Robert Sandeman   

1718-1771

 

Introduction & Biographical Sketch

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PDF - Divine Sovereignty Asserted

PDF - Salvation in Christ

PDF - Justification by Christ Alone

PDF - Uncompromising Truth

 

Accomplishments of Christ

Every doctrine, then, which teaches us to do or endeavor anything toward our acceptance with God, stands opposed to the doctrine of the Apostles; which, instead of directing us what to do, sets before us all that the most disquieted conscience can require, in order to acceptance with God, as already done and finished by Jesus Christ. What Christ hath done, is that which pleases God; what he hath done, is that which quiets the guilty conscience of man as soon as he knows it; so that whenever he hears of it, he has no occasion for any other question but this, Is it true or not? If he finds it true, he is happy; if not, he can reap no comfort by it. If then we slight the comfort arising from the bare persuasion of this, it must be owing, at bottom, to our slighting this bare truth, to our slighting the bare work of Christ, and our considering it as too narrow a foundation whereon to rest the whole weight of our acceptance with God. Whereas all Christians of the same stamp with Paul, can never see it in too bare a light, and are ready to say, Far be it; that we should glory, save in the cross, where that work was finished. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Conditionalism

They constantly represent faith to us as furnished with hands, feet, wings, &c, or under the notion of some instrument operating our peace with God. Accordingly, they ascribe to it various ideas of motion and action; and though a very simple motion well meant may do the business, yet that which has the greatest activity in it, is commended to us as by far the best. Thus we are taught by Mr. Ralph Erskine, “Though a slow and simple motion, if it be real and upright, is what has the promise. Him that cometh he will in no wise cast out; yet the Scripture speaks of a hasting, striving, running, fighting, and wrestling, that should be aimed at. A man that is running from the greatest misery to the greatest happiness, would endeavor to have his motion such, as would evidence his hatred to the one, and his great liking to the other.” {Sermon entitled, ‘Christ’s Love Suit’} If we deprive their faith of its hands, feet, and every idea of motion, we shall be at the greatest loss to know what it is; whereas nothing is more easy to be understood than the belief of a truth, or one's being persuaded, that a report is true. - But no stone has been left unturned to intercept the light of the sacred truth, and decoy our attention with an endless variety of the most abominable jargon about faith. The time and pains taken by the Apostles, in holding forth the Gospel concerning Christ, have been employed by thousands of preachers in directing us how to search for farthings in a dunghill. The word ‘merit,’ as applied to our faith or our endeavors after it, has generally fallen into disrepute among the Protestants, as having been long tarnished by Popish fingers. Instead of it ‘condition’ is often used with approbation. Yet this has likewise become suspected; and many preachers scruple to use it without clogging it with some explication. ‘Instrument,’ I think, is now the word least accepted against; and this can serve us for receiving, applying, closing with, and taking hold of the proposed benefit. And this instrument is sometimes a mouth for receiving, and sometimes a hand for taking and giving. We are likewise told, that faith has two hands; one for taking home Christ to ourselves, and another for giving away ourselves to Christ. - We also hear much of terms. If they venture to tell us, that we are justified by a righteousness imputed to us, they must add, upon the terms of the gospel. Accordingly, they warmly exhort to comply with, and accept of the terms, or to receive the benefit on gospel-terms. Thus we are taught to treat the Deity, as free states or sovereign princes do with each other; the one obtaining peace of the other by complying with his terms. In short, these men will make a thousand shifts rather than speak plain truth. Let all the prophets and apostles be consulted upon the question. What is required of us in order to acceptance with God? We will find their unanimous reply to be. Everything or nothing; for no trimming is countenanced among them. If we attempt to do in any sense, we bind ourselves to do all; yea, the least attempt to do in this matter, is shown to be damnably criminal. What, then, is the ground of hope? Christ alone! Where shall we find among the popular preachers that unreserved freedom of speech which so well becomes the declaration of Divine Truth? We shall seldom find them speaking anything like the language of the Gospel, without cautioning, mincing, or clogging it with some exceptive, but, if, only, though, &c. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Conditionalism

Though this writer’s {Jonathan Edwards} professed design is to support the doctrine of the gospel, I am sorry I cannot recommend him as giving us any just view of the grand point of a sinner’s acceptance with God; especially as, in my view, the whole controversy {between Calvinism & Arminianism} is of very little consequence, but in so far as that grand point is concerned. Though he has much occasion to speak of the influence of commands, invitations, &c.; yet, so far as I could perceive, he takes no notice of any difference between the gracious command that freely communicates life and hope to the guilty, and any other command requiring the performance of some duty or good action in order to acceptance with God. Or, to express myself in fewer words, it does not appear to me from that book, that he has duly attended to the grand opposition stated in the New Testament between the law of faith and the law of works. He rather seems in agreement with the bulk of the reputed orthodox to speak of exerting faith in Christ as on a footing; that is, as on a footing with performing other spiritual gospel duties. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Conditionalism

Now, readers, after you have heard the orthodox so plainly affirming that justification is an act of God’s free grace, and the Scripture so clearly supporting that affirmation, suffer them not to put the change upon you. Beware of their circumlocutions. Whenever they begin to talk to you of any act you are to exert in order to acceptance, and to call it a justifying act, which you are to exert by the help of God’s grace, be you ready to reply, Avaunt; none of your tricks. You have already asserted, and we hold you fast by this assertion, that justification is an act of God’s free grace. Remember also, that the teachers of orthodoxy call themselves preachers of the gospel, and that the word gospel is allowed to signify good news, or glad tidings; which you know, in every other case, gladden the heart so soon as they are understood and known to be true. Whenever, then, they begin to tell you of any pious act necessary in order to acceptance, you can immediately reply, this is no good news, for Moses long ago told us our duty, assuring us of happiness in our compliance; neither is it glad tidings to us in our present circumstances. If, then, you would preach gospel to us, you must tell us something fit to give us joy, as we presently stand unconscious of any distinguishing qualification. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Contending for the Faith

These men despise you on the account of the likeness your doctrine bears to that of the apostles, or rather judging yours and theirs to be the same. The very sound of imputed sin, or imputed righteousness is disagreeable to their ears; and the subject does not appear to them to be of sufficient importance to draw their serious attention, or to lead them to inquire what the Scripture says or means concerning it. Thus you are vile in their eyes; and it would complete my esteem for you, could I hear you saying, with the man after God’s own heart. “And I will yet be more vile than thus.” {II Sam.6:22} Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Contending for the Faith

Under the influence of the prince and god of this world, we find the Roman virtue, the devout zeal of the Pharisees, and the more enlarged sentiments of the Sadducees, all pointed against Christ, who is the ultimate object of the fullness of the Divine good pleasure and delight. Hence we may see, when Paul came to know the dignity of the Person who suffered on the cross, and observed there what aspect the world bare to the source of all his happiness, with how great propriety and majesty he said. “Far be it that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” At the cross of Christ, Paul took his last leave of the world, and all that is admired in it. Hence we see what he was to expect from it in his course of preaching salvation through that cross. - The whole corruption of revelation, with every notion of the Divine character opposite to the gospel, is in the New Testament called the darkness of this world. The adversary and his angels are called the rulers of that darkness. Agreeably to this, Paul speaking of those who with himself knew the grace of God in truth, says, “Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” {Col.1:12,13} We have seen, then, whence the apostles learned to insist so much as they do in their writings, in declaring what is of the world, and what is of God; or, in other words, what is of the flesh, and what is of the spirit; and in stating the opposition betwixt these in the strongest manner; and to be so diligent in animating Christians to fight the good fight of faith, and contend earnestly for it; and why they issued so many awful threatenings against all who went about by any kind of trimming, or reconciling methods to quench the fire of that contention which Jesus Christ came to revive in the earth. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” {Mt.10:34} Those who wanted to make a fair show in the flesh, and sought to make Christianity more palatable to men, or less obnoxious to their hatred, that the offence of the cross might cease, gave the apostles the greatest disquiet. Though nothing is reckoned more idle and foolish by many called Christians, than a controversy about the faith; yet the great effect of the Spirit of the truth on any man in whom he dwells, is to make him zealous in contending for it, and withal ready to bear patiently all the effects of the world’s hatred and contempt of it. Thus he labors for the glory of God; thus he shows the greatest good will to men. Paul spent his life in this contention, and he thought it well bestowed therein. Yea, {says he in his Epistle to the Philippians,} “if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” And he urges these same Christians to zeal in this contention, after his example, as the great purpose for which they were gathered together into church order; yea, as the principal characteristic of a conversation becoming the gospel. “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” {1:27-30} Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Contending for the Faith

I shall now close my remarks on the zealous Jews, by taking notice of the reason the Apostle gives why they came short of righteousness, or acceptance with God. He tells us, that while they sought it, as it were, by the works of the law, they stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” They considered the bare report concerning Christ crucified, as too weak a bottom to stand on before God; they were disgusted at it, as one would be at the proposal to venture his life on the water in a basket. They would willingly have followed a Messiah that would have given them some employment in the matter; and they would have given a ready ear to him, teaching them how they might work the works of God; but they could not bear the thought, that all their good notions and desires should be utterly set at nought; so they could neither understand nor believe that Jesus came down from heaven to work the work of God for men, by himself alone. The same disgust is evidently to be seen still among those who have the greatest repute for Christian orthodoxy and piety. But if it be necessary that I should be still more plain, I am very willing to avoid all ambiguity, and freely own, I have nowhere observed the Jewish disgust at the bare truth, or, which is the same thing, the bare work of Christ, more evident than among the admirers of the doctrine of Messrs. Marshall, Boston, Erskines, Whitefield, Wesley, and such like. I am far from denying, that there are some among these, who, not knowing the depths of such doctrine, find all their comfort in the simple truth; even as I am far from denying, that when the Messiah was born, there were some even among the sect of the Pharisees, who waited for the consolation of Israel, and avoided the pernicious maxims of their party. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Contending for the Faith

I have used some freedom with the names of several eminent preachers. But I have no occasion to apologize for this to the friends of Paul's gospel; for such will readily perceive that there was no attacking the popular doctrine to any purpose, without making an honest essay towards profaning the divinity of those demi-gods, whose authority supports it, and whose credit must stand or fall together with it. Meanwhile, the votaries of that doctrine may, if they please, rest quietly assured, that the voice of truth will be heard only by a very few in the midst of the more alluring cries of worldly factions, and that Paul’s gospel will never pretend to set up for a rival to theirs in this world. Perhaps it will be thought needful, that I should define, with greater precision than I have hitherto done, what I mean by the popular doctrine; especially as I have considered many as preachers thereof who differ remarkably from each other; and particularly as I have ranked amongst them Mr. Wesley, who may justly be reckoned one of the most poisonous reproachers of that God, whose character is drawn by the apostles, that this island has produced. To remove all doubt concerning my meaning, I shall thus explain myself. Throughout these letters, I consider all those as teachers of the popular doctrine, who seek to have credit and influence among the people, by resting our acceptance with God, not simply on what Christ hath done, but more or less on the use we make of him, the advance we make toward him, or some secret desire, wish, or sigh to do so; or of something we feel or do concerning him, by the assistance of some kind of grace or spirit; or, lastly, on something we employ him to do, and suppose he is yet to do for us. In sum; all who would have us to be conscious of something else than the bare truth of the gospel; {the work of Christ objectivity set forth in the Scriptures,} all who would have us to be conscious of some beginning of a change to the better, or some desire, however faint, toward such change, in order to our acceptance with God; these I call the popular preachers, however much they may differ from each other about faith, and grace, or about anything else. For I am disposed rather to reconcile than widen the various differences among them. - Where there is a real difference from the apostles on the point of acceptance with God, however small and insignificant it may seem, when obscured with a multitude of words, either without meaning, or fitted only to deceive, it will be found in its effects and consequences, wide as the difference betwixt Christ and Belial, light and darkness, heaven and hell. To lead Christians to distinguish with the utmost jealously and care, upon this point, is the great scope and constant aim of the apostles in all their writings; yea, this is the principal branch of instruction inculcated throughout all the Scriptures; and in nothing more evidently does it appear how cheap the gospel is held by many of its professed friends, than in their want of this jealousy, and their readiness to count differences about faith of small importance. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Contending for the Faith

Seeing it is the fashion to recommend religious books, I am willing to comply with it for once. If anyone chooses to go to hell by a devout path, rather than by any other, let him study to form his heart on any one of these four famous treatises: Mr. Guthrie’s, “Trial of a Saving Interest in Christ;” Mr. Marshall’s, “Gospel Mystery of Sanctification;” Mr. Boston’s, “Human Nature in its Fourfold State;” and Mr. Doddridge’s, “Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul.” If any profane person, who desires to be converted, shall take pains to enter into the spirit of these books, it will be easy to show, from the New Testament, that he thereby becomes twofold more the child of hell than he was before. If none of these four are at hand, he may, without travelling far, easily read or hear plenty of sermons and books to the same purpose. On the other hand, if anyone has got an ear for the truth of God, and desires to have his mind established therein, let him read the history of Jesus Christ, and the Acts of the Apostles, recorded by the Four Evangelists. Would he be skillful in distinguishing the ancient gospel from all counterfeits, and so expert in fighting the good fight of faith; let him read Paul’s Epistles. Would he know what is pure and undefiled religion before God, in distinction from idle talking about it; let him read James. Would he learn sobriety of mind, and patience in suffering for the truth, and have his veneration for the greatest names in the Antichristian world abated; let him read Peter and Jude. Would he be satisfied that his spiritual joys are not the joys of the hypocrite, but that they arise from fellowship with the true God, so are the sure pledges and real beginnings of life eternal; let him read the Epistles of John. Would he know the true state and appearance of the kingdom of God in this world, and the world to come, and so have his mind fortified against all modern dreams, visions, and prophecies; let him read the Revelations of the last mentioned Apostle. Would he have a safe and authentic commentary on the Old Testament, to prevent his being imposed upon by the deceitful glosses of ancient or modern Jews; let him consult all these apostolic writings together. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Divine Sovereignty

No doctrine in Scripture wears a more amiable and inviting aspect to the self-condemned, than that of the Divine Sovereignty, as described by Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, especially, chap. ix. This removes every cause of despair to the most wretched of mankind. For who can be led to despair by the view of any deficiency about himself whatever, who knows that none but the utterly deficient are chosen of God to salvation? As no doctrine is more encouraging than this to the miserable, so none is more provoking to the sons of pride, who want to stand upon their distinctions before God, and are not yet reduced so low as to be entirely at mercy for their salvation. Though this doctrine is not yet erased out of the standards of either of our national churches, yet it is generally opposed, and held in great contempt both by clergy and laity, as well as by the Dissenters. Many declaimers about the Divine Benevolence, with open mouth, show their spite against the Divine goodness preached by Paul. Many zealous disputers against Deists and Infidels, with great arrogance renounce the Sovereign of the Universe. And if we observe the artifices of the popular preachers, we shall find them likewise denying that “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Yet this hated article of the Sovereignty of the Divine choice, will ever be held most sacred by all who love the Ancient Gospel. To them it is highly acceptable, because they know that there was no occasion for such Sovereignty to appear, but that grace might be shown to the worthless. They know that otherwise all mankind, without distinction, had perished according to every rule of equity. The popular preachers are greatly disgusted at this doctrine, because, according to their own style, "here is no visible ground for faith to rest upon." Here no man's pride is flattered; no man can find any ground to presume that the Deity regards him more than others. Therefore, while they are busy in stimulating their hearers to the exercise of faith, they are at great pains to keep this doctrine as far removed from their thoughts as possible. But when once the hearers, by their assistance, have prepared some ground for faith to rest upon, then they are freely allowed to solace themselves with the doctrine of election, because they have now acquired some reason why God in his choice should respect them more than others. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Divine Sovereignty & Justice

Furthermore; from sheer ignorance of Divine Justice, and contempt of Divine Sovereignty, did the ancient Jewish disaffection to the Gospel flow. Therefore Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, for herein he labors to shut up every door of hope but that of grace in Christ alone, making it his business, in an especial manner, to establish and set forth, in the strongest light, these two Divine Perfections, and to repel every objection that can arise in the mind of man against them. The Justice and Sovereignty of God are pretty openly opposed by all our preachers of best fashion, and who are esteemed to be men of the best sense, as speaking most agreeably to what is called Nature; that is, if we attend to the Scripture, most agreeably to human pride. But those who have the greatest ear with the people play with both hands. Their doctrine is double. In formally stating the articles of their creed in opposition to heretics, they seem to acknowledge these Divine Perfections, as held forth in Scripture; but, in their addresses to the people, they effectually overthrow them. So that, whatever way they maintain these perfections, it plainly appears they do not love them; for the main tendency and issue of their doctrine is, to set them aside. - Before we leave this topic, it may be proper to observe that many noted preachers, pretending to enlarge our ideas of the wisdom and power of God, plainly discover their own ignorance of his justice, while they tell us that God, if he had pleased, might have devised some other method of taking away sin than by the sacrifice of his Son. On this it may suffice to say, that had there been such a possibility in the Deity, it had without all peradventure taken place, in answer to the supplication of Jesus, “O my Father, if it he possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Again, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” {Note: I shall here take notice of this passage, which exhibits the highest view of the unparalleled obedience and submission of Jesus Christ; and the rather, because his behavior on this occasion has been thought by many to stand in need of something very like an apology; as, {Hervey: Dial. vol. 1, p. 135,} “that his sufferings were so great, so terrible, that his nature, being human, could not but recoil a little, and be startled at their approach.” These prayers are referred to in Heb.5:7, where it is said of Christ, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” or rather, “was heard for his reverence or piety.” In these prayers, he offered up the perfection of obedience in full confidence of acceptance. The more holy any person is, or the more fervently he loves God, and delights in His favor, so much the greater aversion and reluctance he must have to his displeasure, or the hiding of his face; or, to say the same thing in other words, the less any man loves God, the less disquiet will he feel at the want of the sense of his favor. Jesus Christ loved the Father with a perfect heart, and therefore, he had the utmost insupportable aversion to his displeasure when he felt it. This was death to him. So when he began to be sorrowful, and very heavy, on the hiding of the Father's face from him, he signified to his disciples that he knew this sorrow would kill him; “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death;” yet to that misery, to which he was as averse as he was holy, he submitted, for the glory of his Father and the salvation of his people. Here, then, we see manifested such perfection of love to, or delight in God, and withal such perfect and unparalleled submission to his will, as equally became a Divine Person. And his aversion is expressed in no stronger terms than were necessary to show the greatness of his submission. Both are strongly marked to us in these words, “Not my will, but thine be done.” All the words, then, which Jesus uttered in his agony, equally conspire to manifest a disposition truly Divine, and that he who uttered them was a Divine Person.} Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Divine Undeniable Truth

