if Antinomianism is, what indeed cannot but be its true meaning, against looking to the moral law for justification before God-a looking off of all creature performances, and a resting wholly upon the finished work of Christ, for all our salvation : I say if this is the meaning of Antinomianism, then I have advocated it throughout the whole of the following pages, as the only thing that can save the soul, produce holiness, or lead to heaven. The term Antinomianism being derived from two Greek words, ANTI against, NOMUS a law, I am inclined to think that my apprehension of the same is correct, when I say A REAL ANTINOMIAN is one who is taught of God to look away from the law of works ; and to love a full, free, and everlasting salvation, originating in election union to Christ, established by covenant settlements in Christ, flowing through the heart of Christ, brought by the hands of the Spirit into the soul, and, springing up into everlasting life, leads the possessor to certain glory. This being, in my apprehension, an Antinomian, I am bold to say THERE ARE NONE BUT ANTINOMIANS IN HEAVEN. On the other hand, if Antinomianism is, " continuing in sin that grace may abound," I deprecate the sentiment as abominable in the extreme : YET LIBERTINISM, NOT ANTINOMIANISM, is the right name for such horrid conduct as this. NOR CAN I THINK THAT ANY MAN LIVING AND DYING AN ANTINOMIAN, IN THIS LATTER SENSE OF THE WORD, CAN ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Nevertheless whatever may be the conduct of men, whether professed lovers of the doctrines of grace or not, there is one thing which I am quite sure of, namely, the doctrines of grace are heavenly doctrines, and are, for that reason, heavenly in their influence and effects. This being a point which the word of God bears me out in, I have endeavoured to show this in the following pages : that those of the Lord's people who are in a wavering state of mind, in consequence of what the enemies of truth have insinuated, may know that it is a good thing for the heart to be established with grace."
As there is neither chance, contingency, nor conditionality, in New Covenant truths, but all are yea and amen in the Covenant Head of the church, so that gospel which contains either is not after God. And as Christ has commanded the gospel to be PREACHED to every creature, so obedience to this command honours Christ ; whereas OFFERING the gospel dishonors him. Some persons may think there is no real difference between OFFERING and PREACHING the gospel, but there certainly is. OFFERING Christ to men, is setting man above Christ ; PREACHING Christ to men, is giving him the glory due to his holy name.
Though the moral duties of the creature are not superseded by the work of our excellent Immanuel, yet they may be performed without any saving interest in him ; and, at the same time, the saints of God find it to be not their moral duty, but their spiritual privilege, to live upon him by faith, to approach him with holy familiarity under the anointing of the Spirit, to have fellowship with the mystery, and to live in conformity to his revealed will. The creature's duty and the saint's privilege are widely different, I have therefore attempted to give the weaklings, among the Lord's regenerate ones, a few hints upon these things ; together with a small portion of experimental honey from the rock of ages, and a brief view of several portions of God's word, all of which, if distilled into the soul by the Holy Ghost, will, I doubt not, prove truly useful.
Much more could have been said upon each subject I have introduced to the reader; but if I had done so I should have swelled my book to a size which would have precluded many from seeing it, for whose use it is intended.
I now leave it with the Lord, humbly praying he will own it for much good to all whose desires tally with the words of the Psalmist, "Remember me, 0 Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people".
O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance." May this be thy petition, dear reader, and may thy petition be heard.
High Wycombe, Octomber 1837
The doctrines of grace not dangerous I
The distinction between natural and spiritual Sonship
On offering the Gospel; or an offered Gospel shewn to be contrary to God's word and will
The Christian armed with Christ
Observations on a few texts which appear to favour Arminianism
A yea and nay Gospel considered
Consolation for mourners & Fragments
THE GRACE OF GOD,
AS DEPICTED IN THE ORACLES OF GOD.
The Doctrines of Grace not dangerous.
The doctrine which is according to godliness." 1 Tim. vi. 3.
BY the true Christian, all that savours of God must be highly esteemed; but by him, who has only the " form of godliness" while denying the power" thereof, such a religion, as can be taken up and laid down at pleasure, is the only religion either sought after or admired : therefore,. the religion of grace being that which forbids " the wise man to-glory in his wisdom, or the mighty man to glory in his might, or the rich man to glory in his riches," Jer. Ix. 24. must be hated by all who are so wise, as to think God the Father's love depends upon their choice ; so mighty as to believe God the Son's salvation is made sure by their strength ; and so rich, as to expect they can go to Christ when they please, and that their own diligence is better than the in-dwelling power of God the Holy Ghost. And, like the false spies, all such fleshly-wise men are sure to bring Israel an evil report of the land of promise, saying, " the children of Anak," the Antinomians, " dwell there," and all " the men vie saw in it are men of great stature," holding very high doctrines, which are so dangerous as to lead men to be " giants" in iniquity; yea, " we saw the giants," we saw some inconsistent professors where these doctrines are preached, and so we are sure the doctrines of grace lead to sin, and have a dangerous tendency. But every true Caleb, in whose heart " grace reigns," having " another Spirit," even " the Spirit which is of God," and following the Lord " fully," because fully resting upon the mediatorial and meritorious work of Christ, as fully convinced of its sufficiency and efficiency for all the purposes of salvation, must give a different account of that grace of God, by which the church of God is saved " unto the uttermost." It is with this view I would now introduce the reader's attention to the land of grace, bringing on the staff of " thus saith the Lord," a " cluster of grapes" from the fertile valley of Eschol, and the " first ripe fruit" that is to be found on the " true vine," is,
ELECTION : which consists in God's having chosen, before the foundation of the world, a people for himself from among the posterity of Adam, whom he loved and delighted over in the person of Christ, blessing them in him with all spiritual blessings, and predestinating them unto eternal glory.
The Bible is, full of election, and were it not that this distinguishing truth laid the axe to the root of all creature excellency, I believe it would be more readily received by men who bear the Christian name, than any other doctrine of the Bible.
If we look at its history, its promises, or the characters by which God's people are designated, we find election.
Thus, in its history ; we see Adam had two sons; to the youngest and his offering God has respect, to the oldest and his offering he has not respect; Noah had three sons, all of whom were professors, for they all entered into the ark, but Ham and Japheth are passed by, while Shem is chosen to be the root of the Hebrew nation ; Terah had three sons, but Abraham alone is chosen to be the friend of God ; Abraham had two sons, but Ishmael the oldest is " cast out," while with Isaac, the youngest, God establishes his covenant; Isaac had two sons, but Jacob is loved and Esau is hated ; Jacob begets the twelve tribes of Israel, but Levi, the weakest, is chosen to minister in holy things; Joseph had two sons, Ephraim, the youngest, obtains right-hand blessings, and Manasseh, the oldest, left-hand blessings ; twelve persons are sent to spy Canaan, but only two are made faithful : when the. blessings were pronounced upon Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal, we find the tribes of the free women stand on the former, and the tribes of the bond-maids stand on the latter ; when God delivered Israel from their enemies, on one occasion Barak shall fight, but a woman shall have the honour of the battle, Judges iv. And on another occasion, God would do it by Gideon, who was " least in his father's house, and his family poor iii Manasseh." He revealed his mind to Samuel, who was but a child, in a way he would not to Eli, who had judged Israel many years. He called David, the youngest of Jesse's sons, from the sheep-cote, and made him King of Israel ; took Elisha from following the plough to be Elijah's successor ; and Amos, from gathering sycamore fruit or wild figs, to be a prophet. Thus God is said to take one and leave another, choose one and reject another, love one and hate another, bless one and curse another, without asking man's consent, or seeking man's approbation. And every objection brought against his sovereignty, in this respect, is thus answered, " Nay, but 0 man, who art thou, that repliest against God; shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel into honour and another into dishonour ?" Rom. ix. 20, 21. We might trace through the New Testament history to establish the truth of election, but let Christ's declaration, in Luke xvii. 34, 36, suffice, I tell you in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other shall be left;" two men shall be lying in one delusion of false religion ; one shall be taken there from to know the power of godliness, the other shall be left. "Two women shall be grinding together;" two professors shall be working at the law; one shall be taken there from to Christ, the end of the law, " the other shall be left." " Two men shall be in the field of profanity, the one shall be taken there from to seek God, the other shall be left."
If we look at Bible promises they proclaim election, thus, " this people have I formed for myself ; they shall show forth my praise," Isaiah xiiii. 21. Here the promise is made to those whom God bath formed for himself : and how does he form them? The apostle taught of God gives the answer-" God bath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to pass things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence." "But of him ye are" who are thus chosen " in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Then, it appears, the way in which God forms a people for himself, is by choosing them in Christ, thus constituting him their everlasting standing place for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and by this standing the people are constituted a wise, a righteous, a sanctified, and redeemed people unto God. Therefore, he says, " they shall show forth my praise," not they may, not if they are careful, not if they avail themselves of a future offer, but " they shall." This is the end of God's choice, and this end must be answered, because God has provided "all fulness" in Christ; which fulness would be so many dead commodities, if not handed out to " the heirs of promise" at the suited season. But dead commodities are not in Christ, for " in him was life," and " in him is no darkness at all," and if no darkness, no death at all ; therefore, they who are formed in Christ by eternal election shall, sooner or later, show forth God's praise.
" Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end," Isaiah xlv. 17. This pro- mise is to Israel, that is, God's people interested in the " true Israel," Christ Jesus, who alone is a "prince with God," for he honoured his law to its full extent, endured its curse, and satisfied his justice. And under this character, Jehovah thus addresses him-" Thou art my servant, 0 Israel, in whom I will be glorified," Isaiah xlix. 3 ; for to suppose the promise belonged to Israel after the flesh is contradicting prophecy, Deut. xxviii. 37. and facts, for they are confounded, as a people, at this very time, being a " proverb and a by-word among all nations." If then the promise cannot belong to Israel after the flesh, and does belong to those who have an interest in Christ the true " Israel," then election alone gave them this interest.
"In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory," Isaiah xlv. 25. Here again the promise is to "Israel." "The Lord will be the hope of his people," Joel iii. 16. mark, "of his people," not the devil's people, and the Lord will have his children well understand, that when he speaks of his people, he means his chosen, thus he says, " my people, my chosen," Isaiah xliii. 20. And God says in Joel ii. over and over again, " my people shall never be ashamed," that is, shall never be ashamed of what he has provided for them, what he has given to then), what he has worked in them, and what he will accomplish upon them: for in another place, speaking to the whole body of his elect, he says, " that thou mayest remember, and never -more open thy mouth, because of thy shame, when I am pacified montmouth, towards thee, for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God," Ezek. xvi. 63. Here the Lord is telling his people what he will reveal in them, namely, peace through the blood of the cross, which shall produce the blessed effects of true repentance and godly sorrow for sin.
At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book," Dan. xii. 1. No deliverance from hell, but for those whose names are written in the book of life; therefore Christ says to his disciples, rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." It was not till Judas left the table that Christ said, " a new commandment I give unto you, thart ye love one another." Christ knew spiritual love to the brethren is built upon electing love : Judas was not elected, therefore he only says to the eleven, " love one another." I just notice this to introduce the following promise of Christ, made to " the eleven," and through them to all God's elect, " because I live ye shall live also," John xiv. 19. And after this, Judas (not Iscariot) so clearly saw election, that he exclaimed, "Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world ?" verse 22. And so God has fixed, by an unalterable decree, that his " people shall. dwell alone ; and shall not be reckoned among the nations." They shall dwell alone in all the purposes of his grace, and to this end God makes all his promises to them in Christ, " according as they were chosen in him before the foundation of the world," Eph. i. 4.
If we look at the characters by which all who are saved in the Lord, even with an everlasting salvation," are designated, we shall find that this confirms the truth of election. Thus they are called " the body of Christ, and members in particular," 1 Cor. xii. 27, they are said to be " the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven," Heb. xii. 23. they are defined as " they' which are written in the Lamb's book of life," Rev. xxi. 27, the " brethren of Christ," Rom. viii. 29, the daughter of the king," Psalm xlv. 13, " the Lord's portion," Deut. xxxii. 29. " the children of Zion," Psalm cxlix. 2, the flock of God's heritage," Micah vii. 14, " a peculiar people," I Peter ii. 9, the salt of the earth," Matt. v. 13. God's "jewels," Mal. iii. 17, " the whole family in heaven and earth named in Christ," Eph. iii. 16, the precious sons of Zion," Lam. iv. 2. Yea " the election," Rom. ix. 11.
What can be more evident than that there is a people loved, in distinction from the world, by God, and that they are his choice; but should there still remain a doubt upon the reader's mind as to the foregoing being satisfactory proofs of eternal election, I would direct him to the following declarations : Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," I Peter i. 2. " Shall not God avenge his own elect?" Luke xviii. 7. " An apostle according to the faith of God's elect," Titus i. 1. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Rom. viii. 33. For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened," Matt. xxiv. 22. " Ye are a chosen generation," 1 Peter ii. 9. " Many be called, but few chosen," Matt. ii. 16. " God bath from the beginning chosen you to salvation," 2 Thess. ii. 13. After reading these parts of God's word, I am constrained to believe that eternal election is a truth which is fully established in the Scriptures.
Does, then, this Bible doctrine endanger holiness ? By no means, for it emanates from God, who is "glorious in holiness," therefore nothing can come from him that is unholy, or that has an unholy tendency. It cannot endanger holiness, because it gives the persons elected a being in Christ, who is the source of all the holiness a sinner can know, or God can give to a sinner. Does it not tend to negligence concerning eternal realities, encouraging the thought, " if I am elected I shall be saved, therefore I shall not concern myself about the things of God" ? Such expressions or thoughts as this do not arise from election ; but from the temptations of the wicked one, the carnality of the heart, and the blindness of human nature. Wherever a soul can say, " As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God," he has a right to believe he is elected, because there is no panting after God till the quickening power of the Spirit is known, and a soul is quickened by the Holy Spirit, because " Chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit." But though God bath chosen a people for himself, and predestinated them to be conformed to the image of his Son, and all who pant after God have reason to believe they are chosen of God ; yet no man can say he is not chosen, if still in a state of unregeneracy, because none could be more immoral when in such a state than Mary Magdalene, none more presumptuous than the thief upon the cross, and none more cruel than Saul of Tarsus. Yet where was the man who could say neither of these was a chosen vessel of mercy, even when they were " in bondage under the elements of this world" ? And, at the same time, what instance have we that election urged them on to commit iniquity ? Not one. Though God fore-ordains his people to be conformed to Christ, yet he does not infuse sin into any ; therefore election makes many saints, but not one sinner. Predestination can be no excuse for sin, for no man can tell whether it is God's will to permit him to breathe until he has committed it ; therefore no man ever did, and no man ever can, commit sin for the purpose of accomplishing God's will. Whenever sin is committed, God, as God, must be forgotten, and to this point speaks the apostle, " Let no man say when he is tempted I am tempted of God, but every man is tempted when lie is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." Christ's sufferings and death were fore-ordained, but Pilate and the Jews acted wickedly in his crucifixion and sufferings, he for unjustly condemning and scourging him, they for unjustly demanding his death and cruelly mocking him. But does not the enemy of souls make use of this doctrine to lull men into a supine state? There is no craft whatever but what the devil makes use of either to worry and annoy the people of God, or to keep his own subjects in carnal security. Is he not perpetually deluding souls with a contingent representation of God's mercy, telling them " they will have an opportunity to repent, to turn to God, or to pray upon a death bed ? And if lie can deceive men with such a general representation of the mercy of God as this, no wonder if he makes a handle of so great an act of mercy as election, and does deceive some by it who were never chosen to eternal life. He tempted Christ to presumption, for the evangelist informs us " The devil taketh him, and sitteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God cast thyself down, for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." "Jesus said unto him, it is written thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God." If, then, the devil could thus attack Christ, no doubt he often attacks such poor creatures as " sinful man" with the same powerful weapons, saying " If you are elected you will be saved, and if not you will be lost ; it is no use resisting me, or fighting against sin, indulge your lusts, give way to the evils of your nature, allow yourself a little liberty in iniquity." And where the grace of election prevent not, these suggestions are listened to and delighted in. But election is not dangerous, notwithstanding this ; for, in fact, interest in election is the only security against Satan's devices, as Christ says, " If it were possible they shall deceive the very elect ;" implying that it is impossible. And though the devil makes a bad use of it, (and he makes a bad use of it because he was not an elect angel, for it is election keeps angels in heaven ; they being elected for Christ, and saints being elected in Christ,) yet God's saints, when under the cheering power of the Holy Ghost, know it to be an holy, heavenly, and soul-strengthening doctrine; embittering sin, drawing the mind towards God, and affording a joy unspeakable and full of glory. And though many are afraid to say too much about it in public, lest it should lead to sin, yet the more it is known in its richness and tendency in the heart of a truly circumcised Israelite, the more it is rejoiced in as a sin-mortifying, sin crucifying, creature-debasing, and God-exalting Truth. And I am no more afraid of encouraging sin by preaching election, than a scholar is afraid of encouraging ignorance by expressing himself grammatically. Or, in other words, I should not be afraid of preaching election, lest it should lead to sin, any more than I should be afraid of reading in public too often the following words, `` If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," Matt. xvi. 24. lest it should lead papists to worship a wooden cross. Election does not put aside prayer ; on the contrary, none spiritually pray but those who are elected.-It does not lay aside the searching of the Scriptures ; on the contrary, none search them aright but those who are elected.--It does not drive men from God's house ; but makes men more eager to go, that they may know their election of God, by being blessed under the word.-It does not beget cold ness and languor concerning interest in Christ; but is the most powerful motive any soul can have to love God, because it shows the greatness of his love to us.---It does not forbid our warning a fellow-sinner of the evils of immoral practices, but is the most urgent reason for doing so, because we know not but the person whom we may so warn is an elect vessel of mercy, and our reproof may be the fore-ordained means of calling him out of nature's darkness into light. Therefore I cannot find the sinful or dangerous tendency of election ; and defy all the opponents of this doctrine to produce one proof that election ever made a man prayerless, careless, immoral, or unholy.
Another fruit, very close to the foregoing, is
THE MARRIAGE UNION between Christ and his elect body. So that he being the husband of the church, she bears her husband's name, and thus sings, " The Lord our righteousness," Jer. xxiii. 6. She is interested in all her husband's property, and thus all her individual members are " heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ;" by the same union her debts are his, and his payment her's ; his conquests of hell, death, and the grave, her conquests ; his satisfaction to the law her satisfaction; and his mediatorial acceptance before God her acceptance. Thus she is said to " suffer with him," to " be buried with him," to " be risen with him," and " to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." It is on the ground of this union David speaks as a type of Christ, when he says, " I will bless the Lord at all times ;" because " at all times" God the Father loves the church in him, owns the church in him, and accepts the church in him, " his praise shall be continually in my mouth," which it is, he being the prophet of the church, he tells her of the Father's counsels, purposes, and determinations, and then addressing the church, he says, " 0 magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." There is no magnifying or extolling God for the wonders of salvation, the riches of grace, or the glories of mercy, but in union with Christ.
Without such an union his blood, righteousness, and person would be of no worth-no value -no efficacy, to her. And, in consequence of this union, when Adam fell the church stood; when Adam lost the upright image in which he was created she still remained perfect ; when Adam departed from his resting place she was founded upon a rock, and was as safe as the rock upon which she was founded. 0 the blessedness of union to Christ ! and oh, the treachery of those who profess to be his friends, and yet say the act of election, in which this union has its origin, ought either to be brought forward but seldom, lest it should encourage men to sin, or so preached as not to give offence ! ! !
And what authority have we for such a sentiment as this ? I think the following are to the point, " Thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel," Isaiah liv. 5. 11 I will betroth thee unto me for ever, yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies," Hosea ii. 19. And where is the dangerous tendency of this doctrine ? Nowhere ; for it is the fountain of a regenerated sinner's happiness. In consequence of this union lie has a vital interest in Immanuel's person, worth, and work. As the effect of this union he is privileged to hold communion with the King of Kings. As the result of this union, his soul is strengthened so that it can engage in spiritual exercises, cling to the promises of a faithful God, and draw heavenly supplies from the river of God's pleasure.
Another fruit found on the heavenly vine, is
THE COVENANT OF GRACE. Though ignorant men often say there are no intimations in the Scriptures of covenant settlements concerning the well-being and everlasting welfare of the church of God, yet those whom God leads into all truth, discern the glory of Jehovah, and their soul's security in a " covenant ordered in all things and sure." And to this covenant the people of God are referred in many parts of the sacred word. Indeed, its express design is by the Holy Ghost declared to be "that the heirs of promise might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to the only hope set before them," Heb. vi. 17, 18. In this covenant God sets forth to his church, wisdom in contriving, order in executing, and certainty in accomplishing, all that will be for the glory of his people. We see in the covenant of grace the wisdom of God in a mystery, securing holiness before sin entered the world, going forth in acts of salvation before his people were lost, and establishing an union between himself and the chosen seed, before any discord or breach of communion was manifest. If, upon the Arminian hypothesis, Jehovah thought of securing his own holiness in and for any of his creatures after they were tarnished by sin, it would have discovered a want of foreknowledge on his part, and evidenced that his security of holiness was built upon a knowledge of sin subsequent to its entrance into the world. If, therefore, God was wanting in knowledge upon this point, imperfection would be seen in Deity, and we should have no assurance that the atonement he provided would be infinitely and everlastingly sufficient for our security from 11 the wrath to come;" but should be daily labouring under the thought that, perhaps, we shall commit some sin which God did not foresee, and that, therefore, we shall be lost at last, notwithstanding the provision he made against it. But who can indulge in such an irreverent supposition as This ?* None who have the fear of God in their hearts. If, however, God chose a people for himself, whom he knew would become vile, base, filthy, weak, unbelieving creatures; and provided holiness, redemption, perfection, blessedness, faith, strength, and glory for them, before they were thus ruined ; bow it displays his wisdom who is " wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." Not only so, but if God had not arranged and settled when, how, where, and in whom the provision should • be revealed, there would be a constant confusion in the works of grace. Some might have it at the wrong time, some might have it in the wrong way, some might have it at the wrong place, and some might lose it altogether, and the serpent's seed get that which was intended for Christ's seed. A wise nobleman would not suffer that property which he had laid up for his children, to be in so precarious a state as Arminianism thus represents God's property laid up for his children : on the contrary, he would make all the arrangements, and order all his property in such a manner as that it should descend to his heirs at the right time, in the right way, and at the right place. And can it be thought by any sober-minded Christian, that God should be less wise than the creature, or less careful of heavenly provision for his family than an earthly father? By no means. He therefore says to his church, " I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant," Ezek. xvi. 60. Mark, not with thee, but " unto thee," the church not actually existing when the covenant was made. How, then, was it done? The answer is direct ; saith God the Father, 11 I will give thee (Christ) for a covenant of the people," Isaiah xlii. 6. xlix. 8. Therefore the covenant of the chureb's welfare was made with the church's covenant head, the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to all this, if God had made a provision, and ordered how, when, and where the persons interested in it should partake of, and yet left it for the creature to lay hold of it if he could when an offer of it was - made to him, there would still be contingency. Therefore the covenant of grace is not only " ordered in all things," but " sure." For Jehovah, addressing the whole body of his elect, says, " I will make with you," or make known to you, " an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David." The mercies of holiness, perfection, salvation, and glory ; the mercies of faith, by which salvation is embraced ; of hope, by 'which glory is anticipated ; of knowledge, by which holiness is understood ; and -of love, by which Christ is hung upon as all the perfection needed. They are " the mercies of David," being all treasured up, founded upon, and secured through David's Lord, who is " the beloved," giving substance and excellency to every mercy.
