December 2012


Posted December 1, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Christ our Prophet: Christ is made known to us by his Word, and in no other way; consequently no man can know him, or confess him, who does not, with all his heart and soul attend to the Word of the Gospel of Christ. But whosoever does in meekness and sincerity, as moved upon by the Spirit of truth, apply his whole mind to the Word of God, in order to obtain the knowledge of the truth, without looking for it in any other way, or from any other source, the same confesses the Lord Jesus Christ as the true Prophet of God; by whose Spirit all Scripture was given. That soul is certain to find the knowledge of God; {PV.2:1-5;} and he that does, with all his intellectual powers, confess Christ as the Great Prophet; the same will confess him, in all his other offices and characters. For he that believes the Word indeed and in truth, will believe whatsoever that Word relates, so far as he is given understanding, and the Lord has opened his heart to attend to the things that are spoken therein. {PV.8:17, Jer.29:13, Jn.8:31,32} That soul cannot be left to walk in darkness, but the true similitude of the Lord shall he behold, and will confess him with all his heart. The Word of God is Christ himself in the openings of all the councils of God, the love of the Father, the fullness of the Son, and the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore if we duly attend to the Scripture Record, we shall see the Lord of glory in all his offices, characters, excellencies, and perfections which shine in this word of Life. In this word the saints behold the glory of the Lord, whereby they are changed into the same image. {II Cor.3:18} And in this attention to the Word of Christ, implies a diligent searching of the Scriptures, wherein all the will of God is contained; that we may be grounded in the truth of the Sacred Record; and that we may behold the excellency that shines in the Holy One, whereby our souls may be enlightened, enlarged, and enriched into the boundless blessings of the Lord, Emmanuel; and in this search the soul is quite alert, as if searching for gold and seeking for hidden treasure; for, knowing that all the Scriptures testify of Christ, he compares the words of one Prophet, with another; the words of one Apostle, with another; and the true import of the Old Testament, with the clear manifestation in the New; yea, he diligently ponders the historical parts with the Prophecies and Epistles, until he sees the harmony, and consistency of the whole; and till he sees Christ to be the Light and Truth, the Life and Power, the Alpha and Omega of all the Divine Oracles. Thus he comes to understand the true fear of the Lord, and finds the knowledge of God in Christ. He beholds the Gospel of the Son of God, as a perfect mirror of the Divine will; and there he beholds the shining forth of the glory of the Lord. Thus obeying the direction given by the Son of God, {Jn.5:39,} he confesses Christ the great Prophet, to be all in all. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Posted December 2, 2012

{Weekly Selection}

Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus: I shall now proceed to speak a word regarding the power of this Covenant of Grace, this Law in the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus; for as it is a Law of light, liberty, righteousness and true holiness, it creates a new man within, in righteousness and true holiness; so it is a principle of power and much glory. “We preach Christ,” saith the Apostle, “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” This is that word which is mighty in operation, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, it enters into the dividing of the joints and the marrow; it is a searcher of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The power of this Law of Christ is a convincing power, for it overpowers the spirits of men, it convinces men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; it convinces them of sin, making them truly and deeply sensible of it. Of righteousness, making souls sensible of the unrighteousness of all their best righteousness; {and if there be any true righteousness, it will only be found in Christ alone.} Of judgment, that all those things delighted in formally must be judged, must receive the sentence of death from Jesus Christ, sitting as a refiner and purifier in them, &c. This Law of Christ in the hands of the Spirit converts as well as convinces, it changes and renews the mind, unshackles the mind from sin; it changes the mind, and the conversation, making a clear separation between the flesh and spirit, as it separates between a man, and his beloved lusts; as it converts a soul from the love of sin, and converts it likewise from the practice of sin, and effectually works a real change within, which produces a change without. This is that power which overcomes the flesh, the world and the devil; and that is the reason why many a poor soul would many times gladly be rid of sin, but they lack a power, not being sensible where their actual power lieth; but perhaps oppose flesh in the strength of the flesh, when its proper only to the Spirit to destroy the workings of flesh. Therefore let saints be informed where their actual power lieth, after they may wait upon God; {in earnest prayer and supplications to be fortified by the Spirit in Christ, and thereby enabled to subdue the flesh; as they “through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body,” and live unto God;} whose work it is to subdue all things in them, and all things without them that are contrary to Him, in his time. This Law of the Spirit convinces and converts, so it makes those in whom it effectually worketh a free and a willing people. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” {Ps.110:3} Willing to have sin sacrificed, lust and corruption subdued; willing in the beauty of holiness to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God in Christ Jesus; it is this powerful Spirit which works in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure;” for nothing in the world is able to over-power the will, and liberate the affections, but this {reign of Grace in Christ} spirit of power, for it is this Spirit which makes souls willing to yield up themselves to the Scepter of the Almighty, which makes souls free and willing subjects to the King of Kings, that fills them with joy at the beholding of his presence, of his power, in faith triumphing and rejoicing because the Lord God Omnipotent reigns, keeping under all other laws and powers beside itself. Thus the Lord reigns, and the saints rejoice; the Lord reigns, and the world trembles! The power of this invincible Law of Christ will appear in the destruction of Antichrist, that man of sin, that son of perdition; this the Lord himself will effect by the spirit of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming. The coming of Christ in the Spirit, which is the glorious manifestation of this Holy Law, is that power that does and must destroy Antichrist. By Antichrist, that man of sin, we understand anything within us, or without us, whether it appear in wisdom or power, if it be of the flesh, though its pretenses be ever so fair and glorious, yet it is but an antichrist, a man of sin, a son of perdition; so whilst it is true that all the workings of the flesh are against Christ, but these are workings in a more higher and sophisticated way, and then it is more deceitful, and the more dangerous; as it consists principally in wisdom and power, whether within us or without us; that is, that wisdom and power of the flesh in the things of God, which occasions much pride and fleshly exaltation, above all that is called God or that is worshiped. This is that deceivable spirit of antichrist, that “deceivableness of unrighteousness” in the perishing, that mystery of unrighteousness, which the Lord will destroy by the Spirit of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming. Therefore let all the wisdom, pride, and power of the flesh, veil itself to this excellent glory; for certainly it is that which must be accomplished. “For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.” {Is.2:12} Every proud thing within the saints, every high & lofty thought that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, {II Cor.10:5,} and every proud and lifted up person among them; “upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up; and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall; and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures; and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” {Is.2:13-17} The day of the Lord’s power will be upon all the wisdom, pride, power, confidence, comfort and beauty of the flesh, and then the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day; and this is the day of the Lord’s power, in which his saints do rejoice and are glad therein, for this will minister true occasions of joyfulness to those that belong to him, when they can say and sing this song, “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” And thus this powerful Law in the Spirit will appear in the subjecting of these powers below, or contrary to it, unto itself, when all created powers whatsoever below this omnipotency shall be made to acknowledge, “that thou Lord God Almighty are worthy to receive glory, and honor, and majesty, for thou only art worthy.” Then shall this power cause all other powers to bend the knee unto it, to submit and fall down before it. Learn therefore to wait upon this prevailing and powerful Law of the Spirit of Christ to accomplish all your works for you, both within you and without you, to bring down all your fleshly enemies, and then in conclusion shall you be enabled to see and say, that through the help of God you have gone through an host, by the help of God you have leaped over the wall. “For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. For thou wilt light my candle; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.” {Ps.18:27-29} The power of this Covenant and Law in the Spirit appears, in that it upholds those in whom it is effectually operative from falling; it engenders the soul to Christ; for the power of standing or falling is not left to the believer, {weak in himself,} but the power of God is that very power put forth to uphold him in Christ; therefore “we preach Christ - the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” {I Cor.1:23,24} Not only wisdom and power to convert, but to uphold and keep up the soul in a way of grace; hence this Covenant is called an Everlasting Covenant. And saith the Lord, “I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me;” {Jer.32:40;} for this is the power of this spiritual Law, it keeps souls perpetually with itself, so that as the Father’s love is an everlasting love, so he makes with his people an everlasting Covenant in Christ, and so their souls might live everlastingly in his everlasting love. In a word, it is a Law of Power which hath undertaken the effecting of all the saints work both within them and for them, to carry them through temptations, and trials, and all oppositions both within and without, until they come to be completed in that Heavenly Kingdom. “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” {Is.41:8-10} A blessed word being spoken to the hearts of God’s elect; how will this raise souls above themselves; and work them to a dependency upon Him who is higher than themselves. When the Lord speaks this word with power, “Fear not, I am thy God, I will uphold thee, I will help thee, &c.,” what need such a soul fear temptations, trials and enemies? This is that rock upon which Christ builds his Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This is a word of comfort for the weak saints, for they are not left to themselves to stand or fall in their own power, but they are carried along in the everlasting arms of the Almighty. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” {Is.40:11} The Lord will not lose one of his little ones, but will raise them up at that last day. “Now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” {Is.43:1-3} This is made good in the spiritual Israel of God, for he undertakes for them, and his power and strength is to become theirs, for he will deliver them and uphold them, and carry them through fiery temptations and trials, through floods of afflictions and tribulations; and thus through many a fiery trial will he carry them to the Kingdom. Oh therefore look to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith; look to him who is your Eternal Surety, your Covenant Representative, and works all for you, and all in you; it is his word to you, and likewise in you. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” {Is.45:22} There is no power below or besides God able to save you, able to uphold and keep you, but he alone is able to keep that which is committed unto him until that day; and his power is made especially known in our weakness; and thus revealed, as declared and experienced in our hearts. “Nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” {II Tim.1:12} The power of this Covenant, this Law in the Spirit enables to do what it commands; for it is not only a law of light, enlightening the mind, giving understanding to the simple, but it carries on the soul in acting suitable to the light communicated; hence it is that the Apostle could say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me;” {Phil.4:13;} and Christ says, “without me ye can do nothing.” {Jn.15:5} “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” {Phil.2:13} I work, saith the Apostle, “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” {I Cor.15:10} “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” {Gal.2:20} “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, 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} It is Christ’s power in the believer that is effectually destroying those inward corruptions of the flesh; it is Christ who is in you that works you up to a suitable acting and walking with himself. I, saith the Apostle, “am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” {Gal.2:19} Through the power of this Law in the Spirit am I dead to the Law in the flesh, that so in the same power I might live unto God. Thus the saints live in the power of this Law, act to God in the light and power of God; an excellent thing to be known of saints, where their power, the life of their lives lieth. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” {Jn.14:19} Thus is Christ, who is the Covenant, become not only the wisdom of God, but the power of God in everyone that believes. Thus this Law in the Spirit transcends all other laws besides itself; for the Law and Covenant of Moses commanded, but gave no power unto obedience; hence it is the Lord who says, that they had broken the Covenant, though he was a Husband unto them; but this is a Law, a Covenant not to be broken, because it effects what it commands. “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD.” {Jer.31:32} “Yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.” {II Sam.23:5} “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh &c.” {Rom.8:3} This Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is a Law of spiritual power, for it doth that which the Covenant in the letter could not; that was a Covenant that could not give life, this is a Law of life, a Law of power in the spirits of believers. As this Law, this Covenant in the Spirit is a Law of power, so there is a powerful law in the flesh likewise, though this Law in the Spirit overpowers it, and subjects it to itself, where it is manifest in power. This law or principal of power in the flesh may be considered, either as it is more gross, or more refined. As it is more gross, powerfully working the minds and actions of natural men into a conformity unto itself; it carries on the natural man to act all manner of unrighteousness, and that with greediness; inasmuch that they think strange of those who run not with them to the same excess of riot; and thus it operates in natural men. This law of the flesh works with much power many times even in the hearts of believers; for this law of the flesh rebels against the law of the spiritual mind, and leads captive to the law of sin in the members. How do saints painfully experience this truth? Many times though the inner man be upright, {as considered in Christ,} and as he is born of God, they sin not; yet what temptations, what workings of flesh appears within them; which occasions blackness and darkness many times, the appearance of flesh in a way of power, which seems to stop the current of the souls present communion, and leaves it under a waiting condition for deliverance. Question: Is this law in the flesh too strong and powerful for that in the Spirit, when it seems thus to prevail in its rebelling against that Holy Law of Christ? Answer: It is not too strong for it, but wisdom gives way to this rebelling law, that it may act its part, that so the soul may feel itself what it is by nature, and so the more prize grace, and the more earnestly wait for a deliverance; {through Him who tells them to “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” Jn.16:33, and thus they overcome the world in Him;} and likewise for the keeping of the soul in an humble, waiting dependency upon this Almighty Power; therefore he sends a prick in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet, lest there should be an exaltation above measure, as experience teacheth us, that flesh is ready to take advantage, and that from spiritual discoveries. This Law in the flesh worketh in a more refined and pure manner, though in a more deceivable way; not only in working souls with violence and greediness in a way of sin, but likewise works souls, when they come to see their sin, {or become blinded to their sin,} into a fleshly righteousness; so that the soul being ignorant of the righteousness of God, it goes about to establish its own righteousness. “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” {Rom.10:3} And so it works the soul into a fleshly boasting, and a fleshly glorying in an external, or even internal self-righteousness, and that with as much violence as into a way of sin and profaneness, unless the power of the Spiritual Law prevent; then it’s true, that the soul is content with joy to suffer the loss of all, and to account all things but dung and dross that it may win Christ, and be found exclusively in Him; then it is content not only to suffer the loss of this law in the flesh in its grosser considerations, but even in its most refined considerations; for then it can truly say, “but what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” {Phil.3:7-9} This Covenant in the Spirit is a glorious Covenant, when Christ comes, he comes with power and much glory; and this Law rules in that Kingdom, where there is power and much glory. The glory of this Covenant appears not only in all those fore-mentioned particulars, as it is a law of light, liberty, righteousness, holiness, and power, &c., which must needs produce much glory where all these heavenly infusions are met together in one soul; as it is sensibly made a partaker of Christ; of the light, liberty, righteousness, holiness, power and glory of the glorious Gospel of the Grace of God in Christ. Besides this, for illustrating of this glorious Law, I mind how it interests the soul, in whom it is, into a near relation to the Father, not only of son, and of heir, but likewise the relation of a wife or spouse, and so is married to the Lord eternally; and this is a name better than that of sons and daughters. “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you; and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” {Jer.3:14} “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” {Is.54:5} “And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the LORD.” {Hos.2:19.20} This glorious Law makes forth many glorious discoveries and revelations in the hearts of believers, such as “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” {I Cor.2:9,10} O, those sweet discoveries that God oft makes in the hearts of his saints, that they may say sweetly to their souls after a black and dark day, “return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.” {Ps.116:7} “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy Free Spirit.” {Ps.51:12} Thus are they let see into that glorious mystery of love which passeth all knowledge. This Law of the Spirit works a glorious mind, a desire in the mind to be completed in this glory; not out of self-love, {as most do desire heaven that they might avoid hell,} but for the excellency and glory of Christ himself, it beholding the beauty, the sweetness, the purity, the perfection of Christ, and so the soul is overcome, nothing in the world is to be compared to it; and hence it is that saints have such a noble heroic spirit, looking above, fighting all things below as nothing, all riches, creature excellencies and glories are as grass and dross unto it; for this is the nature of this glorious Law as it fills the soul with so much glory where it is, that the desire is overcome with it, because it far out-glories all other glories in the world besides; and as it is an out-glorying glory, and so draws the desire of the mind unto it; so it is likewise a transforming, changing glory, for it never leaves the soul in whom it is effectually operative, until it completes them in all the glory set before them, working up souls more and more to itself, until it hath perfected them in the glory of the Father. “Well done, good and faithful servant - enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” {Phil.1:6} “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. Amen.” {Heb.13:20,21} “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” {Rom.8:30} Hence it was Paul being possessed with this truth, expecting this completion in glory, pressing unto the mark of the prize of Christ set before him, who was enabled to say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” {II Tim.4:7,8} O, therefore my dear brethren, in the unity of the spirit, look and wait for this day of God, the glorious appearing of the Great God, because when he shall appear, you shall appear with him in glory, and you will never enjoy the end of your faith, until you come into the perfection of this glorious salvation in Christ. Thomas Collier {Second Epistle to all Saints, 1651}