Genuine Christianity must always appear as an insult on the taste of the public; yea, the most respectable part of the public, and that in the most important matters. This, it is evident, must be the case, so long as she bears for her motto. “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God;” and while, as a proper counterpart to this, her favorite topic is, to show, that the character which was, and still continues to be disallowed of men, is chosen of God, and precious in his sight. On this account, her presence everywhere awakens aversion and disgust. Yet she is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is everyone that retaineth her. And though her enemies will always find cause to despise her, yet she will ever be justified of all her children. - She comes not to offer problems to exercise the wit of man, but to declare Divine truth, she boldly, on the part of heaven, denounces her anathema against all who oppose or corrupt that truth. Had she brought less strength of evidence, and affirmed with less assurance, she would have been more acceptable to the wise and prudent; but, then, at the same time, she would have yielded so much the less comfort to the weak, the foolish, and the destitute. For it is well known, that when the heart of man comes to sink under its proper weakness, {and the stoutest heart soon or late grows weak,} nothing less can then support it, than the all-commanding evidence and authority of Divine Undeniable Truth. - Though she concurs not with any of the parties aspiring after the public leading in religion, nor animates any of her children with such emulation; yet she forms a peculiar union among her children, altogether upon the maxims of the kingdom of heaven, teaching them to love one another, and never to dream that their cause can flourish and prevail till the resurrection of the dead. She animates them to maintain, with tenacious and inflexible zeal, that Heavenly Truth, which ascertains the purity of the Divine character, in opposition to all the corruption of the world, even that truth which is the bond of their union, and the source of their common joy; while she teaches them, as to everything human and selfish, or all things within their own disposal, to be flexible, gracious, and yielding both among themselves and toward all men. Well knowing, that the truth which unites them will always expose them to the hatred of the world, she would have them careful as much as in them lies, not to dishonour their grand controversy, by giving men any other occasion to reproach them. Accordingly, one of her faithful sons, after describing her opposite, who assumes her garb, as earthly, sensual, and devilish, gives her true character thus. “The wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy, and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” - However much Christian writers differ among themselves, they are generally agreed in being disposed, each in his way, to contribute their utmost that Christianity may flourish and prevail. The reason is obvious. Multitudes not much concerned to know what Christianity is, are easily intoxicated with the fond notion of a flourishing and prevailing cause. What flourishes and prevails in the earth, will always draw the admiration of the world, even as its prevalence must be owing to its coincidence with the taste of the world. - To this observable disposition in mankind, we may, in a great measure, attribute the success which many preachers have had in awakening an occasional fondness for religion among the inhabitants of whole regions, while they have been exerting their eloquence to give them a prelibation of happier times. To the same purpose with what is above noted, it has been observed, that the strain of writing in these letters can never serve to promote the interest of religion. This observation likewise deserves the attention of the reader; and it readily calls to mind the reason why the Jews were so averse to the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah. The whole tenor of his language, temper, and conduct, appeared to them so much the reverse of being fit to promote the interest of religion, that, for the sake of that very interest, they conspired against him; as they did afterward, on the same account, against his apostles. Nor did the ‘Christian’ cause begin to flourish and prevail in the world till the Christian leaders began to be more concerned about the interest of religion, than about the truth of the gospel in its native simplicity. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Faith

Now, I speak not of those who have employed their weapons against the Person and Work of Christ, endeavoring to make us lose sight of Him as a Divine Person, and of his acting as the Substitute and Representative of sinners in the whole of his obedience unto death; such as have got any taste of the good Word of God, are not in the greatest danger of being subverted by these; but I speak of those teachers, who, having largely insisted on the corruption of human nature, concluded the whole world guilty before God, eloquently set forth the necessity of an atonement, zealously maintained the scriptural doctrine concerning the Person and Work of Christ; yet, after all, leave us as much in the dark as to our comfort, as if Jesus Christ had never appeared; and mark out as insuperable a task for us, as if he had not finished his work; while, with great assiduity and earnestness, they are busied in describing to us, animating us with various encouragements, and furnishing us with manifold instructions, how to perform that strange something which is to make out our connection with Christ, and bring his righteousness home to us; that something which has got many names, and includes divers considerations; all which have been supposed to be comprehended under the scriptural expression ‘faith;’ as to which, after all they have told us about it, we are at as great a loss to tell distinctly what it is, or what we are doing when we perform it, if not greater, than when they began. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Faith & Believing

Many, despising disputes about faith, take a pleasure in saying, “if we do as we would be done by, we hope God will not condemn us, or make any inquiry about what was our faith.” Agreed; do this, and you shall live. If you hope then to live by doing your duty, take care henceforth to do it perfectly. If you have already sinned, hope to live by your repentance, take care that your repentance be sincere, uniform, effectual, and permanent. Let your repentance be such an effectual turning away from all sin, as to admit of no return in any one instance. Let it be such a turning to righteousness as to admit of no failure. For the moment you fail in any one instance, all your former righteousness goes for nothing. Hearken not to the teachers, who would persuade you to compromise or abridge your duty into one or more acts of faith, contrition, or repentance. This would be making void; yea, mocking both the Law and the Gospel, for neither of these acknowledge that for righteousness which comes short of perfection. Do not then imagine that God will accept of any righteousness short of perfection, be it called sincerity or by any other name. If you pretend then to do anything less or more in order to acceptance with God, you must do everything. God is not mocked. Go not about to impose on yourselves, by substituting, instead of the perfect obedience that God’s Law requires, any ambiguous, equivocal acts or motions of the heart. For you cannot do your duty to purpose, unless in plain terms, and in good earnest, you obey every Divine precept, performing everything required, and avoiding everything forbidden by the Divine Law. On the other hand, if there be any of you who, after many repeated trials, have found all your most serious endeavors to do your duty to prove in the issue both unsuccessful and deceitful, and have accordingly been brought to despair of so much as thinking one good thought, if it could save your souls forever, then certainly you have great reason to bless God for that Gospel, which evinces, with the highest kind of demonstration, that all is already done; {accomplished by Christ, for that which Christ did long before we were born is alone sufficient to justify us as we presently stand;} for - the Gospel is called the ministration of righteousness, as it brings the glad tidings that a perfect righteousness is already wrought for the ungodly. The Law came demanding righteousness; the Gospel brings you the good news, that its demand is fully answered. Are you persuaded of this; or does this stand true in your consciences? Then you have found an answer to that most pinching of all questions, “wherewith shall I come before the Lord?” And now you can understand the nature of the command to believe, that it is not a command calling you to do anything, or any new law of works, but the gracious voice of God willing you to know, that everything required is already done, even a gracious proclamation, stamped with the highest proofs of Divine Authority, approaching you with all the force of a Divine Law, and carrying in itself evidence all sufficient to command the belief or persuasion of your hearts. For how vain, how absurd is it to talk of a command to believe, that carries not along with it evidence sufficient to command persuasion, or to produce belief in the heart. Robert Sandeman {Essay on Preaching, 1763}

Faith & Truth

As Jesus Christ and the apostles often speak of faith and the truth interchangeably, or to the same purpose, we may just point at a few instances. “TRUTH came by Jesus Christ.” {Jn.1:17} “But before FAITH came.” {Gal.3:23} “After that FAITH is come.” {vs.25} “That they also might be sanctified through the TRUTH.” {Jn.17:19} “Which are sanctified by FAITH.” {Acts 26:18} “The Spirit of TRUTH.” {Jn.16:13} “The Spirit of FAITH.” {II Cor.4:13} “Every one that is of the TRUTH.” {Jn.18:37} “They which be of FAITH.” {Gal.3:9} “Obedient to the FAITH.” {Acts 6:7} “In obeying the TRUTH.” {I Pet.1:22} “The unfeigned FAITH that is in thee.” {II Tim.1:5} “For the TRUTH’S sake, which dwelleth in us.” {II Jn.1:2} “The TRUTH that is in thee.” {III Jn.1:3} I might likewise take notice of many other phrases, where the style is somewhat varied, but which still carry the same meaning; as where Paul, speaks of being justified by faith, and justified by his blood; by both which it is plain, he means the same thing. {Rom.5:1 & 9} Everyone who believes the same truth which the apostles believed, has equally precious faith with them. - The saving truth which the apostles believed was that Jesus is the Christ. The apostles had one uniform fixed sense to these words, and the whole New Testament is writ to ascertain to us in what sense they understood them. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ in a different sense from the apostles, or who maintains anything in connection with these words subversive of their real meaning, believes a falsehood. - In the days of the apostles many affirmed along with them, that Jesus is the Christ, who yet meant very differently from them. The far greater part of Christendom will affirm in like manner; yet we shall not easily find many who, when they come to explain themselves, have the same meaning with the apostles. Let us then, lay aside all questions about faith, or how a man believes; and let the only question be. What does he believe? What sense does he put on the apostolic doctrine about the way of salvation? Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Gospel of Christ

The gospel, which declares the accomplishment of Christ, does not save men by instructing them what to do, and stimulating their emulation, but by declaring what God himself hath wrought; even as the prophet Isaiah taught men to expect, when he said, “Lord, thou will ordain peace for us; for thou also hast wrought all our works for us.” Christian teachers generally set the righteousness of the Messiah in the same position toward men, as the Jews did the righteousness of the Law; and the self-justifying labor marked out for the hearers is made to consist in their serious endeavors to come within reach of that righteousness. Let us hear the Divine address, by the prophet Isaiah, to Israel, who followed after righteousness, “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD; look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” {Is.51:1,2} - All Abraham’s true children, in a manner answerable to the pattern of his faith, perceiving nothing about themselves that can in the least promote their justification; yea, nothing but what, on the contrary, serves to condemn them, do yet find all that is needful to justify them in the Divine word, testifying of Christ as delivered for the offences of sinners, and raised again for their justification. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Gospel of the Grace of Christ

Happy is it for men that God does not consider our condition in the manner that we commonly do. Perhaps the world never made a finer appearance as to all that is admired in it, than {at that particular time in history} when the Lord “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” The Roman power and laws had civilized the world; the Greeks had enlightened it with learning and wisdom; and the Jews diffused piety everywhere. Peace, with her many advantages prevailed, to render the life of men more agreeable. But how did it then appear in the eye of the LORD? Isaiah informs us: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” {Is.60:2} Were we to take a summary view of the images used to describe the state of the world then, we should find it now considered under the notion of a great infirmary of sick, maimed, and bruised; than under that of a vast and darksome dungeon, filled with criminals in chains, ready for execution, &c. Moreover, those to whom mercy was shown, are represented as extremely insensible of their real condition as past feeling; yea, dead in trespasses and sins. But, says the messengers of glad tidings to the heathen, “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us; even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” {Eph.2:4,5} The Lord’s mercy is not narrow and limited; nor, like that of man, backward to interpose, till some inviting and amiable requisite appear in the object. No; it prevents the most hardened rebels, and brings every requisite along with it; or rather Divine Grace operates all its effects by the sole requisite, the Righteousness of Christ which it brings to view. It reigns among the insensible and the dead through that righteousness unto eternal life. If we inquire of Paul, why the gospel is called the power of God unto salvation, he tells us, “For therein is the righteousness of God, revealed.” If we ask again, how the righteousness it reveals appears to be Divine, he adds, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” {Rom.1:18} In the death of Christ, where wrath was evidently revealed from heaven, we have the broadest view of the Divine displeasure against all unrighteousness of men, as well as a high proof illustrated by his resurrection, how differently God judges of righteousness from what men do; that which was highly esteemed among men, being found to be an abomination in his sight; and that which was disallowed of men, found to be chosen of God and precious. In the death of Christ, then, is held forth the broadest view of human guilt and misery, and the clearest discovery of the all-sufficient remedy. There Divine judgment itself is made to rest for a light to the nations. There is no occasion, then, for popular preachers to lead men through their idle process of a law-work, before they will condescend to display the glad tidings before them. If Christian teachers would imitate the Apostles in preaching, let them hold forth the sacred truth, Christ crucified, the Divine wisdom and power of God to salvation; and so leave it wholly to God to make converts. Gospel Truth is all-sufficient. It needs no requisite, no preparative from man to produce a relish for it. It creates a relish for itself; it answers to the majesty of him whose voice it is, and who framed the conscience of man for hearing his voice; it wounds and it heals; it kills and it makes alive; it blocks up and darkens all the resources of the pride of man, in the light of which he formerly walked and lived; and it brings him light and life from an unexpected quarter, by opening, as it were, a window in Heaven. No lecture about any law can affect the conscience of man like this truth, which shows the Divine law magnified and honored in the most eminent manner; which demonstrates God to be inflexibly in earnest as to every word spoken in his perfect law, and so demolishes all the subterfuges of human pride. What preparative, what requisite, had Paul when the sword of truth surprised him on the road to Damascus? And if we inquire what effect it had upon him, we find it made such a revolution in his sentiments, and all the springs of his life, as if we should see the course of a mighty torrent changed from east to west by the shock of an earthquake. The extraordinary signs affecting his body, showed what befell his mind. The miraculous shutting, and the miraculous opening of his eyes were signs of that turning from darkness to light, which Jesus told him his ministry was to operate among the Gentiles; and he tells us himself, he was designed for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe to life everlasting. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Gospel Obedience

When once the saving truth {that men are justified by a righteousness finished in the days of Tiberius} is admitted in the conscience of any man, it becomes, as it were, a new instinct in him, encouraging him to draw near to God, providing him with an answer to the condemning voice of the law, which haunted his conscience before, and opposing the natural pride of his heart, in the exercise of which he formerly lived. By this instinct, he is led to desire the sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby; and he arrives at the proper consciousness and enjoyment of life, when he comes to full age, and by reason of use, has his senses exercised to discern both good and evil. All the exhortations, commands, and institutions of the gospel, are directed to consciences endued with this instinct, and are, in a peculiar manner, adapted for the service thereof. So the Apostle John, recommending the new commandment of mutual love among Christians, says, “I have not written unto you, because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” The whole Christian church order was framed for cherishing this instinct. By this Christians know and love one another. And it is their business, in all their assemblies, to fortify one another in the knowledge and love of the truth, in opposition to every lie, or lest any of them be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The truth of the gospel is always the great argument on which every call to working and doing proceeds. Here, then let all the passages of Scripture which call for any activity on our part, have their force. And let us no more be blindfolded with the notion of some ambiguous endeavoring and working, or laboring to exert acts, which are denied to be proper works required by the Divine Law, {which Christ had impeccably fulfilled.} Here, I say, let all these commands have their full and proper force; “Strive to enter in at the straight gate, &c.” “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, &c.”  “Work out your own salvation, &c.” The apostles deduce every motive to obedience from the truth. If they call men to liberality in almsgiving, they remind them of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich, became poor, that we through his poverty might be enriched. If they exhort them to mutual forgiveness, they remind them of the Divine forgiveness for Christ’s sake &c. In short, they enforce their exhortations to every deed of self-denied love, by some consideration drawn from the Divine love as manifested in Christ Jesus. - Every man’s own conscience is best judge of the secret spring of his actions. Now, the Apostle John, speaking of obedience to the new commandment of love, says, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God;” that is, if, notwithstanding our natural bias against the gospel, with its remaining effects giving us daily disquiet, our heart condemn us not as destitute of love to that truth which the world hates, then have we confidence toward God, even as much confidence as the testimony of our own conscience can give us. For we are here supposed to judge of ourselves, not by the good opinion others have of us, but by the sober verdict of our own conscience in the sight of God. Such a testimony of one’s own conscience must give no small confidence. Yet this is but one witness, and needs to be supported. For in this case one may be liable to doubts, lest even his own conscience should be partial in his favor. Here, then, the Spirit of the truth, who never fails to bear witness to the genuine effects thereof, gives his testimony as a second witness supporting the former. Thus Paul, after he had said, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;” adds, “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Holy Spirit of Truth

However, then, the matter be brought about, one thing is plain, that {according to their claims} the mysterious work ascribed by the Spirit, issues in this, to turn the dead letter of the Scripture into a living principle, and to persuade a man, though he be not mentioned in the Scripture, either by name or surname, that Christ died for him. And it is no less plain, that if this assisting spirit be the Spirit who speaks in the Scriptures, he must, in this case, whisper something privately to the ear or the heart of the sinner, beside what he publicly speaks in the Scriptures. But will any lover of the Scriptures allow the possibility of this? Will he allow, that the Spirit who breathes in the Scriptures, ever speaks a word or syllable to any man, beside what he publicly speaks there? Or will he bear to hear the living and powerful Word of God on any pretense, or under color of any distinction whatsoever, called a dead letter? No; he will abhor the thought; and, without being overawed by the weight of any man’s character, he will be ready to say, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” - The Holy Spirit, in applying Truth, acts a twofold part, as he breathes in the Gospel. He reconciles enemies, and he comforts friends. And in either case, he speaks not of himself, but he glorifies Christ. It may also be added, that he never speaks one word or sentence to any particular person, beyond what is written in the Scripture. Nor does he ever apply to any person’s case, any written sentence, unsuitably to the genuine scope of all the Scriptures. And who can think it incredible, that God should thus correspond with men? May not the Deity correspond with men by means of the words of a written book now, as well as he did by various other signs of old? Yea, nothing is more common, than for men to communicate their temper and spirit to each other by speech or writing. - There is no separating the agency of the Holy Spirit from the knowledge of the truth. To know the truth is life eternal; and this life is begun and supported by the Spirit of Christ. On the other hand, all who resist the truth, and do not admit its evidence, are expressly said to resist the Holy Ghost. We ought not, then, to imagine, with the popular preachers, that the gospel can in any respect be considered as a dead letter, or destitute of Divine power. For being the voice of God, it is unchangeably powerful to save all who believe it, and to destroy all who oppose it. Believers are said to grieve the Holy Spirit, when they neglect to hearken to the words of the gospel, and their consciences are answerably grieved, when they are brought to repentance. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Justification by Christ Alone