In this covenant the Father wills to love a people ; but the people whom he fixes his love upon being sinners, he determines upon appointing a sacrifice for their sins by which sin should be removed ; he wills to glorify a people, but the people whom he predestinates to eternal glory being destitute of all qualification for that state, he calls upon the second person in the glorious' Trinity to become their righteousness : God the Son wills to love the people of his Father's choice, engages to become their surety, and to bring in everlasting righteousness for them: The Holy Ghost wills to love, to quicken, and reveal to the objects of heavenly counsel, delight, and care, the will of the Father, and work of the Son. The Father's will is to bless the people with every blessing that shall enrich their souls and glorify himself: and no other treasury can be found suited and sufficient to lay up these blessings in, than the God-man, in whom all divine and human excellencies meet. The Holy Ghost witnesses to the great---the solemn fact of Christ's blessing " his friend" (the church) " with a loud" (an omnipotent and sympathetic) " voice, rising early" (at the call of God the Father) 11 in the morning" (of eternity) by which it was `1 counted a curse unto him," Prov. xxvii. 14.; and by this engagement of Christ to become a curse for his people, the blood wherewith he purchased the church, is called " the blood of the everlasting covenant." Jehovah, in his Trinity of persons, having thus provided, ordered, and arranged all that pertains to the well-being and welfare of the church, then says, " I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him, with whom my hand shall be established." And having thus solemnly sworn Christ into the office of Mediator, he majestically addresses the church in the following words, " The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed ; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that bath mercy on thee," Isaiah liv. 10. This doctrine cannot be dangerous, for it provides all the heirs of heaven with that strength whereby Christ is sought, the devil resisted, God loved, the world despised, sin hated, heavenly enjoyments prized, and God glorified.
Another fruit growing in the land of grace, is
SANCTIFICATION. There is a threefold signification held out to us in the Scriptures of truth, concerning sanctification. First, to celebrate that as holy which was so before : thus the Lord says, 11 They shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel," Isaiah xxix. 3. And when do God's people thus celebrate the Lord? When they that "erred in spirit come to the understanding" of God's mercy in Christ, and " they that murmured" against the Lord's way of saving sinners, " learn the doctrine" of free, full, and everlasting pardon for sin. Then holy melting of heart before God, and true repentance at the foot of the cross will be known, and God shall be confessed as an holy God, " pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin." For as Mr. Hart sings,
Law and terrors do but harden,
All the while they work alone ;
But a sense of blood-bought pardon,
This dissolves a heart of stone."
And we are taught by the dear Redeemer that There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth," Luke 15. So that while a sinner is celebrating God as holy, God is celebrating him as holy in Christ from everlasting. The Father rejoices over him as an object of his eternal delight ; Jesus rejoices over him as the purchase of his blood ; the Holy Ghost rejoices over him as the temple. of his residence ; angels rejoice over him as one of the heirs of salvation, to whom they must minister ; saints made perfect rejoice over him in anticipation of -soon seeing him among them.
Thus Zephaniah tells the church, " the Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing," Zeph. iii. 17: and, referring to sanctification, in this point of view the apostle must be understood in 1 Cor. vi. 11. when after describing the unrighteous, and saying " such were some of you," he adds, " but ye are washed" in `1 the washing of regeneration ;" " but ye are sanctified," rejoiced over, as true penitents, and celebrated in " the presence of the angels of God," as vessels of holiness.
Secondly; to set apart any person or thing for an holy purpose or use. In this point of view, Christ was sanctified or set apart to the office of" Mediator, and so he says to the Jews-" Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, thou blasphemest, because I say I am the Son of God, John x. 36. Thus, as typical of Christ, the Lord said unto Moses, "sanctity unto me all the firstborn ;" set apart the first-born as typical of Christ, the first-born among many brethren, Ex. xiii. 2. And as typical of the church, the tabernacle and temple were sanctified, or set apart for an holy purpose: which purpose was to be typical of the church of God, set apart by God from everlasting, to be the place of his residence ; as he says, " this is my rest for ever : here will I dwell, for I have desired it." All the utensils and vessels of the temple and tabernacle were sanctified, or set apart for an holy use, in the same way, to typify all the blessings of the everlasting covenant, set apart in Christ for the church's use. All who were engaged in the service of the temple or tabernacle, were sanctified or set apart ; typical of the ministers of the gospel, and the officers of a gospel church, set apart for the special use of God's people. It is in this point of view Jude must be understood, when he says of the church, "sanctified by God the Father," Jude i. and the apostle Paul likewise, when he addresses his epistle " to them that are sanctified in Christ Jestis." Set apart for God's glory in Christ by the joint counsel, will, and pleasure, of the eternal Three in One.
And lastly, to make persons holy who were before unholy. This is done when God fulfils that new covenant promise, "anew heart also will I give them." If, then, God gives " a new heart" to his people, either that heart is holy or unholy; if holy, it cannot be made more so, therefore progressive sanctification must fall to the ground ; if unholy, what use is it ? No use at all, unless it is to doubly damn a sinner, for he committed a multitude of sins when he had no " new heart," and then to give him a heart which has-sin in it, which it must have if unholy, is to give him power to commit more sin. The " new heart" God gives is a " newness of life" from Christ. And Christ prayed, when in Gethsemane's garden, to his Father for his people, " sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." Then the only way of being sanctified, is through "the truth of God" the Father, and the truth of God the Father is " the Word," and " the Word" is Christ, and Christ is God's word, because, as we express our thoughts to each other by our words, God expresses his love to us by giving us Christ, and " in him was life," John i. 4. Therefore when the Holy Ghost quickens a sinner into newness of life, it is by Christ, for the church never had and never will have any spiritual life apart from Christ. And though the communications of light to God's children may be gradual, so that they can more and more clearly discern where their life is hid, yet the life itself, which the Holy Ghost communicates from Christ, cannot be increased. A new-born infant may have its limbs grow, but it is no more alive after it has been in. the world twenty years than it is at first. Precisely so God's children, when quickened by the Holy Ghost, have a life from Christ, which, coming from him, must necessarily be a holy life, and distinguishes itself as holy by its immediate struggling with sin. And it is this holy life which continues to hold a warfare with the flesh, until " mortality is swallowed up of life," 2 Cor. v. 4. The flesh does not, cannot grow better, but rather worse, and sometimes, to the believer's sorrow, shows itself as worse by its mighty workings. But though the old Man of nature continues to wax viler and more anton every day, the new man of grace being " renewed day by day," that is to say, being received and kept alive, by the Lord working in the soul, the believer goes "from strength to strength," or as the margin has it, "from company to company," from over-coming one company of lusts to another, from one company of evils to another, until he arrives before God in glory. Here then we find that all our sanctification is in Christ, from Christ, and by Christ, and cannot therefore admit of creature cultivation, creature strengthening, or creature improving. Is there then any danger in this doctrine ? None whatever, because it leads the soul to live wholly upon Christ. None whatever, because it leads the soul to live out of the flesh. None whatever, because it is from God, and therefore must lead to God.
Another doctrine of grace, is
THE COMPLEXITY OF CHRIST'S PERSON. He is said to be " made of a woman, made under the law," Gal. iv. 4. " who is over all, God blessed for ever." As man, he enquired concerning Lazarus, " where have ye laid him ?" As God, he described the " guest chamber, where he should eat the Passover with his disciples," and all the circumstances connected with it. As man, he said, when he came to Lazarus' grave, "roll ye away the stone." As God, he said, " Lazarus, come forth." As man, he was "asleep in the hinder part of the ship." As God, he said to the stormy winds and boisterous waves, " be still, and immediately there was a calm."
In order to be indeed and of a truth the Redeemer of his people, he must be man to suffer, bleed, and die ; he must be God to give eternal dignity to his righteousness, infinite worth to his blood, and immutable preciousness to his person.
There can be no danger in this doctrine, for without the union of the two natures, godhead and manhood, there can be no redemption ; and if no redemption, no communion with God; but through it believers have nearness of access to God, and are privileged to hold fellowship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
Another fruit of grace is,
THE CALLING OF THE HOLY GHOST ; which consists in the internal, invincible, and secret separation of an elect vessel of mercy from the world, by which his attention becomes fixed upon matters of eternal importance, and a sacred intercourse is opened up in the heart, between God and the sinner. This calling is distinguished from the outward call of the gospel, in that the latter is directed to every creature, and may be rejected, trampled upon, and forgotten ; but the former is directed only to the objects of the Father's choice, and the purchase of the Redeemer's blood, and cannot be resisted, refused, or slighted. It bears various names throughout the sacred pages: being denominated "the hi1h calling" of God, Phil. iii. 14, because above the creature's power to obtain of himself, being altogether sovereign ; neither resting upon human pliability, natural disposition, creature skill, nor moral worth. It is said to be "an holy calling," because it is through an holy teacher, leads to holy objects, takes from unholy pursuits, and is the inlet or portal to holy enjoyments. It is " an heavenly calling," because it originates in heavenly counsels held between the Eternal Three in One, and all who experimentally know it, sooner or later, enter the kingdom of heaven. It is founded upon Christ, for which reason the apostle calls it, , the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The reason is obvious. The Father having blessed the sinner with election union to Christ, with all spiritual blessings in Christ, and everlasting oneness with Christ; so that the fulness of Jesus being the sinner's fulness, the mediatorial excellency of Jesus being the sinner's excellency, and the righteousness of Jesus being that in which the sinner is to be arrayed for ever, the Lord calls the sinner from the world, the flesh, and the devil, in order that he may be put in experimental possession of the provision laid up for him in Christ. The great end, therefore, of effectual calling, is to make us know that we are the Lord's, and that we are " bought with a price:" it is to take us from the world's deceitful vanities, to learn everlasting realities : to make us know the emptiness of all earthly good, and to lead us to know the abundant satisfaction of heavenly riches. And because this doctrine honours the Holy Ghost in his sovereignty, invincibility, and covenant faithfulness, it is thought that, like the rest, it has a dangerous tendency ; but there would be great danger of all Adam's race being lost if this doctrine were untrue, for if the Lord left it to the creature whether he should call or not, none would be called, for man is born like a wild ass's " colt," so foolish and stubborn, that he would be sure to go the wrong road ; and the " carnal mind being enmity against God;" as God's will is to save; man's will would be to be lost.
Therefore, instead of this doctrine being dangerous it is a doctrine of safety, because God having made a provision for the objects of covenant delight, not one of these can perish till called by grace ; and when called, their desires, their thoughts, and affections, go out after him who has called them ; therefore they long to live above sin, to have little of the world's company, to have much of the Lord's, and to receive the earnests of his Spirit: consequently there is no danger in this doctrine.
Another fruit peculiar to the land of grace, is,
THE FULL, FREE, AND EVERLASTING PARDON OF SIN THROUGH THE ATONEMENT.
In this doctrine, we see Jehovah " a just God and a Saviour," for " in those days and at that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found." Why? " For I will pardon those whom I reserve." To reserve has the same signification as preserve, with this shade of difference, that for the Lord to " reserve" his people, carries with it the idea, that he holds them back from many things he permits the world to have, so that the world accounts them the off scouring of all things ; but at the great day, when God makes up his jewels, he will put them forward, and openly show, them as possessing the best treasures. We find then, by this declaration in Jeremiah, that the sins of God's people " shall not be found," yea, "there shall be none," for God pardons all whom he reserves or preserves in Christ Jesus. This unspeakable blessing can come to them in no other medium than the atonement of Christ, which atonement being exclusively for the benefit of all "preserved in Christ Jesus," can put only their sins away. Therefore the apostle says, " we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace. Who have this redemption ? " We," says the apostle, " who are preserved in Christ Jesus." And on their behalf " he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself:" past, present, and to come. Sins of all sorts, sins of all lengths, sins of all depths, sins as black as hell, sins as high as heaven, sins against light and knowledge, sins of omission and commission, sins secret and sins public, all blotted out of God's debt book, the law, by the blood of the Lamb. 0 blessed thought, that when our Zerubbabel beheld the amazing mountain of his people's woe, he was not backward to exclaim, " lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God." Therefore Jehovah's cry to this mountain is, " who art thou, 0 great mountain ? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain." This doctrine cannot be dangerous, or have an unholy tendency, for it shows how holy is his nature, how just his government, how firm his law, who would not pardon those who are as dear to. him as the apple of his eye, without the darling of his bosom becoming " a man of sorrows, and acquainted with- grief:" at the same time it opens up to view the infinity of that love, the sovereignty of that mercy, and the unsearchable riches of that grace, which saves unto the uttermost the unworthy, the abandoned, and the abominable. And is it possible for any man feeling an interest in this to love sin ? God forbid ! The very thought is derogatory to the nature of a Christian, and an insult upon each person of the glorious Trinity ; the Father for bestowing, the Son for procuring, and the Holy Ghost for revealing this great blessing, pardon for sin.
Another fruit growing in the land of grace, is
JUSTIFICATION THROUGH CHRIST'S RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED TO HIS PEOPLE AND RECEIVED BY FAITH. Thus we read, " as by one man's 4'obedience many were made sinners, so by the disobedience of one shall many be made righteous," Rom. v. 19. " A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," Rom. ii. 28. The doctrine of imputation is easily proved. We read the" wages of sin is death:" Christ died. Then he must have had sin either inherently or imputatively : 'not inherently, " for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." Therefore it must be imputatively, and so the prophet says, " he bath laid on him the iniquity of us all:" that is, " all us whom God bath appointed not to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Then all our sins being imputed to him, all his righteousness 1is imputed to us; therefore the Lord calls his people '1 a righteous nation," Isaiah xxvi. 2, which they are not in themselves, their cry being " all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," Isaiah lxiv. 6. And the apostle, in 2 Cor. iii. 9. speaks at once to the point when he says, " He" (Christ) " was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Neither does Christ, in the last chapter of the Revelations, leave us to doubt where all our righteousness is to come from ; but says, " my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be," not as his work " may be," but as his work " shall be," because the work, according to which he will reward, is a finished work. Thus he tells us in the next verse, " I am alpha and omega," the first and the last letter in Jehovah's alphabet of mercy, " the beginning and the end" of all salvation, " the first and the last" in an everlasting righteousness. Ass", therefore, the work is infinite in value, glorious in dignity, and immutable in perfection, so must be the reward.
We may further remark concerning justification, that it is founded upon the grace-union subsisting between Christ and the church: for the apostle says, " whom be did foreknow, them he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he did predestinate them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified." The question therefore is, in what sense is it that we are to understand God's fore-knowledge in this particular text ? It cannot mean all the children of Adam, though he foreknew every one of these as objects of his creative power; yet he did not predestinate every one of these to be conformed to the image of Christ. The meaning must be to; whom he did foreknow as sons in Christ, he predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ: and upon the same footing, namely, union to Christ, or sonship in Christ, they were secretly justified, so that God's people, while in nature, are a justified people ; which justification is a secret hid in Christ, until the period arrives for the objects of ancient choice to know it; and this knowledge is brought about by the Holy Ghost, leading the soul to know its condemnation by the law, and giving faith to realize interest in the righteousness of Christ. It is because faith apprehends justification through the righteousness of Christ, that we are said to be "justified by faith." Not that faith in itself is meritorious, but it goes forth in its exercise upon that which is meritorious, namely, Christ's righteousness; and as this righteousness is revealed in the soul, so its effects will be conspicuous, in a greater or less degree, in the walk and conversation, by which we shall be justified before men. For this reason our works are said to justify us, that is, justify our profession before men, while justification before God is " through the righteousness of faith."
There can be no danger in this doctrine, for without imputed righteousness there is no going to heaven, and by it a sinner is exalted far above angels, while he shines in the perfection of Jesus, and at humble distance " crowns him Lord of all." Neither can this doctrine have an unholy tendency, for what can enhance the beauty of holiness more than being enrolled in perfection itself ?
Another fruit growing in the land of grace, is
ADOPTION: By nature all Adam's children, like their fallen parent, " hide behind the trees in the garden," preferring any situation beat his presence in "whose favour is life." Indifference, worldly cares, infidelity, pride, morality, external religion, duties, respectability, immorality, hypocrisy, a good name, false hopes of heaven, forms of godliness, and other abominations, are so many trees behind which we all naturally hide but " there is a set time to favour Zion," therefore God's people must be brought away from, these " beggarly elements," and ""because they are sons, God sends forth the spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying Abba, Father." Not that the children of God, when they first have this spirit of adoption, can plainly say " Father," but "Father" is the essence of that variety of feelings, exercises, and desires, which characterize the new-born soul. The babe in grace feels, but cannot describe his feelings ; he sees, but it is so little, he is afraid to speak of it; yea, is unable to tell either what he sees or what he feels ; he is uncomfortable with the world, the breathings of his soul run in an holy channel, he thirsts for righteousness, and so little is his knowledge, that he expects the righteousness he needs to come from himself. But the more his expectations and pursuit of happiness abound, the more he discovers the shallowness of his own works, the emptiness of his prayers, and the poverty of his own goodness. Resolutions have been often broken through, promises forgotten, vow after vow made, but weakness and emptiness have always been the result. The holy law of God is opened. up in its spirituality and extent, he beholds himself lost without a righteousness equal to its demands, and a perfection equal to its extent. In vain he strives to keep it, at every fresh attempt he is constrained to cry " My leanness, my leanness." The evil of sin, the weakness of self, the justice of God, the holiness of his law, and his desert as a sinner, are things that more and more conspicuously appear, till, wretched and forlorn, he cries, "Save, Lord, or I perish." Here we behold a bruised sinner, bruised by God laying sin upon a spiritual conscience, applying the law to a spiritual understanding, and revealing justice to a spiritual mind. And he who wounds alone can heal, by a revelation of the life treasured up in Christ. Therefore the Holy Ghost, who in the commencement of this work in the soul, put that which is the principle of faith, namely, life into the man, now gives or draws into exercise this blessed grace, by which the " captive exile hastens to the cross of Calvary, that he may be loosed:" there he realizes interest in the precious blood of Christ, by which his guilt is all removed ; appropriates the righteousness of Christ, and takes it as his own, while Jesus' person is beheld as altogether lovely. Passed from death to life, he is sealed an heir of heaven, and can boast of glory yet to come ! Clad in a robe of righteousness, without a spot, wrought out by Jesus, how he sings ! Washed in the crimson fountain of a Saviour's blood, all pure he shouts for joy ! while Abba, Father, dwells upon his tongue. And, like dear Simeon, with :the Saviour in his arms, the loosened sinner cries, " Let now thy servant die, mine eyes have seen thy great salvation." All his legal fetters broken, he triumphs in the righteousness of Christ. The dull knell of "do " that formerly issued from the Arminian caverns, now is changed for " it is done," " it is finished." And though after this he gets benighted, tried, and tossed about by enemies, yet when he receives an earnest of his interest in the Son of God, his fears are sure to fly, doubts sure to. vanish, the devil must sneak off, the world must be forgotten, troubles will be lost sight of, wretchedness will be removed, "the king will be seen in his beauty, the land beheld that is very far off," and Abba, Father, cried with holy confidence. What is the danger of adoption ? It endangers free-will heresy, Arminian vanities, and creature exaltation. But does not endanger Jesus' crown, but puts it on his head. It does not endanger holiness, but sings of it. It does not lead to sin, but triumphs over it.
Another fruit is,
THE NEW BIRTH. By which I mean, a sinner dead in trespasses and sins quickened by the Holy Ghost, and brought forth into spiritual life. Before this happy change takes place the thoughts are vain, the affections vile, the desires sinful, the judgment erring, the memory strong and retentive of what is evil, but weak in what is good, the conscience hard, the understanding dark, the will perverse, and the whole mind enmity against God : but by the invincible work of the Holy Ghost in regeneration, the thoughts are raised to heaven, the desires purified, the affections spiritualized, the conscience softened, the understanding enlightened, the will bent, and every' faculty of the soul turned into a new and holy channel. It is from this newness of life in the souls of the redeemed, that faith, hope, and prayer proceed. Without this mighty work in the soul, no other doctrinal truth can be rightly known or duly appreciated ; no warfare with the world, the flesh, or the devil felt, or burden of sin groaned under ; no promise received or consolation understood; no joy in the Holy Ghost known, or heavenly-mindedness experienced. But where the " washing of regeneration" has taken place, the truth as it is in Christ becomes the pursuit of the soul. Sin is felt as a grievous load, the world is discovered to be a wilderness, the heart is found to be "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," while the heart breathes after God. Christ says, " Ye must be born again," and "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God," John iii.
There can be no danger in this doctrine, for it is the gate of entrance into the kingdom of God's grace, the portal to gospel knowledge, the inlet to true repentance, and the translation from the " power of darkness into the marvelous light of God's dear Son."
And another fruit of grace is,
THE FINAL PERSEVERANCE OF ALL THE REGENERATE.
By this they escape the pollution that is in the world through lust, overcome every difficulty, and ultimately conquer every foe. This, their perchance, however, does not depend upon themselves, but upon the Lord, for their " life is hid with Christ in God;" and Christ says to his people, "He" (the Holy Ghost) " dwelleth with you, and shall be in you;" and God the Father says, A vineyard of red wine, sing unto it, I the Lord do keep it ; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it I will keep it night and day," Isaiah xxvii. In consequence, therefore, of the constant indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the perpetual keeping and watering of the Father, and the immutable efficacy of the Saviour's work, " the path of the just is as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day ;" learning, as they go forward, to mortify," "crucify," put off," and " lay aside" the old man with his affections and lusts. Wherein lies the danger of this doctrine ? Blessed be God, the very nature of perseverance is to overcome everything that is dangerous and unholy. So that the happy partakers of grace prove victorious over all their enemies within and without, and death itself only proves the harbinger of eternal day.
Then not the sun shall more than I
His maker's will perform ;
Nor shine with brighter purity,
Nor burn with zeal so warm."*
* I do not know the author, or would have affixed his name.
Thus, reader, I have presented thee with a view of some of those precious doctrines of God's word, frequently called "dangerous." But where lies their danger ? Nowhere but in a Pharisee's brains, which is the devil's foundry for most of the lying speeches made against the grace of God, for the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy and to utter error against the Lord ; to make empty the soul of the hungered after a free grace salvation," Isaiah xxxii. But let these vile persons recollect that the doctrines of grace are the doctrines of the Bible, and therefore the doctrines of God ; concerning whom we read that " he cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man," but if the doctrines of God tempt or lead men to sin, then God leads to sin, so that our opponents have ratified in their character those words, " He that rolleth a stone it shall return upon him," Prov. xxvi. 27. for they often but very falsely say, we who love free grace, make God the author of sin, whereas they make " God the author of sin," who charge the doctrines of God with having a " licentious tendency." Contrary to what they affirm, we find these doctrines are holy, helpingly, and spiritual in all their parts, branches, and effects. But it may be asked, " why is it seeing the doctrines of grace are really doctrine according to godliness, that some men 'who profess to love them and zealously defend them, live in sin." Some there may be of this stamp, but they know the doctrines speculatively not vitally; theoretically not unctiously ; notion My in the head not savingly in the heart. But the doctrines of grace even speculatively known, forbid sin ; therefore, it is not from knowing these doctrines that men sin : it is because these doctrines having no reigning power or sweetening efficacy in their hearts, notwithstanding their profession, they still remain " dead in trespasses and sins." For to say the doctrines of grace have a sinful tendency, is as reasonable as affirming the sun produces cold, or the moon darkness. And to attempt to root up all the empty professors, daring hypocrites, and almost Christians, who force themselves into the communion of God's saints on earth, would be doing that which Christ has commanded us not to do, for saith he, " Let the tares and the wheat both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them but gather my wheat into my barn," Matt. xiii, . Thus God has ordered it, and who can disannul it? Ishmael shall dwell under the same roof as Isaac ; Esau be in the same womb with Jacob ; and the Samaritans live near the Jews. Paul had an Alexander to trouble him ; Peter an Annanias and Sapphira ; and John a Diotrephes. But Paul, Peter, and John, preached the doctrines of grace notwithstanding, and were no Antinomians either. And look to what fellowship of Christians we may, some tares are sure to be growing, for even Christ in his little company had a Judas. These facts, however, do not make God's children run from the truth, but in the Lord's hand constrain them to cling more steadfastly to it. So that when many of the nominal disciples of Christ " go back, and walk no more with him" in the paths of grace, they cry, "Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life."
If there is a place of worship where the grace of God is faithfully preached, it is often said with much contempt, by the fashionable professors around, " none but poor people go there;" ', it is not a respectable congregation." Very true; but this does not establish the assertion that the doctrines of grace are " dangerous." " Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he .bath promised to them that love him?" And such ministers as are surrounded with a people who love the truth in the life and power of it, however despised as " poor" in this world, and "not respectable," are more like Christ than they are, who, perpetually encompassed with the wealthy and the great, forget the dignity of the office they profess to hold : for Christ's " kingdom is not of this world," and he had only poor fishermen for his first disciples ; and those who chiefly composed his retinue on earth were the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind. But it is' said, "most people speak against that preaching which savours of so much grace." Very true; but it is the multitude who are walking in the broad road; therefore this does not prove the doctrines of grace dangerous to God and godliness ; though very dangerous to the devil's schemes, priest-craft, and free-Will, which latter has the most votaries because the most natural. And while the children of God are reckoned the " filth of the earth," they are to God his precious jewels,-his special treasure,-his everlasting delight.