Posted December 4, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Praise and Thanksgiving: This is a privilege of the highest nature, and an exercise of the highest delight; for glory in the highest perfection is due to the Holy Name of the Lord. “O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard;” {Ps.66:8;} and all nations are called to bless and adore him; that is, so many as it shall please our God to call to the faith of his Son Christ Jesus, for they that love the Lord, can never cease from this work. “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee. Selah.” {Psa.84:4} “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.” {Ps.145:1-2} “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” {Rev.4:8} Everyone that honors the Father, honors the Son, for their glory cannot be divided; no glory can possibly be given to the one, that is not given to the other, for they are one; and to render thanksgiving and praise is the most direct and immediate way of confessing the God of all grace. In this way we confess the sensible feelings of our hearts, and breathe out the very joy, admiration and gratitude of our souls; declaring our intellectual conceptions of the Lord of glory, and the deep impressions thereby made upon our innate powers, and exert all the faculties of our minds to show forth the excellency, the blessedness, the greatness, and the goodness of the Holy One. In ascribing the glory due to his excellent greatness, or his essential perfection; herein we confess the absolute Majesty and Glory of the Father, his eternal, infinite, immutable blessedness; his righteousness and holiness, his wisdom, power, truth and love; and that we confess the going forth of all these perfections in the Man Christ Jesus, or the opening of the Divine bosom in the Son of his Delight; so that all the ineffable, inconceivable glories of the Lord God omnipotent; which from the beginning of the world have been hidden in God, now shine in the greatest luster in the Person of Jesus Christ; for Emmanuel is the brightness of the Father’s glory, the express image of his Person; and in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; or all that is in the incomprehensible Jehovah, is in the Man of his right hand. “I and my Father are ONE.” {Jn.10:30} Thus, all the saints adore and bless, magnify and extol the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father; whilst they confess the Holy Ghost to be the very life, light, spirit, truth, and power of the Father and the Son, proceeding into the hearts of all that believe; to come by the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; to introduce them into the fellowship of the Father and the Son; and fill their hearts with clear conceptions of the glory of God in Christ. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Baptism: If we hear a baptized person speak of his views it is commonly in such expressions as these: “It is a Scripture ordinance and we ought to comply with it.” “It is the command of Christ and we ought to obey it.” “Christ led the way and we ought to follow him.” “If Christ himself submitted to it, well may we submit to it.” “I found of the love of Christ constrained me to conform to his example.” “I thought it my duty to conform to such a pattern.” “I ought not to scruple to condescend to that which my Lord condescended to, etc. etc.” Thus they talk as dry as dust, as if it had neither life, nor savor; an insignificant rite done for doings sake. Baptism is a lively figure of the things pertaining to the Son of God and to his Church. His being overwhelmed in deep sufferings - his death - his burial - his resurrection. Our dying to everything to put on Christ. Our sins forever buried with Christ, and rising with him by faith to a resurrected life in Him. Passing out of our old state into his kingdom. The washing away of the whole body of sin, {Acts 22:16,} ample salvation, {I Pet.3:21,} the baptism of the Holy Ghost, {Lk.3:16,} and the resurrection of the dead. He that believes experiences the power and waits for the completion of these things, and with all his heart confesses them and ratifies this confession by setting his seal to the truth of God by baptism in his name as a fit member of the Gospel Church. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Gospel Fellowship in Christ: What fellowship can I have with persons of these principles? A Christ who is not properly set up from everlasting, or had not the preeminence in the Father’s Counsel, but found out or contrived to assist upon an emergent necessity occasion by the intervention of sin. A Christ who only bestows some kind of life upon his people, but is not Himself their life. A spirit that speaks of himself or operates in the soul in a separate capacity without any manifestation of the Father or the Son or the Word of his Grace. A new birth which is neither by communication of the immortal seed or fullness of Christ, nor being brought forth into the light and truth of Christ, but by mere dint of operation, whereby a turn is given to the current of nature, or a different bias or inclination formed in or impressed upon the mind. Spiritual life properly subsisting in the man, not by immediate communication or vital union with Christ or Christ dwelling in him and he in Christ as Vine and branches. Faith which is not of God through Christ by the power of his Spirit in the truth of his word dwelling in the soul, but the creature’s own act. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Posted December 5, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Old and New Covenant Distinction: The subject I have treated on, and at present command to your consideration is the Covenant of Grace, that Law in the Spirit which God promised in the Prophets, and now makes good in the saints; because the knowledge of this in power, is that which will keep saints upright with God, prevent them from running into those extravagancies and unheard of opinions and practices, which men pretending godliness run into nowadays; there is no law but this Law of the Spirit that I know can deliver souls from this danger. When I mention so often the Law in the Spirit, I mind by it only the Covenant of Grace, Jesus Christ, who is “the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Question: In what respect may Christ be said to be the Covenant? Answer: Christ is the Covenant of Grace as he was given forth by the Father therein to demonstrate and declare Grace, the Father to make forth that fullness of grace that was, and is in Himself for sinners, gives forth his Son as the Covenant. ‘There is my Son, my only Beloved, behold Him for a Covenant, that your souls may be satisfied in the knowledge of my grace.’ “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD; that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another.” {Is.42:6-8} “Behold, I will send my Messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” {Mal.3:1} Christ is called the Minister or Messenger of the Covenant; because the Father by him and through him declares this grace unto the sons of men, and communicates it to whom he pleaseth. As the Father thus gives forth Christ a Covenant, in whom he declares grace, doing all in Him for us, without us, so he comes into souls by the same Spirit that was in Christ; so that Christ comes not only as a Covenant to us, but in us; and the same Law of Spirit and Life takes possession of us; and this is the Law written in the heart, which will occasion souls in whom it is, never to depart from God. Question: Why is this Covenant called a new Covenant; is it not the same that was in the Old Testament? Answer: It is true, that those that were saved, were saved in and by the same Eternal Covenant of Grace; yet, this Covenant, to speak in the language of Scripture, was not then made visible; but the Covenant then made verbally, in word, was another Covenant, and that of works, which was broken. Now because this seems to be a doubt and scruple, I shall give you several clear demonstrations for the confirmation thereof. First, the Scripture calls it two covenants, an Old and a New. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an Husband unto them, saith the LORD; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” {Jer.31:31-33} Objection: But some will say, that it’s called an Old and a New, but therein to declare the clearness of Grace under the Gospel, yet the same Covenant, as there is the old and new Moon, when all is but one and the same. Answer: It is not called a New Covenant simply in respect of the clearness, but in respect of the nature thereof; for it is not the same. “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers.” The difference of the nature of these covenants will appear if we consider. The old Covenant was written and engraven in tables of stone; this is a Covenant written and engraven in the heart. That was a Covenant that could not give life, nor cause to walk, because of its weakness; {Heb.7:18;} this Covenant is a Covenant of Life. That was a Covenant that directly tended to bondage; {Gal.4:23,24;} but this unto Grace and Spiritual liberty. That Covenant was but a type, a shadow; this the substance; therefore not the same, no more than the Jewish ordinances which were all typical and shadows was the substance or thing shadowed; no more the same than those creatures sacrificed were Christ; no more than the blood of the Paschal Lamb sprinkled on the door posts, was the blood of Christ; or the land of Canaan, the spiritual rest of believers; but all was typical, and the substance was shadowed forth in those types; and saints found graced couched under this old Covenant. Mistake in regards to this difference occasions much miscarriage amongst many, who looking upon the Covenant to be the same now as formally, will have a Covenant without now as then; and hence set up fleshly ordinances of their own invention, suitable to such a Covenant, by which thousands are deluded; whereas the truth is, that then there was a Covenant in the flesh which gendered to bondage, which only those in the Spirit were delivered from, by the mystery couched under that Covenant, which none after the flesh could see into; but we, as in Christ, are only under this Covenant in the Spirit, which is a Covenant of liberty, a Covenant of grace, and much glory; and none are owned in this Covenant, but those who are in it; that is, those in whose hearts it is written. It is true, men may be in the profession of this Covenant who are not in it, nor ever knew it, but they ought not to be there; and there shall not a man pass for current that hath not on this wedding garment, with, “friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for many are called, but few are chosen.” {Mt.22:13-14} Thus, this Covenant being rightly known, we shall be able to see and say that it is a Covenant of Grace indeed, a Covenant of Peace and Love indeed, in which our souls shall be abundantly refreshed, and powerfully upheld in and under all temptations and conditions. The Old Covenant was a Covenant that might be broken, and that was broken; this is a Covenant that shall never be broken; for it is an Everlasting Covenant possessing souls with everlasting grace and love, everlasting joy and praises. This Covenant, in the Spirit is the everlasting, never ending light and rule of saints experienced; it is that “anointing which ye have received of him,” which “anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” Thomas Collier {Second Epistle to all Saints, 1651}

Posted December 6, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus: This Law in the Spirit, is the Spirit himself conforming souls to himself; and it is first a Spirit, a Law of light, even that “true Light, which lighteth every” soul that comes to the Father. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” {I Jn.1:5} The Spirit enlighteneth the understanding, by which it comes to see the evil of sin, the evil nature thereof, and the evil consequences of it. The evil nature of it is that evil fountain from whence it flows, even the fountain of flesh and the devil, a bitter, and filthy root, which produceth fruit suitable to such a tree, which is death, the consequence or fruit of sin. “The wages of sin is death,” the soul is now taught to see and feel the evil nature of sin, the contrariety of it unto the Divine nature; the soul can see and say truly, that although sin is nothing to God, although sin reacheth not God, yet it is absolutely contrary to those divine and heavenly discoveries of God made forth to the hearts of believers. If you search the Scripture, you shall find this a manifest truth in the Spirit’s working. If you search your own experience, you shall find it suitable; for never any soul that is made a partaker of grace, but first is made sensible of the want of grace, by the enlightening power of the Spirit of grace in the discovery of a man’s self unto himself; and so of the evil nature, of the evil consequence of sin, which is a sensibleness of an internal and spiritual death under darkness; and this work of discovery by this Law of light is effected not only in souls at their first conversion, but all along while flesh and sin remains; till death is swallowed up in life, and mortality hath put on immortality, till Christ who is our life shall appear, for then shall we also appear with Him in glory. Question: What is sin. Answer: Sin is a transgression of, or a turning aside from a righteous Law. If we judge sin by a letter, a Law without us, then it is a transgression of the Law, a turning aside from the Law; but if we judge of sin according to the light of the Law in the Spirit, then all turnings aside from, all motions and actings contrary unto that Spirit of life and light are sin; and indeed souls living in the light of this Law, are able to judge between the motions and actings of flesh and spirit, they are made able to judge truly of good and evil, and that not by eating of the forbidden fruit, but by being made a partaker of the fruit of the Tree of Life. So that now the Christians discovery of sin is not so much after the Law of the Old, as after the Law of the new man, that Law of spirit and life in Christ, which is a sin discovering Law where it enlightens; so that a believer in the light of this Law, sees every motion to evil, every lust and corruption, the whole body of flesh, to be contrary to that Divine and Spiritual Law; and hence is maintained a continual war against it. In a word, the soul in whom of this glorious light of God is manifest is able in a measure, to judge between flesh and spirit, shadow and substance, fancy and reality, form and power, notions and true discoveries, delusions and true enjoyments. “He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man;” that is, according to the measure of light received he judges. This Law of light is a light and lamp unto the feet and paths of those in whom it is manifest, to lead and direct them into its ways; for it is that voice behind them saying, “this is the way.” “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” {Is.30:21} When thus they turn to the right or left hand, it is that light which guides them into all their undertakings whether civil or spiritual; it is their Great Comforter, without whose direction they cannot comfortably act in any of their undertakings; in a word, it is that Spirit of life and light that occasions motion and action suitable to its own nature, and sets the soul upon that work which is higher than itself, that way which is a way of light and truth. Thus the law of the Spirit is a Law of light, giving understanding unto the simple, enlightening the mind; it is the true light that lighteneth the darkness of every son and daughter of Zion. Thomas Collier {Second Epistle to all Saints, 1651}