The doctrine of justification by the works of Christ alone, did indeed lead many to fellowship with the apostles in the same sufferings and joy. But zeal for this doctrine was soon cooled in the minds of many who professed it, by being joined together with another kind of zeal, very different from it. Some eminent teachers of this doctrine, led by such mistakes about the kingdom of God as Jesus timeously checked in his disciples, grew fond of drawing some form of their doctrine over kingdoms and states. And we know, that all zeal for national reformation, if successful, naturally tends to the worldly advantage and honor of the chief promoters thereof; and so to dazzle their eyes with the prospect of something else, than fellowship with Christ in reward of his sufferings. By the time that the famous controversy with Arminius arose, it appears, that many were in readiness to take part with that learned opposer of the truth. And it would seem, there were but few who opposed him on the same footing with Gomarus, {Franciscus Gomarus, 1563 – 1641, Dutch theologian, a strict Calvinist and opponent of the teaching of Jacobus Arminius, which was formally judged at the Synod of Dort in 1619} who was chiefly concerned about the ground of acceptance with God, as he understood it to be affected by that controversy. The greater part of disputants chose to make the controversy turn upon another hinge, contending about grace and freewill, and what influence these had in the conversion of a sinner. It may be maintained by some, that conversion is carried on by grace assisting nature, and by others, that this matter is conducted wholly by irresistible grace; and yet both sides may be equally disaffected to that doctrine, which maintains the work finished by Christ on the cross to be the only requisite to justification. The controversy about grace and freewill, as managed by many on both sides, has as little to do with the revealed ground of acceptance with God, as the philosophical dispute about liberty and necessity. The consequence of this change in the Arminian controversy, from that way wherein Gomarus held it was a great alteration in the strain of preaching amongst the most zealous Calvinists. For in place of free justification by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ's blood, much insisted on by the Reformers against the Roman Church, even as it had been before by the Apostles against the Jews and Judaizing Christians, laboring more in setting forth the revealed righteousness to be believed against everything opposed to it, than in any descriptions of the exercise of the mind and heart in believing; they now began to insist much more in their sermons on free electing grace, but especially on the efficacious power of that Grace in the conversion of the elect, working unfeigned faith in them, and turning them to God in a sincere repentance; and then this took the place of the answer of a good conscience toward God by Christ’s resurrection, {justified by his resurrection; not as the matter, or cause, of the remission of our sins in the sight of God; but as a full demonstrative evidence, that his life was an adequate ransom; and that “the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake;” a manifest declaration, or irrefutable proof that the work was finished, and that the Son by his “one offering had perfected forever them that are sanctified,”} as the spring of Christian religion. This was attended with large descriptions, how a man should find himself under the operation of that free and efficacious grace, calling him effectually, regenerating, and converting him to receive Christ by a true faith, and to repentance unto life; while the things set forth in these descriptions were often not things accompanying salvation. The effect of this strain of doctrine, upon them that hearkened to it, was, their seeking peace with God, and rest to their consciences, by what they might feel in themselves, the motions of their hearts, and the exercises of their souls, in compliance with the call to faith and repentance, under that efficacious operation of grace, which they hoped to find in using those means, whereby they supposed it to be conveyed; or if they could persuade themselves that they had found it, then they looked on themselves as already converted, and in a state of favor with God; comforting themselves against the fears of losing the Divine Favor again, by the inamissibility of grace, or the perseverance of the saints. But, however different this be from the doctrine of the Arminians, concerning electing and converting grace and perseverance; yet it comes to the very same thing with him at last, as to the grand point of the justification of a sinner before God. For whether the Pharisee in the parable, opposing himself to the Publican, as more fit for acceptance, did thank God in whole, or in part, for what he was in distinction from him and other sinners; yet his confidence in coming before him for acceptance, was in what he found himself to be, and in what he did, by the efficacious operation of God’s special grace, working all in him irresistibly. How opposite to this is the Publican’s way of coming before God, finding nothing about himself but what makes him the object of Divine Abhorrence, and having no better thing to say of himself, than that he is a sinner, and so a meet object for Divine mercy and grace, justifying freely through the Propitiation for sin, set forth to declare the Divine Justice in justifying the ungodly? He has no other ground of confidence but that, in appearing before God, nor anything else to encourage him to hope for his favor and acceptance with him. And so his address to God is in these words, “God be propitious to me a sinner.” Now, he went down to his house justified rather than the other! - Hence it is, that in leading their hearers to faith, they constantly instruct them how to qualify themselves, so as they may be in a condition to advance some claim upon the Deity, and treat with him on some rule of equity; or so as they may find some reason why he should regard them more than others, and, accordingly, grant the favors they desire of him. They maintain, indeed, that men can obtain no benefit from the Deity but in the way of grace; yet, it is evident, that grace obtained in the way they direct is improperly so called, at least it is very different from the apostolic notion of Divine Grace. Paul, when speaking of the Sovereignty of the Divine choice of men to salvation, as proceeding upon grace, in opposition to every notion of desert in those who are chosen, distinguishes that grace in the following manner, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no work.” If this one text were well understood, the whole body of the popular doctrine would fall to the ground at once. Here we see how different the Divine choice is from that of men, who choose what is best and reject what is worst. God in blessing men, or choosing them to blessedness, has no regard to any distinction among them. All the objects of his favor are such as deserved equally to be rejected. According to the Apostle's reasoning, when God blesses any man with grace, he has no regard to any work, requisite, or motion of his will, by which he excels another; for if he had, then the grace thus said to be bestowed would be no more grace, but rather the respect due to worth, or the reward belonging to the work. - “Much more then being now justified by His blood, we shall he saved from wrath through him.” Whatever doctrine then teaches us to think, that our friendly correspondence or acceptance with God is begun by our own good endeavors, seconded by the Divine aid, or even first prompted by the Divine influence, leads us to look for acceptance with God by our own righteousness; for whatever I do, however assisted or prompted, is still my own work; otherwise the most common actions of life could not be called our own, seeing in all these we must still acknowledge our dependence on God, “in whom we live, move, and have our being.” Agreeably to what is now said, we may find Philosophers and Pharisees, both ancient and modern, in the height of their self-applause, acknowledging Divine assistance, and ready to agree in using language like this, “God, I thank thee for my excellency above other men.” We must begin our religion then as we would end it. Our acceptance with God, first and last, must rest entirely on the work finished by Jesus Christ on the cross; or we must betake ourselves to what many call the religion of nature, and what God warrants us to call the religion of pride, as being no less opposite to the law of nature, than to the Gospel. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Love of the Truth

The blessedness of God consists in the consciousness of his own boundless perfections. These are fully displayed only in the atonement. The fulness of the Divine good-pleasure and delight, then, can only be manifested there. If we speak then of God as made manifest to his creatures, we must say that the atonement is the center of his delight. This is also the center of the joy of charity. Charity, then, is fellowship with the true God in his blessedness. The sufferings of Christ, with the glory by which they were crowned, are known to us only by report. Charity then is the love of that report. So Peter speaking of Christ says, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Charity delights in the character of the true God drawn in the truth, and has no regard for any other though drawn by the wisest men, and applauded by multitudes. Charity does not respect men for any of those things, on account of which one man glories over another; but it delights in all who are of the truth, for the truth’s sake dwelling in them. - The profession of charity must proceed on some profession of the faith. Anciently men were acknowledged as Christians, or objects of charity, on what they had to say of Christ, or on their calling Jesus Lord. The Ethiopian Eunuch was acknowledged for a Christian, when he said that he believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. - Modern charity is not so much concerned about what character is drawn for the Deity, or what God one worships, as that everyone worship his own god decently, seriously, or with piety, without speaking disrespectfully of that of his neighbor. This charity, as far as it has hitherto taken place is much disaffected to the ancient Gospel. - What I presently think strange is, that one who avows the sentiments of our modern scribes, should join in the friendly and affectionate alliance of charity, with such as he himself perceives opposing the imputed righteousness, and with the most open and determined enemies of the Divine sovereignty. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Mystery, Babylon the Great

The places most noted in Scripture for impiety, uncleanness, and idolatry, are only the figures or shadows of this grand and religious establishment, which is the mystery of them; so “spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified;” namely, Jerusalem. In opposition to the true church, whose children are begotten by the power of Christ’s word, it is set forth under the notion of an unchaste woman, pretending to be the spouse of Christ, yet committing fornication with the kings of the earth, and having, by their concurrence, multitudes of children, not begotten by his power. We are left at no loss to know what state of things is pointed forth by this woman; for the angel says to John, “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman;” {Rev.17:7;} “the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” {Rev.17:18} She was prefigured by that great nursery of idolatry, Babylon, the lady of kingdoms; so has this name written on her forehead, “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.” Against this establishment, the vials of the wrath of God are directed. Some people have imagined, that Antichrist is to be destroyed by armies raised by Protestant princes for that purpose. The New Testament, pointing both to his decay and utter ruin, speaks thus, “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” {II Thes.2:8} And what we have already seen of the fact, corresponds best with this; for if, by the spirit of his mouth, we understand his word, we shall find that the Scriptures, which some ages ago began to be published in the vulgar tongues of Europe, have been the chief means of consuming or weakening that monstrous power, after which the world has so long wondered. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Natural Righteousness

The history of the Jewish people abounds with various manifest interpositions of the Deity; and though these were not so remarkable and frequent after the captivity as before, yet the theocracy still subsisted until the destruction of Jerusalem; which, taking place by virtue of the Divine word on account of their impiety or disloyalty, showed at once, in a most signal manner, that God had been their King, and that they were now abandoned by him. This people, among whom the power of the Divine word was so remarkably manifest, served as a standing memorial in the earth of that power by which all things are made and upheld; and to show, that as God takes cognizance of the actions of men, so he will at last give judgment according to truth. But they also served for another purpose, no less momentous; for they were trustees for the oracles of God, containing the promise and various pledges of salvation to mankind by the Messiah, with such previous descriptions of his person, character, and work, as that, when he should appear, the fulfillment of the grand promise might shine forth with the clearest and most unexceptionable evidence. - Christ appeared at the time when it was presumed that the national righteousness was carried to as high a pitch as could well be hoped for, till the grand complete reformation expected from the Messiah should take place. They were now thoroughly weaned from the gross idolatry of the neighboring nations; they were zealous for the worship of one God; they were ardent in their wishes and hopes for the sudden appearance of the Messiah, and as it were prepared to meet him. The expectation was general. They were full of fond thoughts {like those which possess the minds of modern ‘Christians’ concerning some future calling of the Jews and Gentiles} that the time was at hand, when piety and integrity, worldly peace and prosperity, issuing forth from their capital city, should overspread the earth. - Yet in these very circumstances was the whole revelation made to the Jews, with their whole national constitution formed upon it, so corrupted, as to be pointed by them in the strongest opposition to him who was the great end and scope of it, Jesus the Son of God, the King of Israel. - The pride of their national righteousness made them despise the Divine; yea, the very zeal they had for their law, made them oppose the end of it. Their table or altar, which was instituted for their feasting with God on his sacrifices, became a snare before them; and their happy national constitution, which should have been for their welfare, a trap to entangle them. In comparison with any other people, they had the advantage much every way; yet every advantageous circumstance in their favor they themselves industriously made use of to their own utter ruin. But, not to multiply reflections where they occur so readily, what should hinder us Gentiles, who have now got the advantage on our side, to lay our hand to our heart, and frankly return the acknowledgement once made in the name of the Jews by one of the fore-most of them? “What then; are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Offer of the Gospel

Many popular preachers have considered themselves as a kind of factors or rather ambassadors for God, commissioned and empowered by him to make offers of Christ and all his benefits unto men, upon certain terms, and to assure them of the benefits on their complying with the terms. Accordingly, they have not been negligent in setting forth the dignity of their character in this view, and they have plumed themselves not a little upon the offer they had to make, making frequent repetition of this their offer with great parade. But anyone who reads the New Testament with tolerable attention may see that there is as little foundation for any such offer, as there is for bestowing the title of God's ambassador on any man since the days of the apostles. The apostles were witnesses for God concerning Jesus of Nazareth; they laid before men the infallible proofs, arising from their own knowledge, and from the prophecies of the Old Testament, showing that Jesus is the Christ. The effect of this was that some believed and confessed Christ with the apostles; and some disbelieved, and opposed them. The apostles then proclaimed a truth openly in the hearing of all men. And if it be still pled that they made offers we shall very willingly say, that they offered evidence for all that they testified; yea, that they not only offered, but freely produced it, let men make what use of it they would. They were witnesses for God to men, but they never bargained for God with men, however much some scriptural metaphors have been strained to that purpose. They never taught men to put forth any act, or to make one step of advance towards God, on the prospect that God would condescend and come down the rest of the infinite distance to meet them. This was neither suitable to their office, nor to the honor of that God whose character they drew. As to ordinary teachers, or ministers of the gospel, it is well if they be able to declare the simple truth, as contained in the writings of the apostles, and maintain it in opposition to every lie that men would endeavor to mix with it, in order to undermine it. This will procure honor enough to them in the minds of those who love that truth; and such teachers will be far from assuming an air of importance over others, as if they had anything to offer to them more than the meanest lover of the truth has, who will be ready, as occasion requires, to offer any man an account of the evidence by which he himself is convinced of the truth. The preachers, whose honor is concerned in what they call the gospel offer, commonly take hold of the promises of the gospel, which it is easy to show are made only to believers, and by the dint of their authority, with the help of a little art, extend them to all their hearers, without distinction. But how shall I know that the promise is to me, or that Christ died for me? They address their hearers in this manner. “We are the ambassadors of God, to us the word of reconciliation is committed; we are sent and commissioned to bring Christ near to sinners, and sinners near to Christ; we make an offer of Christ and all his benefits to you, and you, and you; in the name of the great God we declare, that the promise is to thee, and thee, O man, woman, whosoever thou art; in his name we call you this moment to stretch forth the withered hand and the withered heart, and take hold of Christ, saying, He is mine, and I am his.” I give here only a short specimen of what is to be found at large interwoven in almost all their sermons; and I am sensible they would as soon allow any article of the Christian doctrine to be attacked, as suffer this their offer to be called into question. We may find them busy moving questions, and warmly disputing with one another about the nature and extent of Christ's death, trying which of them shall lay the most convenient foundation for their universal offer, and the particular application or appropriation connected with it; but this same offer, so highly serviceable to their extravagant pride, is like to be one of the last things they will entertain a doubt of. These men, it must be owned, receive no small encouragement to their spiritual pride from their public standards of doctrine, affirming, that, “the Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means unto salvation;” that is, that God concurs with the preaching of the apostles, which can only be heard now by the reading of their writings, but especially with the preaching of our modern ministers. And thus far I am disposed to agree with their public standards for once, that I frankly acknowledge, that their sermons are, by far, better adapted to the purpose of setting the minds of the people in motion to do something toward their peace with God, than the writings of the Apostles, which in this respect, must appear extremely insipid. Accordingly, I find our most popular preachers, after they have given various motives and directions for stretching forth the withered hand, commonly enforcing them with this earnest and pressing call, “Up therefore and be doing.” Agreeably to what has been said, we find that the gospel offer, or the universal offer, or, as it is sometimes called with great propriety, the ministerial offer, has been admitted as fixed and uncontroverted style, in place of the ancient apostolic style, the Record, the Witness, or the Testimony of God; and the embracing or accepting of an offer, with all the formalities and requisites necessary to constitute a genuine acceptance, has come in place of believing the Record or crediting the Testimony of God. The preachers I speak of, seem to be sensible of the difficulty there is in laying a sure foundation for everyone of their hearers to conclude, that Christ died for him; and they suppose that the same difficulty must press the minds of their hearers, as is evident from the many objections which they put in their mouths, not easy to be answered; however, after they have labored the point sufficiently, and done their best to set the minds of the people in motion, they boldly declare, by virtue of all the titles and all the authority with which they are clothed, that they are bound to believe this, otherwise they shall perish eternally. Such a declaration must be of considerable weight with people who are used to have their hearts affected, and their religious conduct influenced, more by the preaching of their minister, than by the words of God in the Scriptures. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Preaching the Gospel of Christ

Thus far the preacher of Paul’s Gospel; who, were he to preach never so often, hath no other weapon to handle, nothing else to insist on in regards to justification, but the simple truth, even the Divine Testimony concerning a righteousness already wrought for those who have none of their own. He appears not in the character of a director, but rather as a herald; he comes not to impose upon his hearers by changing the Gospel into some new Law of works; he comes not proposing new regulations or refinements about duty, teaching men how to exert or exercise themselves to better purpose than formally, but simply declaring and evidencing, from the Scriptures, what God hath already done for the relief of those who are in desperate circumstances. Thus employed was Paul, who gives this account of his ministry; “we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” In the book of the Acts, we have Paul’s constant manner of preaching often described to us, particularly; “and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” {Acts 17:2,3} Yea, when he had occasion to preach at Rome a whole day, from morning unto evening, we are told what he insisted on all the time, in this manner; “and when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” {Acts 28:23} Nor did he change his subject, though he many times preached at Rome. “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” {Acts 28:30,31} And he himself says to the Corinthians, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God; for I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” {I Cor.2:1,2} And from many other passages, such as Acts 9:20, 20:24, and II Tim.4:6,7, it appears, that this was the topic he never wearied of, from his conversion to his death. What a poor figure that clergyman will make, who had no other topic to insist on, nothing else to attach his Parish to him, but this {one thing needful!} Robert Sandeman {Essay on Preaching, 1763}