Reader, what does thy heart say to these things? If thou art a careless, thoughtless infidel, living without any profession at all, thou will think what thou hast now read not worth thy concern ; but remember, without a soul interest in them, everlasting woe will be thy portion. If thou art an empty professor, knowing the doctrines in the head and not in the heart, thou hast in the perusal satisfied thy notions and thy fancy, while thy soul has neither tasted the sweetness, nor known the strengthening virtue, of "the doctrines of grace." If thou art an almost Christian, thou wilt not approve of it, because I have not been moderate enough. If thou art a Pharisee, thou wilt hate what I have said in it more than thou dost sin or the devil, because it is not palatable to thy self-righteous nature. If thou art a broken-hearted sinner, thou wilt hail the truth, knowing it to possess healing virtue; thou wilt be panting after it as the only thing that can comfort or strengthen thee in thy distressing moments. If thou art an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile,_ thy desires will be going out after it as the life of thy soul; and if thou canst not say, "My beloved is mine and I am his," thou canst say, " That I may know him" in the efficacy of his grace," and the power of his resurrection" in my soul," for I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," whom I long to call '1 my Lord." Then be assured thou dost not only know the doctrines of grace, but what is better still, the grace of the doctrine. And. what thou knowest not now thou shalt know hereafter."
NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL SONSHIP. CHAPTER II.
The distinction between !Natural and Spiritual
" Beloved, now are we the sons of God," 1 John iii. 2.
MUCH has been said by blind guides concerning the duty of the creature to his Creator, and the privileges of " the children of Zion." But these infinitely distinct things are often blended, so that error is more easily propagated, and the unwary more easily deceived by a speciousness of truth. It will, therefore, be my province in this place, to call the reader's attention to the difference between natural and spiritual sonship.
Christ is called " a Son," he is so pre-eminently and officially. Thus pre-eminently it is said of him " This is my beloved Son, Matt. iii. 17. being "the first-born," or chief, " among many brethren," Rom. viii. 29. It is said of him officially, " Christ as a son over his own house," Heb. iii. 6. I say Christ is the Son of God preeminently, being " Head over all things to his church," every member of which is a son of God ; and are thus, as a body, the brethren of Christ. I say Christ is the Son of God officially : for I humbly conceive each person of the Trinity bears a distinct name, the one from the other, not because one is derived from another, for this would be taking away the Godhead of two persons in the Trinity, but because of the different relation each bears to the church in the economy of grace, which relationship is founded upon covenant engagements. It being the covenant office of the Father to appoint and ordain, to give and demand, to accept and acknowledge ; and it being the covenant office of the Holy Ghost to quicken and convince, to call and renew, to guide and keep ; so it is the covenant office of Christ to purchase and secure, to deliver and exalt, to intercede and govern. Therefore I consider Christ is "a Son" officially and preeminently. Angels are called " Sons of God," Job xxxviii. 7. they are so by creation, and in this sense God is the Father of all things, from the seraph near his throne to the smallest atom in the universe ; and all shall, because all must, bow in some way or other to his authority. And angels are " sons of God" by office, for says the apostle, " Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation ?" Heb. i. 14.
Men generally are set forth as sons of God, Matt. xxi. 28. Luke xv. 11. They are so naturally, being created by God, and descending from Adam by natural generation ; or they are so spiritually, being created in Christ Jesus," Eph. ii. 10. and deriving from him spiritual existence. Adam, as he stood in Eden, was a naturally upright son, blessed with a natural paradise, in which he was to continue as long as there was no breach in his natural obedience to his Maker; but when lie unnaturally rebelled, he lost his natural inheritance. When he stood in .pristine purity, he could contemplate with natural pleasure upon all the works of God as seen in creation, admire his skill who made the whole, adore his hand who was preserving him and the creatures around him, and own the God of the whole earth as his natural Lord and moral Governor; but here Adam's religion en&d. He knew nothing of Christ while in Eden, neither could he need Christ, because he had all the purity, perfection, and happiness, his natural mind could crave; and when he eat of the forbidden fruit he tarnished every faculty of his soul therefore darkness filled his understanding, enmity his affections, and vanity his thoughts. Adam beget a son in his own natural and sinful likeness, so that Cain brings to the Lord a natural offering, which was good as far it went, because it was owning the Creator as his moral Lord ; but it was not a spiritual offering, for he never was and never could be a spiritual son. His brother Abel, was a spiritual son, and he brings an offering of a spiritual character. Why was it spiritual? The Holy Ghost gives the answer, 11 by faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." By faith in what ? " In the lamb slain from the foundation of the world: but could not Cain have offered in the same way if he had made proper use of God's reproof, "Why, art thou wrath, and why is thy countenance fallen ?" I answer no; for, first, he had no spiritual understanding, and so could not enter into God's reproof. Secondly, he had no spiritual power, therefore could not act in a spiritual way. Thirdly, God had not given him faith, and he could not exercise it if he had not got it, neither could he put it in himself, for "faith is the gift of God." And, lastly, God never designed to give Cain faith, since, had that been his determination he would have done it, for " he is of one mind and who can turn him? And what his soul desireth even that he doeth," Job xxiii. 17. But God says to Cain, " If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well sin lieth at the door." Does not this imply that Cain had a chance of being like Abel? By no means God did not purpose, by thus speaking to Cain, to give him an opportunity of being saved, or of offering him a day of grace, as some would think; but of more fully showing Cain the vast superiority of Abel's religion to his. To " do well," and to " do right," are things infinitely distinct: it was " right" for Cain to bring his cultivated fruits, and so acknowledge God as his Creator, Preserver, and moral Governor. It was "well " when Abel came before God as a naked sinner, pleading Christ's righteousness and reciting his own; as a vile sinner, pleading Jesus' blood, and renouncing every other refuge ; and as an unworthy, imperfect, and helpless sinner, pleading a given Christ, a finished work, a mighty Redeemer. God says, "say ye to the righteous it shall be well with him;" mark, not "right;" for some to be in hell is " right," or God would not have ordered it, for "just and right is he ;" but it is " Well" for some to be in heaven. And as Jesus delivers his sheep from hell by his blood, and exalts them to heaven by his righteousness, it may be with justice said, " he hath done all things well." But why did not God give Cain faith in Christ ? Because faith in Christ is not a natural but a spiritual gift, and Cain was only a natural son; having no grace union to God in Christ ; therefore, to give him that which in all its acts and exercises apprehends this union, would be giving it to no purpose, for the design of God in giving faith is not to make a sinner one of his, but that the sinner who possesses faith may know that he belongs to God by a special relationship, founded in Christ. Thus the apostle speaks, I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended oŁ Christ Jesus.!' Why did Christ apprehend Paul? Because he was one, God the Father chose in him, and so had an election union to Christ: he was a member of that church which Jesus had betrothed unto himself from everlasting; he was one of those brethren over whom Jesus was the first-born or pre-eminent Son; therefore Christ apprehended Paul in effectual calling, and faith being given to Paul, he was, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, " reaching forth," or " following after," a knowledge of interest in God the Father's adopting love, and God the Son's betrothing grace. Thus it was he was apprehending that for which also he was apprehended of Christ Jesus. To be a spiritual son is to have a being in Christ ; and it must be obvious to every discerning mind, that whoever is quickened into spiritual life by the Holy Ghost, must have bad this life before the quickening, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost does not quicken with a different life from what the Father gives, and the Father gives no other life than what is in the Son. " This is the record that God bath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." Not a natural life, for this Adam could have and did have, without Christ ; but a life of spiritual sonship, for "this life is in his Son," therefore must be a Son's life : but not a natural sonship ; for a natural sonship we have by the first Adam, "who is of the earth, earthy," and his transgression in Eden did not deprive us of this " earthy" relationship. But the second Adam is the Lord from heaven, and " as is the earthy, such are they also as are earthy," so " as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." It is because of relationship to Adam we all die, and in consequence of relationship to Christ that any are made alive: for thus it reads, " as in Adam all (his natural seed) die," so " in Christ shall all (his spiritual seed) be made alive." On the ground of natural sonship, the law was given, and obedience required from the creature to the Creator; but on the ground of spiritual sonship, the gospel was given, and the promise made, " the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." On the foundation of natural sonship the law cries death, and on the foundation of spiritual sonship the gospel shouts life. Christ said to his disciples, " my Father shall give you another comforter;" but if the Spirit worked in the hearts of men as a comforter, on the footing of natural sonship, then the promise was unnecessary, because every man would have a right to it, and could claim it at God's hands. Yea, God would be unjust in withholding it; but because God's people are sons by a grace union subsisting before the fall, they are under the fall made sons by a grace communion ; or, to speak as the scriptures do, " because they are sons, God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father." That is to say, because they are sons adopted in the " beloved Son" of God ; the Spirit, whose covenant office is to glorify Christ by taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them unto all who have a covenant interest therein, makes known in their hearts their eternal sonship in Christ, by which knowledge they have liberty to cry, Abba, Father.
The creatures of God have various duties to perform as creatures, according to the varied situations and circumstances in which they may be placed; but these duties must not be blended with the rights and privileges of the Lord's believing people. Thus the address taught by Christ, " Our Father," does not belong to men as creatures, nor is it any man's duty to make use of this language; it is the exclusive privilege of a quickened soul brought to hang wholly upon Jesus, and thus can say, "God is my Jesus' Father, and through Jesus, my Father, therefore, Our Father." So that every believer can, with holy confidence, adopt Christ's words, "Our Father;" and very blessed is it for the dear children of God, amidst all the dark paths through which they may have to pass, to remember Christ's consolation is theirs, " yet I am not alone because the Father is with me." How do you know he is with you ? Because you are hanging all your hopes upon his dear Son, which shows you have made the same choice as God the Father made, for Christ is his resting place : yes, " this is the rest wherewith he causeth the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing." Here his law rests, here his justice rests, here his salvation rests, and here his glory rests. And as you have chosen the ,same resting place, it is an evidence God has chosen you in his Son, and having chosen you, he " will not cast you away." Therefore you can say, if friends forsake and comforts are lost, "yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me," and the Father being with 'you Christ is with you, so you can cry, " Our Father."
The creature's duty and the saint's privilege are so much blended, that 'we often hear universal exhortations given to "the performance of such acts, as, after all, are eclusively the privileges of Zion's citizens. To, set forth the difference between natural duties: and spiritual privileges, I would observe, it was the duty of the Ninevites to fast; but this was only a natural work, and they for it bad a natural blessing; Nineveh was not then destroyed. It was Abimelech's duty to restore Sarah to Abraham, and for Abraham to pray for Abimelech ; but all was natural, and Abinelech had a natural blessing. It was Abraham's natural duty to cry, " O that Ishmael might live before thee," and he had a natural answer ; said the Lord, unto him " Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly." It was Jehu's natural duty to destroy Baal out of Israel, and he had for it a natural blessing, "The Lord said unto Jehu, because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel," 2 Kings x. 30. When the Moabites and the Ammonites went against Jehosaphat king of Judah, it was his duty " to proclaim a fast throughout all Judah," and Judah's duty to "gather themselves together to ask help of the Lord;" and the Lord gave them a natural answer, as the natural and moral Preserver and Governor of Israel, " Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's; ye shall not need to fight in this battle, set yourselves, stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord with you, 0 Judah and Jerusalem." And the result was according to the promise, 2 Chron. xix. It was Nabal's duty to have kindly treated David, and for his breach on this point the Lord smote him, 1 Sam. xxv. 38. And in all cases the Lord has connected some natural blessing with natural duties. Thus, Moses said to the children of Israel, " It shall come to pass if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth : and all these blessings shall come on thee, blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field; blessed shall be the fruit of thy body ; blessed shall be thy basket and thy store," &c. &c. Deut. xxviii. But what has all this to do with the privileges of spiritual sonship ? No more than Belial has to do with Christ, or the devil has to do with heavenly enjoyments. The duty of the creature to depend upon the providence of God, to walk morally among men, and to be an useful member of society at large ; and the privileges of a saint, by which lie enters his heavenly Father's presence with humble boldness, lays hold of his promises, pours out his soul before him, receives his smile, has given to him an earnest of heaven, feels an oneness with God, and has fellowship with the mystery, are as different as light and darkness, heaven and hell. The religion of the former consists in a natural, moral, and earthly knowledge of God, as the Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor of the universe, and is, in this dependence upon providence, but a few shades above the brute creation, concerning whom the psalmist says, " these wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season," Psalm civ. 27. But the latter possesses an heavenly, an incorruptible, and spiritual knowledge of God as his friend, his portion, his delight, and his everlasting all, in whom he dwells, and with whom he walks in paths of righteousness; after whom he breathes as the glory of his soul and his eternal rest; knowing that by virtue of interest in his adopting love he possesses an inheritance far superior to angels, being a " partaker of the divine nature." To be a spiritual son, then, is to be adopted by God the Father in Christ: and remember " all the promises of God are in him Yea, and in him Amen." All the honour and majesty God ever will communicate is to be found in him, as we read, "honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him." Psalm xxi. 5. All the church's blessings are in him, as we read, " who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." All the church's glory is in him, as we read, " thy God thy glory." All perfection is in him, as we read, 'lye are complete in him." All salvation, delight, and excellency is in him, for " it bath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." And thus no blessing can be obtained, no promise known, no mercy rejoiced in, out of Christ. Therefore they who have no interest in Christ, will never have any strength to ask for mercy at God's hand, neither can God grant any to them. For he can communicate no holiness to man but the holiness of Christ, no perfection but the perfection of Christ, no blessedness but the blessedness of Christ, who is "made most blessed for ever." And all whom God the Father chose and adopted in Christ, are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." So that salvation, perfection, redemption, sanctification, wisdom, righteousness, blessedness, excellency and glory, must, sooner or later, be personally known and personally sung of by the election of grace. All mercy is in Christ, and all who have been and all who ever will be saved, are where mercy is-in Christ.
"Sons we are thro' God's election,
Who in Jesus Christ believe ;
By eternal destination,
Saving grace we here receive ;
Does both grace and glory give."*
*I do not know the author.
And now, reader, what is to be learnt from the consideration of the difference between natural and spiritual sonship. First, that God will not condemn the ungodly at the great day of judgment for not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, because faith was never given them. And it was not given them because they were not " sons of God" by electing and adopting love, by which all who have faith given to them were so constituted. Thus Christ said to the Pharisees, "ye believe riot because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you;" and again, " if God were your Father, ye would love me." Now God was their Father by creation, therefore Christ could not mean if God were their natural Father; he must have meant, "if God were their Father by a grace union in himself," they would love him in a grace communion. Therefore all who are condemned at the last great day will be condemned not for rejecting Christ, but for their breaches of the covenant of works, under which all who will then be condemned lived and died.
Secondly, we learn there can be no chance for them to be saved whom God never chose in Christ ; for all out of Christ must be lost, seeing there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can be saved. And " God is of one mind;" if, therefore, he did not put you and me, reader, in Christ before time, no act of ours can make him do so in time. Yet God does not condemn, as I have before hinted, because men have no being in Christ : for this, properly speaking, is neither wrong in God nor wrong in man. It is not wrong in God, because he is not bound to give eternal life to any; it is not wrong in man, because he could not put himself in Christ. But let it not be thought in my saying this, that I suppose men may seek God and yet be lost. No man ever sought God spiritually but found him, and the reason is because God chose him in Christ long before. When God chose his own, he, in sovereignty, passed the finally impenitent by ; and, in justice, condemns them for their sins at the" great day of his wrath."
And lastly, we learn the dignity of a saint: no meaner character than a son of God,-no lower state than an heir of heaven;--no other home than the heart of Christ ;---no less an interest than the whole revenue of Jehovah's fulness.
If then, reader, thou knowest what it is to be brought before the Great High Priest of God's Israel, as the leper of old was, with thy " clothes rent," thy heart opened up to view, so that it appears to thee like "a cage of un clean birds," thy "head bare," brought to the end of all thy empty forms and notional religion, with " a covering upon the upper lip" of thy own righteousness and creature-worth, while the cry has been issuing from thy inmost soul " unclean, unclean !!" then rest assured that God is in thee of a truth, and that he has brought thee thus far "to reveal his Son" in thee, and to make him to thee "more precious than gold." Therefore be not discouraged though the accursed Ishmael's mock, thou knowest that with thee, as with Isaac of old, God will establish his covenant of grace. While the world is eagerly pursuing the things which perish in the using, thy treasure is in heaven. While time is rapidly launching thousands into an eternal world, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, thou art heir to eternal bliss and blessedness at God's right hand. And when " the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the works that are therein shall be burned up," thou wilt have an hiding place in the heart of thy dear Redeemer, who will then come to, be "glorified in his saints, and to be admired.: ;in all them that believe."
On offering the Gospel, or an offered Gospel shown to be contrary to God's Word and will.
" Go ye into all the world and preach (not offer) the gospel to every creature," Mark xvi. 15.
IT would be well i? the Lord's people would bear in mind the apostle's words, " Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." For such is the " philosophy" and " vain deceit" of men, that they are continually " making the commandments of God of none effect by their traditions." Thus " fleshly wisdom" too often takes the place of simplicity and Godly sincerity" among religious teachers : so that, in order to make the gospel of Christ palatable to human nature, and congenial to man s depraved reason, many dare to interlope earthly principles into the heavenly religion of the Son of God. Thus either to suit man's pride, or to explain the mystery of divine sovereignty, men have so, far departed from the faith in these latter times," 1 Tim. iv. 1. as to advocate an " offered gospel," which neither prophets wrote of nor apostles knew. And what does an " offered gospel" consist of ? Not of what Jehovah has determined upon, whom he loves, and how he loves : not of the sovereignty of his will, the power of his arm, and the immutability of his counsels : not of the provisions of his mercy, in their sufficiency, efficiency, and glory : not of the great Redeemer's worth, dignity, and deathless fame not of covenant settlements in all their fulness, extent, and certainty : not of salvation in its gracious origin, perfect accomplishment, powerful application, and glorious consummation ; but full of creature dignity, creature power, and creature independence : full of contingencies, conditions, and discord ; while discriminating mercy, sovereign grace, and everlasting love, are hid behind the veil of proud Free Will.
An offered gospel supposes every man to have some grace in his heart, or why should its advocates exhort unregenerate men to receive it? But that every man has not grace in his heart must be evident, because grace is said to "reign," Rom. v. 21. So that all who have it are interested in those words, " sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Now if grace reigns where it exists, all who possess grace must leave the world, hate sin, groan on account of its workings, struggle with the powers of darkness, resist the devil, seek God, have a broken heart, loathe the lusts and corruptions of the flesh, know something of the Lord's words, " the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," feel the deep leprosy of sin as having tainted him throughout, mourn the hidings of God's face, long after the righteousness of Christ, pour out the soul before him, value nothing so much as the light of God's countenance, while fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, is esteemed the highest privilege. Are these the feelings, desires, and exercises of every man ? Are these fruits of grace brought forth by every man ? Decidedly not. But why are they not ? Because grace is not given to every man, since where it exists it " reigns." Here it may be objected that grace may be given to every man but does not reign because man does not make use of it. To this I would reply, grace is not given, only for us to make use of, but to make use of us too, by qualifying us for communion with God, and forming us as vessels fit for the master's use, that we might be to the praise of his glory. When the apostle " had a thorn in the flesh," he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him; but the Lord told him, " my grace is sufficient for thee :" and lest we should misunderstand these words, and think it meant that God's grace was sufficient, if Paul would make proper use of it, the apostle tells us a little more the Lord said, as explanatory, " my strength is made perfect in weakness :" not made perfect by human cultivation, human wisdom, or human watchfulness; but " made perfect in weakness." If then, grace is God's strength "made perfect in weakness," it cannot be because man does not make use of it that-it does not reign in every man : it must be because grace is not given to every man. Further still, if grace is not in every man, then every mail is not capable of performing a gracious act. Now to offer the gospel to every man is offering Christ to every man, because Christ is the substance of the gospel ; but to receive Christ's salvation, to love Christ's word, and to prize Christ's truth, are gracious acts. Then every man cannot receive Christ's salvation, love Christ's word, and prize Christ's truth, because they are gracious acts, and every man has not grace. Not only so ; but God never requires anything of the creature, which he has not first given to the creature, " For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required," Luke xii. 48. Much was given to Adam, and in Adam to his posterity. God gave him an upright soul and a sinless body ; perfect earthly happiness, and a reasonable law ; a capacious intellect, and a knowledge of the effects of his breach of the law before it was broken ; and much is required : perfect un-sinning obedience, or death temporal, spiritual, and eternal. God gave him to be the federal head and representative of all his posterity ; much is required, their death in him. Much was given to Christ, even the whole election of grace ; and much is required, that he should pay their debts, blot out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against them, remove their guilt, bring in for them everlasting righteousness, and exalt them to heaven.
Much is given to the Father, precious blood, glorious righteousness, a sweet smelling sacrifice much is required, pardon for sin, acceptance of their persons for whom the price was paid, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, whereby it may be known. Much is given to the Holy Ghost, a people to quicken, a Christ to glorify, and adopting love to reveal ; much is required,--a living family, obedient subjects, and loving children.
Much is given to the church,--Christ in all his offices, characters, and relations-the Holy Ghost in all his offices, faithfulness, and preserving power-salvation in all its fulness, certainty, and glory : much is required, an acknowledgment of wretchedness, poverty, and imperfection ; a laying low at the Redeemer's feet, a rejoicing in electing love, a resting upon the Holy Ghost's covenant engagements, a rejection of every creature confidence, a glorying in nothing but the Mediator's worth and work, and an everlasting song before the throne, when time's adverse scenes are all for ever passed. But no grace is given to some men, and for that reason no act of grace is required from some men. To this point the Saviour speaks when he says, " No man can come to me except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him."
If then every man has not got grace in his heart ; if every man is incapable of doing a gracious act without grace; if grace reigns where it exists without human aid ; and if God does not require gracious acts from men to whom he has given no grace ; then that gospel which holds a contrary view must be fallacious, and an offered gospel does so; therefore, an offered gospel is contrary to God's Word and Will.
An offered gospel supposes God dependant upon man, for its advocates represent God desiring to save, but not able to do it till the sinner is willing. Now a will to be saved by the grace or God, through Christ, cannot be in man by nature, because man is represented as being "born like a wild ass's colt," Job xi. 12. So perverse that he makes choice of any way but the right way.
Yea, the Scriptures declare " the way of man is not in himself," Jer. x. 23. It is not in man to go that way which leads to eternal life, and the preparations of the heart in man is from the Lord," Prov. xvi. 1. therefore a disposition to be saved, in the Lord's way, must come from the Lord ; and if men are not disposed to be saved, they have no will to be saved. Then if man does not naturally choose God's way of saving a sinner, if it is not in him to go that way which leads to eternal life, and if a will to that which is good comes from the Lord, then a good will is a part of God's salvation, and if God waited till a sinner was naturally willing to be saved before he saved him, no man would be saved at all, for the way of man is froward, and strange," Prov. xxi. 8. But the advocates of an offered gospel, sometimes adduce the following words as confirmatory of their erroneous views, " whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." These words are not descriptive of God waiting for man, but show with what sovereignty he communicates liberty to the soul of a law-condemned, conscience-condemned, and sin-sick soul. God said, " Let there be light," when calling forth the creation works into existence ; but we cannot suppose that he was waiting for the darkness to do a something. Far otherwise, " let there be light," was his Almighty fiat, by which he majestically ushered light into the world. And when God has by his Spirit shown a sinner his ruin, guilt, and misery ; brought him to behold • the blackness, and darkness, and tempest," of Mount Sinai; made him hear " the sound of a trumpet," every note of which speaks God's justice, sin's desert, and law's curse ; and " the voice of Moses' words," crying, " pay me that thou owest, pay me that thou owest ;" the sinner then becomes willing to receive that salvation which removes his guilt, satisfies stern justice, answers all the law's demands, brings a full payment to Moses, and raises him out of his ruin. And God speaks liberty in his soul, saying, "let him take of the water of life freely :" it is the " set time," the appointed" period, the " longed" for- moment fixed upon in the counsels of heaven, that this willing sinner should be made free. Therefore, as in the old creation " he spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast," so in the new creation, " God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in the heart of this willing sinner, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. Here then we discover, to have a will to that which is good is a blessing given in mercy, and communicated in power ; and is not that which a sinner is left to work in himself.