Posted December 7, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Love of the World: This love of the world; and being taken up with, and living in its pleasures and glories, is not only sin, and will be the shame of those who are taken away by its seductive charms, and who have their portion in this life; but it is also a temptation that lights many times very heavy upon those who are believers; yea, saints indeed. Christ himself was set upon by this temptation; and that I believe Christians, who have experience within themselves of that new and heavenly birth which is from above, walking the way of true holiness, can bear witness to this truth, amongst all their fiery trials and temptations this is one, to embrace this present evil world, not evil in and of itself, but evil to him who hath an evil heart to depart from the living God, making the world its dead idol; as it’s pollutions overcome; mad they become in the embracing of its honors, profits, and pleasures; for this is that which overcomes the hearts of many a Judas? “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” {II Pet.2:20} Of many a Demas, who after much profession, forsakes the Lord, embracing this present world. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” {II Tim.4:10} Be therefore prayerful and watchful, for your adversary the devil goes about night and day, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; {I Pet.5:8;} and one of his greatest temptations and delusions is this presenting to your understandings of the glory of this world, although it is true, he falsely represents it too; for he presents it glorious in itself, to the deceiving of the soul, but never presents God, who is the quintessence, the excellency and the glory of all things, without whom there is nothing glorious, nothing excellent, nothing truly satisfactory or lovely; for this is the second false or deceivable light, presenting things which are indeed good without Him who is the goodness of them. Thomas Collier {Second Epistle to all Saints, 1651}

Religious Zeal without Christ: Many souls are deluded by that lying spirit within them, which will set the creature on work, with Adam, to make clothes to cover itself withal, although it be but fig leaves; that is, it will present unto the soul some creature righteousness and reformation, some form of godliness without the power, as light and life enough to deliver the soul out of this condition; it clothes the creature with a righteousness of its own setting up, reformations, prayers, tears, preaching and hearing in the room of Christ, and the Spirit; like unto Ephraim and Judah, when they saw their sickness, their sin and wound, then they went to the Assyrian for help, but he could not help them; {Hos.5:13;} and if they are healed, that is falsely and unsoundly cured, it proves their ruin; for they become seven times more the children of hell and darkness than before; thus this law of flesh will through its deceivableness gather up the soul into fleshly forms, things suitable to itself, mistaking Christ and the Spirit of truth; saying, this is Christ, thus transforming himself into an angel of light, to deceive souls; but those who are indeed risen with Christ, seek things above, of a higher nature; and if they at any time act in forms, it is not the form that satisfies them, but Christ who is the substance thereof. - This false light presents a universal will and power in all men, to accept and receive grace from God, that one man might obtain mercy as well as another, all having alike power, or at least power enough to receive grace; that faith is but an act of reason, and they are unreasonable men that do not believe; not knowing that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy;” not knowing that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do” his good pleasure; not experiencing that mighty power of God in those who believe, so giving all glory to God; but rather laying the stress of all upon the creature, giving all to the creature; whereas souls rightly taught by that Spirit of light see all, not only love and grace, but will and power, flowing from that Eternal Fountain; and hence it is, that as streams flowing from the fountain, return thither again; so those who truly live in grace, return all to that infinite Fountain of Grace. “I am nothing, I can do nothing, all flows from that fountain;” and thus the Lord alone is exalted in that soul. - Others under the notion of joining Christ and duty together, flesh and spirit as co-workers together; talking of the righteousness of Christ, but looking for it, as it were, by the works of the Law, being indeed ignorant of the righteousness of God; these are zealous, but not according to knowledge; and this is looked after, and pleaded for, as a high degree of righteousness, when perhaps there is no more in it than what Paul accounted loss; yea, dung and dross, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord; and was content to suffer the loss of all such things, as grounds of righteousness, that he might win Christ, and be found in Him. Good it were, and much mercy to such, if they could with Paul, suffer the loss of all such righteousness, in a way of grace; for it must be lost first or last, and if not till last, then they must be bid depart from all their works, as workers and works of iniquity, “into outer darkness;” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Others seem to come higher than this again, seeming to be delivered from their works, as it is their righteousness, and are all for Christ and his righteousness, free justification without works; but they are ignorant of, if not enemies unto the righteousness of this Law in the Spirit; although I question not but that many who are yet come no further, may be precious, and enjoy true comfort, according to that measure received. Thomas Collier {Second Epistle to all Saints, 1651}

Posted December 9, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Law of Perfect Liberty in Christ: As the Law in the Spirit is a Law of light; so likewise is it a Law of liberty, a Law which produces much freedom of spirit where it is in truth. This the prophet David knew by experience, when he prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” {Ps.51:12} It is a free spirit, for it sets believers at liberty from sin and Satan; and I join them together because that sin is Satan’s work, and all natural men are servants and slaves to both; servants to Satan, enslaved to his will; servants to sin, willfully doing his work; for his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. {Rom.6:16} Now this Law in the Spirit, which is Christ in you the hope of glory, delivers souls from this captivity; from that pit of sin in the conscience, which flows from the enlightening power of this Law, which doth not only make souls sensible of sin, but works likewise a deliverance from sin, and so sets the soul at liberty from that bondage, in taking away the guilt, the sting of death, which is sin. This Law discovering God’s grace in Christ, brings home that grace and pardon, and seals up the soul till the day of redemption, the day of its complete deliverance. It sets the soul at liberty from the love and affection of sin; for naturally the very affections of love and joy are captivated and enslaved to base, fleshly and carnal lusts. Now this spirit of liberty sets the soul free in its affections, through its light, discovering the evil nature of sin, and so its power in delivering the soul from the love thereof. Believe it friends, this is the light and liberty of the Spirit, enlightening souls to see the evil of sin, and where it is a light enlightening, there it is a law of liberty, setting free from the guilt, and free from the love and affection of sin. Likewise, it works a liberty from sin in the conversation. How, saith the Apostle, “shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” {Rom.6:2} Sin shall not reign in the mortal body; sin shall not have dominion where this Law of the Spirit is in power, neither over the conscience, the affections, nor conversation; for this grace of God which brings home salvation, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. {Tit.2:12} Thus, this Law in the Spirit is a Law of liberty from sin, from Satan, whom natural men serve, being taken captive at his will, and that willingly. It is true that souls in whom this Law of liberty is manifest may be taken captive; but it is contrary to their minds, it is their burden, it is their prison, and they can say with Paul, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me!” And they can say likewise through this spirit of liberty say, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin;” {Rom.7:25;} and, “thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” {II Cor.2:14} This Law works a liberty from the world likewise, men naturally being enslaved to it, there being such a suitableness unto it in the minds of men. The first man being of the earth, earthly, this first man looks after nothing, delights in nothing, because it apprehends nothing above its creation; but souls born from above by the Spirit of liberty, {for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, being created after the image of Him that created them in righteousness and true holiness; that as they have borne the image of the earthly, now they bear the image of the heavenly,} they are made capable to apprehend spiritual and heavenly things; for being risen with Christ, they now seek after things above, things of another nature; and being delivered into the enjoyment of those spiritual and heavenly things, that they can say, “I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine;” and now their hearts are taken off from things below, they have a loose affection unto it, for they see now that nothing is good to them, but as they have God in it, as they have God’s love and grace revealed therein; being set at liberty from the inordinate affection to it by this Spirit of liberty; and this is a definite part of that glorious liberty of the sons of God. Thomas Collier {Second Epistle to all Saints, 1651}