Protestant Judaism

We may easily see their appropriation imitated in its several degrees in our own age. Is there any sentiment more commonly indulged among us, than, when we think on the wide extent of Pagan darkness, Jewish obstinacy, the delusions of Mahomet, and superstitions of Popery, to reflect with no small self-applause that we are Christians and Protestants so at least in some better terms with the Deity than multitudes of our deluded fellow-creatures, whom we look down upon with a sort of contemptuous pity? Moreover, what an important sound do we hear, when one acquaints us, that he has the honor to be a member or minister of the Church of England, by law established, or of some other church reformed after the best pattern? - But perhaps some will contend, that the Jewish appropriation was not so well founded as our modern imitations of it; and that there is a great difference betwixt reformed orthodox Christians and presumptuous stiff necked Jews. Yet, if we will attend to the Scriptures, particularly Paul’s epistles, we shall find, that the Jewish plea had the advantage much every way. And we shall likewise find, that the sad effect it had upon them, is often set before professors of Christianity for their admonition. Their appropriation was the great spring of all their pride, of all their disaffection to the true gospel, and all their ruin. In like manner, the great corruption of Christianity took place by its professors zealously imitating the Jews. The same Apostle likewise reads an awful lesson to the Corinthians, from the more ancient history of his nation. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples.” {I Cor.10:1-6} Then, after narrating several of their provocations and punishments, he adds, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” {vs.11-12} If any fond of nice distinctions shall still insist, that this way of reasoning, from the case of ancient Jews to that of zealous Christians, is not conclusive, and that the cases are not parallel; I shall only say that the reasoning is Paul’s, that the parallel is of his drawing, and that it is solemnly urged home on the consciences of those who had at least as good a title to the Christian name as any can now pretend to. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Protestant Romanism

We Protestants have laid aside the crucifix; we reserve no fragments of the wood of the cross. But what have we got instead of these? We have got a perverted gospel. We have got some insipid sentiment about the cross of Christ, that, like the law of works, can do us no good, till it be reduced to practice. As for the bare work finished on the cross, or the bare report about it, however true we think it, so far have we mistaken it, that setting aside our active operations about it, we do not see what comfort or benefit can be derived from it; we see no form nor comeliness about it, why we should desire it; no manner of advantage that can result from it. We consider the gospel as furnishing us with so many good and excellent materials to work upon; and our whole comfort and benefit arises from the proper performance and success of our labor. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Protestant Romanism

We Protestants have generally been ashamed of the extravagant height to which our Roman Catholic fathers carried their imitation of the Jewish worship and hierarchy. We have found it proper to Judaize more moderately in several instances; and for this moderation we are indebted to the Divine Providence, and the wisdom of our rulers, who have taught and obliged us in many respects to lower our style, and to contract within narrower bounds the meaning of several words and titles which we choose still to retain. Yet it must be owned that it is with great reluctance that we learn any lesson of sobriety; for even the meanest preacher, in the poorest dissenting congregation, still affects to be called The Reverend; from the same principle which leads the first clergyman in Europe to take the title of His Holiness. The bulk of the Christian leaders, from the highest to the lowest, have showed an inclination to share more or less of the worship due to Him whom we praise, saying, Holy and reverend is his name. I may seem to be sometimes nice in taking notice of these titles, which are sometimes very big with meaning, and sometimes explained away to a very subordinate sense, as occasion requires; yet I cannot appear to any reasonable man to be nicer than he who said. “Why callest thou me good; there is none good but one, God.” Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Repentance

The change made upon a man by the gospel is called repentance unto life. The gospel is always held forth as the great persuasive argument to lead men to repentance. So the Evangelist Matthew informs us that John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ, began to preach, saying, “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mark declares the same thing in fewer words, “Repent ye, and, believe the gospel.” Peter, preaching the gospel to the Jews, says, “Repent ye therefore.” And Paul declares, that “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” by the same argument. And he tells us, that the scope of all his preaching was, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Repentance, then, is the change of a man’s mind to love the truth, which always carries in it a sense of shame and regret at his former opposition to it. And he who knows the truth, so as to love it, will daily find occasion for repentance, and so of having his attachment to the truth increased, as finding his daily comfort depending upon it. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Sacrifice of Christ

Though the cause of the disallowed Messiah will never prevail in this mortal state, but remain as a bruised reed, and smoking flax; yet all its numerous and powerful enemies shall never be able utterly to break or extinguish it. In the midst of weakness, poverty, and disgrace, it will continue to be supported by the sacred aid of heaven, till the grand revolution shall take place, when the bruised reed shall become an iron rod, and the smoking flax a flaming fire. Then the cause, hitherto just not crushed, shall flourish and prevail effectually, and all its enemies be confounded with everlasting shame and contempt. It may not be improper here to take some notice of a memorable saying used by Christ for the instruction of his disciples, when they were anxious about how and where his kingdom was to appear, and after he had given them various cautions against imposition on that head. The saying runs thus, “Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” Nothing could be more fitly chosen, than this similitude, to show his disciples, how he would always be disallowed of men, yet precious to them that believe. What more nauseous to men, and what more inviting to eagles, than an exposed carcass? The latter are led, by the rich savor of the most delicious food, to resort with pleasure to that wherein the former can perceive nothing but what is dispiriting and disgusting. Wherever Christ's disciples, united by His Word & Spirit, meet together to remember his death, as their only recommendation to the Divine favor, {Note: The Lord's supper shows the unity of Christ's people, and serves as a notable occasion for their enjoying the comfort of love. A company of Christ's disciples must come together to this ordinance, finding nothing, in any of them, to recommend them to God, but the sacrifice of Christ alone,} there the power of his kingdom is manifest to them that believe; and wherever he shall at last descend from heaven, there all his redeemed will be gathered together, and there the majesty and power of his kingdom will be visible to all. Let the sacrifice of Christ be divested of all the foreign considerations that have been added, in order to remove the disgust of men, and it will be found, that to talk of living by that alone, will prove as disagreeable to the religious world now as of old, and to provoke even many of the most serious to turn away, with something like the old complaint in their mouth, “This is an hard saying, who can hear it?” Yea, we are assured, that, with this same complaint in their mouth, many of those expressly called his disciples went back, and, what is still more striking, walked no more with him. The aforementioned memorable saying, likewise sets before us, in a very striking view, what a sovereign contempt Christ had for the applause of the world, and how careful he was to inspire his disciples with the same contempt, even while showing his concern for their welfare in the most tender manner. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Salvation in Christ Alone

As for us Christians, generally speaking, we seek acceptance with God as it were by the obedience of Christ, but in reality by our own works; as it were by faith, but in reality by the actings of something called by that name. We speak of God as already well pleased in Jesus Christ, or placated by what he hath done; yet we hold it necessary, that some advance should be made on our part, and some good endeavors exerted in order to begin our friendly correspondence with him. At bottom we consider the gospel, as presenting to us a God almost placated, and requiring something of us to make him fully so; yet very ready to help us out with that something, provided we set about it in good earnest. Or, to vary the expression, we look on God as become fully well pleased, through the atonement, to assist our feeblest effort to attain the qualifications necessary to gain his favor. But alas; what a poor use is this for the atonement? At this rate, all our concern about the gospel must turn out to much ado about nothing. For, what great benefit do we reap from it? I think it must amount to this, that we have now an authentic divine revelation assuring us, that the divine character is such, as the pride of man, in all ages, has imagined it to be; namely, that God is disposed to assist and favor those who are presumed to be the well-disposed. And none of us will readily admit the thought of himself, that he is altogether ill-disposed. We Protestants have indeed renounced the gross idolatry of our Popish fathers, even as the Jews returned from Babylon did that of their forefathers; yet, we have closely imitated the Jews contemporary with Christ and his Apostles, in their notions of the Divine character, and in their connecting their temporal interest with their religion, or their zeal for a worldly kingdom to the Messiah. Human wisdom has been employed in all ages to shorten the distance betwixt God and man. All the various methods that have been tried, agree in one respect. They all serve more or less to lower the Divine character, and more or less to exalt that of man. And thus it has been thought the distance might be removed, and friendship restored between God and man. Here the gospel differs from all the devices of human wisdom. It shows us the living and true God coming down the whole of the infinite distance himself, not to meet returning man, but to overtake and prevent him, when hastening to utter ruin; to seek and to save them that were lost. It shows us God come down to men, Immanuel, God with us. The great truth for which we are indebted to the gospel is, that God was made manifest in the flesh. In the person of Jesus Christ, the distance between God and man is entirely removed. There appeared man in his lowest misery that he can either feel or fear. There appeared the just God in his highest majesty of character. The fullness of the Divine good pleasure rests on Him, who became exceeding sorrowful even unto death. There we see Divine vengeance executed against sin to the utmost, yet the eternal God become the refuge of the guilty. There God appears, not working deliverance by halves, not co-operating with sinful man, not restoring his depraved faculties, and assisting him less or more to deliver himself; but working complete deliverance for man without his concurrence in the least. So that, according to this time, it may well be said. What hath God wrought? When Paul gloried only in the work finished by him who died on the cross, he was not afraid of being guilty of any degree of idolatry, or of derogating in the least from the honor of the true God. He was confident, that he was well kept in countenance by the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “In the LORD {Jehovah} shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” {Is.45:25} So he restricts the blessing to as many as walk according to this rule, as being the only true Israel, saying, “peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” {Gal.6:16} And to the Philippians, he says, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” {Phil.3:2,3} He was in no fear of incurring the curse, or forfeiting the blessing pronounced in these words, “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” {Jer.17:5} Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Salvation in Christ Alone

He who finds nothing that can give him any importance, but the work of Christ, rejoices in knowing that the Divine good pleasure rests there. So his happiness arises wholly from that which God hath provided, without his concurrence in any respect; and the grateful sense of his happiness always terminates in that work. - Righteousness being only found in Jesus Christ, the substitute for the guilty, to him alone the blessing has respect; in him alone God declares himself well pleased. The blessing rests only on his righteousness, and follows it wherever it goes. To whomsoever it extends, the blessing is also conveyed. In vain shall any sinner expect to find about himself any reason why God should be well pleased with him, or even better pleased with him than with others. In vain shall he pray to God for grace to enable him to find any such reason. In vain shall he expect to hear one syllable more from God, to encourage him to draw nigh to him, than that he is well pleased in his beloved Son; that Jehovah is well pleased for his righteousness sake. He who is persuaded, that Christ hath done enough to procure the Divine good pleasure for the guiltiest of mankind, loves that truth, and counts all things loss for the excellent knowledge conveyed by it. He who is not satisfied with this, is disaffected to that wherein the fulness of the Divine delight rests; for he says in his heart, “I do not believe that Christ hath done enough; I do not believe that God is fully placated by what he hath done, unless I also can find some reason why the Divine favor should bear a more peculiar direction to me than to others.” Thus it is that men give the lie to God, while they believe not the record that God gave of his Son. And must not God’s jealousy burn in favor of His sole delight, and against all dissatisfaction to Him? For, says the apostle, “our God is a consuming fire.” Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Self-Righteous Conditionalism

The first Christians were indeed taught to serve God by having the same Spirit of faith that was in Christ; that is, believing the same truth which he believed. They were persuaded of the dignity and excellent state of Christ, not their own. The worthiness of the Lamb that was slain, was the sole ground of all their confidence toward God, the sole spring of all their obedience and all their consolation. But if we hearken to this author, {Marshall – “Gospel Mystery of Sanctification”} we must set out in the service of God from the confidence of our being in a better state than other men. We must set out from the bare persuasion, that God hath assisted us in producing certain good motions in our hearts, by which we have acquired an excellency above others. Thus our obedience is not influenced by what God hath testified concerning his Son, but by a persuasion that we are better than other people. Thus, he makes no account of the grand things testified of Christ, as any way sufficient to lead us to holiness, without a good opinion of our own state. - Thus the ancient gospel, which from the beginning turned many from idols to serve the living God, is now set aside, to give place to human artifice, dressed out with many swelling words of vanity. Thus all the grand things testified concerning Jesus Christ the Son of God, are made to serve only as a footstool for human pride. Yet, however many maybe blinded, the election shall obtain. - If any consideration, beside or along with the sacrifice of Christ, be admitted into one’s faith, or held requisite for his justification before God, that consideration, whatever it be, is his righteousness, that is the center and spring of his charity and hope, so the leading principle of his life. As the most holy faith, or one thing needful, refuses all mixture, or to be joined with anything else; so he who goes about to add anything to it, must be influenced to do so by disaffection to the one thing needful, and by love to that which he adds. His favorite addition, then, is the great spring of his life, and the hinge of his passions. And what he knows of the gospel is wholly subservient to this. Perhaps there is nothing in Christianity less attended to by its professors, than the real character of Jesus Christ. - As to the ends of Christ’s death, many think he died to purchase grace and spirit, to help men to establish their own righteousness, or acquire some requisite to justification and accordingly their zeal is directed. It is common with people of this class to show their zeal in longing and praying for the down-pouring on all ranks, of some other spirit than that which speaks in the Scripture, that serious religion may be brought into repute. And thus many satisfy themselves in their present neglect of the written mind of the Holy Ghost, regarding the Scriptures no farther than they find them impressed on their hearts in a certain way, and without such impressions, professing they want light about the clearest passages of Scripture. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Self-Righteous Conditionalism

The popular preachers reverse the apostolic method; they ply their hearers with the various exhortations by which the apostles nourished and confirmed the faith of believers. And thus they would animate men to work out their own justification before God by diligently following after righteousness. And, then, what else can that faith be which they are thus wrought up to, but the persuasion, that they are much more righteous and worthy of the Divine favor than others? I know some people are ready to say, that this breach of order is of no great moment; that it matters not whether faith or works take place first, provided a connection in any shape be still maintained betwixt them. But these are people who have seldom or never thought seriously on the matter, and who content themselves with sounds instead of things. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Self-Righteous Conditionalism

Their way of speaking does indeed proceed from a very natural principle in man’s heart. They cannot understand how a guilty person can be justified without contributing something thereto. Paul supposes, that men professing Christianity with their mouths, would be apt to say in their hearts, “Who shall ascend into Heaven?” {that is, to bring Christ down from above;} or, “Who shall descend into the deep?” {that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead;”} that they would be apt to say in their hearts something importing, that Christ had not already come down from Heaven to fulfill all righteousness, or that he has not already ascended, in testimony of his having finished his work; and so be ready still to cry for powers from above to help them to do something in this matter, be it called closing with Christ, or by any other name. In opposition to all this, the Apostle in the same place declares, that the word by which men are saved is very nigh to everyone who holds it true; yea, so nigh, that it is in the heart of him who believes it, and in the mouth of him who confesses it. He also tells us what that word is: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Self-Righteous Conditionalism

Tis agreed, by the great majority in all Christian countries, that there is no salvation but by Jesus Christ. Thus far general consent agrees with the apostolic doctrine. But, then, a capital difference between these two arises in the following manner. The apostles maintained, that Christ did enough to save sinners in his own person, without their concurrence, and that all who were so persuaded, accordingly found salvation in Him alone. As the natural counterpart of this, they at the same time maintained, that if any man went about to deny or undermine the all-sufficiency of Christ’s work to save, by insisting on the necessity of any other concurring requisite whatever, Christ should profit him nothing. On the other hand, since Christianity began to flourish and prevail in the world, the majority of those wearing the Christian name have been agreed in maintaining the necessity of something beside the work of Christ to save them, or procure them acceptance with God. Yea, long before that time, even in the apostolic age, the Judaizing Christians, who were far from being few in number, proceeded upon the same plan. This we are taught by the apostles to call a corrupted or perverted gospel. And here chiefly we may perceive the consent of the Christian world all along opposed to the apostolic doctrine. But while we behold the Christian world consenting against the apostles, about the necessity of some addition, we see them at the same time very far from being agreed among themselves about what ought to be added, and how much, the nature of the assistance needful to promote the addition, and the proper means of soliciting the concurring assistance, with various other considerations depending on these. So, when Israel once departed from the worship of the one God, who led them out of Egypt, they could never settle upon the worship of any other, but lay open to all the innovations of the neighboring nations. Thus, when a wife once departs from her husband to admit another, she may easily be prevailed upon to admit a second, third, and fourth, till at last she become a downright prostitute. In the apostolic age, the favorite addition was, to become a Jewish proselyte by circumcision. And it is evident, that much more could be said in favor of that, than could be urged in behalf of any other that has been adopted since. In the Roman church, the additional grounds of acceptance with God have been multiplied in a very extravagant manner; and though Protestants have in many respects discarded the extravagance of that church, yet they still generally agree in establishing their own righteousness as the ground of their acceptance with God, according to various schemes of their own, some in a more open, others in a more secret and ambiguous manner frustrating the all-sufficiency of the righteousness finished by Jesus Christ. Now it is evident, that the scheme of doctrine which most resembles the apostolic in honoring the accomplishments of Christ in the matter of salvation, yet find means of rendering it of no effect, must in a more especial manner awaken the jealousy and move the resentment of such as maintain the all-sufficiency of that work exclusive of every reserve. - These attempts made to deface the excellency of the sole requisite to justification bear no small resemblance to the methods that have been employed to eclipse the dignity of the Messiah’s Person. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Sovereignty of God