If then man by nature has no will to be saved in God's way ; if a will to be saved comes from the Lord : if' a will to be saved is not left for a sinner to work in himself; and if every man is willing to be saved in the day of God's power; that gospel which supposes God depends upon man is fallacious : an offered gospel does so: then an offered gospel is contrary to Gods Word and Will.
An offered gospel contradicts itself. What is the meaning of gospel? Glad tidings. What are these tidings? Pardon, Justification, Sanctification, Redemption, and Glory. For what are these blessings ? For 'all who believe Acts xvi. 31; Who are' they that 'will believe . As many as are ordained to eternal life, Acts xiii. 48. Why are these tidings denominated glad tidings ? Because they are bestowed upon, secured for, and wrought in all the obiecta of electing love by Jehovah, ' in his Trinity of Persons ; independent of creature merit--creature wisdom-creature seeking creature asking -or creature diligence. So that God the Father in sovereignty declares, " I , will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me." I will set up one shepherd over' them," into whose hands I ' will give my people, " and he shall feed them" with my pardoning love through his redeeming blood ; ." even my servant David, David's Lord and David's son; "he shall feed them," with the counsels of my heart as seen in his person, with the purposes of my mind as known in his life, with the honours of my law as discovered in his death, and with the glory of my designs as exhibited iii his exaltation. " I will make with them a covenant of peace," in their covenant head, the Shepherd who shall feed them, " and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land," will cause the reigning power of in-dwelling corruption to cease, so that it may annoy but shall not destroy my true-born children ; "they shall dwell safely in the wilderness," notwithstanding their enemies, conflicts, and dangers ; "and sleep in the woods" I will occasionally indulge them with my smile upon earth, and as the effect thereof, they shall repose upon my bosom while traveling a waste howling wilderness. Thus we see the blessings of the gospel given in sovereignty, and not one. word can be found about the gift of these unspeakable blessings depending upon any act, skill or worth of the creature.
God the Son, in securing to his people an interest in 'the blessings given, does it in sovereignty. Thus he says, "my Father worketh hitherto and I work." When he healed the man who had, a " withered band," he did not ask him to raise it first, but said to him, " stretch forth thy hand," " and it was restored whole like the other;" and when he raised up the widow's son that was dead, he did not not tell him to move first, but, said he, "young man, I say unto thee, arise," " and be that was dead sat up and began to speak." So Christ "bowed the heavens, and came down" without creature aid ; " he travelled in the greatness of, his strength," without creature asking ; he " laid down his life of himself," so that none took it from him, he therefore did it without creature wisdom. And declares, " mine own arm brought salvation, and of the people there was none with me ;'; therefore none contributed to it. And as to his people's meriting this great work, the following is his description of them--" My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high bill." No sin but what they indulged in, and no guilt but what they contracted.
God the Holy Ghost works this salvation in the souls of the elect in sovereignty, by his quickening,' illuminating, enlarging, and reviving power.
Does the holy Ghost quicken ? This does not depend upon creature merit, for, says the apostle, " you bath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." Nor upon creature diligence, for, says Christ, " it is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.'.'
Does the Holy Ghost illuminate ? This does not depend upon creature wisdom, for; says the psalmist, " the entrance of 'thy word giveth light," proving that all is darkness antecedently, and consequently, that there is no wisdom. And the apostle, writing to the spiritual Hebrews, says " after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions ;" which shows that the illuminating power of the Holy Ghost does not depend upon creature seeking, for neither the spiritual Hebrews, nor God's people generally, are so in earnest after God, ad to " endure a great fight of affliction" till they are " illuminated." "After ye were illuminated ye endured," are the apostle's words.
Does the Holy Ghost grant enlargement of soul to such as are in bondage ? This. does not depend upon creature wisdom, nor creature merit, for if so David could not have said after his awful fall, " I will sing of thy righteousness," Psalm li. 14. Nor would he have cried, " I am shut up, and cannot come forth," " bring my soul out of prison that I may praise thy name," if be knew it depended upon himself.
Does the Holy Ghost revive his people after a season of darkness, barrenness, and weakness ?
All rests upon his own sovereignty. Thus he says, " I form the light and create darkness;" and the psalmist says, "lie maketh the barren woman to keep house." He maketh the barren Gentiles to form a vital portion of his furily, and his barren people to rejoice in their portion. " To them that have no might he increaseth strength," by raising them upon the wings of inward evidences and heavenly earnests, so that they can. " mount up" into the atmosphere of gospel liberty, and " sing, in the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord."
If then the gospel is good tidings because it proclaims blessings that are given to secured for, and wrought in the souls of all interested in them, independent of creature merit, creature ' wisdom, creature seeking, creature asking, or creature diligence ; then that gospel which gives an opposite view of these things is not " good tidings." An offered gospel does do so; -therefore an offered gospel is a contradiction to itself, and cannot be "the gospel of the ever blessed God," for " be- is not the author of confusion," I Cor. xiv. 23, Therefore an offered gospel is contrary to God's Word and Will.
An offered gospel supposes God false.' For its advocates represent God loving all -men-universally with the same love, when, in fact, hi' hates some. We read, " known unto God are all his works from the beginning," Acts xv. 18. He therefore knew that his work with some men was to give them up to the delusions of their own hearts ; as he says himself, " 1 also will choose their delusions," Isaiah lxi. 4. He knew that his work with some men was to be angry, as we read, "He is angry with, the wicked every day," Psalm vii. 11. He knew that it is his work " to turn the wicked into hell, and all the nations that forget him," Psalm ix. 17. He knew that it is his work " to punish some with everlasting destruction from his presence," 2 These. i. 9. He knew that it is his work to appoint some to " stumble at the word, being disobedient," I Peter ii. 8. and declares, " I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument to his work, and I have created the waster to destroy," Isaiah liv. 11. Therefore to offer Pardon, Justification, Sanctification, Redemption, and Glory, to such, would be to mock them with words of peace while the design is mared, with the shadow, of love while the substance is hatred, with the shell of salvation while the kernel is damnation. Such an exhibition of him, " who is of one mind," is enough to strike a God-fearing soul with horror; yet this horrid exhibition is the essence of an offered gospel, PAINTED WITH UNIVERSAL MERCY AND GENERAL REDEMPTION. But it is not thus the God of love deals with his creatures. All those whom he determines upon saving, he appoints to salvation;" I Thess. v. 9. for all whom be appoints (to salvation, Christ becomes the author of salvation, Heb. v. 9.; and all for whom be became the author of salvation, have it wrought in their souls by the Spirit of promise according to God's good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13. As God thus deals with his people he never offers salvation to them, but gives and effects it; and all whom he passed by when he chose his own in Christ before tune, were passed by when he saved his own in the fulness of time, and are passed by when he calls his own at the set time ; so that God never makes any offer to them. If then God loves some and hates others ; and if he gives to whom, and effects salvation in whom he will, but does not offer it to any, that gospel which says he loves all and hates none, and that leaves it with the creature to work salvation in himself, is not the gospel of Christ. An offered gospel does so, therefore an offered gospel is contrary to God's Word and Will.
An offered gospel robs Christ of his pre-eminence. The apostle says, " he hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." But nowhere do we read of his offering himself to the creature, yet they who offer the gospel offer Christ to the creature, he being its fulness : so that gospel offers, make Christ lower than man. For Christ could not have been an offering to God, had he not been lower than God, which he was, being " made of a woman:" he could not have rendered his manhood "a sweet-smelling savour" to God, or " a savour of rest" for God, as the margin renders Gen. viii. 21. had he not been equal to God, which he was, " for by him all things consist:" and he could not have offered himself, had there not been an inseparable union between his Godhead and his Manhood. Thus we see his Eternal Godhead the altar, his Spotless Manhood the sacrifice, and his Complex Person the priest. But to maintain that he offers himself by his ministers to the creature, is making the creature appear equal to the Creator, and degrading the blessed Jesus to be nothing at the option of sinful man. But the gospel, which is of God, decares that " in all things Christ is to have the pre-eminence." If, then, Christ cannot be offered to the creature, without giving the creature a pre-eminence above Christ, and if the true gospel says Christ is to have this pre-eminence, then that gospel which gives the creature pre-eminence robs Christ of his An offered gospel does so, Therefore an offered gospel is contrary to God's Word and Will.
An offered gospel robs Christ of his kingly dignity. He is said to be a priest upon his throne. So that all whom he redeems by his blood, he reigns over by his spirit. He has not,. therefore, to ask a sinner, " Will you have me?" Will you receive me ?"
But comes, and with a sov'reign sway,
Drives darkness, death, and hell away ;
Takes up his dwelling in the heart,
And bids each enemy depart.
" They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him," Psalm lxxii. 9. His church he will allure and bring into the wilderness, and speak comfortably or friendly to her heart," Hosea i. 14. so that she shall own his authority, seek his salvation, receive his righteousness, rejoice in his grace : " and his enemies shall lick the dust," shall contribute, under his overruling arm, to spread his fame, and minister to the well-being of his people.
If, then, Christ reigns that his people may by himself be made willing to receive his salvation, and that " his enemies shall lick the dust;" to offer it to the former, is representing him as only having the name, while destitute of the authority of a king; and to offer it to the latter, is representing him as having the appearance but not the power of a king. Whereas, God says, " I have set my king" (not under or near, but) " upon my holy hill of Zion," Psalm ii. 6., and " where the word of a king is, there is power," Eccles. v. 4. then Christ has both AUTHORITY AND POWER ; therefore that gospel which deprives him of both robs him of his kingly dignity. An offered gospel does so; therefore an offered gospel is contrary to God's Word and Will.
An offered gospel supposes God to hold out a false standard. The gospel is set forth in the Scriptures as a " standard," Isaiah xlix. 22. to attract, to lead, to confirm, and to distinguish the people of God from the world. But the advocates of an offered gospel represent God as having put the whole world of Adam's race in an ATTITUDE of reconciliation, and thus giving them all a CHANCE of heaven. But either God has reconciled the whole of Adam's race unto himself, or he has not. If he has, then they do not stand in an ATTITUDE of reconciliation, but are REALLY reconciled. If he has not, then offering it to them. is deceiving them with an appearance that God is desirous of saving them when he is not, The Lord has not, however, left us to " grope for the wall like the blind," upon this point; for he has said, by the apostle Paul, " God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," 2 Cor. v. 19. Then it is a thing done; not to be done.. But for whom? Paul says " the world." What world ? Not the whole world of Adam's race, because this reconciliation " is by Christ Jesus," ver. 18. and he does not say,. lie gave himself for all Adam's race, but " he loved the church and gave himself for it." It includes the same persons that Christ prays for when he says, " I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; for they are thine, and all mine are thine,, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." Here we find those whom Christ does not pray for, and in whom he is not glorified, are called " the world." And all these belong to the devil. Then why may not Christ's people, given to him by the Father, for whom he prayed, and in whom he will be glorified, be called " the world?" They, with equal propriety, are denominated "the world' and are the persons God bath reconciled unto himself in Christ. If, then, God has reconciled a part of the human race unto himself, and if he has not reconciled all the human race unto himself, then that gospel which represents him as having put the whole world in an attitude of reconciliation, is a false standard. And an offered gospel does so. Therefore an offered gospel is contrary to God's Word and Will.
To offer the gospel pleases a self-righteous Pharisee, because he thinks himself so wise as to have made choice of it by his own skill. It pleases a profane sinner, because he thinks he can accept it when he pleases. But it pains the heart of a saint, because it exalts the Lord Jesus so little, and flatters the creature so much. To offer the gospel pleases the devil, because he knows while human nature is fed with the thought of having much work in its own bands, man will never seek the work of God.
To offer the gospel is to act contrary to the practice of the apostles. Concerning their mode of obeying Christ's command, " go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature ;" and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, we read that they " declared the testimony of Men and brethren, what shall we do ?" And God," 1 Cor. ii. 1. " opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered," Acts xvii. 3. "Affirming these things," Titus iii. 8. " speaking," Acts xiv. 3. " teaching," Acts xviii. 11. "persuading," Acts xix. 8. and " publishing the word of the Lord," Acts xiii. 49. but nowhere do we read of their offering " the word of the Lord." Neither did they give exhortations to unregenerate men to do spiritual acts, such as to receive the word, to believe the word, or to hope in the word.
The advocates of an offered gospel sometimes produce the following portions to establish their theory : Acts ii. 38., Acts iii. 19., the parable of the supper, recorded in Matthew xxii. and Luke xiv., 2 Cor. v. 20., Mark i. 14, 15., Prov. i. 24., and Acts. viii. 22.
We will, therefore, examine each of these texts, and I humbly conceive we shall not find any encouragement for an offer system.
Acts ii. 38. Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, arm ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." By reading from the 14th verse to the 40th inclusive, the reader will perceive that the apostle, having preached the necessity and effects of God the Holy Ghost's work, then God the Father's foreknowledge and determinate counsel, and lastly God the Son's complete salvation, Jehovah the Spirit honours his free grace sermon, in which he had not made a single offer, by awakening many of the hearers, for we read, " When they heard this they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And " then," (not before " they were pricked in their heart,") Peter said unto them, "repent and be baptized every one of you." he could not baptize them until he clearly saw they possessed the grace of repentance, the inseparable accompaniment of faith. Then he adds, " the promise is unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off," (not to as many as have the gospel offered them, nor as many as ministers shall call, but) " even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Here then is no offer, no proffer, and no spiritual exhortation to unregenerate men.
Acts iii. 19. " Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." This verse contains with. in itself a refutation of an offer system ; because it speaks of repentance " when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Whatever may be the allusion of the apostle, at the time he made use of this language, to the after calamities of the dews, I can. not think that the apostle here meant that true repentance or conversion was in their own hands; for they are both the gift of God. Nor can 1 understand the apostle in any other way than as if he had said, "through ignorance ye put Christ to death, but when this vail, 2 Cor. iii. 15. shall be removed from your hearts by the awakening and illuminating power of God, ye will believe in Christ crucified, and repent of what you have done antecedent, concomitant, and subsequent to his death." The two following are parallel passages, Phil. ii. 11, 13., and Gal. ii. 20. In the former the apostle says, "work out your own Salvation, with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure." Here the apostle does not speak of working out salvation when it was not worked in, neither does he mean that the Philippians should work at salvation that it might be worked in ; but lie is exhorting living believers, who have, by a given faith, inwardly appropriated the righteousness of Christ, taking it as their own, and have the Holy Ghost dwelling in them, to bring forth the effects of righteousness, and the fruits of the Spirit, namely, love to his word, joy in his salvation, peace with God and conscience, long-suffering for the truth amidst persecution, gentleness to fellow believers, goodness in struggling with the carnality and corruption of old nature, resisting the devil and living above the world, faith in the doctrines of the gospel, meekness in enduring all reproaches for Christ's name sake, and temperance in all things, so as not to be carried away with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, Gal vi. 22, 23. And in the latter the apostle says, I live." This, strictly speaking, no man can say while in the flesh ; for self is nothing but a " body of death," Rom. vii. 24., therefore Paul corrects himself, and says, " yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Yes, this is gospel language, dear reader, and every true born child of God can adopt it as his own.
Acts xiii. 38-40. " Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached (not offered, mark,) unto you the forgiveness of sins. And by him all that believe are (vitally) justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets ; behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish : for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in nowise believe, though a man declare it unto you." Here the apostle makes no offer, but gives great encouragement to believers, and a most awful warning to others : for who can read these verses without seeing eternal election, and reprobation, written as with a sunbeam. The latter doctrine is contained in the words " ye shall in nowise believe." It was such uncompromising preaching as this, which having neither offers nor proffers, proved a "savour of death unto death" to some, and a "savour of life unto life" to others, 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.
The parable recorded Matthew xxii. and Luke xiv. is often referred to for the purpose of establishing the theory of gospel offers.
I think the primary design of the parable might be to set forth, first, the speedy destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans ; secondly, the dispersion of the Jews among all nations; and thirdly, the call of the Gentiles. " He sent forth his armies ;" the Roman soldiers " destroyed those murderers;" scattered the Jews over the whole world ; " burned up their city ;" totally overthrew Jerusalem. " He sent his servants into the highways, streets, and lanes," sent his apostles and subsequent preachers of the gospel into every nation, language, people, and tongue ; " compel them to come in," set forth the richness and abundance of the feast God has made upon his holy mountain ; and the word shall prove, under God the Holy Ghost, sufficient in itself to make them partake. The spiritual meaning of the parable I consider to be as follows : " A certain man," the God-man, Glory-man, Redeeming man, Christ Jesus, " made a great supper," for his wife the church ; upon electing, uniting, sanctifying, redeeming, justifying, regenerating, and glorifying love ; " and sent his servants," the preachers of the everlasting gospel, " at supper time," at suited seasons, " to say unto them that were bidden," to all within hearing of the preacher's voice, " come," come listen to what the gospel says, " for all things are now ready ;" the gospel speaks of a salvation quite finished, a righteousness that needs no creature-merit, a perfect work that requires no additions, " the all, with one consent, began to make excuse, there are various excuses for hating the gospel of God's grace; but only " one consent," namely, old nature. " So that servant came and shower his Lord these things," a gospel minister mourns before the Lord while he beholds a free grace salvation slighted. Then the master of the house being angry," God is angry with the wicked every day, " said to his servant, go into the streets" of regenerating grace, " and into the lanes" of conviction for sin, " and bring in hither the poor,'' who find they have nothing of their own to bring before God for acceptance, and " the mained," on whose conscience sin has been laid as-an heavy burden, and " the halt," who are at a stand, eagerly enquiring the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, and " the blind," who cannot clearly see a free grace salvation, and have not yet discovered interest in atoning blood and justifying righteousness. "And the servant said, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room." All whom thou hast owned, and blessed our message to, seek thee according to thy word, and yet the number of thine elect is not accomplished. "And the Lord said unto the servant, go out into the highways" of predestinating mercy, redeeming power, and sovereign love; as well as into the field of creature-nothingness, where, under the "hedges" of electing grace and quickening strength, you will find more sinners than heretofore, who have a right to the supper, and by my Spirit's constraining power, " compel them to come in that my house may be filled;" that my counsels of old may be seen as full of faithfulness and truth ; that my purposes may be known as ending in my glory; that my arm may be felt delivering my people ; and that my church may be a glorious body, "having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing." In this parable not one word can I find to establish " an offer system," but an abundance to prove, first, the everlasting distinction between the seed of Christ and the seed of the serpent. Mark, the serpent's seed are , bidden", to listen to the gospel message. Why are they so bidden, seeing they never did and never will have any saving interest in the contents of the message ? Because this gospel comes from their Creator, and they are bound, as creatures, to listen to it, even though they have no part nor lot therein. Christ says, "Preach the gospel to every creature :" not that every creature will be saved, nor that God desires to save every creature, but it is a message from the Ever blessed God, and all his intelligent creatures in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, shall sooner or later hear it. For when angels, men, and devils, shall be assembled at the judgment day, the gospel will be preached in -these words, "I Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." And if a sinner never heard the gospel before, lie will then ; though if not interested in it before, he will not be then ; if he did not love it before, he will not then ; and if he murmured at it when he heard a mere man preach it, and died without a saving interest in it, he will murmur when he hears the Son of God preach it in all the glory of Deity, the splendor of Royalty, the Majesty of dominion, and the solemnity of a Judge.
Secondly, to prove God is not disappointed when man slights his truth, for "many be called, but few chosen." Many are called by ministers, many are called by their parents, many are called by their neighbors and acquaintance, many are called by churches, many are called by ordinances, are baptized in the name of each person of the glorious Trinity, and sit down, eat, and drink in Christ's presence, whom he never chose as his sheep, whom the Father never chose as his children, whom the Spirit never chose as his temples, and who never spiritually chose God.
And lastly, that effectual calling does not depend upon the creature's skill and zeal in preaching, nor upon the creature's pliability and readiness in hearing, for " not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
2 Cor. v. 20, " Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." These words were addressed to persons whom the apostle terns " brethren," because they are the persons, who, in his first epistle, he says, are "called to he saints," and who had " the testimony of Christ" confirmed in them:" and consequently, were persons who spiritually understood what reconciliation in their own soul's experience meant. Therefore, this is not an exhortation to unregenerate persons, but to believers, who are daily contracting guilt upon their consciences, by which they often get into a mist of doubts and fears ; they doubt their interest in the forgiveness of God, and fear to approach his throne. The Corinthian church, as a. body, had been or were in this state when the apostle Paul wrote to them : they had been tolerating drunkenness and adultery among their members, by which they had brought a burden upon their consciences, and distress into their minds. To such burdened and soul-dejected believers, he holds out the encouraging truth ; " God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." " He vas in Christ," and there he beheld his people from everlasting, reconciling them unto himself, notwithstanding the sight he had of all their wanderings, sins, and inconsistencies. And as if the apostle said, (dwelling with the most ecstatic pleasure upon the precious truth of reconciliation in Christ) ; " be has done it, brethren, and never will undo it, and he has done it in Christ, where there is nothing but perfection ; he has done according to his own sovereign pleasure, and he declares, I change not, therefore, once reconciled ever reconciled; for he hath put upon him the iniquity of us all, and never will impute it to us again ;" and "he hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation:" sent us forth to preach this part of his gospel as well as the rest we, therefore, as ambassadors for Christ, are commissioned with these heavenly tidings; and we must say, you are the persons interested in this great blessing, because, by the fruits you have brought forth " in sorrowing after a godly sort," vii. 11. we know ye are " new creatures in Christ Jesus," v. 17. Therefore "we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God," that is, banish your doubts and fears, and quiet your souls with the sweet consideration that " Christ was made sin for you, that you might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Mark i. 14, 15. " Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at band: repent ye, and believe the gospel," An advocate of an offered gospel, to whom I once said, I do not find any warrant in God's word to exhort unregenerate sinners to believe it replied, I should suppose you would require no stronger warrant than the example of Christ, of whom it is said, now, after John was, put in prison, Jesus came," &c. &c. I really supposed the moment I read his reply, that he was a Socinian,-*
* Most probably this page may meet the eve of the learned gentleman to whom I reefer : and if so, I hope he will dismiss from his mind any idea that either in my private letter or in this place, I intend offering him the slightest insult : he possesses talents which I both admire and respect ; and literary acquirements, which, if wholly engaged in unfolding the sovereignty, certainty, invincibility, and fulness of grace, reigning through the person of our excellent Immanuel, would make me esteem it a distinguishing honour to sit at his feet. But while he points me to Mark i. 14, 15. to establish the tenet of universal exhortation to spiritual exercises, I must take the liberty of informing him, I think he overlooks Christ's Godhead, and hope God has taught me, upon this point, a little better than to tell dead men to do living actions.
for it savours uncommonly of that heresy. Christ could say, " I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes;- but I do not remember that I have any authority to adopt the same language, and thank God for reprobating men, though Christ gives all his true disciples authority to thank for personal election, for, says he, " rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Christ said " repent," and he who " taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes," Mark i. 22. whose " word was with power," Luke iv. 32. did not speak in vain Simon and Andrew followed him" when he " called them;" James and John went "after him" when 11 he called them;" and all his hearers repented when his almighty power wrought repentance in their souls. Christ said to the stormy ocean, "be still," and "immediately there was a calm;" but where is the minister to whom Christ has given authority thus to act ? He could with a touch heal the lepers, with a word raise the dead, and when he pleased cast out devils: but he has given no authority to his ministers, since the primitive age of the church, to " go and do likewise."
His word is sovereign, rich,
Invincible, and free ;
His very touch is life,
And at his word
All nature sinks or rises.
But to this it has been said, by the aforementioned Advocate, "just as well may l argue that you and I are not to resist the temptations of the devil, because we have not the divine nature of Christ : these two ideas are parallel to each other."