Christ Exalted as the Alone High Priest of Saints: Christ our High Priest offered himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people only; for he had no sin of his own, there was no sin found in him; he was the innocent, holy, harmless, Lamb of God, slain, without spot, or blemish. He offered himself without spot or without fault to God. {Heb.9:14} Herein Christ wonderfully exceeded the Old Testament high priests; they, it is true, had holy garments, made them, {Exod.28:2,} typing forth what holiness it was meet a High Priest, a Peacemaker should have; likewise typing forth what perfection of holiness that was in Christ; as he was the perfection of that type. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” {Heb.7:26} Those high priests had holy garments, Christ is holiness itself. Here was a meet Sacrifice, to be offered in the place of those, for whom he propitiated; had he not been such a one, he could not have taken away sin; therefore such a one became us. The Old Testament High Priests offered many sacrifices; once every year they went into the holy place. “Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements; once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations; it is most holy unto the LORD.” {Ex.30:10} “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.” {Heb.10:3} But Christ our High Priest offered himself, “by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all;” {Heb.10:10;} and then sat down on the right hand of God; a wonderful Gospel mystery! Under the Jewish priests there was a remembrance of sin in the consciences of the sinners, though holy, and godly; for that ministration, could never take away sin; {Heb.10:11;} that is, never take away the guilt of sin; they held under those sacrifices, but offered present pardon, and so present peace, every new sacrifice being a new remembrance of sin. But by Christ our High Priest, who hath offered himself once for all, and by that one sacrifice, we have obtained eternal redemption. {Heb.9:11} Objection: Had not the believing Jews eternal redemption by Jesus Christ under the legal Priesthood? Answer: It is true, they eternal redemption, but by that Priesthood they had it not so sealed to their souls at once, but had their peace coming in by new sacrifices; there was ever a sin consciousness, a remembrance of sin, for if they had had everlasting pardon come in at one sacrifice, there need not to have been an offering for sin again; {Heb.10:1,2;} but we under the Gospel, who believe, have obtained everlasting redemption; that is, see all our sins past, present, and to come, done away, by one sacrifice, so that now there remains no more conscience of sin; {Heb.10:1;} that is, sin doth not lie upon the conscience of believers unpardoned, but they see all done away in Christ. This may inform you of the reason, why so many poor creatures, go without comfort; they obtaining their comfort by fits, as we often say; namely, when they can pray well, think well, read well &c., and thus their comfort comes in from their duties; an argument of a legal spirit. They pray to get peace from hence; but these things will never make you perfect; that is, bring you perfect and true peace, but Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and the same forever, brings in true and perfect peace, eternal redemption to the souls of his people. The legal high priests were but for a time, until the time of reformation; but Christ our High Priest is an everlasting High Priest, a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. {Heb.7} Melchisedec was without beginning, that is known, and without end; so is Christ without beginning and without end. {Heb.7:3 & 21} Hence it is that all that ever Christ {as he is a High Priest} hath purchased for his people, is like himself, everlasting. Thus, everlasting reconciliation, everlasting life, &c. Lastly, the High Priest entered into the holy place, within the veil once a year; namely, into a worldly Sanctuary, indeed a type of Heaven, {Heb.9:1-4,} but Christ as he hath obtained a more excellent ministry, {Heb.8:6,} so he is “not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” {Heb.9:24} O blessed word for believers! Christ our High Priest is entered into the very heavens, to appear for his people, as he undertook to bear their sins, and pay their debts, so he now ever appears personally for his people, and thus you see that Christ is our great High Priest, and wherein he not only answers the legal priesthood, but also exceeds them. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Gospel of Reconciliation: In the preaching of the Gospel Christ is to be exalted, as the alone High Priest, the atonement, peacemaker, and reconciliation, between God and man; and that in opposition to all legal righteousness, or peace, sought for in a legal way. Thus Christ was exalted in the days of the Apostles. “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ; he is Lord of all.” {Acts 10:36} Peter came preaching peace by Jesus Christ; and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is the main drift of the Spirit of God to discover; yea to exalt, to lift up Christ, the alone High Priest, holding forth the dignity, the excellency and utility of his office. And this was received always in the hearts of the Saints, Christ our High Priest, Christ our Peace. “For he is our peace, &c.” {Eph.2:14} Now to speak more punctually to the Priestly Office of Christ, it consists in these two particulars, partly in Reconciliation, partly in Intercession. In Reconciliation; that is, in reconciling God to man, and man to God. Now it is true, God was ever reconciled to his elect in his Son from all eternity, for he loved them in his Son, {Eph.1:4,} from before the foundation of the world; he never looked upon them but in his Son; yet so, as with relation to his death, so working peace. This was the great design of God in sending Christ into the world to make peace and reconciliation. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world {namely the elect amongst the Gentiles, who were always counted for the world, see Rom.11:11,12, &c.} unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” {II Cor.5:19} This was the great work God had to do in the world, when he manifested that great mystery of godliness. “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, &c;” {I Tim.3:16;} and this Christ hath accomplished; he hath perfected it, and finished it. “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” {II Cor.5:18} “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life; and not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” {Rom.5:10,11} “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God;” why, but “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people;” a blessed word for all believers. {Heb.2:17} God is reconciled to them in his Son, God is at peace with them, this was the end wherefore Christ came into the world to make peace for the Saints, and to give life unto them, hence it is that Christ saith, “I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have yet more abundantly;” {Jn.10:10;} hence it is, that the Gospel of Christ is called the Gospel of peace; {Eph.6:15;} and the glad tidings of peace; {Is.57:7;} the Covenant of the Gospel is a Covenant of peace; {Is.54:10, Ezek.37:26;} God is a God of peace, and at peace with believers; {Rom.5:1, I Thes.5:23;} and Christ is a Prince of Peace. {Is.9:6} - How should the Saints admire his wisdom? Truly, the wisdom of God as in other things, so in this particular {making peace by the blood of his Son} is most admirable. The wisdom of God wonderfully appeared in the whole work of God, with relation to the creation. “Hearken unto this, O Job; stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge, &c.” {Job.37:14-16} “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding, &c;” {Job 38:4;} and this the Saints should be acquainted with, that their hearts might admire him; but, the redemption of the Saints is much more admirable, for this was God’s end in making a world, that he might set forth his wisdom in the redemption of the Saints. {Is.40} The Lord speaking with relation to the coming of his Son, a Saviour, “he shall feed his flock like a shepherd, and gather his lambs in his arms, &c.” {vs.11} Again he saith, “who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” {vs.13,14} Certainly none, for there was none to do it, for he determined his whole work, both of creation and redemption before all things. If there had been any being then for any of the sons of men, who could have invented such a way, such a means of recovering, of reconciling fallen man? Truly none but the God of wisdom, and therefore Christ is called in Scripture the Wisdom of God. “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” {I Cor.1:23,24} “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” {I Cor.2:7} Note, the Lord Jesus Christ, the wisdom of the Father, him in whom the Father manifests his wisdom, was ordained before the world began. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” {Eph.3:10,11} Well may it be called manifold, for it is infinite, there is no numbering of it. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” {Ps.145:3} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Justice and Mercy in Christ: The mercy of God is here admirably manifested, in freely choosing some in his Son to life and glory. “That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, &c.” {Rom.9:23,24} Here is the mercy of God wonderfully made known unto the sons of men; and note, that this mercy was never manifested but in a way of justice; justice must be satisfied for man’s transgression. Now that God may show mercy without any wrong to his justice, he gives his Son to take upon him man’s sin, and to suffer for the sins of his people, that so mercy and justice might meet together. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” {Ps.85:10} An admirable work of grace; where God shows mercy and his justice is satisfied. Never any mercy to be expected, but where justice is satisfied. It is in vain for thee, O man, to expect mercy out of Christ; for there alone is justice satisfied, if ever thou hast mercy, it must be there, therefore Christ calls, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” {Mat.11:28} Now, the Saints alone may admire and rejoice in the justice of God; for the justice of God is for every believer, and is as ready to plead for them, as the mercy of God. A creditor, that is honest, he will be ready to acquit and clear the principal, when the surety hath paid the debt, and made full satisfaction, and to declare, that he hath nothing against him; it is true the surety may pay the debt, and the principal not know it, and he may be afraid and troubled; but when the surety shall come and tell him that the debt is paid, and the creditor satisfied; and when the creditor shall send his bond, and discharge under his hand and seal; now this satisfies the man, and now he is clear, and comforted, now he walks boldly. So it may be with the poor soul; for Christ hath paid the debt, he hath satisfied the justice of his Father; but perhaps thou wantest the assurance of it? Beloved, to whomsoever the Lord hath, or shall give faith, there it is sure. “The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise…the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” {Rom.10:6-9} The Lord hath sent his Ministers to proclaim it to your souls, “that whosoever believeth shall be saved;” and here he hath sent his word to confirm it unto you, and if that will not satisfy, thou shalt have his seal too. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” {Eph.1:13} And justice is now ready to plead for such a soul, to acquit him, “I am satisfied, I have nothing against him;” and so justice is thine, and for thee, who {indeed} believest. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Christ our High Priest: If Christ be the alone High Priest, the alone Reconciler and Peace Maker betwixt God and man, as you have heard he is; “for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” {I Tim.2:5;} then here is a word of information, to inform us of the vanity and folly of those that create to themselves other grounds of peace and comfort besides Christ. Note first, that there are many that do thus create to themselves other grounds of comfort, other Saviors besides Christ, notwithstanding the Lord hath said, “there is no other name given under heaven whereby men must be saved;” yet believe it, for many there are, that rest upon duties and performances, and make that the ground of their consolation. “Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water;” {Jer.2:12,13;} my people; that is, not only mine by creation, or election, but by profession, forsake me, and dug cisterns to themselves; for how do men love to draw water out of their own cisterns; to create comforts to themselves, to kindle sparks of their own fire, until the Lord bring them off from it. It is a foolish thing for a man to be content with the shell without the kernel, the shadow without the substance. Beloved, all things without Christ, are but a shadow, and will prove nothing. He is the substance of all Ordinances, and professions; farther than you have Christ in them, they are dead. O how foolish would you count that man, that woman that should strive to catch the shadow, leaving the substance? It is a vain thing without profit, the vanity of it is this, they deceive themselves, for they think they have something; when they have nothing. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” {Rev.3:17} This is thy folly, this is thy vanity, thou thinkest, that thou hast much to say for thyself, because thon hast gotten a form of godliness, when the truth is that all without Christ is nothing; nay, less than nothing, altogether vanity; they cannot help thee; for certainly Christ died in vain, if anything beneath himself can save thee. “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” {Gal.2:21} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Exaltation of Christ: Question: What is the reason, poor souls walk so sadly and so sorrowfully? Answer: Is it not because they forsake the Lord the Fountain, and dig cisterns to themselves; kindle a fire of their own, and then sit down, and think to comfort themselves; and hence it comes to pass, that so many poor souls lie down in sorrow. Is it not thy case poor soul; if thou settest up this duty and that duty, this prayer, and that ordinance, and expectest comfort in them, and thou wouldest fain compass thyself about with those sparks of prayers and duties, &c., and this makes thee lie down in sorrow, and all because thy soul is not carried through these to Christ, who is the substance of all Ordinances. It is a shameful thing to rest upon anything beneath Christ, certainly, beloved, it will make you ashamed one day, either here or hereafter. “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed; for the end of those things is death.” {Rom.6:21} What were those things? Deeds of darkness, and certainly to rest upon anything beneath CHRIST, is a deed of darkness, and will cause shame. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” {Jer.17:7} “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.” {Jer.17:13} O beloved, will it not be a shame, when men shall profess Christianity all their days, when they shall hear, and pray, and perform duties, resting in those things, and when they shall come to appear before the Lord Jesus, shall be rejected? “They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them; they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols; {that rest upon anything beneath Christ;} but Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” {Is.45:16,17} “They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” {Ps.125:1} To trust in anything beneath the Lord Jesus is a cursed, damning sin; so it is, to those that live and die in that condition. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name have cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” {Mt.7:22, 23} O beloved, this will be the sad sentence pronounced against all that shall come before Christ at the last day in their own righteousness. “But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” {Lk.13:27} A word of exhortation; if it be so that Christ be the alone High Priest and Peacemaker between God and man, O how should this stir up your souls to look to Him for all of salvation? Do not mistake me, I shall not set you upon this duty as if it were in your own power to do it, for it is God that worketh both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, but as a means by which God may come in with power upon thy spirit, working up thy soul above thyself to his Son, and to encourage any poor soul to whom God shall be pleased to come in graciously in his own means. God calls thee to look above and beyond all, to himself, in his Son. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” {Is.45:22} “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” {Is.55:1} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted December 10, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Christ our Sin Bearer: God laid sin upon Christ. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” {Is.53:6} It is all laid upon Christ, so that now the sin of all the elect become the sin of Christ, they are laid upon Christ. “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.5:21} Christ bare the sins of his people, God did not only lay sin upon Christ, but he bare it; “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” {I Pet.2:24,} and so hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows. This is the way by which Christ hath made peace for his people in bearing their sins; for there was no other way left for reconciliation between God and man; but God must become man, {Jn.1:14,} that so he might bare our sins and so our grief and sorrows, that he might be bruised for our iniquities, and that the chastisement of our peace might be upon him. {Is.53} At the cross God condemned sin, and Christ there bears not only sin, but Justice for sin. Man sins - justice is offended, and that must be satisfied. Christ stepped sin, he takes the blow, he becomes Surety for sinners, stands in our room, and pays the debt. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” {Rom.8:3} God did not only lay sin upon Christ, but Christ bears it, and there God condemns it, where God finds sin, there he condemns it. God condemns the sin of his people in the flesh of his Son. Learn hence to take heed of sin, do not take delight in any sin, truly beloved, you that love the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot love that which was such a heavy burden unto him. Oh beloved, how should justified, saved persons take heed of sin, of every sin; for the least sin that thou canst imagine took hold on Christ as well as the greatest. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Eternal Justification: Some may say that God had never anything against his elect, for he loved them from eternity. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” {Jer.31:3} “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” {Eph.1:4} It is indeed true that God ever loved his elect in Christ, and ever intended mercy and love unto them; yea he so loved them as with relation to the death of his Son, that from everlasting He determined to satisfy his justice, to take away sin, and work peace by the death of his Son; and the truth is that God had as really an eye to the death of his Son from all eternity, and saw it as actual then, as if Christ had already suffered. “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world;” in Him, with relation to his death, to his making satisfaction for sin, not that God could not have made the saints at once, and have saved them presently, and never have suffered them to sin, but this is the way God in his wisdom appointed to manifest his mercy on the vessels of mercy, and his justice on his enemies; so that now beloved, God having appointed this to be the means to bring sons to glory, there could never have been any remission, any peace, but by a dying Christ; therefore he is called, the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;” {Rev.13:8;} and indeed, Christ was as a Lamb ever slain in God’s account, and he beheld all things as present, and saw both the works of creation, redemption and the glory of his saints from all eternity. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

{Selection of the Week}

Christian Experience: Do you feel sometimes very tried, as if you must give all up? Do you hear a voice saying in you, “The way cannot be as narrow as those people set forth. Look at the religious world; it is a good deal happier than these people are; and surely everybody is not wrong except these few, surely so much of the teaching in the religious world cannot be false?” Do you ever have such conversations with yourself, - “Well, we must try something better, something easier; at least something that won't be always disturbing us, and making us think, if we are to be always so exercised and the way so narrow, we scarcely can live?” Well, if you get such communings with your own hearts, what will you do, how will you manage? You will not get a bit better. But for this Christ has grace. Ah, some of us have thought, even, that we would leave the school of Christ; but then it comes to this. It is not a question whether so and so is right, whether such a teaching is right and another teaching wrong; it comes to this: What says the Scripture? Who is God? What is He? What is His Word? What is His doctrine? What is the way to heaven? What kind of gate is it people must go through? If peace is to be had with God, how is it had, and what peace is it? If sinners are to be cleansed, how are they to be cleansed? What shall cleanse them? If they are to have union with God, what is the union, and how does it come about? If they are to be fit to stand before His eternal Majesty, how are they to be made fit, and who shall make them fit? What is the fitness? And when such things come to you, down will go some of your prejudices, your inveterate prejudices; and you will begin to say, the Holy Ghost helping you, “Prepare me, gracious God, to stand before Thy face.” Lord, whatever the way is, put me in it; however narrow, squeeze me into it; however strait the gate, cause me to pass through it; however difficult the path, help me to walk in it; leave me not. J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Doctrine of Christ: All the doctrines of salvation center in the Person of the Son of God. He is therefore the object of all the enmity, errors, and criticisms of false teachers. There is in this nation a war against Christ. He is being attacked in His Word, but He Himself is the objective. It therefore behooves His followers to be especially jealous of His Person. It will be an evil thing if we are found weak in faith in regard to His Person. Weak there, how can we be strong in any truth of the Gospel? Voluntary association with error is a condonation of it and a weakness in regard to that, which in itself, is better than thousands of gold and silver. Who is He; is the first of all questions. The infinite importance of doctrine, especially the doctrine of Christ, can never be exaggerated. J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Doctrine of Christ: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." {I John 4:2} O, think of it! This must be a particular confession; it is not that confession which is babbled over by thousands of people, when they say. 'I believe in Jesus Christ;' and think a good deal more of the world than the words they utter. O, but is a solemn confession, arising out of knowledge, knowledge given, knowledge powerful, knowledge sanctifying; when you see Him, who is very God in your own nature by faith; and see that by His death you must live, by His righteousness you must be justified, by His grace you must be sanctified, or be lost forever. Then, when you see Jesus Christ, you say; 'He is come in the flesh.' J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Deity of Christ: Everyone must build all his hopes for acceptance on Him; he is led to do it by the Spirit, he is taught to do it, and he is glad to do it when faith is given him. The knowledge of the Person of Christ is a wonderful thing in any sinner. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3) Religiosity you may have, religion you may have gathered; but that will not do. You must, if you are to go to heaven, be on Another and in Another, and that is the Lord Jesus. You must be accepted in Him, if ever you are acceptable to God at all; no other way than that. Again; all that Christ did as the Redeemer has its value from His Person, who He is. His works are infinitely glorious! The character of every work done by a man, more or less distinctly is derived from the man; and the character of all Christ's work is derived from the infinite merit of Himself, that is, of His Person. As a Person He is God. As a Person He is also Man, the Son of man. And these two constitute one Person who is infinitely pleasing to His Father. And from the value of His Person proceeds the value of His work. I mention this particularly, because if you are built on His atonement for pardon, you are well built, because His atonement is infinitely valuable. Faith gives no virtue to the blood of Christ; it receives virtue from it. If you are built upon the blood of Christ, you are on what is of unspeakable value; it is infinitely so in itself before God. J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Representation: The church has a Representative. She is represented. She is represented by this Man, this Man Christ Jesus. He takes the feeble and the poor and the lost, and presents them spotless and without blame before God, His and their Father, in love. It is in Him that they stand; it is in His righteousness that they are just; it is in His holiness that they are sanctified; it is by His power that they stand up; it is in His life that they live; and it is in His light that they walk, walk by faith. We do need a better than ourselves to represent us. We need One who in His own Person is absolute, free from limits or conditions, is perfect, and cannot know the shadow of a turn {James 1:17}; and that One is Jesus Christ. If He be our Forerunner, there is ground for hope. If He should represent us to God, then we shall be accepted of God. If it should please Him to take up our cases, they will be well taken up. We do not read of sinners representing themselves; but we do read that Christ is their Forerunner, and has entered heaven. And when the Holy Ghost makes this known in the heart of any sinner, it turns out his misery, and brings in happiness; it gathers his spirit, and fixes his attention, his hope, and his comfort, and his confidence in that blessed Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Divine Inspiration: Thus this righteousness that comes without the deeds of the law is manifested by God, is revealed by Him in the Scriptures. This Passover, this paschal Lamb, this dear Redeemer, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, to Him the whole of God's Word bears a blessed, powerful, clear testimony. The Scripture, then, is the first place in which this righteousness is revealed. Brethren, cleave to the Word of God, never allow a substitute, an addition, a supplement to it; reject everything that rejects the testimony of the Word to the substitutionary work of this Righteous One, Jesus Christ. Trample under foot every criticism of the Bible that disallows the vicarious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. God give us grace to stand here.  What saith the Scripture? It saith, God laid iniquity on His Son; it saith, God punished Him, condemned sin in His flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in the church - “in us,” said Paul. We may well say, if we have the faith and, love to say it, “Precious Bible, what a treasure.” It is the window of heaven through which the light and glory of God shine, the firmament of heaven in which the Sun of Righteousness is set, and runs His holy, glorious course of salvation. It is the testimony of God; the opening of God’s mind; the declaration of His purposes, particularly of saving His people, to whom He gave “grace in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim.1:9). This Book will stand, my friends, when its critics fall, when its rejectors are rejected. In its inspiration it is infallible, in its revelation it is beautiful, in its faithfulness it is immovable. It is God’s revelation, it is God’s Word. May you, may I, never be allowed to give it up, no, not in one jot or tittle. Verbal, plenary inspiration may we hold fast. This is the Word of God; it does not only contain God’s Word, but is God’s Word. The container may be different from its contents; but this Book is given from first to last by Divine Inspiration. O brethren, what would become of us, if it was not so? It is nothing to me if it is not inspired, not infallible. J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Worship: The Lord has gathered all true worship up into One, so to speak - one Temple which He Himself pitched, and not man – Jesus Christ; and it comes to this in true religion; a sinner is gathered in the power of the Holy Spirit to the Person and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that he may present that Sacrifice before God in the hands of faith. J. K. Popham {Sermons}