Having briefly pointed at some of the methods by which the popular preachers set aside God’s Divine Justice, so as to render the sacred truth of little or no value in the eyes of men, let us next observe how they set themselves in opposition to that Divine Sovereignty; and we shall find, that for every jewel they rob from the crown of the Most High, they plant a feather in the crest of human pride. - The Scripture clearly asserts the Sovereignty of God, as having mercy on whom he will have mercy, and hardening whom he will; and repels the strongest objection that ever was made against it. “Why doth he yet find fault; for who hath resisted his will?” Many who profess to reverence the Scriptures as a Divine Revelation, reject this doctrine with scorn, though it be revealed there as clear as words can make it; and that not in one or two passages, but interwoven with the whole style of the Scriptures, and supported by a variety of facts recorded there. - Objectors to the Absolute Sovereignty of God are not willing to allow any superiority to God, but such as one creature may be supposed to have over others. They incline still to think of God as resembling the first magistrate in a free state, who is bound himself to observe the laws he enforces upon others. Hence the many idle reasonings we have heard about the ends of government, which men with great assurance apply to God; not reflecting, that of every earthly potentate it must be said, that his very being as a prince, his dignity, wealth, and power, consist in his having subjects. Yet mortals, as once was said of the haughty prince of Tyre, set their hearts as the heart of God, and think of circumscribing them by the same laws by which they themselves are bound. But how shall that law which commands devotion to what is above us, and our regard to our equals be applied to the Deity? For thus runs the sum of the divine law to man. “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.” Can we find a superior to whom the Deity owes reverence; or an equal to whom he owes affection? The objectors are not satisfied, how God can say, as he does to Cyprus, {Is.45:7,} in opposition to the two principles of the Persians, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these.” They are not satisfied how he creates the latter, in order to show his glory, and proper delight in opposing, defeating, and making them give place to the former, so as to appear the Author of Light and Peace. {Note: How far the true God, exhibited in the Scriptures, is above what is worshiped by a great part of those who bear the Christian name, may appear from such passages as these: Gen.50:20, Ex.9:16, Ps.83:17,18, PV.16:4, Is.10:5-15, Acts 2:23, Acts 3:18, Acts 15:18, Rev.4:11} They cannot look with attentive delight on the Great Architect proceeding in his work, and rearing up to view his beautiful fabric, out of a confused heap of unshapely materials, till once they be satisfied how he procured these materials, and where he found them so unshapely. And to tell many reasoners he created them, sounds only in their ears like saying, he found them where they were not. Yet, thus the first scene of the grand drama of the universe is opened. As soon as the curtain is drawn, or any object offered to our thoughts, or rather when our minds are carried back from the present beauty of the universe, to the remotest point of view, a dark confused mass is presented. And we are informed, by a short prologue, that God was the Cause or Beginner of the whole, to guard us against imagining any other eternal principle. And this is all we can learn of the matter. To pry farther back is utterly in vain. But we shall receive all reasonable satisfaction, if we will have patience to attend on God, proceeding in what is more properly called his work, which he carries forward in so gradual a manner, and so inviting to our attention, as plainly to show, he determines to be more especially known to us thereby. We shall perceive him in every part of his work speaking, acting, and beholding what is made with delight, or seeing it good, in opposition to the state wherein it was before; and this, day after day, till he rests with man on the seventh, from all his works, which he created to make. {Gen.2:3} I scarcely need to add, that the case is the same with respect to the entrance of sin and misery into the world, and the grand design which God is carrying forward, of making thence to arise the brightest discovery of righteousness and salvation together, as is plainly intimated in the words immediately following the last quotation from Isaiah. “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou; or thy work, He hath no hands?” {Is.45:8,9} As the sinful state of mankind is often compared to the first condition of the earth, and salvation from sin, to the producing of light and order at the first, I shall only mention one passage. “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” {Is.60:2} Thus, we see, that the entrance of sin and misery into the world, was as fixed a part in the scheme of God as His great salvation; yet we cannot see God in the former, as we do in the latter. We cannot see him by keeping our eye only on the shade; but if we love the grand picture, we will not put the murmuring question, Why or how did the shade take place? The Apostle Paul, speaking of the happiness of those who are reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, as not only saved, but saved glorying in God, adds, “Therefore,” or rather, “For this,” {Rom.5:12,} namely, that this brightest discovery of the Divine Glory, this highest perfection of human happiness might take place, sin was introduced into the world. But, not to enlarge, methinks we may easily be convinced, that Christians are not very numerous in the world, while we find so few who are fond of this doctrine which fixes the dependence of man upon God exclusive of all reserve; yet this very doctrine is the sure refuge of the wretched and the destitute, yea, of all who enter into the kingdom of heaven. Though this be indeed the case according to the Scripture, we may find some who profess to acknowledge it, holding it so very cheap, as to think those who reject it may yet be very good Christians; whereas, if one should treat the writings of Cicero as the Christian enemies of this doctrine do the Scriptures, he would be universally hissed at by all the lovers of classical learning. But numbers rule the fashion, and can keep one another in countenance as to anything; and we must expect no other, while it is the interest of multitudes to honour Christianity in pretense, and to hate it in reality. However, we may frankly say, that such a one as Lord Bolingbroke, {Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, 1678 - 1751) who hates this doctrine, and therefore rejects the Scripture which clearly supports it, acts a far more uniform and consistent part. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Spirit of Truth

Much has been said and written in defense of supernatural grace, or the agency of the Divine Spirit influencing the hearts of men, in opposition to those reasoners who doubt of or deny any such influence; and many things have been said on this head, serving to give us false notions of Divine grace and spirit. This much the Scripture will support us in saying, that when any man is influenced by the Holy Spirit, some point of knowledge is conveyed to his mind; he learns something of the truth of the gospel which he knew not before; or what he knew before is seasonably brought to his remembrance; or his mind is kept steady in the persuasion of the known truth, his love to it cherished, and his hope enlivened. The apostles said, “God hath given to us the spirit of power and of love, and of a sound {or sober} mind.” So that, whatever they affirmed, whatever they practiced under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they could give a sober and solid reason for it. If they confidently declared their faith, they had the clearest evidence to produce; if they fervently expressed their love, they had the most amiable objects to describe; if they joyfully made mention of their hope, they had the grandest enjoyments in prospect. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, as also the Spirit of Grace. He speaks and breathes only the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. When a man, then, comes to know the gospel, or to receive this Spirit, he thinks of no other grace but what appeared in Christ’s tasting death for men; no other truth, but what was manifest in Christ, the end of the law for righteousness. This differs not a little from what the popular doctrine leads us to think of; namely, the truth of grace in the heart. When our systems describe faith to us, as a saving grace bestowed on us, by which we make use of Christ for salvation, are we not led to think of some grace necessary to our salvation, beside what appeared when Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for the sins of men? Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

Testimony of Christ

When we hear Jesus saying, “The world hateth me, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil;” shall we say, that he was sent from heaven to tell the world, that murder, adultery, theft, &c., were evil actions; or did the world ever hate any man for declaiming against vice; or rather, would not any man speaking publicly in its favor, run the risk of being stoned or torn to pieces even by the most vicious of the mob? The truth is, Christ witnessed against the world as evil, in that respect wherein they approved and valued themselves most; and accordingly the zealous Jews understood him. Would they not judge, then, that they had good ground to count him an enemy to all that they called virtuous or pious? But how must it heighten their provocation, to hear such a man, whose character was everywhere hissed at, who was even thought beside himself by his near relations, declaring in the most open manner, with unshaken confidence, that God had no delight in any character under heaven but his alone; that none of mankind could ever find favor with God, but by his virtue and piety alone. Would they not think they had the highest reason for their resentment? “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” “He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?” This controversy, we know, issued in the death of Christ. And, if I might be allowed to adopt the vulgar use of the word ‘victim’ on this occasion, I would say he fell a victim to the resentment of every human excellency. For what is it that man glories in, that did not find itself piqued and affronted by the doctrine, joined with the extraordinary circumstances of the life of Christ. Robert Sandeman {Letters on Theron and Aspasio Addressed to the Author, 1757}

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Additional Writings Currently Being Added