In answer, I would observe, to resist the devil we are commanded, I Peter v. 9. but to do divine acts we are not commanded, therefore these two ideas are not parallel. But though we are commanded to resist the devil, let my reader remember, we cannot do this as Christ did. The complexity of the Redeemer's person is very conspicuous, both when he was tempted in the wilderness and when Peter rebuked him. - In the former instance we behold him answer as man, " it is written," "it is written:" and when he had gone through all the temptations to which his people are exposed, namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, he said, " get thee hence, Satan." And, in the latter instance, after Jesus showed to his disciples the sufferings through which he must pass, "Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, this be far from thee, Lord : this shall not be unto thee." "But he turned and said unto Peter, get thee behind me, Satan : thou art an offence unto me." Here we see his omniscience discovering the devil in Peter, and his omnipotence in silencing the Arch fiend; but his manhood is very evidently engaged in sympathizing with Peter, for though Christ rebuked Satan in him,. Peter is not reproved at all. If then the complexity of Christ is so conspicuous in his resistance to Satan, you and I, reader, cannot resist him exactly as he did ; but by virtue of union to his person, we shall derive strength, whereby we may resist him in the hour of trial, if so be we are upon our watch tower. Therefore the complexity of Christ is a sufficient reason why he addressed men dead in sin in such Language as is to be found in Mark i. 15. And I cannot conceive that any man is warranted by Christ's commission, " go ye and preach the gospel to every creature,'' to offer it to any, nor to exhort natural men to receive it in a spiritual way.
But we will now proceed to Proverbs i. 24. t` Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my, reproof," &c. Here it is thought by some, Christ is described as offering his salvation to men ; but, because they will not accept of it, he condemns them at the " last great day:" but if we read from verse 10. we shall, I think, discover that there is no " gospel offer" made in this portion of God's word ; and that the allusion is to a period before the great day of God's wrath comes. Let us, then, go through the whole, from verse 10. inclusive.
" My Son," chosen, adopted, and loved in Christ, ".if sinners entice thee," either by false doctrine or corrupt practices," consent thou not." " If they say, come with us," come to our system, come to our religion, join in with us as members of the same society, "let us lay wait for blood," by watching for the falls and blunders of God's saints; "let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause;" let us reproach the lovers of free grace as Antinomians, and so falsely accuse their good conversation in Christ; " let us swallow them tip alive as the grave, and whole as A hose that go down to the pit;" let us do them all the evil we can ; "we shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil," we shall gain a good name among most professors, and a large circle of friends among the respectable. " Cast in thy lot among us, let us all have one purse," let us drop all differences in sentiment, and have as much of worldly dealings with each other as possible. " My son," chosen to form a part of Jehovah's portion, "walk not thou in the way with them," not only do not become one of them, but shun even the appearance of evil ; " refrain thy foot from their path;" do not court their company, nor seek their good word, " for their feet run to evil ;" however pleasing and attracting may be their external appearance, they are earnestly pursuing the path that will lead to hell; and " make haste to shed blood," avail themselves of every opportunity of cruelly persecuting God's saints. "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird," or as the margin renders it, " surely in vain the net is spread in the eyes of everything that bath , a wing." In vain do they lay snares for those of my people, who have discernment enough to see through them, and strength to resist them. " And they lay wait for their own blood :" while they are contriving to injure the people of God, they are secretly bringing evil upon themselves; " they thus lurk privily for their own lives." So are the ways of every one who is greedy of gain;" such are the ways, plots, and schemes of men to whom gain is godliness, and who will sacrifice principle or truth in order to obtain some worldly ends, " which taketh away the life of the owners thereof:" absorbed with the world, spiritual life is not known by them.
" Wisdom crieth without," the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom of God in a mystery, crieth or unfolds himself in the preaching of the everlasting gospel. The word crieth, carries the idea of proclaiming, in the manner of an herald, the will of the king: not of offrin the will of the king. Precisely so, gospel ministers go forth, preaching the gospel whenever and wherever the Lord opens a way or door by which they can preach. " She uttereth her voice in the streets," wherever people arefound who will listen to it; " she crieth in the chief place of concourse," in the appointed places for assembling, " in the opening of the gates," in every institution or ordinance of the gospel; " in the city, among the regenerated, called, converted, and believing people of God, who have been, or who are, persecuted as before noticed; "she uttered her words, saying, how long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?" How long, ye upright ones, who are regularly sitting under the ministry of my word, will ye be dreading the adversary, "and fearing every day be Cause of the fury of the oppressor;" "and the scorners delight in their scorning?" And ye who are persecuting my people, how long will ye pursue this evil? "Turn you, at my reproof." Turn, my people, from your doubts, and fears, according to my word : rely upon my arm for strength, nor fear the enemy ; but I know your weakness, and how incapable you are in yourselves of obeying my commands ; therefore " I will pour out my spirit unto you," and thus work in you to will and to do of my good pleasure. And, ye scorners, turn from persecuting and reproaching my people, for, "God is jealous and the Lord revengeth ;" they possess the power of divine things in their souls, but you do not. I will defend them, and their enemies shall not go unpunished. In order, therefore, that you may know my pleasure, " I will pour out my Spirit unto you," I will make known to you, by the preaching of the gospel, the mind of my Spirit concerning the well-being of my people, and the confusion that shall seize their foes. And then, we must consider the judgments of God, overtaking the foes of his people either in providence, by disappointments and losses, or by a stinging guilty conscience, or in pains of body, the same as in the cases of Cain who slew his brother, Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, the men who cast Shadrach, Zleshach, and Abednego, into the furnace, Daniel's enemies, Saul King of Israel, Herod who was eaten of worms, and the Jews engaged in the crucifixion of Christ, who lost their city and temple as the consequence. All this I say must be considered as implied, then the words which follow will come in Because I have called" you to desist from injuring my people, "and ye refused," " I have stretched out my hand" to shelter my children, "and no man regarded," none changed from his cruelty to them. " But ye have set at nought all my counsel" concerning my delight in them, and not in you, " and would none of my reproof for their protection :" I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you." Here then I find nothing to establish " an offer system," but much that goes against it.
The last portion we have to notice is, Acts viii. 22. " Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee." This has been thought a very conclusive proof, that spiritual exhortations to unregenerate men, and offers of the gospel, are scriptural. But Peter told Simon Magus, at the time he gave the exhortation, that " he had neither part nor lot in the matter, and that he was in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity;- therefore I do not think the apostle alluded to spiritual but natural repentance, anticipating the judgment of God to fall upon Simon Magus, for the particular sin of offering money for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Peter does not tell him to repent of his sins, but " repent of this thy wickedness." Natural repentance is referred to in Judges ii. 6. where it reads, " the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, there is one tribe cut off from Israel this day." They had not a spiritual matter to concern them, but that which was wholly natural, therefore their repentance was natural. And Solomon refers to the same sort of repentance, when he says, " If they (the children of Israel) shall bethink themselves, in the land whither they are carried captives, and repent," and make supplication unto thee, in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, " we have sinned and done perversely, we have committed wickedness, and so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward this land which thou gayest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name : then hear thou their prayer, and their supplication, in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause," 1 Kings 47, 48, 49. All this repentance, supplication, and prayer, which Solomon anticipated Israel addressing to God, must be natural;* for he supposes them looking towards the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple he had built, while in the land of their enemies. Whereas, to be spiritual in our repentance, we must be looking to Christ the land of promise, where the majestic mountains of divine attributes, the fertile valleys of sorrow, sufferings, and death, the flowing rivers of mercy, grace, and love, the wide-spreading firmament of an everlasting covenant, and the wholesome atmosphere of gospel liberty, are beheld in all their order, suitability, virtue, preciousness, and glory. We must be looking at the vision of peace through the blood of the cross. And our attention must be fixed upon the chief corner stone which infinite wisdom contrived, and almighty skill fixed, in the counsels of heaven, for the resting place of all the "precious stones" of that mystical temple, which forms the everlasting dwelling place of Jehovah. Nineveh, as I have before noticed, naturally repented, and Nineveh was naturally saved ; and so natural repentance God has required; and has been practiced; where no spiritual act has been commanded, nor one spiritual desire after God existed. Therefore Peter's exhortation to Simon Magus being wholly natural, is no proof that spiritual exhortations to unregenerate men are scriptural.
And now, reader, I think you must, if taught of God, see that an offered gospel is contrary to God's word and will ; and should your eyes be open to clearly discover the unscriptural nature of an offered gospel, what a mercy it will be if you are not taken with the delusion. An " offer system" is Satan's snare to entrap unwary souls, either by lulling them to sleep by a supposed strength of their own, or -by frightening the lovers of grace: it is Satan's provender, with which he puffs up the pride of the formalist and blind guide. Beware of this wile of Satan, and be not weary in well doing, for in clue season we shall reap, if we faint not," Gal, vi. 9. And do you ask me what it is to be well doing? I answer, it is to be resting all your hopes of heaven upon the Mediatorial and Meritorious work of the dear Redeemer; to be resting all your strength upon the Covenant faithfulness of the Holy Ghost; to be looking out for the light of God's countenance; to be standing still to see God's salvation; to be searching the word to discover the land-marks of Canaan ; to be often alone, for Jacob's name was changed when he was alone ; to be brought to lick the dust at Christ's feet; and to be watching the way the Lord has led you : and be not started at the little word if, for that is not a conditional, but a delineating if. It is something like a post on the road, telling you which is the way, and if there were no such directing post, it would not prove you were out of the road: then remember the words, " f we faint not," mean, our not giving up the pursuit of a free grace salvation proves we are saved faint you may feel, but so faint as to give up all your faith, all your hope, all your love, and all your desires after Christ, you cannot if born from above, because your are " born not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever," i Peter i. 23. then be not weary in well doing."
*" It may be objected that Solomon must have his eye upon spiritual repentance, for he speaks of those who pray to the Lord, as knowing " every man the plague of his own heart." But when Solomon prays for the Lord to listen to those who shall know every man the plague of his own heart," it is that the praying Israelites referred to might fear the L rd. And when he prays the Lord to listen to the national supplication of Israel, it is that the Lord should maintain their cause. Su that the objects being different, the supplications referred to are of two sorts, the one national and the therefore natural, the other individual and there fore spiritual,
The Christian armed with Christ.
" Take unto you the whole Armour of God," Eph. vi. 13.
Among other characters which God's believing people bear, that of a soldier is certainly one of the most prominent. And the apostle, speaking oŁ himself and fellow believers, says, "Though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh : for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity. every thought unto the obedience of Christ," 2 Cor. x. 3, 5. So that though the Christian is one who knows what it is to " groan, being burdened;" yet there are precious seasons when he knows what it is to "take the whole armour of God," by which he " withstands, in the evil day" of adversity, temptation, affliction, and persecution ; " and having done all" that is truly good by Christ living in him, he stands, a monument of grace amidst the winds of false doctrine, the clouds of dark providences, the tempests of reproach, the floods of temptation, and the hurricanes of persecution. And as all the strength the believer possesses is from his Covenant head, the Lord Jesus Christ, so the armour he is privileged to wear is none other than Christ : thus it is that the apostle Peter exhorted the saints to whom he wrote in these words, "For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind,'' I Peter iv. 1. And the apostle Paul speaks of the "armour of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left," 2 Corn vi. 7. as well as of "the armour of light," Romans. xiii. 12. Here then the Christian is described as armed, first, with the sufferings of Christ; secondly, with the righteousness of Christ; and thirdly, with the light of Christ. First, then, let us consider how the Christian becomes armed with the sufferings of Christ. And in order to have clear views of this, we shall observe seven distinct positions of the Lord Jesus Chris in his life on earth. First, Christ passed through all the temptations of the devil, rather than not feel for his people amidst Satan's attacks. The devil tempted him to despair of God's supplying him with what he needed for the support of life, and suited his bait to the fittest season : for when the devil said, " command that these stones be made bread," Christ had been fasting forty days and forty nights, and hungered." He tempted Christ to presumption, and in this temptation suited the snare to Christ's situation ; for being "on a pinnacle of the temple," the devil said to him, "cast thyself down : for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." He tempted Christ to infidelity, blasphemy, and covetousness, for suiting his gin to Christ's circumstances, by taking him up into an " exceeding high mountain, and shewing him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, he saith unto him, " all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship -me." Therefore Christ's followers cannot be tempted with unbelief, presumption, infidelity, blasphemy, worldly-mindedness, pride, covetousness, discontentment, fleshly indulgencies, carelessness, or hypocrisy ; but Jesus can feel for them in these fiery attacks of the wicked one, and proportion his people's strength to the hour of trial. Neither can the sympathizing, delivering, and soul-supporting power of Christ, be known, unless we pass through the temptations of the devil. The apostle says, " now for a season, if need be ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." There is, dear believer, a needs be for passing through the temptations of the devil, for these temptations so stir up the scum and filth of our hearts, that we more fully discover the preciousness of Christ. Through temptation how precious Christ becomes as a prophet, teaching us the wonders of his love, which fixed upon us, in full view of our filthiness, the riches of his mercy, which, by his own blood, removes all our defilement; and the glories of his grace, by which we are supplied with faith to realize interest in all his undertakings on our behalf. Should we contract guilt upon our consciences while passing through temptation, how precious he becomes as our Priest, when faith is drawn into exercise upon his atoning death and prevalent intercession, and the Holy Ghost gives us to know, in our soul's experience, the blood of sprinkling. And should we be enabled to stand, how precious he is beheld by us after the temptation, as our King keeping up his authority, dignity, and power in the soul, and preserving us amidst a thousand snares, or delivering us from falling into some particular sin, towards which we were strongly leaning : and we must be sure nothing but his own power kept us, for the devil urged us so vehemently, the world drew us so unexpectedly, the sin presented itself in forms so pleasing to the flesh, and we all but fell into the deep-laid snare of the powers of darkness. Why did we not fall ? Because Christ reigns. Thus heavenly wisdom, atoning worth, cleansing blood, and reigning power, are learnt by passing through the temptations of the devil.
Secondly, Christ passed through all the miseries of this world, rather than not know the circumstances of his people. " He had not where to lay his head," Matt. viii. 20. " He was hungry," but could obtain nothing to eat, Mark xi. 12. and thirsty, but was refused water to drink, John iv. 9. So poor that he had not wherewith to pay the tax gatherers, Matt. xvii. 25. Many of his professed friends turned their backs upon him, John vi. 66. His real friends were ashamed of and forsook him, Matt. xxvi. 56, 74. Was tossed about in a storm, Mark iv. 38. Was suspected as a deceiver even by his best friends, Luke xxiv. 21. And knew what it was to groan in the Spirit and he troubled, John xii. 33. Therefore Christ's true disciples may be brought into such circumstances as to be distressed for want of the common necessaries of life, be tossed about with a multitude of cares and afflictions, be oppressed with poverty, be wounded with unfounded suspicions concerning their character, be made to groan by those who appeared the kindest friends becoming the strongest foes, be constrained to sigh because uniting with a professed church of Christ, expecting to be sympathized with in affliction, to be comforted in sorrow, or loved in adversity: they find in the room of these things malice, envy, wrath, strife, hatred, variance, and dissimulation; yea, they may be troubled on every side, yet Jesus has been here before them, and will sooner or later appear, to his children's joy: for the promise is sure, " in the world ye shall (not you may) have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." No "good cheer" without "tribulation." "Good cheer" is always welcome when matters have appeared cheerless, and cannot be understood by any but those who are " troubled on every side."
Thirdly. Christ passed through all the reproaches and persecutions of the world, rather than be ashamed of one of his people. The publicans and worst of sinners were generally his chief attendants ; this caused the Pharisees to be perpetually murmuring at him; and on one occasion they exclaimed, " this man receiveth sinners." It is a most blessed truth that Christ does receive sinners, and none but sinners, for said he, " I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." But the meaning of the Pharisees was, that he was an Antinomian, and loved sin. Yet Jesus would not send the "sinners" away, but endured the reproach cast upon him by the Pharisees, rather than be ashamed of one of the purchase of his blood ; and spoke a parable for the encouragement of the poor creatures around him, wherein he showed there was more joy in heaven over one of these despised and falsely called Antinomians, than there was over the whole body of self-righteous Pharisees.'. When the poor woman went into Simon's house to wash Christ's feet, wipe them with the hairs of her head, and anoint him with ointment, Simon the Pharisee began to think Christ was an Antinomian, and to suspect him as a deceiver; for, said he " This man, if' he were a prophet, would have known who and what woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner." But Jesus endured the reproach rather than be ashamed of this poor sin-sick soul, and said to her, "thy sins are forgiven," " go in peace." When Christ opened the eyes of the man born blind, the Pharisees immediately declared, he was not of God, and said, " we know this man (Christ) is a sinner." But Jesus passed through the reproach, not being ashamed to acknowledge the man born blind, as an object of his eternal love, and reveals himself unto him. The constant cry of the Pharisees concerning Christ was, " he hath a devil, and is mad;" and their scheme was, " that if any man confessed that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue," John ix. 22. And the cry of the Pharisees now concerning the followers of Christ, who love a finished salvation in preference to human merit, who love imputed righteousness in preference to common morality, and who love the strength of Christ's Spirit in preference to their own, that they are "devils and madmen," Antinomians and "bigots," " narrow-minded and dangerous." The scheme of the Pharisees now is the same as it was in Christ's day. If any man confesses Christ in the sovereignty of his love, the efficacy of his blood, and the power of his grace, he is refused the society of the "pious, merit-mongering, free-willers" around him. Jesus, however, was not ashamed of his children then, amidst the reproaches that were heaped upon him, and all who know the power of his truth refuse to be ashamed of him, when in their right minds. I say, when in their right minds, for sometimes shame adheres to them so close, that they would sooner say or do anything than their principles should be known. But though they may endeavour to smother the candle of life in their souls by the bushels*Mat.v. xv. of "fleshly fear," the candle shall burn so bright and so powerful, that fleshly fear itself shall sooner or later be obliged to give way, and "their light shall shine before men." What Sampson said to the Philistines in his day, will apply, with equal propriety, to the world of carnal professors in all ages, " if ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle." If the Philistines had not been along with Samson's wife, they would not have understood his riddle, for it was to his wife he told the secret. And what was this riddle?
Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." Yes, this is the riddle that our spiritual Samson, the Lord Jesus Christ, reveals to his wife the Church ; the riddle which will be an everlasting task to Arminians, Infidels, and Carnal men : but the riddle which will cause God's Church to shout throughout eternity. A great writer "I think Toplady" has somewhere such an observation as this, " Satan neither stole nor forced his way into paradise." He was by Christ observed, watched, and well known in his hellish plot to ruin our first parents, and through his permission Satan entered Eden then the roaring lion, in the shape of a serpent, eat up all their innocency, perfection, and obedience ; and by his mighty force overcame our earthly head. But this was the way, the only way, the high way, by which " the body of Christ" should become meat for his redeemed, and the way by which should be opened up the honey of eternal, electing, and sovereign love, which determined upon owning them as sons to God, in view of the Adam fall transgression. This " sweetness," this " meat," could never have been known, had Adam remained perfect. Salvation could never have been sung, had Adam remained perfect. Christ could not have been heard of, had Adam remained perfect. Heaven could never have been anticipated, had Adam remained perfect. Grace could never have been seen, had Adam remained perfect Mercy could never have flowed, had Adam remained perfect. We should have only had a Creature righteousness, had Adam remained perfect ; but now is imputed to us Creator righteousness. We should have only had Natural holiness, had Adam remained perfect ; but now a way is opened up by which we have Spiritual holiness. We should have only had an Earthly nature, had Adam remained perfect; but now we are made "partakers of the Divine nature." Who then that feels the sweetening efficacy of these things, can refrain from joining in with the apostle, "God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin," Romans vi. 17. Thus, as the poet sings,
Sin for my good shall work and win,
Though' tis not good for me to sin."
This great secret the church of God learns by passing through affliction, persecution, and reproach ; but if the Religious Philistines know anything about it, they derive all their light and knowledge from Christ's wife. Thus the " ungodly borroweth and payeth not again :" they light up the lamps of their profession from the cal of life in those they despise and persecute, but when the cry is made, " Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him," there will be no borrowing then, and their lamps will be gone out ; and true believers will then know the meaning of that promise, " he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed."
Fourthly, Christ endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, rather than not do good to his people. When he went up to the temple to teach, " some said, he is a good man ; others said nay : but he deceiveth the people." When he spoke of Moses' law, the people immediately cried, " thou hast a devil." When he referred to his atoning death, by which all the law's demands were paid, saying, " I lay down my life for the sheep," the Pharisees exclaimed, " He hath a devil and is mad ; why hear ye him?" When one was brought unto him possessed with a devil, blind and dumb, and he healed him insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw, the Pharisees cried out " this fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils." When he said, "my sheep shall never perish ; they took up stones to stone him." When he was arraigned at Pilate's bar, " they blindfolded him, and struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, prophecy who is it that smote thee ?" " And many other things blasphemously spoke they against him," Luke xxii. 65. Yet through all this, and a vast quantity more of the same character, the Son of God passed, fixed upon the good he was determined to communicate to his people. And all the followers of Christ must expect the same sort of treatment, " for if they have called the Master of the house, Beelzebub, they cannot be very kind or courteous to them of his household." " John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, he bath a devil." Why was this ? Because he had the truth of Christ in him, which all the devil's children hate being fond of their father. " The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous, and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." Why was this ? He had the truth of his Father's counsels in him concerning his people's salvation ; and this the serpent's seed cannot bare, because God's "secret is only with them that fear him."
Fifthly, Christ laboured night and day rather than that his people should have one thing to do in order to get to heaven. Thus ' it is recorded of him that he went about doing good," Acts x. 38. and "continued all night in prayer to God," Luke vi. 12. It was at such seasons that, as Dr. Watts sweetly sings,
Cold mountain'; and the midnight air
Witness'd the fervour of his prayer."
Every sigh the dear Redeemer heaved, every groan which issued from his heart, every miracle he wrought, every sermon he preached, and every reproach he endured, was for the purpose of saving his people freely, fully, and everlastingly. And none who " follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," can hope in any other work than his.
Sixthly, Christ permitted himself to be betrayed by one of his professed friends, rather than deceive his people. Judas could not have betrayed Christ had not Christ permitted him, though Christ did not infuse this sin into him, for we read, when " Satan entered into Judas" to strengthen him in his intention to betray Christ, then it was the Prince of Life said, " that thou doest, do quickly." And when one of Christ's disciples drew his sword to defend his master in Gethsemane's garden, Jesus said, " put up thy sword into its place : thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels ? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be ?" He taught the prophet, seven hundred years before he came in, the flesh, to proclaim to his church concerning himself : " He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth : he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth," Isaiah liii. 7. And Jesus did not open his mouth against Judas the betrayer, and his band ; but " knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth," saying to them, " this is your hour, and the power of darkness." It is your hour when your wicked determinations shall be permitted to be done, and the hour when the powers of darkness shall be permitted to triumph ; and if the powers of darkness were permitted to have dominion over Christ for a season, in order that he might crush the machinations of hell, and bring glory to himself and people, by a fuller display of his eternal power and Godhead, no wonder if Jehovah does see fit at times, to permit the enemies of his people to cry for a season, " ah, ah, so would we have it-;" in order that his people may be stripped of every false covering, brought out of every lying shelter, and delivered from every false refuge ; and that he may make to himself " a glorious name," by "raising up the poor out of the dust, and lifting up the beggar from the dunghill," while " the bows of the mighty men are broken," and " the proud helpers do stoop under him."