Posted December 11, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Our Dependence upon the Lord: Christ thy High Priest will have thee to live Him, and upon Him, out of, and above thyself. He will have thee to fetch all from Himself. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” {Col.3:3} Dead to sin, and dead in yourselves; not able to act or do anything, but as you are carried on by the power of God. “Without me ye can do nothing.” {Jn.15:5} Christ is, and will be, all in all to your souls. {Col.3:11} If all sin in the saints were subdued, and they made perfect in this life, I mean personally perfect, they they could not live by faith upon Another, and so should not be in a dependency upon Christ; this was Adam’s condition, and he quickly lost it; but it is the wisdom of God, and it is much for our good, to keep us in our ways in a state of dependency upon Himself, where our stock remains; for our life, our consolation, our salvation is all hid with Christ in God, and therefore it is sure, although we have not the full enjoyment of it in this world. God keeps his people always in a way of dependency, in a way of believing, in a way of receiving, and so causes them to live by faith. This is one end whereby God gives faith unto his people, that they might live comfortably in their patient expectation of what God hath promised in Christ. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted December 12, 2012

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Priests unto God in Christ: The saints are made priests to the Lord, and so can now through Christ have access with boldness to the throne of grace; for every believer is made a priest in Christ; and note this by the way, that those that dare attribute that name to themselves, by way of office, it is no less than high blasphemy against the Lord Christ; but every believer is made a spiritual priest to the Lord, and so the Church is a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by Jesus Christ; not propitiatory sacrifice, for that belonged to Christ alone, but yet acceptable sacrifice. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” {I Pet.2:5} “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” {I Pet.2:9} Beloved, here is your privilege, let it be your comfort that now you are made a holy priesthood unto God, you may come boldly to the throne of grace. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” {Heb.4:16} Is it not a mercy, that God should make a way for sinners to come into his presence, and to have access unto him; and that with confidence of acceptance. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” {Eph.2:18} “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” {Eph.3:12} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted December 15, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Offers of Grace: In the next place he loads the doctrine of special grace with another calamity, as if it made the Most High deceitful, false and insincere in offering grace which he never intends to give; but his assertion is utterly false; for Grace and Salvation were never offered to any creature since the world began. To God’s elect they are not offered, but irreversibly given; and to the rest they were never offered, for they have no right to them. Nay further it is contrary to the nature of Gospel grace to be offered to any creature; for the natural man cannot understand it, {I Cor.2:14,} therefore he cannot choose it; and the spiritual man is already under its special influence, and enjoys it with so much delight and satisfaction, that his soul cannot be alienated from it. {Rom.8:35} Therefore, an offer of grace is a mere fantasy of his own imagination; and his simile is utterly incoherent; for it supposes persons to be denied of something which they earnestly desire and ardently seek after; but though God does not bestow this rich grace of life and salvation upon all, {for then all would be eternally saved,} yet he never denied it to any that hungered and thirsted after it; {Mt.5:6;} but carnal minds are so far from any real hunger and thirst after Jesus Christ that they see no beauty to cause them to desire Him. {Is.53:2} Nay, they are enemies to him, for they despise his salvation and hate his Person. {Rom.8:7} Therefore, what he says on this head is a mere fabulous invention to amuse unwary minds. An offer supposes the thing presented to the person, and left to the freedom of his will, to choose or refuse; but if this was all that was done, respecting the grace of salvation, not one individual in the universe would be saved; for by nature all the children of men are under the power of Satan; and while he reigns over them he is certain to prevent them from embracing the Grace of God in Christ; therefore unless that grace be displayed with such power, as to set the soul at liberty from Satan’s bondage, all offers or proposals of life and salvation by Christ would be like so many overtures to the deaf ear; for the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not; {II Cor.4:4;} and they are alienated from the life of God. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” {Eph.4:18} Therefore Christ says that, “no man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him;” and the drawing of the Father is of such a nature, that Christ further says, “every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” {Jn.6:45} Thus it is not by virtue of an offer of grace, but by Divine attraction that souls are brought to Christ; and this Divine attraction never fails in its effectual operation. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” {Jn.6:37} The Gospel of Christ is not an offer of salvation, but a glorious Publication of Salvation; wherein it is fully revealed, that Christ shall save his people from their sins; “Thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins;” {Mt.1:21;} and that he shall give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” {Jn.17:2} And this Word of Truth is that everlasting Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. It is not a proposal made, but an infallible truth declared; the voice of the Great Shepherd, whereby his Father’s love is manifested, and everlasting salvation proclaimed to them that are lost, which through the special efficacy and energy of the Holy Spirit gives life; and this Gospel is preached to all the world, that all God’s elect may hear it, wherever they are scattered, “go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature;” and the persons who shall be saved are particularly described, that may know and enjoy the comfort of their salvation. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” {Acts 10:43} And wheresoever this joyful message finds one of those souls, whom the Father hath predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, the Holy Ghost gives entrance to the Word, so as it efficaciously melts the heart and brings the soul to God. “Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” {Acts 16:14} “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} And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” {Acts 13:48} Where the Gospel of the grace of God comes to any soul, in the power of the Holy Ghost, there is such a glorious manifestation of Divine love, sovereign grace, full redemption in the blood of the Lamb, boundless mercy and everlasting salvation, that it does omnipotently operate in the soul; and this will melt the hardest heart; and neither men nor devils, earth nor sin, death nor hell, can prevent the effect. This is real grace, and all that receive it esteem it grace indeed; and never treat it as if it were only a kind of half grace, or as if God might be thought to be unjust, or not clear from man’s destruction, supposing Him to have withheld it. Whatever is grace is freely bestowed, without any obligation at all; and if there be any obligation to bestow a favor, so as there would be the least injustice in withholding it, then it comes not of grace, but of debt. Therefore if our sin does not fully deserve destruction and damnation, so as it might perfectly be a righteous thing in God to destroy us, without leaving us the least ground of complaint, salvation cannot be of grace. But all that believe in Christ for salvation are perfectly convinced that damnation was rightly their due, and that they as justly deserve it as any in hell; therefore they cease to contend about what right God has to dispose of them, or what right they have to expect mercy from him; for had he turned them into hell, his hand had done perfectly right; but as he is pleased to save them, his grace appears exceedingly rich, and his Name alone shall have all the glory. Thus that sovereign grace which proceeds from the bosom of the Father, reigns triumphant in the Son and effectually operates by the Holy Ghost in all God’s elect, and his Gospel prevails in them above all the calumnies and reproaches, above all the fallacies and seductions of men, “for they know His voice.” To the great Shepherd of the sheep be praise and glory everlasting. John Johnson {Election of God Undisguised, 1759}