Assurance of Salvation in Christ Alone: If it be inquired then, what I would say for the relief of one distressed with the sense of guilt? Why, I would tell him, to the best of my ability what the Gospel says about Christ. If he still doubted, I would set before him all the evidence furnished me by that same Gospel. Thus and thus only would I press, call, invite, exhort or urge him to believe. I would urge him with evidence for the Truth. And if the evidence of Divine Truth did not strike him, what benefit could he receive from the utmost energy of human clamor, pressing him on to the blind business of performing some task called believing? Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Christ – the End of the Law for Righteousness: All who know and love Christ as the end of the Law for Righteousness, are sensible of a strong bias daily working in their hearts in opposition to the revealed Righteousness of Christ, and prompting them to establish their own. Yea, the more they love Christ, the more sensible they are of the force of this bias, and it’s bad effects upon them. On this account they daily find need to ask the remission of sin. In distinction from every other weight or worldly lust which retards their course, they find this to be the besetting sin that sits very close to them. They find this to be the chief thing that can properly be called inherent in them, as having the deepest root in their very frame and constitution; yea, with Paul they find this evil present with them, even when they would do good. Whereas, to rejoice before God in the work finished by Christ is altogether supernatural and quite foreign to the course of our thoughts and reasonings. In corresponding with God by the prayer of faith, they find relief from the guilt and power of this evil, and are encouraged with the hope of complete victory and deliverance at last. If we are not sensible of the damning nature of this principle self-righteousness as indulged in ourselves or more explicitly avowed by others, we cannot be said to know and love Christ. – Consider, that to be convinced of the evil of self-righteousness, the true root of all unbelief, is a conviction quite supernatural. The conviction of every other sin may be admitted by the natural conscience, or by those who believe not the Gospel. Yea, the conviction of every other sin may very well consist with the prevailing avowed desire to establish our own righteousness. For, when a man is convinced of other sins, what refuge can his thoughts suggest to him for relief, but some attempt to do better? Accordingly, when Christ was ready to leave the world, and his disciples were discouraged at the thoughts of executing their commission, considering the obstacles they had to cope with in the hearts of men; he tells them that the Spirit of Truth, whom he would send them as their Comforter, would convince the world of sin, because they believed not on Him. Self-righteousness is the great veil drawn over the hearts of men, shutting them up, and hardening them in unbelief. And it requires the most awful apprehension of the Divine judgment exhibited by the Gospel; yea, the terror of the Lord {as Paul, in a conspicuous manner, experienced} to rend aside this veil, that the truth may find admittance into their hearts. What then shall we think of people acquainting us of the removal of what tended to obscure the truth to them, and yet grudging that this removal was not accomplished after a softer method? Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: It is very well-reasoned that we cannot with good grace, condemn others in that respect wherein we approve ourselves. If we can be delivered from mistakes about acceptance with God, and come to settlement in our minds about the Truth of the Gospel, without being convinced that until then we loved darkness rather than the light, no doubt we will have a friendly disposition with all seriously disposed persons, who are joining their own best endeavors to Christ’s Righteousness, in order to peace in their consciences and before God. Judging of them by their own rule, we will consider them all the while as well-meaning persons and sincere lovers of Christ. Our friendship with the self-righteous world will hold pace with our self-indulgence on that point. On the other hand, if when the light of the Truth awakened us, we beheld the Divine judgment pointed in the most awful manner against what we most valued ourselves for before; we will be ready, for the love we bear to the Truth, and for the benefit of others, to express our sense of that judgment, to prevent, if possible, their going down to the grave with a lie in their right hand. Moreover, we cannot continue to keep the Truth any longer than we retain the sense of that judgment, as a check on the remaining disposition to establish our own righteousness. And our self-condemnation, in this respect, will naturally hold pace with the mutual antipathy between the world and us about Righteousness. They, indeed, who have obtained their faith without being greatly alarmed with the evil of that disposition, may continue to profess it without being very sensible of the remaining force and guilt of their self-righteous pride, and without giving great offense to the devout world. But these circumstances ought to suggest a strong suspicion that they have not obtained equally precious Faith with the Apostles. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: Let us now consider more particularly the question formally referred to: Whether a person, who believes the doctrine of the atonement, &c., cannot be a true Christian, unless he be free from every degree of legality in his sentiments, expressions and experience? That true christians need repentance and remission of sin daily, for what they feel of legality or self-righteousness in their experience has already been noted. On the other hand, that such as give place to any degree of self-righteousness in their avowed sentiments and expressions, are true Christians, I am well authorized to deny. Here then lies the difference between true and false believers, as to the former, what they do in the self-righteous way, they allow not; but, on that account, see themselves sinners, and are relieved only by that mercy revealed for the help of the ungodly. Whereas, the latter deliberately approve of some self-righteous mixture with the Truth; and instead of admitting the conviction of sin on this account, most of them are ready with open mouth to contend for the expediency of such mixture, and to make it, with its influence on the heart and life, the very hinge of that esteem they give and expect from each other. All the while I deny not that a man, apparently blameless in the Christian profession, may yet be a hypocrite; but we can judge of men only by their words and actions. I would observe; that while it blends the Christian experience about self-righteousness, together with sentiments approving it, or expressions uttered in its defense, and pleading its cause, it discovers, on the one hand a very lame notion of the evil of self-righteousness, as experienced by believers; and on the other, a great tenderness and sympathy for the self-righteous world. These things indeed go hand-in-hand together. Our regard to those who speak in behalf of self-righteousness, must hold pace with our own sense of guilt in that respect. In the churches with us, none pretends to be free of sin in point of self-righteousness, yet we would readily agree to censure any man who would hold up his face to speak in its defense, in any degree, or under any pretense whatsoever. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: However small some differences about the Gospel, as exhibited in print, may appear to many readers; yet one thing is certain, that the joining of a seemingly very small impropriety with the apostolic Gospel, will make the offense of the cross to cease; will make Christianity acceptable to thousands who would otherwise hate it; will secure the worldly ease and reputation of the teachers, and give full scope to the religious pride of the professing people. Whereas on the other hand, the zealous discarding of such impropriety, will render Christianity as despicable and hateful in the eyes of the religious world, as it was in the beginning. So that great things, no less than the most interesting objects of the passions of men, turn upon a seemingly very small matter here. Yea, I may add, greater things than these are here at stake, even the eternal concerns of men. For though the revelation of Divine Grace in the Scriptures be in itself extremely simple, and fit to make even a child wise unto Salvation; yet the methods of undermining it, through the slight and cunning of men, are numerous and various. Hence the many calls to watchfulness; hence the exhortations to strive to enter in at the straight gate; to fight the good fight of Faith, &c,. The simplicity of the Gospel is the great Object of Christian watchfulness. If people have once lost sight of this, it signifies very little, what they are zealous about. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: An apparently small impropriety admitted into the Scripture account of Grace, renders it, in Paul’s view, no more Grace. The same thing may be said of faith, the atonement and the Person of Christ. Paul’s rivals among the churches of Galatia, preached the Deity and Atonement of Christ, &c. They were far from insinuating any other way of Salvation. They only outran Paul somewhat in their concern about holiness. They wanted to guard his Gospel on that side where it appeared weakest. It grieved them to think that a scheme in itself so excellent, should in any respect lie open to the objections of those who thought that the interest of true piety were not sufficiently secured thereby. This defect they were willing to supply. And to this it would seem they were prompted by a sincere concern for the credit of Christianity, and the interest of religion in general. The Galatians were caught. They began to think it in many respects expedient for their own advantage, and honor of Christ, to consult the interest of religion likewise; agreeable to the newly proposed improvement of the Gospel. But what says Paul to them? “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel.” Strange! How uncharitable to say, another Gospel! Considering how small the addition to the old received Gospel; and withal how necessary, how well devised, and how great the advantages arising from so small addition! Paul exclaims himself, that by another Gospel he does not mean any formal rejection of the received Gospel, either in whole or in part; but such a perversion of that received one, by means of their plausible addition, as rendered it, in effect, another Gospel. And to deter men from all such tampering with the Gospel in time coming, he denounces the judgment of God in the following awful manner; uttering it twice to command the greater attention. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Thus Paul decides the matter; and here I leave it. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: It was not on supposing you agreed with me in my views of particular men or books, but on apprehending you to be a hearty friend to Sovereign Grace, that my friendly regard for you commenced. I thought, what could move a man to describe it so clearly, to appear so singular in his doctrine about it, and that so publicly, not only from the pulpit but also from the press, as one disposed to risk his whole reputation upon it, if he did not heartily love it. And if he loved it, he behooved to hold it most sacred, so as to consider none as godly, but those who at least professed to love it also. Therefore, in remarking on your discourses, I thought it enough to signify, in the gentlest manner, how unsuitable it was to your leading scope, to suppose, that anyone, who loved the true God, could be found joining in the common odium shown against Sovereign Grace. For let it be called Absolute Predestination or by any other name, still it must remain impossible, to describe it in words, that can sound harder to the pride of men, than these of Paul, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” When I found you still inclining to think that true believers might be found “among those who are carried away by the popular odious cry against Absolute Predestination,” I was not a little shocked. You could not have alarmed me on a more sacred point. Must I be still put to the question, after all that I have said, whether I be yet talking for amusement about the Christian doctrine, or in good earnest. True believers taking a side against Sovereign Grace! Impossible! It never was, never can be in the nature of the thing. The first dawn of the Gospel upon any man’s heart teaches him to fear God and reverence his Sovereignty in the most absolute view it can be conceived in. And all that fear God, from the least to the greatest, will agree without hesitation in saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” But then it will be said, that some who dislike the explicit doctrine of Absolute Sovereignty, may yet, by implication, be concluded friends at bottom to that Sovereignty. Yet nothing can be more foreign to the Scripture than such reasoning. The Scripture indeed leads us to think of men having the form of godliness without the power, but it nowhere gives us the least ground to think, that the power can possibly take place where the very form is disliked. It leads us to think that men may someway hold the form of sound words without Faith and Love; but that Faith and Love can be where that form is disallowed, is quite foreign to every notion taught us by the Scripture. If such reasoning by implication be allowed, then we may find true believers amongst those who dislike the declaration of Imputed Righteousness and Vicarious Substitution, among those who dislike the declaration of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, and so in course everything that is most sacred. Yea, thus we may find true believers amongst the worshipers of Mohammed. For if Mohammed signifies a prophet, intercessor or mediator, and if some mean as much by the word Mohammed as others by the word Christ, who would contend for a word, while there was no material difference of meaning? Jesus Christ, praying for his people, said; “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” How then can any who disallow the declaration of that knowledge, either that of Divine Sovereignty, Justice, or Mercy be said to have any part in life eternal! If we have any ear to give to the Scripture, we must rank all such among those that “know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and who {if they be not given Repentance to the acknowledgment of the Truth} shall be punished with everlasting destruction.” And if we have any true benevolent concern for such, it will lead us boldly to declare to them their real danger, however harsh or ridiculous it may sound in their ears at present. Though all the clergy in the world should agree in a charitable opinion of any who disallow the declaration of that knowledge, I find myself fully authorized from the Scripture to declare such charity to be the very breath and spirit of the grand destroyer. Jesus Christ declares that by their words men shall be justified, and by their words they shall be condemned; and in his view lightly or readily to speak evil of Him is the same thing as to be against Him or to be his enemy. Well then may we say, that everyone who deliberately opens his mouth against the Divine Sovereignty, even in the most absolute view of it given in Scripture, thereby shows himself to be an enemy of God. Besides, to talk of Divine Sovereignty or Predestination not absolute, is a downright absurdity; even as every atheistical scheme is. How great was Paul’s temptation to mince the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty, when his heart was swelled with sorrow at the apprehension of his kinsmen being rejected! Yet on that occasion he is so far from mincing it, that he displays it in the boldest view, even in that view, which has for many ages given the greatest umbrage to thousands, who by their opposition to it show, that in calling themselves Christians they atheistically profane the Christian name, and the name of the true God. So the question has at last come to this between us: Is there a God or not? For a God without Sovereignty is no God at all. What satisfaction can a man find in his conscience, in maintaining Saving Grace to be Sovereign Grace, if at the same time he thinks that a man may be a true believer, so as enjoy the Divine favor, who opposes that Grace? Or what delight can a man take in the character of the true God, who thinks that his neighbor may be truly pious and happy in worshiping another god? In my view, the more a man knows of the character of the true God, and is yet capable of holding it in such a profane manner, he is thereby only so much the more eminently fitted to be an agent of Satan in undermining it. I fondly presumed that our friendship had commenced upon a sacred foundation, even Sovereign Grace; but if we must have the same friendship for those who oppose that Grace, or who join in the opposition to it; then it is evident, there can be nothing more sacred in our friendship than in the mutual courtesy that takes place amongst infidels. Have we then been all this while employed only like two philosophers striving as to who shall get freest of inconsistencies in their manner of talking! Any attempt to revive the Christian profession with you must be the idealist thing in the world, unless it be founded in the fear of God. When Jacob was to swear by his most awful view of the Divine Majesty, he chose to swear by the fear of his father Isaac; even that Sovereignty at which Isaac trembled with a great trembling, when he beheld his favored first-born son rejected, and his younger son chosen. Were a few with you united only by the fear of God, they would find themselves concerned to regard the noisy cry of all England against them, no more than the falling of a cascade or the humming of so many bees. The nearer one comes to the true Gospel, while at the same time a reserve is made for softening or averting the hatred of the world, such reputation is often established to the better advantage. But I must consider those as keeping but a very slack hold of the Gospel, who cannot heartily approve of Paul denouncing his repeated anathema against all, be they men or angels, who go about however slyly, to undermine the doctrine of Divine Grace which he preached. I find it was Paul’s manner, when his heart was warmest about the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, to point his keenest resentment against those who defaced that knowledge. Yea, this was a topic he frequently insisted on, as appears by many passages of his epistles; of which at present I shall only produce one for a sample. While he is reminding the Philippians of his view of the Gospel, the effect it had upon him, and calling upon them to follow him; he adds, “for many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, &c.” And how can we be said to hold the Truth in the fear of God, unless we are persuaded that destruction attends every departure from it both in ourselves and others? Unless we are so persuaded, our zeal about the Gospel will amount to no more than an idol emulation about orthodoxy. And it may be held for a sure maxim, that however zealous we may be to hold a sounder set of principles than our neighbors, we can never greatly condemn ourselves for any deviation from the Truth that we think consistent with the Christian character in others. If ever the profession of the Faith begin to purpose with you, it will begin with raising foundations, with hearty convictions of guilt for holding the Truth in unrighteousness, and with trembling at the words of James, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” I know no character a Christian ought to detest more than that of Balaam, who preached the soundest doctrine, saying, “the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations,” and who knowing that the happiness of Israel lay in being so situate, nevertheless practiced secretly to mingle them with the heathen, by negotiating an alliance between them and the Moabites. Mr. Baxter, noted for piety in the last age, slackened a point of the Christian doctrine, and you see what has been the consequence among the Dissenters! When I found you seeking to damp my confidence about Divine Sovereignty, and soliciting me to hold it, as if I held it not; I was greatly shocked. I thought, if you believed, it behooved to be like those chief rulers who believed, “but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Yet in my view, one has put a poor pretense even to the character of a Pharisee, who opposes the common Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination. I am obliged then to say, that if you would correspond any further with me, you must refrain from every attempt to damp my confidence about that knowledge wherein eternal life lies, even the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. For I must consider every such attempt in no other light, than as a solicitation to go and serve other gods; which I am bound to resent in the strongest manner against my nearest friend. And do not imagine that {unless I be forsaken of God} I can never be broken or softened as to the spirit of opposition to the religious world, which runs through my letters. I stand by the theme of our agreement, Saving Grace, Sovereign Grace. If you depart from that, and a breach of friendship ensue, the breach does not lie at my door. So much from him, who is still willing to be, on the former terms, Dear Sir, your Affectionate Friend and Servant, Robert Sandeman. {Extracted from a faithful letter from Robert Sandeman to Samuel Pike, occasioned by some hints dropped in a private letter from Pike which are referred to and quoted in this letter; dated March 24, 1759.}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: No man can be delivered from an error about the Truth or a mistake about acceptance with God, but in a way of Repentance and Conviction of former hypocrisy. The case here is very different from that of philosophers, who in all their various mazes still consider one another as conducted by the sincere love of some phantom, whereof they have no idea, but to which, in complementing each other in that which they have chosen to give the name of ‘truth.’ The pure light of Gospel Truth no sooner shines into a man’s heart then it convinces him, that the reason of his not receiving it before was his loving darkness rather than the light. “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” We cannot be assured that we love Christ, and are accordingly interested in him by reflecting on any mere thoughts or motions of our hearts concerning him. Yea, we cannot be assured that we have known him or understood the genuine Truth concerning him, unless that Truth has produced its proper fruit in our hearts and lives. Our love to Christ must be tried by our regard to his new commandment; by our love to the uncorrupted Gospel, and them that believe it for the truth’s sake dwelling in them. This love then, considering how the world stands affected to the simple truth of the Gospel of God’s Grace in Christ, obliges a man immediately to take a side; it engages him in a controversy of the most interesting nature, even against those whose good graces he would otherwise value most. Jude, when his heart was big with concern about the common Salvation, exhorts to an earnest contention for the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Yea Paul, describing a conversation becoming the Gospel, makes it chiefly to consist in this sort of strife and contention. “Only,” says he, “let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ” – “that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries” – “having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” Moreover how can Christian brotherly love be exercised, but where there is a Christian brotherhood, or an union of men cemented only by the Gospel of Christ, in separation from all others? Now if you and your friends have not been spiritually united in Gospel Truth, in distinction from all error, how can it appear to your consciences that you love Christ? It ought to be remembered that Paul restricts the blessing in this manner. “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity;” that is, in incorruption; for the knowledge of Christ was greatly corrupted by many even in Paul’s time, and that by as plausible and respectable pretenses as can be used by any in our time. – We cannot have the proper value for Christ, unless his glory arise to our view from those very circumstances, on account of which he was chiefly despised and set at naught amongst men. And the same thing must be said of his Gospel to the end of the world. Paul gloried in the cross in that very respect wherein it broke all measures between the world and himself. No task can be more fruitless than men’s attempt to render the Gospel palatable to people who at bottom disallow it in its native simplicity and Christ exalting glory. – Know also, that if we take but a slight view of the New Testament, the nature of Christ’s Kingdom, and his prediction that his Gospel would be hated by all nations, we may easily perceive that when a nation becomes ‘Christian’ the Gospel must be greatly corrupted; consequently the great majority of religious books in that nation, particularly those most recommended, must be some way adapted to that corruption. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Uncompromising Gospel Truth: Many at their first convictions, and afterwards in the course of their profession, are held in great perplexities, not as would seem at first view from their excess of fear, but in reality by their entertaining partial and contracted views of their guilt and danger. There is a great difference between the anxiety of the Pharisee laboring under the complaint “what lack I yet,” and the conviction of one who is at his wits end about himself; and who, like the Publican in the parable, sees nothing about himself but what constitutes him a sinner, and exposes him to the wrath of God. {The wrath of God revealed from heaven in Christ’s death affords the most awful view of Divine justice; and by our apprehensions of Divine Justice we have our chief impression of the living God.} To the latter the Gospel proves glad tidings; but the former being but half sick, needs not such a physician as the Gospel exhibits. He may indeed undergo much disquiet, repining greatly at his deficiencies, and be very earnest in prayer for power and assistance to supply them; but still this thought lurks in his mind, that he has or should have some principle at bottom, which, if properly assisted, might yield him relief. So his mind is quite estranged from the Gospel, which speaks of all that is needful to relieve him as already accomplished in Christ, and we may be very sure that everyone who finds no relief, no joy in the declaration of the Gospel, is at bottom laboring under some such thought. And the best service that can be done him, is, laying aside all soothing and false tenderness, to deal roundly and plainly with him as an enemy to God and the Gospel; for until he be brought to view himself in this light, even as ungodly and without strength, he can never see the excellency of that Grace which reconciles enemies. He may indeed be apparently very low, but he is not yet reduced enough to be helped by the Grace of the Gospel. It must always be kept in mind that Christianity is a supernatural scheme, and all its influence among men is entirely of the sovereign good pleasure of God. When teachers, listening to the dictates of carnal wisdom, begin to devise the proper method of promoting a profession of religion, they must soon fall into great mistakes. The teacher’s fondness to encourage every appearance of religious concern leads him to soften that very principle which ought most watchfully to be checked in all religious people, and which proves the chief source of darkness and anxiety to the more serious and thoughtful. But a Christian teacher has his limits prescribed him, for it is not his business to devise what may be the proper means for promoting the interest of Christianity. His charge is to hold fast the faithful word. In all this it becomes him to submit to the Divine sovereignty and mind the post assigned him. He must not distrust the efficacy of the faithful word because of the little success it has in the world, or because it may seem too simple, weak and insipid to answer the end proposed. He must always bear in mind that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God stronger than men. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Contending for the Faith: Peter says; “if any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God;” therefore he who speaks for God ought not to hold the word of Faith as a problematical point; as to which it may be allowed that men may appear in the opposition with sincerity, as in the main candid lovers of truth. For if a man is confident that he speaks for God, he must be confident at the same time, that however the opposition be managed, the devil is at the head of it. Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

Conceited Conversion Experience: You find it necessary to obviate an apprehension of your being till of late an unconverted person. This apprehension it would seem was either suggested or expected from your opponents, and thought likely to weaken the minds of your friends. What a noble opportunity presented itself here for you to oppose and trample upon the self-righteous pride of conversion which is of so extensive influence amongst professors! Or, had you yet to learn that a self-applauding presumption of conversion was a leading characteristic of a modern Pharisee? Or, could you be ignorant that your people were in general tainted with that pharisaical leaven? And would not a hearty lover of the true Gospel be ashamed, so much as to lay any claim to conversion among people tainted with that leaven? Would he not choose rather to take his rank with publicans and harlots, or, like Paul, with the chief of sinners, and glory only in the Gospel of God’s Grace in Christ as it speaks peace to them that are afar off and accordingly pour contempt on all the conceited notions of conversion prevalent amongst professors? Acting thus, he would bear a strong impression upon my mind that whatever he was before he was converted now. I say again, what a noble opportunity had you of showing with Paul, that what things were gain to you, you counted loss for Christ. But you were loath to risk the credit of your conversion and therefore you would give your own opinion in its favor. But how do you support its credit? Why, you refer to an old illumination about the freedom of Grace when you were in the near views of death. Is it thus, think you, that the credit of our conversion is to be supported, either in our own minds or to the conviction of others? {Pike replies: “when this reflection has been occasionally cast in my teeth, that my doctrine supposes that I had never been converted till of late, my usual answer has been, that my hope was not raised or supported by an answer to that question, how long I had been converted, nor by any reflection I made upon my past experiences; nor by any opinion I framed in favor of myself, but purely by the Gospel of free Grace.”} Robert Sandeman {Epistolary Correspondence, 1764}

A Few Additional Excerpts from the Writings of John Glas, whom Sandeman followed in the Faith.

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Heb.13:7-8

Unity in the Truth of Christ: How desirable a thing is the uniformity that is pointed out to us in these texts: “that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God;” {Rom.15:6;} “that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.” {I Cor.1:10} But, through the subtlety of Satan, this was used as a specious pretext to seduce Christians, and draw them away from the New Testament as the bond of peace and only rule of Christian unity, into union with the world, in subjection to Church authority in creeds and canons, really against Christ, though under color of uniform subjection to him. This anti-Christian uniformity, chargeable with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus Christ, is now in a great measure broke, to the no small grief of all its lovers and friends. Every party of these would have their own uniformity established over all the Christian world, and they show themselves inclined, to persecute all that would oppose it. But this cannot now take place, as it has done in the world. God has confounded the lip of the builders of Babel, so as they shall never more agree in a Catholic confession and form of religion. Satan therefore must go to work another way. How agreeable is Catholic charity to every Christian heart; when we take it to signify, love to all the saints! How glorious a thing is that forbearance which the Apostle recommends to the believing Jews and Gentiles! It can never be enough commended. But let us take care to keep our eye on the New Testament, as the bond of peace, and only rule of Christian character; for when we hear men launching out in the praises of Catholic unity and forbearance, and we consider the various purposes for which this is now so earnestly recommended to us, we shall find reason to suspect a snake in the grass. The Deist calls for Catholic charity, as due to moral virtue, more honorable to our nature, and more beneficial to human society than the obedience of faith; pleads for our pity to the poor heathen, that, as far as our compassion is moved, we may resent the severity of the Gospel; and sets up Socrates to us, as an overcomer of the world by reason and philosophy, without faith, that the more we value him we may think the less of Divine Revelation; and as far as we admit this charity, we must become moderate, or cool and indifferent about the Faith once delivered to the saints; yea, and hate those who are the most zealous of the Faith of the Son of God, as the only principle of unfeigned goodness and true virtue in the world. Arians, Arminians and such-like plead for Catholic charity on the footing of sincere obedience to the Gospel, the best system of moral virtue, with the best motives and helps to the practice of thereof; and this in a sort of opposition to the Person and Imputed Righteousness, and exceeding abundant Grace of the Son of God. When we hearken to these men, and get into the spirit of their charity, we shall despise and hate those who are zealous for the Faith in the Righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, and for the peculiar Grace of his Spirit. John Glas {Catholic Charity, 1742}