Seventhly. Christ passed through all the wrath of God rather than that one of his people should be lost. He said, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me :" if my people cannot every one be delivered from the awful curse of thy holy law, except I endure it, " thy will be done." And as all the flood gates of divine vengeance, which the church deserved, fell upon him, he says, " Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water spouts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me." Depth of guilt called for a depth of punishment; depth of rebellion called for a depth of wrath ; depth of sin called for a depth of suffering : all of which fell upon Christ; and having suffered all the law demanded on the behalf of the church he cried, It is finished : and gave up the ghost." " It is finished, I have suffered enough, justice is satisfied, the law is magnified, my people are made free, and God is glorified." Therefore, all who know the divine power of the Holy Ghost, arm themselves with Christ's sufferings, for they would rather pass through all the harassing temptations of the devil, than not know the depravity of their nature, and the preciousness of Christ : they would rather pass through all the miseries of this world than not know what it is to triumph in Christ : they would rather have their names cast out as evil, and be persecuted for Christ's name sake, than give up the truth of Christ : they would rather be deceived in; thousand ways by others, than deceive themselves with false hopes of heaven, or deceive others by a false appearance : they would rather be falsely suspected and shunned as dangerous, than be without the inward smile of the Father, the internal shinings of Christ, and the secret earnests of the Spirit : they would rather mourn the hidings of God's face, groan under darkness of mind, and sigh by reason of barren feelings and little faith, than walk in the sparks of their own kindling." They would rather be called Antinornians, than take any of the glory of salvation. And they would rather be deprived of all earthly comforts, earthly ease, or earthly honours, than not know that their " treasure is in heaven," and that "having nothing," they "possess all things" in Christ. Every man or woman that makes this choice is a Christian, and knows what Peter means when he says, " Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind." But where there is no cross there is no Christianity ; therefore a Christian is one, who, in the manner I have now described, takes up his cross daily and follows Christ.
In the next place we will look how the Christian is armed with the righteousness of Christ. And in noticing this, I would observe, the believer is armed on the right hand with the perfection of Christ's salvation, and on the left-hand, with the effects of his salvation. The perfection of Christ's salvation consists in these two things. First, his giving such a satisfaction for sin, as that the law cannot make a second demand upon the sinner; as that holiness cannot be at war with the sinner; and as that God cannot frown upon the sinner. And, secondly, his bringing in that righteousness by which his people shall be everlastingly justified, immutably perfect, and infinitely glorious. In order to know whether the law can make a second demand upon a believer, let us enquire what right the law has to make any demand at all ? Its right to make a demand upon a sinner, is by his being under it, for " what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law :" and by a sinner's breach of it, for `1 the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient." Now, it is evident that a believer is free from all the law's demands ; for, first, he is " not under the law but under grace." By nature he was under the law, therefore, how came he from under it? The , apostle says, "we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held:"' dead in all its demands upon us, dead in all its requirements from us, and dead in all its denunciations against us. Why is it so dead ? Because " Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." This, then, is how we are virtually delivered from under the law. Then the apostle speaks of another death, saying, " ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Here the apostle refers to the killing letter of the law, revealed in the conscience, by its spirituality being opened up to view by the Holy Ghost: so that seeing we have nothing to bring of our own for the law's satisfaction, we rejoice in finding one who has stood in our law room, fulfilling its demands, obeying its mandates, and " magnifying it, making the law everlastingly honourable" on our behalf. So that the law being magnified for us, we being slain to all hopes of salvation by it, and Christ having paid all the law's demand, by becoming the " end of it" for righteousness to us who believe, it can never make a second demand upon us. But can holiness ever be at war with us ? Holiness can never be at war with us if we have no sin chargeable upon us, for, says the psalmist, " the foolish shall not stand in thy sight thou hatest all workers of iniquity :" therefore it is sin that holiness hates. Then is there any sin chargeable upon a believer in Christ ? None at all: for it is written " He (Christ) was made sin for us:" not he was made a sinner, but what is much more blessed, he was ``made sin for us," so that having the same human body, and the same human soul as his people, all the sin of their persons was put to his Person; thus God laid on him the iniquity of us all," and "he bare our sins in his own body on the tree," or, as the margin renders it, " to the tree," for his Godhead was the altar, and his sufferings terminated before he expired, or he could not have said, " that he laid down his life of himself." And "removing the iniquity of his chosen, land in one day:" " he hath put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." So that having cast all our sins into the ocean of his blood, they can never be again charged upon us.
But can God be ever angry with us who believe, on account of sin, in the same manner as he is said to be "angry with the wicked every day?" No, he never can; because his anger with the wicked every day arises from his hatred to their persons on account of sin; which proves that the wicked, here referred to, must be those whom God the Son never redeemed by his blood, and whose sins remain chargeable upon themselves. Whereas God "rests in his love," as one well satisfied with the atonement his Son has made for the sins of his elect. So that though " wrath," "anger," and " displeasure," are predicated of God, when he chastiseth his people for their sins, yet this "wrath," anger," or "displeasure," is not against the persons of his people, for " he hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, nor seen perverseness in Israel," but against their sins. He therefore chastiseth them not because he is angry with them, but because he loves them. For, says the apostle, " we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence ; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? for they, verily, for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure," according to their own angry passions, "but he for our profit." Christ "hath put away sin-" if so, the law cannot curse us, holiness cannot be at war with us, and God cannot frown upon us : though he often chastiseth us for our follies, because he loves us, and is determined upon our profit; therefore sin is among the ALL things which shall work together for good* " to them that love God, and to the called according to his purpose."
But has Christ brought in that righteousness by which his people are rendered everlastingly justified? He has, for the apostle thus writes, "There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." If, then, there is no condemnation, neither in time nor yet in eternity, there must be everlasting justification. And bow is this ? "The Messiah was cut off, but not for himself, and brought in everlasting righteousness," Dan. ix. And the apostle says, this " righteousness is unto all, and upon all, that believe." So that the law not only cannot curse us who believe, but must honour us; holiness not
*' Do not think that this remark is calculated to encourage sin. It cannot or God would not have left it upon record. My rear sons for making it are, first, to comfort God's children who are distressed on account of the workings of sin ; secondly, to she'# the aboundin- of grace, because the Lord overrules the .wretch., ednes,s anal depravity of our nature, to lead us to know the amazing worth of the Great Mediator ; and thirdly, because not morality, hut, only a sight of Jesus' worth, and an earnest of interest therein, can raise us above the power, the guilt, the desert, or the effects of sin.
only cannot make war with us, but must approve of us; God not only cannot frown upon us, but must accept us. It does not say the believer is not accused, or that he does not condemn himself. He is accused before God, day and night, by the devil, the world accuses him, and conscience accuses him; yea, the world condemn him, and he condemns himself. But God the Father does not condemn, but honourably acquits him; God the Son does not condemn him, but casts the mantle of his righteousness over him; God the Holy Ghost does not condemn him, but justifies him through faith in Christ. Therefore the apostle gives the challenge, " Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" The devil accuses, the world accuses, self accuses ; but who can charge sin upon the elect ? that is to say, who can impute sin to another ? Only God. Does he do it to his elect ? No: says the apostle, "it is God that justifieth," and he is of one mind," therefore what he has done is done for ever ; then the believer is everlastingly justified. I have often admired those declarations of Christ, recorded John xvii. 3. and xix. 30.
In the first Christ says, before he crosses Cedron's brook, "I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do." What work was this ? It was bringing in' everlasting righteousness for his people ; and on Calvary's cross he cries, "it is finished." What was finished? The removal of all his church's sins. So that when he "put sin away" on his people's behalf, there was no thing left for them to have but everlasting righteousness. Blessed thought ! for thee, dear believer, for if thou canst not see thy interest in it, thou hast been brought by the Lord to submit to it, and he who submits to the righteousness of Christ is one who knows Christ in the teachings of his Spirit, if not in the assurance of faith.
Therefore Christ is in thee the hope of glory, and all is well for thee in time and to eternity. Has Christ brought in a righteousness by which his people shall be immutably perfect? He has, for, saith the apostle, " ye are complete in him:" and " Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Has Christ brought in a righteousness by which his people -shall be infinitely glorious He has, for " we shall see him as he is, and be like him." Now we read that " Christ is exalted far above all principalities and powers." If, then, we are to be like him, we must have the same exaltation ; therefore we shall be above angels, and must be like Christ, infinitely glorious. Then Christ's salvation is a perfect salvation, and faith realizing interest in this, it becomes the believer's right-hand armour, which secures him from the curses of the law, the vengeance of justice, and the terrors of death. While love to the brethren from love to Christ, feeling for them amidst their weaknesses and infirmities, and assisting them when it is in his power, living out of the world from a vital interest in Christ, a fighting with sin by an holy power derived from Christ, resisting the tempter by an humble confidence in Christ, and a readiness to every good word and work, so far as he judges it will contribute to the glory of Christ from a feeling oneness with Christ-becomes the Christian's left-hand armour ; by which he condemns the world, shuns the devil, and proves his conformity to Christ.
Lastly, we have to observe how the believer is armed with the light of Christ. In Christ he beholds the harmony of Jehovah's attributes, and the perfections of his nature, for, in his atoning death, " mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other." In Christ he beholds the blood that washes him, the righteousness that clothes him, and the hope that secures him. In Christ he beholds the counsels of heaven concerning his present peace and everlasting bliss. In Christ he beholds the fulness that supplies his needs, and the perfection that hides his faults. In Christ he beholds the mercy that heals him, the grace that governs him, acid the love that melts his heart. In Christ he beholds the springs of his delight, the resting place of his affections, and the object of his faith. In Christ he beholds the Father's smile, his only home, and best inheritance. In Christ he finds breadth enough to keep him from falling out of God's love, length enough to keep him from wandering from God's eve, depth enough to keep him from despairing of God's bounty, and height enough to sing for ever of his grace. In Christ he beholds certainty without contingencies, freeness without conditions, and immutability without a change. In Christ he beholds the law in all its requirements, justice in all its demands, and salvation in all its fulness. In Christ he beholds the nourishing virtue of the vine, the beauties of the rose, and the loveliness of the lily. While Mount Lebanon's majesty, Mount Carmel's fruitfulness, and Bashan's fatness, contribute but faintly to point out the stability of gospel truths, and the glory of gospel doctrines as seen in him ; so the glorious robes, the mitre, and the breastplate of Aaron, feebly unfold the Glory of his Godhead, the Royalty of his his heart and the Safety of his People engraven on his heart.
Thus in Christ, the believer beholds glory enough to ravish his eyes ever ever, blessedness enough to fill his soul for ever, and life enought to make him live for ever ; and God having so shined into his heart, as to give him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ bound round his mind, hope in Christ for a helmet upon his head, faith upon Christ for a shield to ward off the devil’s fiery darts, love to Christ for a breast – plate upon his heart, the word of Christ as a sword in his hand with which he fights, the two shoes of God the Father’s will, and God the Spirit’s shall fixed upon his feet by which he walks to Christ, in Christ, and with Christ; and the artillery of prayer pouring from his soul, the devil may roar, the world may oppose, and the flesh may resist, but he can shout victory in the midst of tribulation; and when his fighting days are over, he will "possess within the vail a life of joy and peace."
Observations upon a few Texts which appear to favour Arminianism.
" To the law and to the testimony."-Isaiah viii. 20.
As " all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, " that the man of God may be perfect," (fully established in the truth) " and thoroughly furnished unto all good works," it becomes God's people not to twist or rend the sacred word from its true meaning ; nor to endeavour to make it bend to any system, rather than every system should bend to it. There are some blessed portions which clearly set forth the truths of eternal, unconditional, and irreversible election ; full, discriminating, and complete redemption ; irresistible, sovereign, and effectual calling ; free, immutable, and everlasting justification; and certain, constant, and final perseverance to heaven ; while some equally blessed portions appear, at first sight, to favour opposite sentiments, but which, upon examination, really do not. For the sake, therefore, of those who may be perplexed thereupon, I will notice the following. I Cor. viii. 11. " Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died."
It, appears, from the whole of the chapter whence this verse is taken, that though the persons to whom the apostle wrote at Corinth, were called by grace, yet so little was the knowledge some possessed of divine things,. that they had not learnt that " an idol is nothing in the world;- and from being constantly among those who worshipped idols, as well as from deeply rooted prejudice, instead of eating the meat offered to idols as not effected by this superstition, they eat it with much awe and dread, and so wounded their weak consciences. The apostle, however, refers to some who possessed knowledge enough to see the folly of idols and idolaters, and looked upon the meat offered to idols as no more than common food, and knew that eating the same made them " neither better nor worse. Therefore he exhorts the stronger brother not to wound the feelings of the weaker, by too bold an use of the liberty produced by this knowledge ; for, says he, " if any man," whose conscience is weak and knowledge small, "see thee, which hast knowledge, sit at meat in the idol's temple," whatever contempt may be felt by such an one for an idol, yet he offends his weaker brother, or the brother's weak conscience is wounded ; there fore the weaker brother loses those comforts, of, and tranquility of mind, he would otherwise have had; and so his peace and communion with the stronger brother perish. As to the weaker brother's life in and from Christ perishing, this is impossible, for says Christ, " my sheep shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands ; my Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and none can pluck them out of greater Father's hands." And it would be well fox the Lord's people at all times to bear in mind the apostle's words, " ye that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak ;" not only by spiritual communion, but by a cautious walk; for frequently babes in grace are staggered and distressed by the life of their elder brethren, when, at the same time, their elder brethren may not altogether be living in sin. The apostle in another place exhorts believers to abstain from "foolish talking and jesting, " as. being inconvenient, Eph. v. 4.; and in like manner in this place he says, seeing the distressing effects of eating meat in the manner referred to, " If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth."
2 Peter ii. 1. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you ; who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." Here the apostle does not mean that the false teachers, of whom he speaks, were bought by the precious blood of Christ; but that ancient Israel was bought by the Lord, and ancient Israel being bought, the false prophets who were among them were bought too. Israel was bought in a fourfold sense ; first, by the destruction of Pharoah and his host ; thus God gave the lives of the Egyptians for the life of his, own people, and so the Psalmist sings, " he redeemed them from the hand of the enemy ; and the waters covered their enemies," Psalm cvi. 10, 11. Secondly, by the destruction of the Canaanitish nations, for " there was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Iiivites the inhabitants of Gideon : ill other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that lie might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses," Joshua xi. 20. ; so " he gave them the lands of the heathen : and they inherited the labour of the people," Psalm cv. 44. Thirdly, by the destruction of Babylon, for says the prophet, " Babylon, the glory of the Chaldees' excellency, shale be as when* God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah," Isaiah xiii. " And I will rise ap against them, saith the Lord of Hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water and'I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of Hosts," chap. xiv. All of which came to pass through the instrumentality of Cyrus the Persian, who was anointed or qualified for the work ; and saith God, " be shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives," Isaiah xlv. 13. And fourthly, by the destruction of all the enemies of Israel, who occasionally made war against them, for "their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their bands:- but " many times did he deliver them," Psalm cvi. 42, 43. And the false prophets among Israel " brought upon themselves swift destruction ;" for God had commanded Israel to put every false prophet to death, Deut. xiii. 5. In consequence of which command, Elijah was justified in putting Baal's four hundred and fifty prophets to death, I Kings xviii. 40., and Jehu acted right in putting all Baal's prophets to the edge of the sword, 2 Kings x. 25. So the apostle here says, " there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, and like the false prophets of old, shall bring upon themselves swift (or sudden and unexpected) destruction."
Rev. xxii. 19. " If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life." The Lord does not, by this declaration, design to convey to his church the thought, that having written the names of his people in the volume of covenant counsels, for the purpose of blessing them with salvation and eternal glory, he afterwards blots them out, for "he changeth not," Mal. iii. 6. ; but the meaning appears to be this If any man should commit so presumptuous a sin as to take away any part of this sacred book, God will not suffer his people to own such an one as fellow-heir of the same inheritance. And thus his name in the visible church on earth shall be blotted out, and his professional interest in the book of life taken away. Esau said of Jacob, "he hath taken away my blessing," Gen. xxvii. 36. Now how could this be said by Esau when he had never had the blessing ? The fact is, Isaac thought Esau was the person interested in the blessing, and Esau was confident of the same thing ; but the event proved that Jacob was the person God had appointed for it. And the " heirs of promise" often receive into the arms of their affection and bosons of their fellowship, the seed of the serpent ; deceived by their appearance, they think them interested in the same mercy, blessed with the same grace, and loved with the same love as themselves; but time often brings them to light, and God's people are obliged to discover them. Thus the election obtains the blessing, and the rest being blinded, they. Are made manifest to God's saints, by which their part among God's people on earth is taken away.
I John ii. 2. " He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world." The word world is often used in the inspired volume, but cannot always mean every one of Adam's race. Thus we read, " the world is gone after him," John xii. 19. This cannot mean even all the Jewish nation, to say nothing about all Adam's posterity, for the Pharisees themselves who said this did not go after Christ. " The whole world lieth in wickedness," 1 John v. 19. This must mean the whole world of unregenerate sinners; for' if the apostle had meant every one of Adam's race, he would have included himself and fellow-believers, concerning whom he had just before said, " we know that we are of God." And when be says, " Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and also for the sins of the whole world, he must mean, not for us only who already believe through grace, but for the whole world of believers to the end of time, John xvii. 20.
Col. i. 28. " Warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." The apostle cannot here mean that he expected every one of Adam's children would be presented perfect in Christ Jesus : for in another place he says of some, " God shall send them strong delusions that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The expression every man," is often used in the inspired volume, but cannot mean every man in the world universally : let us look "at a few passages, " God bath dealt to every man the measure of faith," Rom. xii. 3., this cannot mean universally so, for " all men have not faith," 2 Thess. iii. 2., but must mean, " every man" who has faith has it according as God gives it: and faith is called "the faith of God's elect," Titus i. 1., or faith which none but the elect will ever possess. "Every man, according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren," Acts xi. 29. This must mean every one of the disciples, as the whole verse reads, " then the disciples, every man," &c. " Then shall every man have praise of God," I Cor. iv. 5. This cannot mean every man in the world universally shall, at the judgment day, receive praise of God; for to some Christ will say, " depart, ye cursed," and to others, " come, ye blessed;" it must mean, every man who is approved or praised, shall receive the testimony not from man, but God. "The kingdom of God is preached, and every roan presseth into it," Luke xvi. 16. Now if these words are parallel to Matthew xi. 12. " the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force," not entering by the gate into the sheep-fold, but climbing up some other way, it cannot mean every man universally, for then Christ would condemn his own sheep, who "enter in by the gate into the sheep-fold," but must mean every goat who puts on sheep's clothing, presseth into it. Or, if the words are descriptive of the earnest pursuit of a regenerated soul after the things of God, it must mean, that every man who belongs to this kingdom by eternal union, when called by grace, "presseth into it," or presseth towards heavenly realities, as Paul said of himself, " I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." " The head of every man is Christ," 1 Cor. xi. 3. This cannot mean that Christ is covenantly the head of every man ; for we read, " he is the head of his body, the church," which church consists of those the Father hath given Christ out of the world. " The Spirit is given to every man to profit withal," 1 Cor. xii. 7. This cannot mean every man universally, because Christ says, " I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive." But read it as every man who can receive the Spirit by virtue of interest in that covenant engagement of the Spirit, " thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power," and all is uniform ; and when the apostle, in the words with which I began, said, " warning every man, and teaching every man, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus," he meant that he was anxious " every man" to whom the Lord should bless his ministry, should know that all his perfection was in Christ and from Christ, as many of the Colossian saints knew Christ in them, and Christ alone, " the hope of glory."
" That he by the grace of God, should, taste death for every man," Heb. ii. 9. This, cannot mean that Christ tasted death for every descendant from Adam, because Christ's death was the consequence of his Mediatorship, in which Mediatorship he became responsible for all their sins on whose behalf he died; and all those for whom he became responsible, had eternal life given them on the ground of this responsibility : and as " his goings forth in mediatorial acts were of old, even from everlasting," so all interested in his death were "quickened together with him," that is, had eternal life given them in him from everlasting. So that Christ being the " beloved Son of God," by virtue of this quickening, they were sons in him: and through his Mediatorship they have, when his spirit is sent forth in their hearts, a living agreement and communion with God. Therefore the "every man" Christ tasted death for, is every son, in other words, " the whole family in heaven and earth named in Christ."
Heb. xii. 15. " Looking diligently lest any man fail, of the grace of God." " he apostle does not, men that those who possess the grace of God should be looking diligently after it, lest they should lose it, as if there were a possibility for grace to fall out of a man. But he is exhorting the spiritual Hebrews to be looking diligently after the work of grace among themselves, for fear any in their their comumunion only had a name to live while dead ; and notwithstanding they might profess the name of Christ, yet failed, or were destitute of a gracious and saving knowledge of him; " lest," says he, " there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right." And the verse preceding is often taken to establish the tenet of progressive sanctification. But the meaning appears to me to be somewhat similar to the other; indeed the two verses are very closely united by the apostle, and our translators have only separated them by a colon. " Follow peace with all men." What can be this peace? "He," (Christ) " is our peace," Eph. ii. 14. Well, but some will say, "all men have not got Christ, therefore how can Christ be followed with all men?" The apostle, for this very reason, because all men have not really and truly got Christ, thus speaks, " follow peace with all men." Be upon the close pursuit of an experimental revelation of Christ in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Whatever may be the profession of men, nothing but this is true religion, and destitute of this, every man's religion will be found to be rotten and corrupt. Therefore " follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." What holiness is it without which no man can see the Lord? Not creature-holiness; for, says Paul, " I find that in me, that is in my flesh, that there dwelleth no good thing," Rom. vii. 18. So the holiness the apostle alludes to cannot be an holiness obtained from creature-doings, for that holiness is worth nothing, because in the creature, considered apart from Christ, there is " no good thing." Even the uprightness of Adam, was not the holiness here alluded to, for " with out it no man shall see the Lord." And Adam, while he stood perfect in Eden, never saw the Lord in the spirituality of his law, the fulness of his grace, the riches of his mercy, the glory of his justice, and the sovereignty of his-love; but by Christ being brought home to the soul by the blessed testimony of the Spirit, we see the Lord in all the harmony of his attributes, the love oŁ his heart, the grace of his lips, the preciousness of his relations, and the glory of his covenant characters : we can approach him with holy confidence as the God of our salvation, take his promises as our own, and bless his name as our portion, our friend, and our everlasting refuge.
Titus 3. 8. "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works." These words are sometimes referred to for the purpose of proving that gospel ministers ought to be constantly affirming good works ; but the apostle means, that being justified by grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life," is a faithful saying, and these things concerning the grace of God he would have Titus, and every other servant of Christ, affirm constantly, that they which know the power of them may produce the effects mentioned.
Jude, ver. 21 ."Keep yourselves in the love of God." The apostle does not here suppose that believers are their own keepers, for, he says, they are preserved in Christ Jesus." But having described a certain sort of men who creep in unawares among God's saints, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, or charge the grace of God with lascivious effects, then describes the stability of those who have the Spirit of God. " Praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God." That is, by breathing" after the love of God, through the unctious power of the Holy Ghost, you are enabled to discover interest in the love of God. And as the consequence thereof, ye are building up yourselves on our most holy faith," on the precious doctrines of the gospel, " looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ," which is discovered in those doctrines " unto eternal life."
2 Peter iii. 9. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." This does not mean that the Lord is desirous that all Adam's children should be saved, and come to repentance; but Peter addresses these words to them " who have obtained precious faith," and says, he, " the Lord, is not slack concerning his promise" of deliverance, consolation, and glory, made to his people, " but is longsuffering to us-ward," whom he hath chosen to salvation, and as an evidence thereof has made us " partakers of the divine nature," not willing that any of us, to whom he has " given exceeding great and precious promises," should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance. No other people are understood, in these words, but those whom the apostle calls us, which us are, in his first epistle, iv. 7. called the " house of God." And Paul says, the "house of God is the church of the living God," I Tim. iii. 15. Therefore God is not willing that any part of his church should perish, but that all the members of his church should come to repentance.
Luke xix. 41-44. " And when he came near he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace I but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee. round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Many take Occasion, from these words, to infer, that the Lord Jesus Christ strives, seeks, and endeavours, to save men universally, but cannot accomplish his wishes ; but let -it be remembered Jesus is here speaking as a man, in contemplation of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans, together with the dispersion of the Jewish nation, and the miserable cruelties which they would have to endure at the hands of their enemies. But there is no reference made by Christ, in this compassionate exclamation, to spiritual things; but he confines his pathetic language wholly to temporals. Jerusalem did not know " the time of her visitation," when he, as the promised Messiah, had actually come, and for her rejection of him, the Jewish nation was to be scattered. Yet, for the sake of argument, I would suppose for a moment, that the Jewish nation, as a nation, received Christ. This might have been done, and yet the Jews, as a nation, have no grace: England nationally acknowledges Christ as the Messiah, at this very moment, but, alas ! very, very few know anything of him by a grace communion with him. Therefore no inference can be drawn from these words of Christ, that Jerusalem had out sinned her day of grace; or that men universally have a day of grace put into their hands, which they may out sin. It might, with as much propriety, be inferred, that because Christ said, when he reached Lazarus' grave, roll ye away the stone," that therefore he could not raise Lazarus to life without Lazarus' consent, as to say he desired to save' the inhabitants of Jerusalem spiritually and eternally, but could not do it because they were not willing. And yet this is the notion most current among religious teachers. Jesus called the period when he was speaking, Jerusalem's day, not God's day of grace, nor God's day of striving to save it. Jerusalem's peace, not God's peace, nor God's offer of peace. Instead of a day of grace being out sinned, I would say it cannot, for the promise is certain to all who have grace, and they only can be said to have a day of grace : " Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace."