Posted December 16, 2012

{Selection of the Week}

Eternal Suretyship of Christ: I pray God Almighty confound what is not of Himself, let it lie on which side it is; and I hope I shall trample underfoot with abhorrence, whatever I could be convinced of to be contrary to the mind of Christ; and do sincerely desire to use all the means that I can to attain the clearest discoveries thereof; therefore I shall first explain my meaning concerning God’s Eternal Justifying act in his own inexhaustible and unalterable mind, acting in a way of justice and grace, yet pure grace with respect to elect sinners; sheltering them in a way of grace from the dreadful effects, that otherwise must necessarily attend their fall in Adam; and that he might clear them from the curse of the Law in a way of strict justice, grace putting the Law into a hands of a Mediator; and though Grace intended not to prevent the elect from falling in Adam into sin equally with the rest of mankind; yet that grace might reign through righteousness, and super-abound where sin abounded, there was a Lamb provided, who by Divine Appointment should bear the whole curse due to their sin, with all the dreadful effects thereof. - There was from all eternity a fixed immutable will in God never to punish sin, nor to inflict the penalty of the Law upon his elect. This will was not to prosecute his right against them in a way of justice, {I Thes.5:9,} but to deal with them as righteous in a Mediator, {a pure act of grace,} by free imputation. {II Cor.5:21, Rom.5:21, Eph.1:4} God from all eternity did immutably will and bequeath eternal life to his chosen in Christ, through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant. {Mt.26:28} “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” {Heb.10:10} It plainly appears in this 10th chapter to the Hebrews, that it was the will of God, that Christ should be offered up a sacrifice to justice, by the which will of God, them that he died for were set apart to life; which I take to be meant by sanctified, because the Apostle is treating of justification and pardon of sin by the one offering of Christ as our High Priest. Besides it would seem strange to say that the will or decree of God, that Christ should die for sinners, would sanctify us inherently; but I think, sanctified by God’s will or decree is set apart to life, and through Christ’s own offering, as it respects the thing willed, the purging away of sin, with respect to its guilt and condemning power in the sight of Divine justice. Now God’s will, as a Testament of Grace to elect sinners, was an eternal going forth by way of Covenant transaction between the Father and the Son as distinct parties {though absolutely one in Essence} and eternal grace, as it respected the fall and breach of the Law; so likewise it acted from eternity, {in fore view of Christ’s Suretyship engagements on their behalf,} in a way of justice by a Mediator, to stand in our place, in order that justice, as well as grace was eternally pleased, that elect sinners should go unpunished, and hereby stand complete in the unchangeable favor of God; that when the Law was broken by Adam as a Covenant head, it should be completely answered by a second Man, or second Adam, as Mediator, as elect Head, and the Eternal Surety of an Everlasting Covenant by Grace. This Decree or Imminent Act of God’s will made that Law exchange of persons, which set Christ as Mediator under the curse and condemning power of the Law, {which otherwise could not have touched him, but in a way of representation,} and turns the curse of the Law from the law-breaking sinner, {which otherwise would take hold on all sinners, as such,} and so sets him under the sentence of Life, in the court of grace, by absolute promise, {“in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began,” Tit.1:2,} which free and absolute sentence of life takes hold on the persons of God’s chosen as early as the Law sentence can take hold on the persons of those that have no Mediator. {Rom.9:11-13} This is the immediate effect of Christ’s Mediatorship for the elect and the pronounced or declared sentence of God’s eternal will. Thus with respect to this eternal transaction in a Covenant way, we may understand these following Scriptures: “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” {PV.8:23} “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” {Mic.5:2} “Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” {Zech.6:13} “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” {Eph.3:11} “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” {II Tim.1:9} “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” {I Pet.1:20} - In that Covenant transaction between the Father and the Son there was a grant unto our great Covenant Head, the Lord Jesus Christ; though he were purely God, and had not then assumed our nature, yet he did personally exist in his Divine Nature as distinct from, yet one with the Father from eternity, of the same Divine Nature and Essence, and by virtue of an Eternal Covenant Transaction he was under an obligation, from all eternity, to take our nature upon him, as Abraham’s seed, with a special eye to the elect; and though it is true, that he took flesh, human nature upon himself, yet he passed by the non-elect, and on the seed of Abraham he took hold; that is, of all Abraham’s spiritual seed; as he saith, “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” {Is.8:18, Heb.2:13} The Apostle in that second chapter to the Hebrews, quotes that out of Isaiah, and brings it to prove the Covenant Relation that was between Christ and the elect; and “forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he likewise himself took part of the same,” {Heb.2:14,} by this Covenant relation we become bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, {Gen.2:23,} as there is one body, as well as one Spirit, by virtue of this Covenant Relation the elect only receive life and quickening from Christ, as Head of the Covenant of Grace; as the Father gave him to be Head to the Church, the whole body of election, who “hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all,” {Eph.1:22,23,} and then it immediately follows, “and you hath He quickened.” {Eph.2:1} From this union flows life which doth not only precede faith in order of nature, but in order of time also; and by virtue of which, we have the Spirit given, working faith in our hearts, in God’s time, from Christ as our Anointed Head. - By virtue of this Covenant Transaction Christ was likewise under an obligation to bear all the sins, by way of charge and imputation of all the elect in his own body on the tree as their Covenant Head and Mediator, so he stood engaged by Covenant Contract from eternity to answer for them to all the demands of Law and Justice. “This commandment have I received of my Father;” {Jn.10:18} and “I know that his commandment is life everlasting.” {Jn.12:50} The same act of God’s Grace that made our sins to meet on Christ, {to death as the wages of sin,} brought his Mediatorial Righteousness upon the elect to life everlasting. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” {Rom.5:21} “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” {Rom.6:23} By virtue of this Covenant Transaction it is made over to God’s chosen, by a free Testament of Grace, in the Blood of the New Testament, and comes upon them as a free gift of righteousness. “By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men {those embodied in Christ, and thus represented by Him} unto justification of life;” {Rom.5:18;} and we have right to that justifying righteousness {this righteousness is without us, and is not communicated, but imputed; and Christ as Mediator is the Subject of this righteousness} as held forth in the free and absolute promise, as elect persons, being chosen in Christ, as the elect Head of this his New Testament and the Testament itself gives right, and the elect are heirs of promise, as soon as they have a being, {not natural heirs by descent, but spiritual heirs by grace in Christ.} God made his will in eternity and bequeathed eternal life to his adopted children that were predestinated to sonship, according to the good pleasure of his will. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” {Eph.1:5} Now this Testament of Grace in the Blood of Christ made known and revealed by an absolute promise of life; “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” {Tit.1:2 taken from Gen.3:15;} this gives them right, and makes them heirs of the promise of life; and though the blessings given in this Testament be in the Surety’s hand, until the time appointed of the Father, to be given out successively at the several times appointed; first spiritual life and light by the quickening power of the Holy Ghost, faith by the operation of the same Spirit, repentance…and at last salvation as consummated in eternal glory; therefore to make one blessing thereof to be either the cause or the condition of the rest would be most inappropriate, when all are but parts and effects of the same free gift; and that which gave them right to one, gave them right to all; for that which gave them a right to faith, before they did receive it, gave them a right to justifying righteousness before they were given faith; and that was before the Free Testament itself in the blood of Christ; then here lies the right of all God’s elect, as such, to justifying righteousness in the will itself, as being absolutely settled upon for all the heirs of promise, by two immutable things, God’s Faithful Promise and Immutable Oath; and add to this the Testator’s blood which shows all is sure and certain and that the elect have an indisputable right, and are heirs by grace in Christ.  - Therefore, we believe that there was a grant to Christ in the Eternal Compact, he performing all Covenant conditions as Head and Mediator; which when he had performed in time, he entered into heaven by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption, {Heb.9:12,} and what he obtained as our great Executor and Surety of the Covenant was before granted; and he obtained it on the behalf of them for whom it was granted. It pleased the Father to entrust him with all fullness of grace for the elect as their Covenant Head, that so it might be sure to all the heirs of promise. {The acceptation of their persons in the Beloved, “wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved,” Eph.1:6, is a pure act of God’s sovereign will that wills because he will, and will on whom he will. Thus it appears, that the elect are heirs by grace alone; and the Covenant itself gives them right to eternal life as the free gift of God by absolute promise, and to have right to eternal life, and all the blessings of the Testament of Grace by blood.} The Father hath made it as sure in Christ, the Surety of this Testament, as the Eternal God could make it, to speak with reverence.  - Thus I have been showing which way sinners are made righteous in a Mediator, and though the Decree produced no immediate effect, yet it produced its timely effects at that moment of time that the Law was broken, for then a Mediator stood ready as foreordained to step in and stand in the breach to keep off the flood of wrath from breaking out upon the elect. Always remember, that the Law was put in the Mediator’s hand, or else we make strange work, and set the Law and Promise together by the ears; for when the Law could not give life it must march off as a Covenant of life or death to God’s chosen; Christ takes it in his own hand, and makes it give way to the promise of Life in Himself. - Now I shall come to speak something of the justifying sentence which pronounces the elect righteous in their Covenant Head and Mediator as proceeding from and grounded upon this preceding act of grace, by way of Covenant transaction between the Father and the Son, which brought our sins upon Christ, and his Mediatorial Righteousness upon us; {to deliver His people out of a state of sin into a state of justification,} and that we are wholly passive, both in our being made righteous by Imputation, {which is an act of pure Grace in God to sinners,} and likewise in our being pronounced justified in that imputed righteousness, which is a sentence of grace, and passed in the Court of Grace, life by the free promise of salvation in Christ. Now in pronouncing the sentence of life upon ungodly law breaking sinners God sits judge of his own Law, as well as the elect sinners cause; and instead of pronouncing the sentence of the Law upon the sinner to condemnation, God sits enthroned upon a Mercy Seat in the Court of Grace as reconciled in a Mediator; in whom grace and justice most sweetly agree to pass the sentence of eternal life upon the elect by absolute promise, based upon the substitutionary death of Christ on their behalf in time. This sentence declares God’s eternal will, that Christ as Mediator was to die in their place; and they live by virtue of righteousness imputed. {Doth God pronounce any just, but such as are so in his sight by Imputation? If not, then making over a righteousness to elect sinners in a Mediator must be taken into God’s justifying act, as well as the pronounced sentence, which is grounded upon this Act of Grace in a way of complete justice, because God, as Righteous Judge, justifies ungodly law-breaking sinners and clears them from the voice of the Law, as to the condemning power thereof, by a righteousness without us by Imputation. Then that act of God’s grace that turns the sentence of the Law upon Christ, the spotless Lamb, by imputing our sins to him, and turns the sentence of Law, as to its condemning power, from guilty law-breaking sinners, by imputing his Mediatorial obedience unto them comes into justification, as well as the pronounced sentence that declares this act of grace, by which the sinner stands clear in a way of Justice. For all sentences of court, according to Justice, are grounded upon some preceding act, according to which act the sentence is just, and the sentence justifies, as it declares the act by which they stand clear.} Thus God, as a Righteous Judge, justifies the righteous only; that is, pronounces none but such just as truly are so in their Surety; and yet he justifies the ungodly, not by dispensing with his Holy Law, or making that void; but in a way of Justice, magnifying and honoring his Law, declaring an act of eternal grace, by virtue of which act his elect did stand righteous in his sight, {again, in fore-view of Christ’s Suretyship engagements on their behalf,} by imputation of one Man’s obedience to answer the Law in their place, as a Covenant Head, opposed to Adam’s one disobedience, who was a figure of this second Adam, which was immediately to take the first Adam’s place, {with respect to God’s chosen in him,} upon his failure. {In this way of justifying the believing sinner, all the Divine perfections are perfectly glorified. Justice is magnified by the infinite satisfaction of Christ; Mercy is likewise magnified in the salvation of the sinner on account of that satisfaction which Christ made to the justice of God; and the wisdom of God shines forth in contriving such a wonderful method of salvation, so that all the Divine attributes perfectly harmonize in the justification of the sinner by Christ; agreeable to Psalm 85:10, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”} And it is remarkable, that with respect to Christ Mediatorship, God comes in the cool of the day, reconciled in Him, and sounds the Jubilee trumpet from heaven, and pronounces the sentence of life in the Free Promise conditioned solely upon Christ. For until the sentence was passed, there was no grace, no Christ, no promise revealed for fallen man to lay hold upon, and the case must be the same still, for the object must precede the act, that is conversant about that object; and if life were not revealed in an absolute promise, there would have been no footing for faith to stand upon, for a conditional promise is most properly a law, only he that does that which is required shall live; and thus faith is made void, and the free promise of none effect; for the first thing looked to must be the condition annexed to the promise, and the promise claimed upon that condition. Now suppose faith to be annexed to the justifying sentence of life, then justifying righteousness and eternal life in the free promise is not the object of faith, but faith itself must be looked to, and then the promise pleaded upon faith as the condition of life; but this is not the nature of Abraham’s faith, that took God upon his Word, and staggered not at the Promise, {of Christ,} nor considered the unlikeliness, or seeming impossibilities, but believed God upon his Word, {believing as an evidential seal of our justification in Christ,} and the Object of his faith was counted to him for righteousness. Thus it is by faith, as an empty hand, or passive instrument, that receives all in the free promise, as pure grace, and in no sense upon faith as a condition annexed to the sentence of life. - The Scriptures do plainly declare that some are elected and these only are redeemed. Justice doth not charge these redeemed ones, for God is completely reconciled to them by the death of his Son. Now will it not amount to the same to say that some are ordained to eternal life, and redeemed with the blood of Christ; as to say, that God doth not charge these redeemed ones; seeing that we likewise affirm, that none can know that they are not under condemnation before believing, and that whoever dies an unbeliever shall be damned; except any suppose, that terrifying souls with Law Curses and Condemnation be the most effectual way to bring them to faith in Christ; and if so, I am not of their mind; though I am sure the Gospel ought to be preached and Free Grace proclaimed; and I think it is the most effectual to propose the Truth concerning Christ as the Object of faith, which the Gospel doth reveal for salvation; that is, God’s pardoning grace in the blood of Christ, and thus to call upon sinners to look to the Lord, and that if mercy is to be found it is to be found alone through the Sacrificial Death of Christ. This is that which offends some that have made the greatest noise; and because they cannot directly strike at this Gospel summons to sinners to come directly to Christ, without any previous qualifications; which strikes so directly at their idol of self-righteousness; therefore they are pleased to brand the doctrine of God’s Free Justifying Grace in Christ with all manner of absurdities; and I wish that some, which see otherwise, be not frightened from owning the truths they believe and have received in the light of God’s Holy Spirit for fear of being laden with calamities and reproaches; for it is indeed a trying time, and I do believe, that those that are kept close to Christ and his doctrine, in owning and confessing the simplicity of the Gospel, shall meet with as great trials as those that have gone before us; for Christ will shake the earth and the heavens, and remove those things that are made, and burn up the hay, wood and stubble. Therefore let every man take heed what he builds, though upon the foundation of Christ. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” {I Cor.3:11} But to return to the point in hand, and that is to conclude with some, that affirm that they were not justified until faith acted upon Christ, would be great darkness; for though God in his Word doth pronounce only believers justified, yet it will no more follow, that they were not justified before, if things be rightly weighed; for this makes faith a moral condition of justification, as hath been shown already, and also denies Justification to be by the Imputed Righteousness of Christ alone, and makes the Eternal Covenant of Grace conditional. Few do directly deny, and I am as certain, as I am certain that the Scriptures are true, that the first pronounced sentence of life to sinners is by that Covenant promise in Christ; {Gen.3:15;} and it is according to the tenor of that Covenant of Grace as an absolute Promise of life in Christ that the promise takes an effectual hold of the elect as soon as they are brought into the world. {Rom.9:9-13} Anonymous Work by a Member of a Church of Christ, in the County of Essex; entitled: A Very Short and Brief Account of the Free Justification of God’s Elect, London 1699.

{Writings of John Johnson}

Imputation: To know Christ in the execution of all his Mediatorial Offices, accomplishing the salvation of his Church, from all sin, and completing their deliverance from all evil. And this, no man can behold in a true light, unless he keep a steady eye upon the personal Perfection of the Son of God, upon the Union subsisting between Him and his elect, and the authoritative commission received from his Father for the performance of this work. For if the least imperfection was found in Him, he could not be equal to the stupendous undertakings; and if there were not a personal connection between Him and his chosen, the things performed by Him could not be imputed, or made available to them; and if those transactions had not been according to the commission, or power given him by the Father, they would have been made void, for want of authority. Notwithstanding, many there be who pretend to believe in Christ, to depend on the virtue of his blood, and expect salvation through his righteousness, who never pay much attention to his Word, as to have their souls established in these things by the power of the Holy Ghost; but that is not faith, it is only fancy or opinion; for no man can, in reality, believe anything further than his understanding enters into the spirit of the thing believed; but the believer receives the Truth of Christ in his Word, not merely gathering up a little smattering, and leaving the greatest part as obsolete or unnecessary; for he knows it is all given by the Inspiration of God for our profit; {II Tim.3:16;} and from that Sacred Word, he learns the true character of the Holy One; and keeping these perfect qualifications in view he is enabled to observe the measures taken by the Lord for our Salvation. The word of truth informs us that our sins were imputed to the Son of God by appointment of the Father. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And that the Son voluntarily submitted to the Appointment without the least reluctance; saying, “lo I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” And standing in this predicament, put in our place, under the charge of our iniquities, the righteous Law condemned him in our stead. “For he was made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law.” And being righteously condemned, by that Law which we had broken, the Father spared not his Son, but pronounced the righteous sentence, “smite the Shepherd.” And the Son opened not his mouth, but became obedient unto death. Thus he was made a curse for us, that he might redeem us from the curse; being made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; and his blood, being offered through the Eternal Spirit without spot to God was made perfectly available for our justification. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” And in his resurrection he proclaimed victory over all our enemies; and put the matter beyond all doubt, that he had made our righteousness complete. “Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.” This is the righteousness preached to us in the Gospel, whereby every soul that receives it in truth is delivered from guilt and enjoys peace with God. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, Justification, 1758}

Eternal Union in Christ: When your author talks of that love which is essential, I presume that he had forgotten, or rather never knew, what that Essence is; and that it is essential to that love, to rest alone in its proper Object; which Object must be in all things adequate to the love that terminates in it; his own perfect Image, in whom he can find ultimate satisfaction and take infinite delight. The word is that, “God is Love.” There is but one God, and there can be but one Object of his love. God is infinitely holy, so must the Object of his love be infinitely holy. God is eternally present in all his essential properties, and his love cannot possibly rest with complacency in any Object but what is the same. For if this love should fix upon any unworthy object, or take up its rest in any being inferior to its own essential Perfection, it would thereby decline from its excellent Glory, and no longer retain the dignity of its character. But in heaven and earth no such object is to be found, only in the Person of Emmanuel, who is the only begotten Son of God. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express Image of his Person.” {Heb.1:3} “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” {Phil.2:6} “Who is the image of the invisible God.” {Col.1:15} “The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.” {Jn.1:18} This is he whom God has pointed out as the Alone and Supreme delight of his soul. {Is.42:1, PV.8:30, Lk.3:22, II Pet.1:17, Jn.3:25, 5:20} And that this Holy One is the sole delight of God is manifest from the Perfection which God is pleased should dwell in Him; {Jn.1:14, Col.1:19, 2:9;} the authority committed to Him; {Mt.28:18, Jn.5:26,27;} the glory and dignity conferred upon Him; {Eph.1:20-22, Heb.8:1, I Pet.3:22;} and the honor commanded to be given unto Him; {Jn.5:23, Heb.1:6;} as well as from the Union which forever subsists between the Father and the Son. {Jn.10:30, 14:10,11, 17:21, I Jn.2:23} Therefore, since God beholds in our Lord Jesus Christ all consummate perfection of holiness, beauty, excellency and glory to the full enjoyment and infinite satisfaction of his soul; he is the infinitely extensive residence and eternally fixed Center and Rest of all Divine Love. It is therefore impossible that there should be any other object in heaven or earth in which this love can find a place to shed forth its ineffable beams. And in this One Inconceivably Glorious Object of Divine love, all the elect of God are included. In this incomprehensibly perfect living Head, are comprehended all the select members of his mystical body. “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” {Eph.5:30} The connection is inseparable and the union indivisible. “He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ.” {Gal.3:16} “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” {I Cor.6:17} In the transcendent heights and depths of this unsearchable mystery of Godliness is contained all the unfathomable boundless ocean of the love of God to all his chosen. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” {Eph.1:6} Thus Christ and his Church stand before God as one undivided object of love from eternity to eternity. {See John 17:21-26} “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom.” {Jn.3:29} “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.” {Is.54:5} “Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.” {Rev.21:9} Therefore Christ and his Church are no more twain. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” {Eph.5:31-32} Were the children of God to be considered in a separate capacity, or beheld as they appear in themselves, and regarded only according to their own personal characters, there would be found no creatures in heaven, earth, or hell more unworthy of the love of God than they. Therefore they cast their crowns before the Throne, saying with a loud voice, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” {Rev.4:11} “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” {Rev.5:12} They were not chosen in themselves, but chosen in HIM, before the foundation of the world. Grace was not given them in separate portions, but grace was “given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.” {II Tim.1:9} Their spiritual life is not a principle separately subsisting in themselves; they can say, “Christ, who is our life;” {Col.3:4;} “I live; yet not I, but Christ.” {Gal.2:20} And he hath said; “because I live, ye shall live also.” {Jn.14:19} Eternal glory shall not be to each saint a separate inheritance; for they are “heirs to God, and joint heirs with Christ.” {Rom.8:17} Thus they are worthy in the worthiness of Christ alone; and they are beloved in Him; who is, and was, and is to come; who is his Father’s only delight; and who’s delights from everlasting were with the sons of men. {PV.8:30,31} But this everlasting love is not common to all men; for that stupendous love, which is essential to the Godhead is discriminating love. “I have loved you, saith the LORD. - Was not Esau Jacob's brother; saith the LORD; yet I loved Jacob.” {Mal.1:2} John Johnson {Election of God Undisguised, 1759}