Justification of the Ungodly in Christ Alone: The sinner that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, even him that raised Christ from the dead, finds nothing about himself that can encourage him to expect Justification, but everything serving to lead him to despair. If justifying Grace were dispensed according to any fitness whereby one man may be differenced from another as better qualified for it; he could find no such fitness, no such qualification in him to encourage him to look for that Grace, but rather the contrary; as Paul says of himself, “Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” If his acceptance with God should go upon any terms which he must fulfill, he finds himself as much without strength to fulfill them, {and especially that of sincerity, for the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it,”} as Abraham found himself for becoming a father when his body was now dead. In a word, he views himself in that same point of light wherein the Divine Mercy held men in sending the Son of God to die for them, and wherein his death respected them; namely, as sinners, and enemies to God; as ungodly, and without strength; {Rom.5:6,8,10;} and so he works not to make himself righteous, but, seeing all his works against the hope of his Justification, prays, as the Publican, “God be propitious to me, a sinner.” For in believing, or giving credit to the testimony of the Gospel concerning the resurrection of the Son of God, who, when we were yet without strength, in due time died for the ungodly, and rose again for their Justification, he finds good ground for the hope of being justified by that revealed Righteousness which is unto all and upon all that believe, without difference. He sees good ground to hope for the blessedness of the man to whom God Imputeth Righteousness without works. So his hope of being justified is against his feeling and experience; but it is according to his Faith; for there is a glorious ground of hope in that which he believes; and so he walks in this step of Abraham’s Faith, “believing in hope against hope.” There was such a certainty in Abraham’s Faith, such a firm persuasion of that which was spoken, that no objection could stand in his mind against the Truth of it, and no room was left there for a thought of the possibility of its being false. He was very certain, that what was spoken was indeed the Faithful Word of God, and so assent to it as his Testimony, for whom it is impossible to lie; for he believed God; he gave credit to him, who calleth those things which be not as though they were; and such was his confidence in the Word of God, that the consideration of his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, and of the deadness of Sarah’s womb, was not able to shake it. His Faith did not admit this to consideration as an objection against the Word of God; so he “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, - being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able to perform.” {Rom.5:19-21} And such a certainty there is in the Faith of Abraham’s children believing on Him that justifieth the ungodly; as we may see from such texts as these: “A declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us.” {Lk.1:1} “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” {Jn.6:69} “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” {Jn.17:8} “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” {Heb.11:1} “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” {Heb.3:14} “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” {I Thes.1:5} “When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” {I Thes.2:13} “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” {I Jn.5:9,10} “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” {Heb.10:22} “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” {Js.1:6} He that believes on him that justifies the ungodly cannot be doubting of that which he hears God saying; and the consideration of his own unfitness to be justified, even the impossibility of his being justified in the natural way, cannot make him stagger at the Word of God; cannot shake his persuasion, that God, who raised Christ from the dead, for the Justification of sinners is able to make him, a sinner, blessed by the Imputation of Righteousness without works; for he looks on the Word of God which he believes, as of the same power with that by which the worlds were framed, calling the things that be not as though they were, even as did Abraham; and so the Faith of God’s Word has a certainty in it. When we believe on him that raised up Christ for the Justification of the ungodly, we believe that we may be justified by this; and the hope that arises from this Faith or Belief, is the hope of being made just, or of becoming just, by the Imputation of this Righteousness alone. And so the certainty or assurance that is in this Faith, is the assurance of this, that the Righteousness of the Son of God raised for the Justification of the ungodly for whom he died, is enough to justify us ungodly sinners; is sufficient, without anything added, to make us just in the sight of God. - The doubting that is opposed to Faith in the blood of the Son of God for Justification by the remission of sins, must be our hesitating about the sufficiency of that blood alone to justify us, and our not being fully persuaded by the Testimony of God that it is able to make us just, when we can find nothing about ourselves to contribute to our Justification, but everything making against it. Abraham gave glory to God when he believed in hope against hope, according to what was spoken, and was strong in that Faith. If he could have contributed anything toward the making good of that which was spoken, he had then something to glory in before another not so fit as he. But when it was quite otherwise, he gave God the whole glory of that which he believed God alone was able to perform. His Faith glorified him as God who raises the dead and calls those things that be not as though they were. Even so, when we work not to make ourselves just, but believe on him that raised Jesus for the Justification of the ungodly, we give him the whole glory of our Justification, as not pretending to contribute anything toward it ourselves, but acknowledging him who distinguishes himself as God, and manifests his glory in this Justification. A sinner that studies to be made fitter than another for being justified, cannot be believing the sufficiency of Christ’s Righteousness to justify him, nor glorifying God who justifies the ungodly by that Righteousness. He that would work to make himself righteous, must suppose to himself a God that will not punish every transgression, nor curse everyone that continues not in all things commanded. He must suppose to himself a God that will justify by an imperfect Righteousness; and so loves not Righteousness, nor hates iniquity as God, but as he would pretend to do himself. But he that believes on him that raised Jesus from the dead for the Justification of sinners respects him as God, showing the infinite opposition of his goodness unto all iniquity in the death of Christ delivered for the offenses of sinners and showing his love to Righteousness, as justifying by a perfect Righteousness in raising him from the dead; even that Righteousness which the Son of God finished on the cross; and so not being ignorant of the justice of God, he goes not about to establish his own Righteousness, but glorifies the name of the righteous Father, whom the world knew not, as that name is manifested by Jesus Christ. Again, the sinner that works to make himself just, must suppose to himself a God that has no mercy to show to the worthless and miserable, {the only proper objects of mercy,} nor any Grace to manifest but unto those who differ from others by some excelling qualifications. He must suppose to himself a God who cannot show mercy to whom he will, but according to those differences whereby sinners may glory over one another, saying, as the Pharisee, “God, I thank thee I am not as other men, or as this publican;” but he that believes on him that raised Christ for the Justification of sinners acknowledges the glory of the Divine Mercy and Grace in sending the Son of God, substituting him in the room of the ungodly to whom God would show mercy, delivering him for their offenses and raising him for their Justification, without respect to any difference wherein one man can find himself excelled by another. And he that works not, but believes to be justified by Grace freely through the redemption that is in Christ’s blood, gives God the glory of his mercy; saying, as the publican, “God be propitious to me, a sinner.” Thus we have seen the steps of Abraham’s Faith wherein they walk who believe in Christ for Righteousness, and we may be encouraged to walk in them by these words of the prophet. “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD; look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the LORD shall comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” {Is.51:1-3} John Glas {Notes on Scripture Texts Concerning the Imputation of Sin & Righteousness, 1748}

Contending & Striving Together for the Truth of the Gospel of Christ: Pilate saw that our Lord laid great stress upon the truth; and though he despised truth as a means of setting up a kingdom, when he proposed that scornful question, “What is truth;” and waited not for an answer; yet it becomes us diligently to inquire, till we be satisfied, what this truth is; and though it was not fit that Pilate should know it at that time, seeing, as we may hear, it respected Christ’s cross; yet it is of the utmost importance and advantage to us to know it now. We find God’s mercy and his truth much spoken of and celebrated in the Old Testament. It is the promise of Christ that is intended; and truly God’s mercy and truth together are nowhere to be found but with him. “My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn be exalted.” {Ps.89:24} They that saw his glory, when he came in the flesh, found him “full of grace and truth.” {Jn.1:14} He testifies of himself, “that he is the truth.” {Jn.14:6} “In him,” the Son of God manifest in the flesh, is “the end of the law for righteousness unto every one that believeth,” and “all the promises of God are yea and amen.” {II Cor.1:20} So that he is the great subject of this his testimony in the Gospel; and in order to understand what he mainly intends by truth here, we must consider how he is especially set forth in the gospel, to be believed in unto salvation, and what doctrine of the gospel it is whereby it is especially distinguished both from Judaism and natural religion. We shall find, that the great thing testified of him in the gospel is that he is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth; that he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification; and we are told that he that believeth this in his heart, and confesseth it with his mouth, shall be saved. {Rom.4:24,25, 10:4,8-10} When the Apostle declares himself not ashamed of the gospel, and calls it the power of God unto salvation, he tells us, it is because “therein is the righteousness of God revealed,” from the faithfulness of God to the faith of every believer. {Rom.1:16,17} When he gives an account of the great subject of the gospel message, he tells us it is this, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;” “for he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." {II Cor.5:18-21} And when he speaks of the testimony of God, the object of faith, he tells us, “it is Christ crucified.” {I Cor.1:23,24, 2:1-2} This was the great intent of the prophecies, which spoke of the sufferings of Christ, and the following glory; “for to him gave all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sin.” {Acts 10:43} This therefore is that truth of the gospel which is especially witnessed unto, and whereby Christ says that, “his kingdom is advanced in the world;” and this may be further clear unto us if we consider: 1. That this is the distinguishing truth of Christianity, whereby it is differenced from mere natural religion, and from all the religions in the world that anyway compete with it. This is the great thing, the first thing that any religion can propose to sinful men; how they should be pardoned, reconciled to God, and justified in his sight. “I know it is so of a truth; but how should man be just with God?” {Job 9:2} If the Christian religion differ from others in anything, it is in this; for they all propose other ways of coming into favour with God, and false ways; but Christ has made peace by the blood of his cross, and thereby reconciled all his people, of all nations, unto God in one body; and has come and preached this peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh; and this is the truth wherein the true God is gloriously manifested and distinguished from every religious idol. 2. God’s truth in the just sentence of his broken law, and in the promise of life to sinners, meets and consists only in Christ, our Redeemer from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us, that the blessing might come upon us; and therefore this may well be called the truth. The Law condemned us in a head and representative; and there was nothing in it to hinder our suffering in another head, if God should think it meet; and they who are justified in Christ, were as verily punished in him, and as verily fulfilled the law in him, “as they sinned in Adam.” {Rom.5:15-19} Thus, when God pardons a sinner, and justifies him in Christ, he in no wise makes void the law; seeing we have fulfilled it in Christ our Head unto far better purpose than if we had undergone the curse by ourselves without him. 3. This is the truth of the legal shadows. The law was given by Moses, but truth came by Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness unto every one that believeth. {Hebrews – chapter 9 & 10} And in this truth the promises of God are Yea and Amen; for it is either the accomplishment, or the foundation of the accomplishment of them all. {I Pet.1:11,12} 4. This truth concerning Christ delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification is that wherein the stamp of divine authority on Scripture revelation is chiefly manifest. All the parts of this revelation depend on this, and are connected with it; so that, take away this truth out of the gospel, it will be another gospel, and the whole doctrine of the prophets and apostles will be utterly made of none effect, as to eternal life and salvation. That faith whereby we believe Scripture revelation, is faith in the blood of the Son of God; and by this faith we receive the whole Scripture revelation, which does all, from beginning to end, one way or other relate unto this. And this is the great touchstone for the trial of true and false doctrine. {See Heb.13:7-10, Eph.4:13-15} “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” {II Jn.1:10} 5. This truth, witnessed unto in the gospel, is that by which the power of God is put forth in the salvation of sinners, and to subject them to himself in his kingdom. {Lk.1:77, Gal.3:2, Rom.1:16,17, I Cor.1:18,23,24, Col.1:13,14} It was by the revelation of Christ’s righteousness in the gospel, that Christ’s kingdom was at first set up and advanced in the world; and it was by the revival of this great truth, after it had been buried under Antichrist’s reign, that the Lord began to consume that wicked one at the Reformation. Luther said, “this article reigns in my heart, and with this the church stands or falls.” Without this great truth, all other means for promoting or defending the kingdom of Christ will be altogether ineffectual; yea, on the contrary, serve to advance the kingdom of Satan. The strength of Christ’s kingdom, and its safety, lies all in this truth; so that they who would advance this kingdom in the world, must bear it about with them in their hearts, in all their preaching, and in all their conversation in the ministry. And truly this would be a spring of daily refreshment to themselves, and of great liberty and boldness in all the labour of the gospel ministry, and in all the sufferings that attend it. 6. To the same purpose also we might consider the name whereby Christ is called among the subjects of his kingdom, “the Lord our Righteousness;” and that great motto of the church whereby it is distinguished from all other societies; “in those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.” {Jer.33:16} Thus we see the connection between the kingdom of Christ and his Priesthood. This King is Melchisedec, King of Righteousness, and a priest on his throne; and the influence of his priesthood on his kingdom is set before us. {Psal.2:8, 100:1-7} All the glory of Christ’s kingdom follows upon and flows from his sufferings; and they never served him in his kingdom, whatever they may pretend, that did not first submit unto his righteousness. We have had some account of that truth by which our Lord here describes his subjects. Now, it concerns those that would know if they have any part in this kingdom of Christ to understand well what it is to be “of this truth.” There is an expression, which seems to have a near alliance with this, and may serve to clear it; “Ye were the servants of sin; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you;” {Rom.6:17;} or, more agreeably to the original language, “that type, or frame, or mould of doctrine, into which ye were delivered.” The doctrine here pointed to by the Apostle seems to be the same with that truth of which our Lord speaks, even the gospel of Christ; as it “reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith,” that the justified may live by faith; and manifests the righteousness of God without the law, “which is witnessed by the law and the prophets.” {Rom.3:20,21} Of this great doctrine the Apostle had been treating in the foregoing part of the epistle; and in this chapter he is showing the connection between justification and sanctification, and declaring the influence that this blessed doctrine of justification has upon sinners to sanctify them; {to separate them unto Christ, and bind them together in the unity of the doctrine of Christ;} and this in opposition to a common objection, and an error into which men are very ready to fall, who have not a true insight into the doctrine of God’s glorious free grace in the justification of guilty sinners through the righteousness of Christ alone. To this purpose he had said that “sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace;” {Rom.6:14;} and here he tells them to whom he writes, that “they were the servants of sin;” but it was matter of thankfulness to God, that they were delivered from that slavery; and by what means were they delivered from the bondage of sin and made servants of righteousness? He tells it was by that doctrine. Yet the bare outward revelation, and their hearing and having a notion of that doctrine, as they had of other doctrines they heard, was not sufficient unto this. “Ye have obeyed,” says he, “from the heart that mould of doctrine into which ye were cast;” and so being freed from the service of sin, they became servants of righteousness. That blessed doctrine was as a mould unto their hearts, into which they being cast and new framed, became answerable unto it; and so were freed from the yoke of sin, and fitted unto the service of righteousness. Thus the Apostle expresses the work of regeneration, and our union with Christ, by means of the doctrine of justification by the free grace of God, “through the redemption that is in Christ’s blood;” and so he shows the influence that this doctrine has upon our sanctification; as he does further. {Rom.7:4-6} And by this we may see what it is to be “of the truth.” To be of this truth, is to be, as it were, cast into it as in a mould, and framed according to it; “that form of doctrine whereunto ye were delivered.” They in whose minds and hearts this truth is engrafted, and who are begotten and born again of this incorruptible seed, are “of the truth;” and these are they whose souls are cast into the mould of the Gospel-revelation of righteousness in Christ, “who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” {Rom.4:25} So then, whosoever is verily persuaded of this truth that Christ bears witness unto, and that upon the credit of his testimony, and the evidence that it carries in itself, is of this truth; and this faith or belief is the fruit of the soul’s being cast into the mould of that doctrine, without which no obedience can be given unto it. They that are of the truth obey it from the heart, for they love it. As this testimony of Christ is received by faith, whereby we set to our seal that God is true, having the witness in ourselves; so there is the greatest good proposed in this truth to be embraced by us. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.” {Mic.6:8} “Eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” {Is.55:2} This is the proper object of love; as faith respects the truth witnessed unto, so love respects the good in this truth. This love is an immediate effect of grace, flowing from true faith; and is never, nor can ever be separated from it. We read of some professors of the truth perishing because they received not the love of the truth, and this is made an evidence of their not believing it. {II Thes.2:10-13} This love acts upon Christ in this truth in a way of esteem, valuing him above all things, and counting all things besides him, all things that stand in competition with him, “loss and dung.” Thus they that truly find Christ, are with him, as the wise merchant with the pearl of great price, which when he hath found it, selling all to buy that pearl. Christ is indeed precious to all them that believe, and that to such a degree, that he is their only glory. The subjects of Christ’s kingdom are “everyone that is of the truth;” and these things are imported in this: By this truth Christ’s subjects are all distinguished and differenced from all others, howsoever agreeing with them in other things, and however related to them, and bound together with them by many other ties. The church stands distinguished from all other societies, as has been noticed, bearing this motto, “the Lord our Righteousness.” This truth lies at the bottom of all that division and enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, and of all that hatred of the men of this world at the subjects of Christ’s kingdom; for whatever fair pretenses the world may make for this hatred, yet our Lord tells us the true cause of it, when he says that, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” {Jn.17:14} The men of this world may love Christ’s subjects on account of other things common to them with the world appearing about them; but as they appear to be of this truth, and keep the testimony of Jesus Christ, they cannot love them; neither do they hate them for those same things that they find with others who are not of this truth, in whom yet they take pleasure. However we be joined with the people of Christ, if we be not with them in this, we are none of Christ’s subjects, nor have we any part in the kingdom of Christ. And all separations from the world, that flow not from this truth, are none of that controversy which the Lord hath established in the earth between the seed of the woman and the serpent, and are not separations from the world, but divisions in it. In this truth all Christ’s subjects are one, however otherwise differenced. They are of different nations, different stations in the world, and of different parties in the world; they have different measures of gifts and grace, different measures of light, whence differences of opinion and practice will be found among them, and they are liable to error in many cases while they are in this world; so that uniformity, in all these things, which some of them may judge very necessary, is not to be expected here; but herein they are all one, they are every one of this truth. This is that unity of the faith wherein all the members of the body of Christ, even the babes not very skillful in the word of righteousness, are everyone according to their measure, growing up into him. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” {Eph.4:13} Thus they are united by Christ’s word, according to his prayer to the Father, that they may be one. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” {Jn.17:20,21} They are more closely joined together in this truth, than they can be by any other means whatsoever; and it is of more force to unite them than anything can be to divide them; so that it is impossible for any difference to break this union. Here is Christ their peace, on whom all their iniquities met; and his righteousness, which is unto them all, and upon them all without difference, and is the foundation of one and the same hope unto them all. {Is.53:6, Rom.3:22, Gal.4:5-7, 5:5} His blood, his cross, whereby the enmity is slain, and they all reconciled to God in one body. By this truth they are all made to drink into one Spirit, which they receive through the hearing of faith, and are all related to God as their Father, “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,” their one Lord Redeemer; and in being of this truth, they are all united to Christ in it, as fellow-members of that one and same body whereof he is the Head; and though the members be many ways differenced, yet there is but one body, wherein all the members are growing up in this unity of the faith, and knowledge of the Son of God. Ought they not therefore to “endeavour to keep the unity of spirit in this bond of peace, forbearing one another in love,” as to other differences? Should any party of them rise up to oblige all others to uniformity with them in matters of difference, and so to establish another bond of peace, to the dividing of the body of Christ, which yet must remain united in this bond in spite of all differences? Or dare we exclude from the privileges of Christ’s kingdom, and reject from our church-communion, the least of them that are of this truth, because they follow not with us in our uniformity; and this after the only Lord of the church has declared that, “to this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” {Jn.18:37} John Glas {Testimony of the King of Martyrs, 1729}