Rom. viii. 32. " He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things." The all for whom Christ. was delivered up, is explained by the words "all things." Now it is certain God does not give his people a rest in this world, neither does he give them the honours, the riches, the pleasures, the pomps, the vanities, nor the esteem of this world. Instead of these things, God's people are tempest-tossed, contemned, poor, afflicted, and hated in this world. Therefore, by the " all things" freely given, we must understand " all things" treasured up in Christ for them ; "all things" God in sovereignty sees fit to give ; " all things" needful ; " all things" that will be for their good ; all things" that will be for Gods glory. If, then, we admit a distinction in the " all things'.' given, so we must admit a distinction in the " all" to whom they are given. The "all," then, for whom Christ was delivered up, and the " all" to whom is freely given " all things," must be " all" who are interested in Christ by election union ; " all" whom God in sovereignty is pleased to quicken ; " all" whom he needs to compose the mystical temple of his grace ; " all" whom he is determined to do good to ; and " all" whom he has predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, glorifying himself in their salvation, and glorifying them in Christ for ever.
Reader, if thy heart accords with the harmonious views I entertain of the Scriptures of truth, thou wilt perceive that Arminianism has no ground to stand upon in either of the portions we have examined. Many more might have. been opened up, which the advocates of the heresy I refer to, bring forward to support their God-dishonouring notions ; but I should swell my little work too much to notice them. And, by way of conclusion, allow me to remind you of three things ; First, God never contradicts himself. What he speaks under the Old Testament dispensation, he proclaims under the New ; and what was " written afore time," the Holy Ghost teaches his people at the " set time," and-gives them to know experimentally the " patience and comfort of the Scriptures." In the Old Testament it was promised, " the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," in the New we read, " he hath ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, triumphing over them in it." In the Old Testament God says of his church, " my delight is in her," and in the New we read, it is "the bride, the Lamb's wife," who has the " glory of God." In the Old Testament we find the Lord reserved to himself " seven thousand men who bowed not to the image of Baal," and in the New we find, he has " a remnant according to the election of grace." In the Old the Lord says of each of his people, "deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom," in the New, Jesus says, "I lay down my life for the sheep." In the Old we read God gives grace and glory," in the New we find that God's people are " born not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible." Then no promise is given by God but what he fulfils ; no persons are delighted in by God but his church ; none will worship God aright but the election of grace ; no salvation can be known but by the finished work of Christ ; and no having grace without having glory.
Second, God never reverses his dealings with his people. He indeed varies their circumstances, changes their situations, and leads them into different paths, so that they " have here no continuing city':" but he never deals unkindly, unwisely, or thoughtlessly, with them. If he suffers them to fall, it is to humble them, to mortify fleshly confidence, and to open up to their view more fully the mercy he has stored up in Christ for them, the love in which he has inwrapped them, and the grace which superabounds towards them. If he permits them to be harassed by the tempter, to be persecuted, oppressed, and afflicted, it is that they might be partakers of his holiness. The Lord always has some good in store for his people, which good is often brought out of evil : and the Lord never suffers his people to be tried but brings them " forth as gold," and gives them full proof that he sits at the furnace, or that " one like unto the Son of Man" is in the fiery trial, and that he will not suffer a hair of his children's head to fall to the ground.
And lastly, God cannot be charged with creature infirmity. We may, indeed, make promises, but in consequence of some unforeseen circumstance we are unable to perform them. We may love persons and things, but our love being founded upon the loveliness of the objects loved, a something arises which turns our love into hatred. We may be very hospitable, but meeting with poor returns and with much ingratitude, we cease to exercise our benevolence. But not so with the Lord: he knew his people " would deal very treacherously;" therefore did not found his love upon the creature "but upon himself. He knew the devil would roar, the world oppose, and the flesh resist; therefore his promises are yea and amen in Christ, and provision in him is made to overcome every obstacle, for " known unto God are all his works from the beginning." He knew that without him his people could "do nothing," consequently, though he should load them with his benefits, yet he knew they would not acknowledge them without his almighty power put forth in their souls ; therefore the work of grace in them, as well as the work of salvation for them, stands upon "I will" and " they shall." Then, dear reader, if taught of God, you know that the " joy of the Lord is your strength," and that " boasting is excluded by the law of faith."
A Yea and Nay Gospel considered.
Our word toward you was not yea and nay-but in him (Christ) was yea-for all the promises of God are in him yea, and in him amen."-1 Cor. i. 18-20.
WHAT a vast fund of devices the devil possesses in order to deceive his own subjects, and to- worry the people of God. Never at a loss, he is continually going about seeking whom he may devour. And if he cannot gain his ends by presenting to the mind licentious indulgences, he will endeavour to lull the soul with a natural religion ; and making that religion appear as spiritual as possible, all who are left a prey to his bait "call evil good, and good evil; put darkness for light, and light for darkness ; put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." This is the reason we have that gospel preached in the present age which cannot, I humbly conceive, bear a more suitable title than a yea and nay gospel ; because it affirms and denies the same thing. Contingencies and certainties, freeness and conditions, are each advocated in turn, as component parts of the good news from heaven.
Such a gospel as this appears, either directly or indirectly, referred to, according to my humble apprehension of the portion, in Rev. vi. 5,-6.' And I beheld, and to ! a black horse, and he that sat' on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, a measure of wheat for a penny, and a measure $ f barley for a penny, and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." In this chapter the Lord is giving the church, by John, a description of what it has to pass through till the " great day of his wrath is come." And while I consider the twenty-four elders figurative of the church, composed of a perfect number, the four beasts appear to me descriptive of every gospel minister. He has the face of an ox, because of his usefulness, which consists in being as God's mouth, to take " the precious from the vile," by describing the features of the precious sons of Zion, tracing out the footsteps of God's flock, and bringing the clean provender of gospel truth, which bath been winnowed with the shovel of affliction, and the fan of persecution, for them to feed upon. He has the face of a lion for his boldness ; for possessing an heavenly signet, heavenly credentials, and heavenly tidings, he has a good commission, therefore has not got to ask those to whom he delivers his message what he shall say, nor does he shrink, or change his message, when he finds it giver. offence. He has the face of an eagle, as he often soars into the lofty regions of sovereign, free, sufficient, and invincible grace, carrying the little timid children of God upon his back ; and has a discernment into the mysteries of the cross. He has the face of a man, to show that, amidst all his usefulness, boldness, and discernment, he is but a creature, and that it is by the help of the Great Shepherd, and Bishop of Souls, he prospers. The black horse is false doctrine, and the rider is a flesh-pleasing, time serving, God-dishonoring, covetous preacher. The balance is carnality; and " a voice in the midst of the four beasts," represents a faithful servant of God exposing the delusion, setting forth the security of God's saints, and unfolding the supporting word of God's grace. The delusion is " a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny;" a little measure of truth, but none at all, only the scheme will not answer if there is not a little in it, and worldly gain could be obtained without it ; but " three measures of barley for a penny," an abundance of error to obtain the same end. " And see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." Here is the security of the saints and the strengthening efficacy of God's word. Though error spread far and wide it shall never extinguish the lamp of life in the souls of God's elect : this is impossible, because the oil of grace in God's regenerate ones is incorruptible : neither shall it turn the sweet " wine" of gospel truth into the " poison of" (Baxterian) " draons," nor into the " cruel venom of " (Arminiani) "asps," Deut. xxxii. 33. But this word of his grace
"Shall bear them up, and ever will,
Till they arrive at Zion's hill."
In attempting, therefore, to describe a yea and nay gospel, I would observe, it contains nothing but contradiction, confusion, and vanity. Yet this is the gospel that has become most current among professors of the nineteenth century, and has the most admirers only because it is most suited to man's depraved nature. To reduce the system of a yea and nay gospel to any kind of order is very difficult, because it wears a great many faces, and accommodates itself to all sorts of religious professors and religious principles.
The following, however, are a few of the items of a yea and nay gospel.
1. That God gave eternal life to the elect in Christ before the world began ; BUT THOUGH GOD DID NOT GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT ELECTED, YET THEY MAY HAVE IT UPON APPLICATION.
2. That God is a sovereign " doing as he mill in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth," and it is his will to specially save the elect; WHICH IT COULD NOT DO UNLESS CHRIST BECAME A SIN-OFFERING FOR ALL THE HUMAN RACE
3. THAT THEREFORE CHRIST DIED FOR ALL THE HUMAN RACE.
4. That to believe in Christ is a supernatural thing; BUT IT IS THE DUTY OF NATURAL MEN, NOT BORN OF THE SPIRIT, TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST.
5. That it is the Holy Ghost's work to call a sinner out of the death and darkness of nature into the life and light of grace, which call is consequent upon predestination ; BUT THE HOLY GHOST WILL CALL EVERY CREATURE OF ADAM'S RACE, IF THEY FIRST CALL UPON HIM.
6. Christ's redemption is particular, that is, it applied only to the elect; BUT IT WEARS A GENERAL ASPECT, THEREFORE EVERY ONE OF ADAM'S RACE IS INVITED TO PARTAKE OF IT.
7. The blood of Christ is of infinite efficacy on their behalf for whom it was shed; BUT IT IS RENDERED EFFICIENT BY THE SINNERS APPLICATION.
8. The state of man by nature is, that he is dead in trespasses and sins; YET HE POSSESSES A LITTLE POWER TO DO GOOD.
9. Grace reigns; BUT THE DAY OF GRACE ENDS WHERE THE SINNER DOES NOT AVAIL HIMSELF OF AN OFFERING OPPORTUNITY.
10. Grace is special favour; BUT GRACE IS UNIVERSALLY OBTAINABLE.
11. God's love never had a beginning and never will have an end towards the election of grace, and only these love God because God first loved them; BUT THE REST GOD WILL LOVE IF THEY FIRST EXERCISE SOME DEGREE OF LOVE TOWARDS HIM.
12. Prayer cannot be spiritually put fort& after God, by men who are not born of the
.Spirit ; BUT IT IS MAN'S DUTY TO PRAY THAT HE MAY BE BORN AGAIN.*
*Very few preachers are so daring as thus to affirm and deny with the same breath ; but it is often done in the same discourse; and this yea and nay gospel is the essence of what is now fashionably termed " moderate Calvinism."
Now let us look at each of these items in order. First, "that God gave eternal life to the elect before the world begun." This is true, as I have before proved ; * * See first page upon Election.** but the remaining part of this item, which says, " though God did not give eternal life to those who are not elected, yet they may have it upon application," is false, as I will now attempt to show. If the non-elect may have eternal life, though it was not given them in Christ before the world began, then God must have given it them since the world began, which supposition cannot be true, because we read, The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations," Psalm xxxiii. 11. " The counsel of the Lord" was, that the elect should have eternal life in Christ, and to this end God the Father gave them into Christ's hands; and " the thoughts of his heart" were, that those whom he gave to Christ would be his everlasting delight, and that the others-would, by their sins, merit everlasting wrath ; therefore, God does not say, concerning the ungodly, that they "may awake to everlasting shame and contempt;" but many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth " shall awake some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt," Daniel xii. 2. To this it may be said, true, God does say they shall; because he knew they would not believe in Christ, nor make application to him, still they might have had life if they had applied. To this I answer, if God knew they would not believe in Christ, nor make application for mercy at his hands, it must have been according to his will, or it was against his will. But it could not be against his will, for " whatsoever the Lord pleased that did he in heaven, and in earth, and in the seas, and in all deep places ;" therefore, bad it been his will that the non-elect should believe in Christ, he would have given them the power, and the Lord not only withholds faith, but says, concerning them, "make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed," Isaiah vi. 10. And when the disciples ask Jesus why he spoke to the people in parables? He made use of this quotation from Isaiah, and explains its meaning saying unto them, " Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given ; for whosoever bath" (an interest in Christ,) " to him shall be given" (knowledge of his worth, and faith to realize interest in his person) " and he shall have more abundance," abundant discoveries of the glory and blessedness treasured up for him; but whosoever bath not" (an interest in Christ by eternal election,) from him shall be taken away even that 'he path." That religion he possesses apart from Christ, shall not contribute in any manner to his salvation. "Therefore," continues Jesus, "I speak to them in parables, because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand ; and in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, by " hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see and shall not perceive." And so Paul says, " the election bath obtained it and the rest were blinded according as' it is written, Isaiah xxix. 10. God bath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear."
If then " what the Lord pleased is done;" if the Lord withholds faith from some while he gives it to others ; if the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, and the thoughts of his heart unto all generations ; if he gives a knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to some, when he does not to others ; and if the non-elect, called " the rest,"are blinded ; then the assertion that those to whom God did not give eternal life in Christ before the world began, may have it upon application, is false.
Secondly, That God is a Sovereign " doing as he will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and that it is his will to specially save the elect, is a truth ; but which he could not do unless Christ became a sin-o„ Bring for all the human race, is fallacious. Because, if Christ is the gift of the Father's love, he will surely give him to those whom he loves that he, is the gift of love is certain, because we read, " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son ;" but Christ and the Father are one, so that while God the Father is said to give Christ, Christ is said to give himself, and that be gives himself to those whom he loves is certain, for the apostle says, " who loved the church and gave himself for it." Besides which, " the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." The devil drove man from God, induced in him a principle of enmity against God, made him a slave to sin, influenced him to break God's law, by which he fell under its awful curse, and rendered himself liable to death temporal and eternal. Christ was manifested that he might destroy these works of the devil: so that be becomes the Prince of Peace," " the Restorer of the Breach,`' the '1 Deliverer," the " Redeemer," by being a sin-offering for his people, and " he bath put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." If, however, he put away sin for the whole human race, there can be no sin for any one of Adam's children to answer for, consequently not one can be condemned. But some will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." Why are they punished ? For their sins. Then their sins were never put away by Christ, neither could they be interested in Christ, for"' there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." If it bad been the Lord's will to have saved Abel only, he could have done it, but not without a sacrifice for Abel's sins, and in that case, Christ would have been given to Abel only ;, but, blessed be God, it is written, t` the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." That is not the Saviour of Abel only, not the Saviour of Noah only, snot the Saviour of the patriarchs, prophets, and Old Testament saints only, but sent the Son to be the Saviour of the whole of that world, loved, adopted, and delighted in by God, whom he will bring from the ruins of the Adam-fall transgression, and in whom he will be glorified for ever. If then Christ is given to those whom God loves, and he loves only the elect, Rom. ix. 11-13. if Christ did not become a sin-offering for the whole human race, and if God could have saved a less number, had it been his will, by Christ, then the thought that he could not save the elect without Christ becoming a sin-offering for the whole human race, is false.
Thirdly. " That therefore Christ died for all the human race," must be equally fallacious ; for the foundation of this sentiment, as implied in the word " therefore," being removed, there is nothing to uphold this assertion. But we will examine it a little more. Christ's death was a payment for sin, and this is why his blood is called a " price." If, ther fore, any one of the human race was to die eternally after Christ had suffered for him, God would be unjust in demanding two payments of one debt. But we read, "justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne," therefore such a demand could never be made by him who is " a just God;" and the only conclusion that can be drawn is, that the item now considered is unscriptural.
Fourthly. "That to believe in Christ is a supernatural thing." This is truth, because "faith is the gift of God," and apprehends supernatural realities; but that it is the duty of natural men, net born of the Spirit, to believe in Christ to the saving of the soul, is false : because God does not require that which he has not given. He would never have required perfection from Adam had he not created him upright; neither does he require faith in Christ 'till life from Christ has been communicated. It was when the jailor was a quickened man, that Paul and Silas. said to him, " believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;" and true faith, is said to " stand in the power of God," 1 Cor. ii. 5. And as salvation is in Christ, so faith to apprehend and receive it, is by Christ, for thus Peter speaks, " who by him do believe in God," i Peter i. 21. Therefore, if faith is a supernatural thing ; if God does not require what he has not given ; if none are commanded to believe in Christ but those who have life from Christ; and if faith stands in the power of God through Christ; then the affirmation, that it is the duty of a„ natural man to exercise saving faith in Christ, is unscriptural.
Fifthly. That it is the Holy Ghost's work to call a sinner out of the death and darkness of nature, into the life and light of grace is a truth, because it is written, " who hath called us with an holy calling," 2 Tim i. 9. " Ye are called in one hope of your calling," Eph. iv. 4. And that this call is consequent upon predestination is equally a truth, for " whom he did predestinate them he also called," Rom. viii. 30.; but that the Holy Ghost will call every creature of Adam's race, if they fir8t call upon him, is false. We have proofs of m calling upon God, who, after all, were never called by the Holy Ghost, out of the death, and darkness of nature, into the life and light of grace. Saul called upon God, but was never called by grace. Balaam called upon God, but was never called by grace. Cain called upon God, but was never called by grace. But it may be said, they did not call upon God for to be called by grace. I would answer, the effectual call of the Holy Ghost is a spiritual blessing, and for a man to seek after it, he must have been spiritually called, " draw me, we will run after thee," is the language of the church. If, then, some men call upon God, but God never graciously calls them, and if none can seek after an interest in effectual calling 'till called, then the supposition, that if, every one of Adam's race was to call upon God, he would graciously call them, is false.
Sixthly. That Christ's redemption is particular, that is, applied only to the elect, is true; but that it wears a general aspect, therefore, (though God may specially apply it, yet) every one of Adam's race is invited to partake of it, is not true. Christ's redemption is his purchasing of a people out of captivity to sin, by the price of his own most precious blood. Thus the apostle speaks, " Ye are not redeemed by corruptible things as silver or gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but by the precious blood of Christ." "Who is," says another apostle, " the propitiation" or atonement 1' for our sins." If Christ, then, atoned for the sins of the whole human race, and God the Father designs that only the elect shall partake of it, then God the Father and God the Son have not one will. And if God th*Holy Ghost apply this atonement only to the elect, then God the Holy Ghost and God the Son have not one will. So that a yea and nay gospel. preacher must be reduced to this dilemma, either to deny the doctrine of the "Trinity" altogether, or to say there is a plurality of Gods. But the Scriptures maintain, in every part, that "there be three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these Three are One." One in essence, one in purpose, one in counsel, one in will, one in design, and one in glory. Moreover, in the atonement we see the wisdom, the mercy, and the justice of Deity ; but if wisdom, mercy, and justice, want every creature ; and love, grace, omnipotence, omniscience, and sovereignty, want only the elect, then there is no harmony in the attributes of Deity ; for one attribute of Deity is at variance with another.
But a Deity without certain properties, which necessarily compose his nature, is no Deity at all ; and a Deity in whom these properties are at variance, cannot be the author and governor of an universe, wherein we see constantly preserved order, harmony, and regularity. Thus Atheism, Arianism, and Confusion, are always to be found in a yea and nay gospel.
If, then, there be Three Persons in one God, one in will, one in design, and one in purpose, then God the Son's redemption is only for those to whom it is specially applied; neither does God invite every creature to partake of it. Therefore, the item concerning the general aspect, in union with the particular design of redemption, is false ; and if any doubt continues to exist concerning the particularity -of redemption, in its design or application, I would direct the reader to the following passages. " He sent redemption unto his people." " He hath visited and redeemed his people." `' Remember the rod or tribe of thine inheritance which thou hast redeemed." "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment." No man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth." " Who bath redeemed us out of every nation and language, and people and tongue," that is to say, in distinction from the rest.
Seventhly. That the blood of Christ is of infinite efficacy, is a truth, because it was the God-man who shed it; and, if there were but one sinner in the world to be saved, and he bad committed but one sin, Christ's blood would be of infinite efficacy on his behalf : because the God-man atoned for that one sin. If, therefore, the blood of Christ is of infinite efficacy on their behalf for whom it was shed, it cannot be made efficient by a sinner's application : and its efficiency is obvious in that the devil, the world, and the flesh, cannot prevent a blood-bought sinner applying to the crimson fountain of a Saviour's veins, at the time fixed upon, for " there is a set time to favour Zion." Therefore the affirmation that a sinner's application will render Christ's blood efficient, is false.
Eighthly. That the state of man by nature is, that he is dead in trespasses and sins, is a truth, for the Scriptures declare it ; but, that he possesses a little power to do that which is spiritually good, is false. He "is altogether become abominable," and cannot know his true state 'till the Holy Ghost convinceth him of sin; he is " guilty before God," but cannot know it 'till the Holy Ghost opens up the spirituality and extent of his holy law, and thus convinceth him of righteousness ; he is hard, and knows not what it is. to have holy meltings of heart before God, 'till brought to know of pardoning love. " When I was turned I repented," is Ephraim's language, "and when I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh ;"as if he had said, when I was turned by God's Spirit from the world, from self, from the law, to Jesus' person, worth, and work, I repented ; and when I was instructed by the same blessed teacher in my weakness, emptiness, and nothingness, I was ashamed and confounded before God. Man is a rebel, and knows nothing of obedience 'till humbled by God. But some talk of moral power? Yes, moral power is one thing and spiritual power is another. When we say man is helpless, we do not mean that, if a merchant, he cannot carry on his commercial affairs ; if a farmer, that he cannot cultivate his ground ; if a physician, that he knows not how to advise his patient ; and if a servant, that he cannot do his duty to his master. In a word, we do mean that man is so helpless as to be incapable of moral sobriety, honesty, cleanliness, and civility ; but we mean that he cannot spiritually love, fear, and worship God ; that he cannot hold communion with God until power is put forth -in his soul by God. Thus, though Paul was a moral man before his conversion, he was not a spiritual man till called by the Holy Ghost. And " the young man" in the gospel, was a moral man : " all these things have I kept ,from youth up," says he, " what lack I yet?" But in order for him to be perfect, he must become a naked man, and receive Christ's righteousness for his justification before God ; which sense of nakedness and reception of Christ's righteousness, are spiritual acts ; therefore a man must be spiritual to perform them. So I conclude that moral power and spiritual power are widely different, and every man dead in trespasses and sins, is destitute of all spiritual power ; therefore the sentiment that men dead in trespasses and sins, possess a little power to do spiritual good, is false.
Ninthly. That grace reigns is a truth, because it is an attribute of God; but if it reigns it cannot be said to. end, for flowing from the throne of God, through the medium of the person of Christ, into the hearts of God's elect, it has its consummation in glory. Thus we read, " the Lord will give grace and glory," Psalms lxxxiv. 11. He never gives grace without giving glory, and where he has once given grace " he giveth more grace," James iv. 6, and so " of his fulness have we all received and grace for grace." And no sinner can be said to have an opportunity of being saved unless God the Father gave him life in Christ, God the Son died for him, and God the Holy Ghost communicated grace to his heart; and whoever the Holy Ghost communicated grace to, God the Son died for, and God the Father loved for thus we read, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." Not only so, but all who have grace put in them believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ; and " he that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life, John vi. 47. It does not say he shall have everlasting life, but " he hath everlasting life." Then this life being everlasting, the grace which gave it, secured it, and wrought it in the soul, must be everlasting too. If, therefore, grace cannot end because it reigns ; if when grace is given glory is added ; if where grace is once given more is bestowed; if no sinner can be said to have an opportunity of being saved unless the Father loves him, Jesus dies for him, and the Holy Spirit quickens him ; if when the Holy Spirit gives grace a man believes in Jesus Christ; and if he that believeth hath everlasting life, then grace must be everlasting, and the sentiment, that " the day of grace ends: Where the sinner does not avail himself of an offered opportunity," must fall to, the ground,. being unscriptural.