Posted December 17, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Christ the Wisdom of God: “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” {Pro.8:15-16} All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God and is the voice of the Spirit of Truth; but who the Holy Ghost is pleased to personate in the Sacred Oracles it behooves us diligently to attend to, by comparing spiritual things with spiritual; or by comparing one part of the Divine testimony with another. For, without understanding by whom, or in whose name a sentence is uttered, we cannot know the mind of God therein contained; and consequently, we cannot be edified or enjoy the benefit of such a part of the heavenly council. The author of the words before us is called Wisdom; not as a quality or endowment; for, as such, wisdom may exist in creatures, and be applied to many things; but as a personal proper name, in which sense it belongs to none but the Son of God. “I Wisdom dwell with prudence;” {8:12;} and, in another place, the Holy Ghost calls him, “Christ the wisdom of God;” {I Cor.1:24;} and the characters which he bears, and the works ascribed to him, through the first part of the book of Proverbs, and particularly in this chapter are such as cannot be true of any other but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He says, “I lead in the way of righteousness,” “that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, &c.” {vs.20,21} None but Emmanuel can lead in the way of righteousness, for he only is the LORD our Righteousness; and God has given him for a “leader and commander to the people.” {Is.54:4} Neither can any other cause to inherit substance; seeing he is “heir of all things,” and that it “pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Again, speaking of his eternity with God, he says “I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, &c.” {vs.30} But God never did express any delight in any being, but his beloved Son; and if he has expressed any delight in any of his works or creatures, it is only as they stand in relation or subordination to the Son of his love, in whom he expresses the highest pleasure and satisfaction. “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” {Is.42:1} And, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” {Mt.3:17} Further, speaking of the sons of men, he says “whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.” {vs.35} But no soul ever found life in any but the Christ of God; for he only is the life. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” {I Jn.5:11,12} Thus, I am well assured that it is the Lord Redeemer, and no other, who hath pronounced these words, “by me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” The Lord Jesus is Sovereign Lord of all the creation of God and therefore he disposes of all government as he pleases; and neither his honor, nor his goodness to his subjects, can admit him to suffer any power to usurp his Absolute Dominion, or wrest his Authority out of his hand. Nor can any created wisdom elude his Omniscience or any force resist his Omnipotence; neither can neglect or disregard give opportunity for any to intrude upon the property of Him who neither slumbers nor sleeps. John Johnson {Jesus the King of Kings, 1761}

Posted December 18, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Eternal Suretyship of Christ: In all engagements, transactions or performances of one person in behalf of another, some relation {either natural or contracted} is supposed to subsist between the parties; and it is only in consequence of this relation, that what is done by the one becomes effectual to the other. A general relation is not sufficient to give individuals a claim to the efficacy of Christ’s death, for the removal of their own personal guilt; for, was Christ to die ten thousand deaths, it would not possibly make atonement for any sin, which was not properly Imputed to him in strictness of God’s Justice; and it cannot be an act of justice, to lay the fault of one person to the charge of another, any further than the union between those two parties makes it natural and equal for one to answer on the other’s behalf; as a husband pays his wife’s debt, because they are one in nature; and a Surety answers for the debtor that is in debt because they are one in the bond. There is a special union between Christ and his elect, wherein every individual person stands particularly betrothed to him, and he stands engaged to answer every case relating to every individual member of his body. They are given him of his Father. {Jn.17:6,9,10} They are enrolled in the eternal records of his Kingdom. {Rev.13:8, 20:15, 21:27} They were foreknown, chosen and predestinated in Himself. {Rom.8:29,30, Eph.1:4,5} They stand in the relation of children, and he as their Father. {Is.8:18, 9:6} They sustain the character of a wife to Christ their Husband. {Jer.3:14, Eph.5:23-25} And he hath bound himself on the behalf of these objects of his love, in all the ties of Suretyship and Covenant Engagements; {Ps.89:28, Is.42:6, 49:8, Heb.7:22, 8:6, 13:20;} and this he did without any compulsion or reluctantancy; but freely, with all his heart and with all his soul, he gave himself for their sins; {Gal.1:4, Tit.2:14;} and cheerfully submitted to whatsoever the righteous Law should inflict upon Him for their offenses. {Ps.40:7,8, Mt.20:28, Jn.10:15,17,18, Heb.12:2} Thus, in consequence of this spiritual union with the persons of God’s elect, and a contracted union, wherein Christ Jesus freely engaged Himself to answer for their sins; it became a righteous thing with God to impute to Him all their iniquities. {Is.53:6,11, Dan.9:26, II Cor.5:21} And accordingly, the Son of God was punished with the utmost severity and sustained all the wrath of God which was due to his people for their sins; {Ps.22:14,15, Zech.13:7, I Pet.2:24, 3:18;} and through his sufferings, thus legally inflicted and faithfully sustained for the select members of his body, all the Church enjoys Peculiar, Complete and Eternal Redemption. {Rom.3:24, Gal.3:13, Col.1:14, Heb.9:12, 10:14, I Jn.1:7} Without personal union, personal redemption is impossible in the very nature of things. And where such a union subsists between Christ and his members, it is, in the nature of things impossible for that soul to perish; for he who is “the true God, and eternal life,” hath said, “because I live, ye shall live also;” and again, the Holy Ghost hath said, “your life is hid with Christ in God.” The peculiar redeemed ones are redeemed from all iniquity, but those that perish will be rejected as workers of iniquity. {Lk.13:27} They that enjoy Redemption through Christ’s blood do thereby receive the forgiveness of sins; but they that perish, die in their sins. {Jn.8:21} The children of God are redeemed from the curse of the Law, but the sons of perdition shall eternally remain under the curse. {Is.65:20, Mt.25:41} God’s elect are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” but they that are cast out, “shall be unjust still.” {Rev.22:11} Christ suffered for his people, that he might bring them to God; and by his blood he has redeemed them to God; but the wicked are put away like dross and remain in eternal exile. {Ps.119:119, Lk.16:26} “The ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads;” but such as remain under the bondage of sin, {though with the most pompous appearance of morality and religion,} shall be cast into endless misery. {Mt.7:11,12, Lk,13:28} John Johnson {Election of God Undisguised, 1759}

Posted December 19, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Heavenly Birth: What Christ calls, “being born again,” relates not to earthly, but heavenly things. This spiritual birth is an absolute necessity for all that shall enjoy the Kingdom of God. It proceeds not from the power of man, but from the Spirit of God. It is a free, powerful, sovereign production according to the will of God. This Divine operation is not in the outward man, but in the intellectual powers. This work is sensible and intelligible, so as to be seen, known, and understood by the person in whom it is wrought; but being internal, it is not to be discerned by outward spectators. The allegory, wherein the Apostle represents the children of legal bondage, and the children of Gospel liberty, he pursues to their different births; which he thus distinguishes; “born after the flesh,” and “born after the Spirit.” And the Psalmist, prophetically points out this birth as the discriminating character whereby the people of God are distinguished from all the rest of mankind. “And of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her; and the highest himself shall establish her. The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” {Ps.87:5,6} Paul informs us wherein this new birth consists, in the declaration that he makes, concerning believers being children of God. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” {Gal.3:26} This clearly points out to us wherein this second birth, regeneration, or spiritual life consists; for, faith in Christ Jesus is the gift of God, and of the Divine operation of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the Object, Author, and Finisher, and thereby the soul enjoys that life which is in God’s Holy One, or lives by the faith of the Son of God. It is wrought in the understanding by the Gospel of the Grace of God, called “the word of faith;” the “power of God unto salvation;” and made effectual in the soul by the Holy Ghost, called, “the spirit of faith.” And Peter points out the new nature which those souls possess by the food that they now live upon. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” {I Pet.2:2} In all places where the Scripture makes mention of any such thing, it appears to intend the very same; namely, by the light of the everlasting Gospel, through the sovereign efficacy of the Holy Spirit, the grace and truth which is in Christ, being clearly manifested, and powerfully communicated to the soul, the soul receives of the fullness which is in Christ Jesus, and by faith lives thereby, feeds thereupon, delights and trusts therein, as his very life, joy, hope, peace, righteousness, salvation, glory and eternal felicity; and thus, bring brought off from all imaginary life in himself, or in any creature, and from all false hopes, comforts or delights, he now breathes in the pure air of his heavenly Father’s Kingdom. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” {I Jn.5:1} John Johnson {Being Born of God, 1776}

Posted December 20, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Predestinating Grace in Christ: The election of God, in his free choice, according to his own good pleasure and infinite delight, proceeding spontaneously from Himself, absolutely independent of any creature, thing or action outside Himself, and perfectly above any influence from anything beside Himself, that ever was, is, or shall be in heaven, earth, or hell, in time or eternity; having no other Fountain but his own Bosom, nor any motive but his sheer Sovereign Will. {Eph.1:4,5, Eph.1:9, Eph.1:11, Eph.3:11, II Tm.1:9} This Counsel of God is a consummate immutable Plan of Infinite Unsearchable Wisdom, founded in the Eternal Inconceivable Depths of Divine Love. {Rom.11:33,36, I Cor.2:7, Eph.3:9, Col.1:26, I Jn.3:1} And in the opening of this glorious mystery, there is a most resplendent manifestation of Divine Perfection; and all the Attributes of the Godhead do shine forth in the fullness of unspeakable Glory. {Ps.90:1,2, Is.41:4, 44:6, 48:12, Heb.1:1-3, 8:1,2, Rev.19:6,7} The elect of God, in his beloved Son, in whom his soul delighteth. {Is.42:1} For none else could be the Object of his eternal choice, but Him that is his own Essence, and his own perfect Image, the mirror of his Majesty, in whom all his superlative Perfections shine forth in the most effulgent rays of Light and Glory. This is He by whom all things were created, by whom all things consist, and whom God hath appointed Heir of all things. It is him whom the Father delighteth to honor; and to whom alone he hath given the Preeminence that he should be his ELECT. And under this character God speaks of his Son, the true David, “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant.” {Ps.89:3} “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen.” {Is.43:10} And the Jews understood this Title to belong to the Messiah, when they mocked him, saying, “let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” {Lk.23:35} And the Apostle Peter calls him, “a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,” the “chief corner stone, elect, precious.” {I Pet.2:4,6} The assembly of saints, or Church of the firstborn, is God’s elect; yet not another elect, or a different election; but the elect members are included in the elect Head, as the elect Queen is included in the election of her royal Husband. “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” {Eph.1:4} Neither election, nor any other blessing of grace or glory, was ever given to any of the peculiar seed, in a separate capacity, but only as they are considered in connection with Christ who is their Life. “According to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” {II Tim.1:9} For if there were two elections, of Christ, and his Church; or so many elections as the body of Christ consists of individual members; this could not coincide with that Unity which is frequently expressed by the Holy Ghost. {Rom.12:5, I Cor.6:17, 12:12,13,27, Eph.1:22,23, 2:16,18, 3:14,15, 4:4-6, 12, 15, 5:23, 30, Col.1:18} But all the eternal councils originally terminate in Christ, and all Divine blessings reside in Him and devolve upon His chosen in consequence of their union with Him. {Eph.3:11, Col.1:19,27,28} Therefore he says to his Father, “the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” {Jn.17:22} Thus, God in his own immutable Self is the Author; Christ, in the amplitude of his own Perfection is the Object; and all his little ones, in the right of inseparable union are joint heirs with Him of all the blessings contained in the Election of God. {Rom.8:17} And as for those persons whom God has chosen in his Beloved Son for his own inheritance, he blesses them in due time, “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ;” so as they shall be perfectly qualified for that Felicity and exalted Station to which they are appointed. They are redeemed, justified and pardoned by the blood of Christ, and so completely acquitted from all condemnation that no sin can be laid to their charge. {Rom.3:24, 8:33,34, Eph.1:7, Col.1:14} They are enlightened with heavenly light. {Jn.8:12, 12:46, II Cor.4:6, Eph.5:8} They are spiritually united to Christ by faith and love, whereby they enjoy a communication of the fullness of his grace, so as they are transformed into his image. {Eph.3:17, Jn.1:16, Col.3:10} And they shall persevere in the Truth, growing in grace, “unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” {Jn.10:28,29, Eph.4:13,24, I Jn.2:27} They shall be raised up at the last day, by Christ mighty power, in his heavenly likeness. {I Cor.13:10,12, 15:42-44,49, Phil.3:21, I Jn.3:2} And they shall be blessed in his immediate presence, filled with his inconceivable love, and elevated in his glory, world without end. {Ps.16:11, 17:15, I Thes.4:17, Jn.14:1-3, Rev.21:2,3, 22:4,5} Thus, according to the Eternal Plan, the structure is raised to perfection in the hand of Jehovah. “He shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” {Zech.4:7 John Johnson {Election of God Undisguised, 1759}