Deity of Christ: When those men {Arians, Socinians, Sabellians, &c.} harden themselves in their unbelief, or seek to diminish the great importance of this article of our faith, by signifying, that this doctrine is not expressly declared in scripture-revelation, and that it is such a doctrine, that unless it were very expressly revealed, they cannot be so much condemned for not believing it, they bring to mind that passage which we have in John 10:24, 25. “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not.” It was a very hard matter for the Jews, considering their prejudices, to believe that such a man as Jesus was their Christ, and a matter of the utmost importance it was for them to know him to be the Christ; and when they got signs, they wanted clearer, more evident signs; when it was told them, they wanted to be more plainly told; they complained of the darkness of the revelation of a point so important, so shocking to them, and that it was never told them plainly, so as they could not, by interpreting words and phrases, have it to say, that the words wherein it was told them were capable of some other meaning; yet they died in their sins, because they believed it not. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” {Jn.8:24} God hath revealed this great doctrine sufficiently for enlightening the minds of his people, and making unbelievers inexcusable; though not in such terms as such unbelievers would have it proposed unto them, nor with that sort of evidence which they would desire who slight and oppose the evidence that God thought fit to give. “Jesus answered, I told you, and ye believed not.” When he answered the chief priest and his company as plainly as they desired, they condemned him for a blasphemer. And though this doctrine be revealed in the most suitable manner for begetting and increasing the faith of it in the minds of them that are ordained to eternal life; yet if it were revealed in any way wherein it could be now supposed to be declared, we might promise upon these men, continuing in the disposition wherein they seem to be, that they would either distinguish away the sense of that revelation, and cry for a clearer still, or utterly reject the revelation. But we may yet have a farther view of the person of the Messiah from the prophecies of the Old Testament. For, these prophecies also set him forth as the object of religious worship; so that Jesus confessing himself to be that promised King, does thereby acknowledge that he is the Object of that worship; and therefore the only true God. We find that the angels are commanded “to worship him” who is Jehovah, the true God, the glorious King of the church; {Ps.97:1-7 compare with Heb.1:7;} and in Psalm 102, where he is declared to be the Creator of the world, we have him also pointed out to us as the object of religious worship, prayer, and praise in the church, on account of the glory of his Godhead, appearing in his great work of redemption, and in his building of the church, and in the glorious acts of his reign. Whatever they may think who know not the holiness, infinite justice, and terrible majesty of God, and the unspeakable evil of sin, as it is against him, and that most desperate condition, and dreadful complication of innumerable evils, flowing from the guilt of sin, and the curse of a broken law, out of which we are redeemed by the blood of Christ; yet the self-condemned sinner, that has some true apprehension of these things, and so sees the great vanity and folly of all attempts to make an amends to the majesty of God for the exceeding sinfulness of his sin, or any way to relieve himself from his desperate condition, and weeps because he cannot find worth enough in any creature wherewith to present himself, and appear with confidence before the Most High; such a sinner cannot put confidence in the blood of Christ, nor be relieved from his fears, so as to come confidently before God by it, till he be persuaded in very deed, that it is the blood of God, and that the blood of that man is the blood of no other but that glorious and Divine Person, who is worthy, with all the independent eternal worth that is in the only Godhead. Such a sinner being persuaded, by the Holy Ghost, that dwells in the slain Lamb, to come unto the Father by this blood, will give divine worship and glory to the Lamb, without any fear of his honouring a person who is not the only true God, besides whom there is no god, and will count him worthy to reign in his glorious kingdom, on account of that his Godhead appearing in redeeming us by his blood. While men are utter strangers to these things, they may have fruitless philosophical notions about the Godhead of Jesus Christ; but they will “hold the truth in unrighteousness;” and may, by a suitable temptation, be prevailed with to part with it at a cheaper rate than they that have come by it in such a way as this. The kingdom of the Messiah is founded in his redemption; as the prophets declare: Isaiah 53, Psalm 110, Psalm 22 &c.; and his Godhead is set forth as appearing in his kingdom, and calling for divine worship from all his subjects. It is true that in his kingdom he hath condescended to reign by commission from the Father, even as he gave himself for his church to redeem it at the Father’s appointment, and he is in his kingdom the Father’s Representative; for how otherwise should the Father and the divine glory in his person appear unto us? But as he could not fully represent him in the church, his kingdom, if he were not an equal person to him, and truly distinct from him, in one and the same Godhead; so, by this very commission, the Father gives his glory into his hands, which yet he will not give to another. So we find in that prophecy where he is appointed the Father’s servant, {Isaiah 42,} that work which he calls his glory, and for which he is praised, even the bringing forth of judgment to the Gentiles, opening the blind eyes, and bringing the prisoners from the prison, is given into the hand of this his servant to be accomplished by him; and then he declares, “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” {vs.8} This servant of his therefore must be the same God with him, who will not give his glory unto another, and yet gives it to him. Thus the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” {Jn.5:23} Whatever be the capacity wherein this glorious person acts, whatever condescension he use for our sakes, as Mediator, we ought nevertheless to honour him; and religious worship is declared to be his due on account of his divine glory manifesting itself in his acting in that same capacity to which he thus condescends. And since the only true God appropriates all religious worship, without any distinction to himself, and discharges us to give any part or portion of it, or any sense of it, unto any other, on any account, or to hearken to any prophet, though working miracles, to induce us to give this worship to another; {Deut.13:1-5;} and since we are called to give religious worship to this King, the Messiah, it is manifest, that he is the only true God, “beside whom there is no God.” Upon the whole, we may see in the prophecies, some of which have been pointed at, that this glorious King, the Messiah, is set forth as the fruit of David’s body, a real man of the seed of David; yet not a human, but a truly divine person, Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord God, the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the blessed object of the religious worship and adoration of angels and men. So he is the child born to us, the Son given to us, who is the mighty God; the Son conceived, and brought forth by a virgin, whose name is Immanuel, God with us; the seed of the woman, who bruised the head of the serpent; the seed of Abraham, in whom those whom are his find eternal blessedness; and David’s son, who yet is his Lord, his God, and his everlasting King. Christ confesses all this of himself, and acknowledges, that he is that same glorious person, in whom the divine and human natures are thus marvelously united, by his owning, before Pilate, that he is “that promised King.” And when he says, “to this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world,” he seems to point to that prophecy of the Messiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” {Is.9:6,7} Thus the eternal God reigns as King, the church’s Maker is her husband, and her Redeemer the Lord of Hosts, and her God is her glory. Whosoever confesses Jesus to be Christ, confesses this same great truth concerning his person; and it is a vain thing to pretend to confess that he is the Christ, and yet deny his true Godhead, or not truly own him to be the Son of God; as it is to pretend to confess him the Christ, and yet deny him to be the Son of David. It is true, the word Messiah, or Christ, signifying anointed, respects his office; but we mistake that office, and cannot see the glory of it, nor improve it unto its proper ends, so as to find all salvation and all desire in it, if we do not see him to be God in that office; and if we view him rightly by faith in his saving office, we will find all the fullness of the Godhead therein manifested, and concerned in our salvation thereby. It is only in Jesus the Christ, that we know the Father; for he “is the image of the invisible God;” and it is only in him that we find the Holy Ghost, “that dwells in him.” It has been an old observation, that we cannot think rightly of the Christ, without thinking of the glorious Person anointing, and the Holy Ghost, wherewith he was anointed. {Psal.14:7, Heb.1:8,9} And it may be observed, that something of the Godhead, including all the divine attributes, seems to be peculiarly represented to us in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as they appear in and by the saving office of Christ. The majesty of the Godhead in the Person of the Father, who is therefore styled God; the infinite worth and dignity of the same very Godhead, in the Person of the Son; and the infinite sufficiency and power of that same very Godhead in the Person of the Holy Ghost. John Glas {Testimony of the King of Martyrs, 1729

Discerning the Voice of Christ in the Gospel: But we must proceed now to consider what it is to “hear Christ’s voice.” To hear Christ’s voice is to discern it. Christ’s subjects that are of the truth, and so have an ear to hear Christ’s voice, have another sort of discerning of his voice than other men are capable of. “The natural” man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God because “they are spiritually discerned.” He takes up all that Christ says, in a natural way, accommodates it all to his natural way of thinking; and so far as he imagines it to be according to that, so far he understands it, and no further; but if he apprehend that there is anything more in it, he understands it not, “it is foolishness to him,” because it is not according to his wisdom; and so he discerns not the voice of Christ at all. For the things that Christ says, are the things of God’s deep wisdom, which man knew not; and which the Spirit, that searcheth all things, reveals not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but in words fitted by him to express spiritual things. The natural man goes about to judge this by his wisdom; for he has no other way of judging; but he that is spiritual, or he that is of the truth, and so has an ear to hear Christ’s voice, judgeth all the things that Christ says; he knows his “voice,” understands his meaning, having heard him, and been taught by him, as the truth is in him; he has faith, the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for; the eyes of his understanding are enlightened “to know” what is the hope of God’s calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; and he is transformed by the renewing of his mind, that he may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God; and he knowing the terror of the Lord, so he judges all the things that Christ says. Yet herein he is not subject to man’s judgment; for he judgeth of things above all man’s wisdom; “for who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?” But, says the Apostle, “we have the mind of Christ.” {I Cor.2:13-16} They that are of the truth, and have “tasted that the Lord is gracious,” do as newborn babes “desire the sincere milk of the word,” and they suck in that sincere milk, that they may grow thereby. {I Pet.2:1-3} But others seek the word, and a meaning of it, to answer this and the other corrupt end and design; and they delight in it, as they conceive it suited unto that end; so, if they grow by it, they grow monsters in religion. They taste not that sincere milk to grow up thereby unto eternal life; they take the word only as it makes for their purpose. And this is the way in all the perverse disputings of them that use the word to serve their party-designs, and their pride, envy, and malice against one another; they rejoice in the word, as it seems to hit their adversary, and as they conceive it makes for their party; but the sincere milk of the word they know not, they love not. However Christ’s subjects may be for a time, or in some things, carried out this way, yet this is no mark of his subjects. They that are of the truth distinguish Christ’s Voice. His sheep follow him; for they know his voice; and a stranger will they not follow; for they know not the voice of strangers. {Jn.10:4,5} They can distinguish his voice from enthusiastic imaginations, and the language of a false spirit from the language of nature and man’s wisdom, and from the doctrines and commandments of men; they do not see that glory in man’s words that they see in those words of Christ which they discern; “for what is the chaff to the wheat?” ---- Christ’s people hear his voice; their consciences are subject to it, they receive it, and embrace it, on account of his authority, as the rule of their faith and obedience. They hear his voice as it is the voice of their Lord Redeemer. They have a sense of his authority in his voice, and their minds and wills are subjected to it. It is enough to them that he says so, without asking any further questions about it; and thus they hear his voice of whom the Father hath said, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Christ hath not subjected the consciences of his subjects to any other authority besides his own; yea, he has discharged his disciples to call any man master. He would not have any of his disciples called Rabbi; because one is their master, even Christ, and all they are brethren. {Mt.13:8-12} Christ’s ministers that bring his word to his people are not to preach themselves, but Christ Jesus their Lord, and themselves their servants in representing the authority of Christ in his word unto them. They have no authority of their own over the consciences of the disciples; and however the disciples may be in many things enslaved even by them, yet Christ hath made them free. ---- Some seem to receive Christ’s word on the account of the reasonableness of what they think he says; and so it is not his voice they hear, but the voice of their own reason. Some receive what he says, because of impressions made upon them, as they take it, by his Spirit; and they take no further heed to what he says in his word, than as they find it impressed upon them; thus they hear not his voice in the Scripture Revelation, but the voice of these impressions; and they take not the whole word of Christ as it is his, but the word as they find it impressed for their rule. Yet the Spirit of Christ is the same Spirit that indited the scriptures; and he that is born of God, heareth the scriptures, and Christ’s voice in them; and when the Holy Ghost leads us into all truth, he brings all things to our remembrance, whatsoever Christ hath said unto us; and he speaks not of himself, but glorifies Christ; {Jn.16:13;} so that they that are under his influence are subjected to the authority of Christ in his word, and receive his word as it is his. Some again receive the things that Christ says on account of the authority of man; and many hear not the voice of Christ, but the voice of prevailing custom, and the traditions of their fathers; and the voice of the world, the voice of the generality of the wise and learned, or the voice of the godly, goes farther with the most part than the voice of Jesus Christ in his word; for where they find Christ saying anything in his word, and none saying with him, they cannot hear him. So far as his disciples give way to these things, so far their subjection to him appears not. ---- They that are subject to Christ’s authority in his word, and entertain his voice, as the rule of their faith and obedience show a regard to all that he says, all that he testifies, commands, promises, or threatens. The least tiding he says has weight with them; and what he is most in saying, they are most in hearing. They regard all his commandments; and are not as the Pharisees, exceedingly zealous in the least things, which they ought also to do, and passing over the weightier matters of the law. They do not cut and carve upon the words and commandments of Jesus Christ, to shun what may damage their worldly interest, and to receive only what they may keep without difficulty and hazard, and what they blindly judge absolutely necessary unto their salvation, or perhaps what they find absolutely necessary to maintain their credit among the party of Christians that they have to do with. ---- Christ’s subjects delight in the law of their Lord after the inward man, and so they hear his voice without constraint; but there is another law in their members continually warring against the law of their minds; so that it is no wonder if this their hearing of Christ’s voice be very much marred; yet so far as they are of the truth, he is unto them the only Lord of their faith, of their conscience, of sin and duty, of their fear and of their hope. Thus “everyone that is of the truth hears his voice.” ---- Furthermore; Christ’s subjects keep his sayings, and do the things that he says; and so they hear his voice. They believe his testimony, they tremble at his word of threatening, they hope in his word of promise, and they observe and do what he commands. He is highly offended with them that call him “Lord,” and do not the things that he says. {Lk.6:46} Everyone that is of the truth, in the least measure, does, according to that measure, obey the words of Jesus Christ. ---- His subjects are not yet wholly of the truth. There remains a corrupt principle of unbelief and enmity in their souls, while they are in this world, from which the truth in them meets with continual opposition, as it does also from the temptations of Satan and of the world; so that when they “would do good, evil is present with them;” and they cannot do the things that they would; yea, the evil that they would not, that they do. {Rom.7:19-24, Gal.5:17} Therefore all that obedience is very much to be suspected that meets with no opposition from within a man’s self; and it is no wonder to see a Pharisee going on without difficulty, and very smoothly in his obedience of the letter, while they that are of the truth, and according to their measure hearing Christ’s voice, find the greatest reason in themselves to cry out, “O wretched man!” ---- Yet the Pharisee is walking only after the flesh; he has not the Spirit of Jesus, nor the truth, to make head against it; and he is alive without the law; therefore he goes on smoothly in his carnal selfish obedience; but they that are of the truth, notwithstanding of all their escapes and stumblings, are the only persons in the world that move a step in the way of Christ’s commandments. They only are hearty in this obedience, and spiritual, doing the very truth of the things that Christ requires; they only do the things that he says, because he says them, and are honestly aiming at the glory of his name in the doing of them. Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and he knows them, and they follow him, and he gives unto them eternal life, and “they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand.” ---- We come now to consider the connection between being of the truth, and hearing Christ’s voice. And this may be some way cleared to us in considering these following things. Christ’s title to rule over us, his authority and right to command us is manifest in this truth concerning his righteousness revealed in the gospel. Therefore, when he appears in the midst of the throne, as head over all things to the church, and takes the book to loose it, and to order and dispose of all things about the church, {Revelation – chap.5} we find the redeemed brought in acknowledging him worthy “to take the book, and to open the seals.” And why? “For,” say they, “thou wast stain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” The Lord’s authority over Israel, and his right to command them, was manifest in his redeeming them from the Egyptian bondage; and much more is his authority and right to govern his people manifest in the eternal redemption he has now wrought for them, which is the subject of this truth of which they are. He is the good shepherd that laid down his life for the sheep, and has taken it again for them; so they are his own, and they hear his voice, and follow him. They that know him in this truth, will be obliged to own, with Thomas, that he is “their Lord, and their God;” and to reckon, “that they are not their own, but bought with a price;” and therefore bound to glorify him in their bodies and spirits, which are his. {I Cor.6:20} For a man to be of this truth, and yet not subject to, nor acknowledge the authority of Christ the Redeemer is as great an inconsistency as can be thought of. ---- The things that he says are all suitable unto this truth, and all his commandments are according to it. Therefore they that are of this truth must hear his voice. This truth is evidently set forth in all the institutions of the gospel, which he commands his people to observe, and in all the New Testament worship. The preaching of the gospel is the preaching of Christ crucified. Baptism is the washing away of our sins in the blood of Christ, the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our being buried with him unto death, that like as he was raised up from the dead, we should walk in newness of life; and as many as are baptized into Jesus Christ, are baptized into his death. The Lord’s supper evidently sets forth his body broken for us, his blood shed for the remission of sins; and the communion of his disciples in a Gospel church in partaking together, as one body, of that one bread and cup, is the communion of the body and blood of Jesus Christ; and therein they show forth his death till he come. The Christian Sabbath is our joyful rest in that work finished by him who is now entered into his rest. ---- What are our prayers, if they be not our calling on the name of the Lord our righteousness, and asking the Father in his name; and what are our praises, if they be not ascriptions of glory to the Lamb that was slain, and thanksgivings unto the Father by him! And what is all the New Testament worship, if it be not our drawing near to the Father by one Spirit through him, who has reconciled us to God in one body by the cross, and our coming into the holiest by his blood, and through the veil of his flesh. The assemblies of his people in the churches are their gathering together unto him, and in his name who is the Lord their righteousness, to see the glory and feel the power of his cross. The government of a gospel-church is a representation of the authority of the Great Shepherd of the sheep that was brought again from the dead, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, unto his sheep; for it is the feeding of his sheep. And the life of the discipline is their agreeing to call on the name of the Lord their righteousness, and to ask in his name, that he may do what they thus do in his name. Thus this truth is written upon the institutions of the gospel. Further, all the obedience that Christ requireth of us, is according to this truth; so that it is a “walking in the truth.” {II Jn.4} ---- And whereas, in showing us this good, he stains the pride of all our glory, and glorifies himself exceedingly in our salvation by that sacrifice of his own providing; it is every way agreeable to this that we would walk humbly with our God. All our obedience to Christ is our conformity unto the image and glory of God, as it is represented unto us in this truth; therefore we find the apostles frequently representing the suitableness of what they require in Christ’s name unto this truth. It is by this truth that we are sanctified, and so powerfully inclined and enabled to hear Christ’s voice. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” {Jn.17:17,19} “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” {Heb.10:10,14} It is the God of peace, God reconciled by the death of Christ, that sanctifies us. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” {I Thes.5:23} And therefore, when the Apostle tells us “that every man that is in Christ is a new creature,” he declares, that all the things of this new creation “are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ; making him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” {II Cor.5:17,19} And when he prays that Christ’s people may be made perfect in every good work, he prays thus, “now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.” {Heb.13:20,21} The power that sanctifies us is no other power but the power of the cross of Christ; and the glory to which we are conformed by the Spirit in beholding it is the glory that shines in Christ crucified; and we are raised up to walk in newness of life, no otherwise but together with Christ, and by the power of his resurrection, “who was delivered for our offences, and raised for our justification,” and by that blood of the everlasting covenant, by virtue of which he came again from the dead; and therefore they seek sanctification where it is not to be found, who seek it not in Christ. John Glas {Testimony of the King of Martyrs, 1729}

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Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle
and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:1