Tenthly. That grace is special favour is a truth, because it is said to save and call : " who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling,, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, 2 Tim. i. 9. But that it is universally obtainable, is a tenet at variance with God's word ; because this grace displays itself in choosing, blessing, saving, calling, preserving, and taking to heaven ; as therefore every creature is not chosen, every creature is not blessed, every creature is not saved, every creature is not called, every creature is not preserved unto God's eternal kingdom ; and so every man and woman cannot adopt the words of the apostle-" Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ," Eph. iv. 7. so grace is not universally obtainable.
Eleventhly. That God's love never had a beginning and never will have an end towards the election of grace, and only these can love God, because God first loved them, is blessed truth ; because God's love is from everlasting, for he does not say to his church I will love thee to everlasting, but I have loved thee with an everlasting love : God has loved them, it is without beginning, and he is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," therefore it is without end. And God never deceives, for all whom he loves he loves immutably, all whom he designs to save he appoints to salvation, and all whom he will glorify he makes willing in the day of his power; therefore all such will know, sooner or later, what it is to love God. But that God will love the rest if they first love him, is making man's love the foundation of God's love ; and that man's love cannot be the foundation of God's love is certain, because God's love has no beginning, and man's has ; God's love is infinite, man's is finite ; God's love is immutable, lie says, " I am the Lord, I change not;" but man's love is constantly changing. Therefore this tenet is false.
Twelfthly. That prayer cannot be spiritually put forth after God, by men who are not born of the Spirit, is a truth ; because, if it could, there would have been no need of the promise, " I will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication;" but that it is man's duty to pray that he may be made alive, is false. Man's duty, as a creature, has nothing to do with newness of life in Christ, because newness of life in Christ Jesus, and creature-ship, are infinitely different relations to God; the one is spiritual, the other natural ; the one is gospel, the other legal; the one is by Eternal choice, the other is in common with all creation ; the one is by the special operation of the Spirit, the other is by his common dealings among men; such as causing the sun to shine upon the evil and the good, sending rain upon the just and the unjust, feeding the cattle upon a thousand hills, and causing the earth to bring forth the herb, yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit ; and true prayer never takes place till the quickening power of the Spirit is known, and then, but not before, are these words understood, " praying in the Holy Ghost." If' then man's duty as a creature has nothing to do with newness of life in Christ, and. none can pray for life till quickened by the Holy Ghost, it is not man's duty to pray that lie may be made alive.
This yea and nay gospel is admired by the world, because it gives every man a chance, and it is the more easily received, because there is so much truth in it; but it is vastly different from that grace which is unfolded in the gospel of the ever blessed God. A yea and nay gospel will be received by Arminians with all the pleasure imaginable, because though it differs in some measure from their sentiments generally, yet there is so much that favours their own views, that any man who pretends to be a Calvinist, and will preach according to a yea and nay system, will be very cordially allowed to preach for them. A yea and nay gospel is so full of universal charity, that all its advocates are distinguished for a greater love to mankind in general than to God's church in particular, so that Infidels, Papists, Arians, and Socinians, are generally found among those whom they highly esteem ; but to every faithful servant of God the words of the Lord, by Jehu the son of Hanani to Jehoshaphat, may be applied, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?" 2 Chron. xix. 2. Therefore I rejoice, in the moment of writing, that, contrary to these yea and nay men, I believe in that grace of God which fixed upon its objects before time, and will never let them go ; that reigns without man's help ; that provides without man's asking ; that delivers without man's strength ; that preserves amidst corruptions within, and foes without; that offers itself to none, but gives life to whom it will; that grace the day of which will never close ; that grace, which will acknowledge no gospel as the right gospel, but that which consists in yea and amen; that grace which will make an Arminian gnash his teeth ; that grace which half and half professors are afraid to say too much of, lest it should lead to sin; that grace which is the stumbling stone of thousands who bear the Christian name; that grace which removes every stumbling block for them in whole it works ; that grace which devils cannot take from me ; that grace which the world cannot force me from, because they cannot force it from me ; that grace which many so much hate, as to compass sea and land to persuade men not to hear preached ; that grace, the preaching of which will subject the preacher to reproaches, persecutions, and, in some instances, death itself; that grace which times and seasons never can alter ; that grace which makes a believer shout victory in the midst of tribulation, gives him strength to trample upon the devil, and overcome the world ; that grace which never changes when its objects do ; that grace which embitters sin and endears the Redeemer ; that grace by which we love God and hold communion with him ; that grace which melts the heart, spiritualizes the thoughts, revives a believer's drooping spirits, leads from the world, brings near God, makes self despicable, and heavenly realities desirable; that grace which sometimes brings heaven into my soul, and will at last take me to heaven ; that grace which will make me smile at death, and shine in robes of light for ever; that grace which gives me an inheritance to which, by nature, I have no right; that grace which makes me higher than angels ; and that grace which throughout eternity will make me sing and shout of his superior worth, who bowed the heavens, and came down to set his people free from sin, from sorrow, and from death.
Reader, what think you of this grace ? If you are carnal, it is that which you will hate. For it savours too much of heaven to please your earthly affections, too much of spirituality to please your carnal desires, and too much of God's work to please your self-righteous nature : but if you are born from above, this grace nourishes your soul, and the more it reigns and shines within your heart the more highly will the grace of God be prized by you, and the more will the rotten system of a yea and nay gospel be rejected. A yea and nay system is so completely at variance with the harmony, certainty, and glory of the gospel of Christ ; so repugnant to the feelings of a spiritual mind ; so full of confusion, emptiness, and vanity ; so opposed to Scripture history, Scripture promises, and Scripture precepts, that it carries within its bosom its own confutation. So that all who love purity in principle, certainty in design, and harmony in sound, must at once reject a system like this, where nothing but impurity, contingency, and confusion abound. Its essence originates with the father of lies, and must lead to him again, which all who rest upon it will find to their unspeakable woe. But, reader, it will be your mercy to be building all your hopes upon that gospel which consists in yea and amen. Then though sins and infirmities encompass you, under which you daily groan, yet you have this sweet truth to rejoice in, that the Lord " will rest in his love." Though adversity may often be your lot below, yet it is working out for you a " far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." And though darkness often beclouds your soul, and fears often oppress your mind; yet you will, sooner or later, rejoice in. the delivering power of Christ, for " the vision is for an appointed time, in the end it shall speak, and not lie ; though it tarry,. wait for it."
CONSOLATION FOR MOURNERS.
Consolation for Mourners.
Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God," Isaiah xl. 1.
CHRIST says, " Blessed are they that mourn." Not they shall be blessed, but, they are blessed; and this blessedness cannot be reversed : for Balaam tried all he could to alter God's mind, and so does the devil, the world, and the flesh, to this day. But all Zion's foes shall be confounded, while, with hellish grief, they each one day must own, "he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it." There are, however, mourners who have nothing to do with the blessedness Christ speaks of; therefore Christ, speaking by his servant Isaiah, long before his incarnation, says, that he was anointed to comfort those that " mourn in Zion." " Man is born unto trouble," so that all Adam's children mourn more or less; " but the sorrow of the world worketh death." Therefore the question becomes important, What is it to be a mourner ? It is to know the evil of sin, the plague of the heart, and the workings of an evil nature. It is to walk in darkness and have no light, to be persecuted for righteousness sake, and to be in prison and not able to come forth. A mourner feels sin is an evil, because it hinders his approach to God, interrupts his communion with God, and drives him from God ; it oppresses his mind, contracts guilt upon his conscience, makes him resemble the devil, and act like the world. He therefore "groans, being burdened" with sin ; at the same time he breathes after God, desiring to have nearness of access to him, to receive a smile from him, and to live above the flesh. He knows the plague of his own heart," because he finds everything the devil suggests it is ready to receive, and every affliction God sends it is inclined to murmur at. While his affairs are easy his heart can cry " thy will be done;" but when troubles arise, this cry ceases, and the heart is ready to say, " God deals harder with me than he does with others." If lie attends God's house, the devil and the world often carry on traffic together in his heart. And unless Jesus comes and drives these buyers and sellers out of his temple, the poor soul who is afflicted by them, will not be able to get one crumb from his master's table. He often sighs on account of the workings of an evil nature. If' he approaches the throne of grace dead formality frequently takes the place of true prayer ; if he communes with God's saints, he is more ready to talk about the affairs of this world than of eternal realities; if he prays in public, his pride is either mortified by his being in bondage, or inflamed by his tongue being loosened ; he would say, when God crosses him, " thy will be done," but he feels peevish and fretful before God, and is more ready to exclaim, like Joseph to his father Jacob, " not so, my Father;" he would view himself as the least of all saints, but sometimes thinks himself better than others ; he would receive a brotherly reproof in love, saying, " let the righteous smite me, and it shall be a kindness, and let him reprove me ; it shell be an excellent oil which shall not break my head," but when the reproof is given, malice works him into a rage ; he would feel for others, " weeping with those that weep, and rejoicing with those that rejoice," but often he envies his brother his happiness or prosperity, though were his brother not happy or prosperous it would be of no advantage to him, and instead of sympathizing, is ready to increase his brother's sorrows ; he would not wish to be thought more than he is in himself, and yet feels the risings of anger the moment he is told what he is. He knows lie is a sinner, but if told so, old nature murmurs at it. He knows he is proud, but if told so, old nature frets and fumes at it. He knows he is ignorant, but if' informed of it, old nature thinks it an insult. He would always act from the best motives, but very often is warm for God and his truth, because some one has offended him, or it answers some worldly purpose. Thus when he " would do good evil is present with him, and the good that he would do that he does not, and the evil that he would not that lie does." When alone he would be spiritually minded, but often feels more carnal then than at any other time ; he would never act the hypocrite, and yet feels all sorts of deceit working within him, and at times showing itself without him; he would always be sober-minded, but frequently feels full of lightness; he would have much of the communion of saints, but feels so carnal at times, that lie would rather do anything than meet with one. Thus when lie lays crown and when he rises up; when he is speaking to God, and when he is speaking of God ; when he is in public, and when he is in private ; when with the world, and when among God's saints; sin works within him, which makes him often sigh, "0 wretched man that I am ! "
But he hates sin and himself, which shows that he is a " partaker of the divine nature ;" be thirsts after God, which shows that 11 the Lord is his portion ;" he resists and struggles with the devil and the world, which shows he is an " heir of heaven ;" he often fears internal corruptions will break out into open actions, and that he will thus disgrace his profession, which shows he possesses a " purified heart he wrestles with the suggestions of the wicked one, which shows he fears God ;" he frequently feels neither " fit for the land," the Lord's people, `t nor yet for the dunghill," the world, which shows he 11 serves the Lord with all humility of mind," and that he is " born from above;" he loves to live out of himself; and as a" good man," is satisfied not in himself, nor with himself, nor by himself, but " from himself;" Prov. xiv. 14. So this shows he is " a good man:" he cannot take it for granted that lie is the Lord's, and is never satisfied without the "earnest of the Spirit in` his heart," which proves he is "taught of God;" lie feels he cannot keep himself, and therefore cries, " hold thou up my goings in thy path," which proves he is "kept by the power of God;" he abhors himself when he indulges vain and earthly thoughts, which shows " his affections are set on things above.'' This mourner is blessed with a knowledge of sin, self, and the devil, so as to hate and fight against each : he is blessed with salvation, holiness, and "heaven lie is blessed with the Father's love, the Son's grace, and the Spirit's power, which blessings are known by none but " the family redeemed from among men."
The true mourner knows what it is to " walk in darkness, and have no light." He often reads the word, but cannot enter into the spirit of it; sits under the ministry of the gospel, can approve of what is said as truth, but can neither taste, handle, nor feel the " word of life." He can look at promises and portions, which, in times and seasons past, proved very precious, but are now quite dry and barren; he therefore thinks past joys nothing but fancies, and the past visits of God's face nothing but delusions; he doubts the reality of religion in others, and still more in himself; or, if there is any religion, he thinks every man has got the right but himself ; he is ready to doubt the truth of Scripture, and to dispute the thing of a God; lie secretly wishes himself anything but a man, that he could creep into_ some cave and never be seen; he imagines every one must know the misery of his mind, and that, consequently, every one thinks he is what he fears himself to be--a deceiver. He dreads hypocrisy more than any other evil, and yet fears he is an hypocrite ; he hopes -he fears -he cries- he endeavours to forget his woe-he is cast down--he hopes again, and mourning sinks into himself. Like Elijah, he gets into a cave at Horeb ; a dry, lonely, and desert spot but God in his own time cones and says, " What doest than here Elijah ? go forth," and immediately he leaves his miserable state. And though God appears in all the glory of Deity, yet nothing but his " still small voice" in the soul, relieves his desponding and agitated feelings; so that the tempest is turned into a calm, the hurricane into tranquillity, the darkness into light, the war into peace, and God is known as a very present help in time of trouble."
Very blessed are the Lord's words to his church while passing through the wilderness- (), thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, I will lay thy stones with fair colours," or ~` divers colours," 1 Chron. xxix. 2. Every regcnerated member of Christ's church possesses divers colours, namely, "sighing" under darkness; "crying" from the loss of God's presence; "asking" for fresh love-tokens grasping" the promise ; "clinging" to the truth ; " pursuing" the. Redeemer; " reaching" after God ; " taking hold" of the covenant ; " waiting" for God; " standing still" to see his salvation ; seeking" his 'wiles, while the enquiry is, 0, when wilt thou comfort me ?" " Watching" his hand, saying, " I will look for him ;" "resisting the devil," exclaiming, Lord help me."
A Pharisee, or false professor, has only one colour, and that is the devil's colour, namely, carnal security : so that not knowing what it is to groan, he knows not what it is to sing-not knowing what it is to be naked, he knows not what it is to be clothed-not knowing what it is to be lost, he knows not what it is to be found not knowing what it is to mourn the absence of God's face, he knows not what it is to have the light of his countenance upon the soul-not knowing what it is to struggle with the powers of darkness, he knows not what is meant by the church's " candle not going out by night," Prov. xxxi. Whereas, dear child of God, your divers colours prove you are a favourite with your heavenly Father ; but you will perhaps say, the words are " fair colours"--very true, these divers colours arise from your life being bid with Christ in God, which must be a fair life, because a perfect life : and thus he says, " thou art all fair, my love ; thou art all fair, there is no spot in thee."
The true mourner is persecuted for righteousness sake : he is called " too particular," "narrow minded," " bigoted," " uncharitable," "Antinomian," " dangerous." He is slandered and spoken against in all shapes and forms, his company is shunned, and his name cast out as evil.
If he is poor in this world, and requires the common necessaries of life, the rich are very shy of helping him, because he does not go to 'their church or chapel. If he is a tradesman, the fashionable professors do not like to deal with him, and advise others to follow their example. He is considered a " troubler," a setter forth of new doctrines," " a fool," "an enthusiast," " a pest to society." He is altogether " unknown" in this world : but" well known" by the Father, as one of his jewels ; " well known" by Jesus, as one of his sheep ; " well known" by the Spirit, as one of his temples. If he makes a blunder, or falls through infirmity of the flesh, it is never forgotten ; but the cry is, " ah, ah ! so would we have it." God has said, " dust shall be the serpent's meat ;" and the weaknesses and falls of God's people become this dust, upon which the serpent feeds himself and all his seed. David knew what his enemies wanted when they encompassed him, for, said he, mine enemies and my foes come upon me to eat up my flesh," that is, the sins of his flesh.
Persecution has never ceased since Abel's day, and the reason is, Christ is the same now as he was then ; for the chief reason why the devil and his followers persecute God's people is, because Christ is in them : therefore, the reason why most professors escape persecution is, because Christ is not in them. Free-willers, universal redemptionists, and formalists, have not Christ in them by the saving testimony of the Holy Ghost, so they are never opposed and never persecuted; on the contrary, always popular, and are always well treated in this world. But, dear child of God, the more the world persecutes you the more you resemble Christ, and the greater reason have you to rejoice, because Christ says, " if ye were of the world the world would love his own ; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Then you are blessed with an interest in election. Christ says, " woe be unto you when all men speak well of you." This woe does not belong to you, dear mourner, then you are blessed with freedom from itt The apostle, speaking of God, says, " the world knoweth us not because it knew him not," I John iii. 1. Then a true mourner is blessed with vital and spiritual adoption into his family. And he says in another place, " as he is so are we in this world," I John iv. 17. How then is God? His word is despised, his truth trampled upon, his name blasphemed, his works disregarded, and his ways hated. Is this how the world serves God? Yes, and precisely thus it serves all who love him. So then, dear mourner, thou art blessed with love to God, oneness with God, and union to God; for thou art despised, trampled upon, spoken against, disregarded, and hated by the world.
But you will say " religious people are my chief persecutors." Yes, and " religious people" were chief persecutors of Old Testament saints, of Christ, and his apostles. Who persecuted Abel ? Religious" Cain. Who tried to curse Israel? "Religious" Balaam. Who opposed Jeremiah ? `~ Religious" Hananiah. Who said to Christ, " thou hast a devil and art mad?" The '1 religious" Pharisees. Who stoned Stephen ? The '` religious" Jews. Who assaulted Paul in the Temple? The " religious" multitude. In fact, none know how to persecute but "religious people," and the more religion they get in their heads while destitute of the power of godliness, the better they can injure God's saints. Nevertheless," no weapon that is formed against thee," mourning soul, " shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth against thee in judgment God will condemn," Isaiah ver. 54. then thou art blessed with constant security. Christ has bought thee out of captivity by his own blood, therefore the devil could not hold thee in his kingdom a moment after thy call by grace; he could not hold thee in legal bondage a moment after the Lord spoke liberty in thy soul; and he may often worry thee but must let thee go at last. The world may persecute, but thou art bought out of captivity to it, therefore overcome it thou must; sin may annoy, but thou art bought out of captivity to it, therefore it shall not destroy thee : death may alarm, but cannot hold thee fast ; the grave must let thee go through, and heaven cannot be shut against thee. God the Father's language to Christ is, " Go through, go through the gates:" and Micah sweetly sings, " their king shall pass before them, and the Lord at the bead of them." Therefore as Christ hath passed through the gates of temptation, desertion, sorrow, reproach, persecution, darkness, hell, death, and the grave, and become a glorious conqueror, so all his mourners must he more than conquerors through him that loved them.
Rejoice, then, mourning soul ;
Thy God is thy sure portion ;
He s thy friend, thy shield,
And everlasting all.
Thou canst not be deceived
Earth, hell, and death,
Must all give way
To enhance thy glory
Thy very troubles, sins, and cares,
Contribute in God's hand
To work together for thy good,
All must be well ;
For Jesus thy deliverer reigns.
God may hide his face, but he will never forget thee ; troubles may encompass thy soul, but thou shalt rise above them all ; darkness may oppress the mind, but " light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart." And that thou art " righteous is certain, because thou art depending upon no other righteousness but Christ's; and that thou art upright is certain, because thou canst appeal to the Lord in these words, " All my desire is before thee ; and my groaning is not hid from thee," "Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee." As this is thy character, dear believer, and so many blessed things are said of thee, do not despair, for soon, very soon, this old tabernacle of thine will be taken down ; then " seeing Christ as he is," thou wilt have no more sorrow, and " being like him," no more sighing. Even so, Amen.
" Gather up the fragments that remain," John vi. 2.
A CHRISTIAN is one who is born from above ; therefore his desires aspire to heaven, his affections are fixed on Christ, and his understanding is illuminated, to see that nothing short of the blood of God's dear Son can cleanse him from sin ; and that no other righteousness can justify him before God, but that which Christ wrought out, God the Holy Ghost reveals, and God the Father imputes to sin-sick souls : he is one who hates all sin, contemns himself, loves holiness, prizes communion with a Triune God, while every truth of the Holy Scriptures is dear to his heart.
A Christian feels that the greatest enemy he has to encounter in this world, is himself; and knows, that though self often deceives him, yet self he as often makes an idol, falls down and worships it.
A Christian is one who meets with much persecution, for his holy fervour and heavenly zeal in contending for pure truth. Many are the hard names with which he is often branded, by flimsy professors, who would be very glad to see him fall into sin. But though falsely designated " an Antinomian," he knows the doctrines of grace in their vital power and efficacy in the heart, so that the doctrines being holy, they have a correspondent effect upon his mind ; being heavenly, he soars above this vain world ; being spiritual, the lust and depravity of his nature causes him constant pain; yea, being majestic, he is not greatly moved amidst the world's frowns, the devil's rage, and his own changeable frames and feelings ; but knows what it is to triumph over all by precious faith. As universal charity is not what is inculcated in the Bible, nor known by the teachings of the Holy Ghost, so he is one who is constrained to differ from the great bulk of professed Christians who are cotemporary with him, and who prefer external appearance to internal evidence, and are concerned more about the conversion of others than the salvation of their own souls.
Good works are much talked of by those who have "the form of Godliness," but are rightly understood and practiced by none but such as are heaven born, heaven taught, and heaven kept.
Good, works are like a shadow, which is produced by light shining upon a dark body. Where there "is no light, there can be no shadow; but when God lights up the lamp of truth in a sinner's heart, nothing can extinguish it, nor prevent his manifesting it, more or less, in his walk and conversation.
One reason why free-willers are so fond of talking about what they are to " do," is, because they " do" anything but live upon Christ.
As God's quickened children are daily learning that they can do nothing, they are more desirous to hear of what Christ has done, when men attempt to preach the gospel, than of what they are to do.
God's grace is too pure to die, too strong to need man's help, and too rich to need creature improving.
One spiritual desire after Christ is worth more than ten thousand times ten thousand worlds; because it proves the professor to be a vessel of mercy, a favorite of heaven, and an heir of God.
Christ has declared, " Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven," Matt. vii. 21. There are many ways by which men say, " Lord, Lord;" who, notwithstanding, will never enter heaven. He who has the name of a Christian, but never takes up his cross to follow Christ, says, " Lord, Lord;" he who says prayers but never prays, says, "Lord, Lord;" he who reads the Scriptures, but never enters into the spirit of them, says, " Lord, Lord;" he who will never loose anything for Christ, and yet professes to follow him, says, " Lord, Lord;" he who changes his religion according as he gains or loses by it, says, "Lord, Lord;" he who sits under the preaching of the gospel, but never tastes, handles, or feels the word of life, says, " Lord, Lord." But as it is the will of the Father, that Christ shall, in all things, have the pre-eminence ; so they do his will who prefer Christ's righteousness to their own, and glory alone in his finished salvation. As it is the Father's will, that all whom he has given to Christ, shall come to him; so they do his will who come to him, as ruined sinners, for deliverance : as worthless rebels, for perfection: as sin-burdened souls, for rest: as destitute criminals, for life : and as forlorn refugees, for shelter. As it is the will of God the Father, that all his children shall be justified by faith without the deeds of the law ; so they do his will who possessing an inwrought persuasion of the freeness, suitability, and sufficiency of Christ's righteousness to justify before God, " count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," and embrace his righteousness for want of a covering.
Christ is God's word to his church, and the church's word to God. He is God's word of love to the church, because God could not express his love to her in any other way than by giving Christ. In him he treasured up all his love, as the safest storehouse that Infinite Wisdom could discover, and as the only suitable medium through which it can be communicated. He is God's word of mercy to his church, being the only way by which pardon arises, peace flows, and health springs. He is God's word of Grace to his church, being the only person through whom "grace reigns unto eternal life." And he is the church's word to God, for she has no other place before God on earth, but the name of Jesus; and when in heaven, Christ's blood will be her only song, and his righteousness her only dress. Afflictions can never do a believer harm, because they are in the management off' none but his heavenly Father, who sends them to profit and not to destroy ; and must accomplish that for which he sends them, because every one of them is in his own hands to remove, to lessen, or increase, as he pleaseth.
A quickened sinner can never perish, because God dwells in him ; and as there is no. variableness nor shadow of turning in God, he does not enter a sinner to-day, and go out to-morrow, but enters to dwell for ever ; the devil cannot drive him out, the world cannot force him out, and the man cannot sin him out.
o ev'ry hungry, thirsty soul,
Panting to know the Lord:
Jesus alone can make you whole,
And food to you afford.
In his rich covenant of grace,
All that you need is given,
For you are of his chosen race,
To whom is promised heav'h.
Here's precious blood to cleanse from filth,
Here's love to melt your heart;
Here's righteousness to justify,
Which can't from you depart.
In Christ is all the strength you need,
In him all wisdom'stor'd;
Dear trembling souls, for you he bled,
Then be his name ador'd.