Posted December 23, 2012

{Weekly Selection}

Religious Holidays: To come therefore to the holy days, I will begin with the Jewish feasts that they {Church of England} still retain, as their Easter and Pentecost. Of these solemnities and feasts we read of in Exodus 12, Leviticus 23, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 26; that they belonged and were enjoined to the Jews under the Law, that they were merely ceremonial and ritual, figuring Christ’s Person, and belonging to the Levitical Ministry, such as appertain not unto, neither are to be retained in the Church or Ministry of Christ, &c. But here perhaps they will have recourse to the Doctor’s aforesaid Catholic Distinction; namely, that they keep not these Feasts and Days after the Levitical manner, neither unto those ends, but rather in the one to celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior Christ, in the other the glorious miracle of his giving the Holy Ghost unto the Apostles, &c.; and this, their service upon these days shows plainly. For, with all these flourishes cannot I be satisfied concerning the very feasts and days of Easter and Whitsuntide, which still retain the same names of Pascha and Pentecost, the same times, solemnities, cessations, the same solemn Sabbaths or Sundays that the Jews did, keeping their Passover in the first month of the Jews, the First Day more solemn than the rest, numbering seven weeks just after the same unto their Pentecost, whose First Day they keep in like manner. All these Ceremonies, these Laws and Places above alleged, show evidently to be derived from the Jews. We find no such customs, no such commandments in the New Testament. We there read that, if we observe or be brought into bondage of such feasts, as days, &c., we turn from Christ and he profits us nothing. “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” {Gal.4:9-10} “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” {Gal.5:1} “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances.” {Col.2:20} But they observe these Feasts of Easter and Pentecost as our Savior Christ and his Apostles did, and so have a warrant sufficient for what they do. But is it so? Then they observe their Easter wholly after the Jewish manner, for so did our Savior Christ, being made under the Law; but our Savior Christ there instituted this feast to be kept, and that after another manner, as the institution of the Supper declared, how it ought to be kept in the Ministry of the Gospel, I never found any such thing in the text; neither did the Apostles, {who delivered as they had received, I Cor.11:2,} ever give any such commandment, or tied the celebrating of the Supper to that Feast or that Day, as the Church of England does, but left the day and the time to the liberty of the Church. If it is to be kept in that manner, then is it to be kept in the night after the Supper? If the feast and day still remain, then doth the Passover still remain, for both were alike by our Savior observed at that time; but, if the Passover be abrogated, and Christ our Passover be offered for this, then is that Feast and Day also abrogated, and we are to keep the feast even all the days of our life in sincerity and truth; and any other observation of the day I never found, in all the practice of the apostles or churches! “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” {I Cor.5:7,8} Furthermore, I am sure that they cannot show either Commandment or Example in the New Testament that this or any such feasts have been or are to be kept in the churches of Christ. It maketh nothing for their purpose, that Paul, {Acts 18,} departed from Ephesus to keep the ensuing feast in Jerusalem; for, what he did, {no doubt,} he did by a Revelation of the Spirit, unto the more easy winning of the Jews, to whom he, {for the time,} became and behaved himself as a Jew, {I Cor.9:20, Acts 16:3,} and this both by the special Revelation of the Spirit, and warrant of the Word. For, unto the Jews an allotted time was given for the shaking off and removing these ceremonies, from which they could not be so suddenly or easily removed, because they were given and delivered unto them by God himself upon the Mount Sinai, &c.; but, seeing they never were given nor belonged to the Gentiles, the Apostle by no means would have them entangled with these ceremonies. Neither did Paul here enjoin the Church at Ephesus to keep this feast; nay, how sharply he hath dealt with those Jews or other false teachers that sought to trouble the churches with them, appears most clearly in all his Epistles; and how roundly, but for a little halting herein, he dealt with the Apostle Peter, appears out of Galatians. {Gal.2:14} Now, if the Apostle then at that first planting of the churches, when many Jews were mingled amongst the Gentiles, would not receive the least Ordinance with the Ministry of the Gospel, by way of “subjection, no, not for an hour; that the Truth of the Gospel might continue” {Gal.2:5} amongst them; what would he now say to these kind of apostles, who being no Jews, but Gentiles by nature, and having all these examples and documents before them; yet do without any warrant thrust the Jewish traditions upon the churches with a strong hand, when the Apostle saith, that but a little of such leaven doth leaven the whole lump. {Gal.5:9} But see, these not only retain the day and feast, but join to the Celebration of the One Day a principal article of our faith, the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Where have they learned to make such a set and special memorial of Christ’s Resurrection one day above all the days in the year? But here their answer is ready, because Christ arose that day of the year. Did he so? How shall we know that? The Pope having in a solemn General Counsel corrected his calendar saith, that he did rise ten days before, and keeps his Feast accordingly. But be it of their side; be it that Christ arose just on that particular day; yet what I feign know the mystery of the matter, why we should more especially remember and celebrate Christ’s Resurrection on that Lord’s day, than on the next Lord’s day; nay, than any other day of the year? Or why they should keep such a solemn double feast that Lord’s day more than on any other. I could never as yet find in Christ’s Testament any such prerogative of one day before or above another, neither that Christ’s Resurrection was to be celebrated with such pomp, that day making wholly to other days after it, and drawing both young and old, all these days from their lawful callings, wherein they are placed by God, to give attendance at Church, and to spend the time in idleness, follies and vanity. Is this to celebrate the resurrection of Christ a deliverance from dead works; and a renovation in knowledge and true holiness, after the image of Him that created them? {Col.3:10, Rom.6:4} Or is it not rather amongst these works, which God neither required nor commanded? For, I would fain learn of them, where they can likewise show any commandment to solemnize the very day of the apostles receiving those wonderful gifts of the Holy Ghost? That the Apostles did not then keep that feast in relation to this matter has already been showed, because they had not as yet then received these gifts, neither knew in what manner God would work; that ever after they kept or commanded to be kept any such set solemn Memorial thereof upon any one day more than another, I suppose cannot be showed in the New Testament. Paul they may allege, {Acts 20:16,} made haste out of Asia, to be, {if it were possible,} at Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost; but this proves not that the Apostles or early Christians kept the feast in commemoration of the wonderful descent of the Holy Ghost, &c., which, until they can show, they do nothing. We doubt not but that the Jews a long time kept that and many other feasts; but they can be no example for us in this matter, no more than the ancient traditions, without a Definite Warrant from the Word of God. - I cannot see what warrant, commandment, or proof they have in the Word of God in this manner to solemnize the birth, circumcision, epiphany, resurrection and ascension of Christ upon their several days, with their set fasts, worship and feasts? Why do not they celebrate as well his baptism, temptation and victory over Satan in the wilderness, the calling of the woman of Samaria, the receiving the Syrophoenician woman, his famous miracles, casting out devils, raising the dead, walking upon the sea, transfiguration upon the mountain, giving the Holy Ghost unto his apostles, with his commission and message, &c. These are written in the New Testament and were done by Him as well as the rest, for our learning and comfort. Why then should not they as well have their peculiar days, fasts, worship, feasts, as the others have? But where have they thus learned Christ, to worship him by set days and eves, by such fasts and feasts? Is not this to draw the worship of God, {which is perpetual and spiritual,} into worldly ordinances and customs? “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” {Acts 17:22} They celebrate the Nativity, Circumcision, Epiphany and Resurrection of Christ with gay clothes, clean houses and good cheer to stir up lust instead of devotion, eating and drinking, and rising up to play and dance, games, interludes, masks and wassail cups. So many of these traditions seem to be done after the mold and pattern of the Feast of the Jews in honor of the Golden Calf. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” {Mt.15:9} In Christ’s Testament they never learned to divide thus Christ’s actions and life, making one a holy day of his birth, another of his circumcision, another of his epiphany, resurrection, &c. For, though these were distinct things, and done at several times, yet never read I that they ought {in this manner} upon peculiar days to be celebrated in the Church, more than at any other time or day of the year. Henry Barrow {Brief Discovery of the False Church, 1590} Henry Barrow or Barrowe {1550? – 1593} was an early Non-Conformist, and Separatist from the Established Church of England, who cried out against her abominations, was consequently jailed, and after a long six year imprisonment, was then executed by hanging for his Faithful Confession of Christ.

Posted December 26, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Christ the Bread of Life: The high priest attended in all the feasts appointed to the children of Israel. {Lev.23:10,11, 20, Deut.26:4} The Son of God, our great High Priest, prepares for his people a perpetual feast, so plenteous, so rich, so well adapted, and so satisfying, that he hath proclaimed unto us, “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” This feast, for its richness, elegance, and extensiveness, is thus described by the prophet. “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” {Is.25:6} And David, thus expresses his satisfaction and joy in this heavenly feast, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.” “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” And again, “they shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” But the excellency thereof is not to be described by any but Himself; nor to be understood by any but those that have tasted his bounty. Christ declares its Divine original. “My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.” He explains what it is. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” He testifies of its effects. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” But to conceive of its perfection, we must with the utmost deliberation, pursue the whole relation of this vital provision. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed.” {Jn.6:27} “This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” {Jn.6:58} This, his flesh and blood, is real meat and drink to every believing soul. Not corporeally fed upon as papists dream; nor chimerically fed upon as enthusiasts vainly fancy; nor insensibly received, as formal professors endeavor to impose upon themselves; for the believer distinctly understands the nature of the food that he lives upon, and the life he enjoys thereby, very intelligible and familiar as the Lord has expressed it, so it is to their souls. “My flesh is meat indeed.” Christ flesh contains all the fullness that dwells in him. “The Word was made flesh.” “God was manifest in the flesh.” “It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Thus, his flesh is his essence; all that he is; all the perfection that exists in the Person, Nature and Being of Emmanuel; this is meat indeed, and gives life indeed to every believing soul. “And my blood is drink indeed.” That is, his sufferings, the laying down of his life, or all that he wrought in the form of a servant, and performed for the redemption of his Church. “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” His death, with the virtues, and effects thereof is what the believer receives into his soul, and finds it true cordial receiving drink indeed. The intellectual powers are revived, strengthened, comforted and enlarged, with peace, joy, hope, and strong consolation, through spiritual believing views, in humble serene contemplations of the Son of God, by faith beholding, and in love enjoying, with the faculties of the believing mind, what Christ is in Himself, and what he has done for his people; the inner man as sensibly eats and drinks, and is as sensibly nourished with this spiritual ailment, as ever any person was in the outward man, by feeding on bodily substance. There is no such thing as persons receiving Christ in an imperceptible manner, by some unintelligible conveyance; for the feast is so rich, and the food so lively, that to everyone that receives it, it is very manifestly, sensibly, and experimentally - life from the dead. “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” John Johnson {Christ – the Great High Priest, 1776}

Posted December 27, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Gospel Glory of Christ: In the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ the deep counsels of God are revealed, his will made known and his eternal purposes brought forth to light and the unsearchable riches of grace, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God, and kept secret in the bosom of Divine Love, are opened in the clearest light, and manifested in the highest glory that is possible for human creatures to behold, whilst in a mortal state. - All that is written in the Old Testament, was delivered by the dictation of the Spirit of Christ, and written concerning Himself. {I Pet.1:11, Acts 3:24, 10:43, Lk.24:27} And before the writing of the Scriptures, during the longevity of the fathers, when the long continuance of the messengers to whom the word of God was delivered, made them living oracles, and rendered writing unnecessary still; all that God spoke to any of his servants, was in relation to the Holy Seed. {Gen.3:15, 9:16,26, 12:3} And afterwards, when it was the good pleasure of God to commit his will to writing, it came in such clearness, attended with such majesty, and before such numbers of witnesses, that all the wit and malice of men was not able to resist the undeniable fact, to deny the truth, or invalidate the infallible evidence. And the Lord continued to send his prophets, one in one age, and another in another, still speaking the same language, and testifying of the same Holy One, the Messiah that was to come, the Spirit of the Lord still confirming their words with tokens of his power; which, with the purity of the language, the majestic style, the profound wisdom, and the invariable consistency that appears through the whole proves it to be impossible that it should have proceeded from any combination of men; for it bears all the characters of Divine Perfection, and cannot possibly be disputed by any that read it with sincere attention. All that is written in the Old Testament came by the same Spirit, pointed to the same things, and is given as a foundation of the higher glories, which now appear with more abundant clearness in the New Testament. {Is.30:26} Those were the excellent dawnings of the morning, giving notice of a more perfect day that was approaching, {Heb.11:13,39 & 40,} but now the sun is risen indeed, and we enjoy the perfect light of the brightest day; in comparison of which, the former light which shined in the Old Testament is called darkness; not that it was darkness, but real light, only as compared with the more effulgent glory. {II Cor.3:10,11, I Jn.2:8} All the prophecies in the Old Testament, all the types and shadows in the Law, and all the various appearances in which God was pleased to manifest himself to his people in the former days, were directions to lead us to Christ alone, and in everything terminated in Him. {Rom.10:4, Gal.3:24, Col.2:17, Heb.9:11,12} And now the Holy One being come to his temple, and manifesting his fullness of Grace and Truth in the glory of the New Testament, all those former things give place; as the moon, the stars, and the twilight, all disappear when the sun ascends to his meridian glory. Now, whatever was intended by the things that went before, has its perfect accomplishment in Emmanuel, the Lord of Glory. All that was declared in the Old Testament, is perfectly verified in the New; and all the glory that shines in the New Testament, is clearly witnessed and firmly established by the Old; and they are now no more two Testaments, but one record which God gave of his Son; like one house, of which the Old Testament is the foundation, and the New Testament is the superstructure; or one tree, of which the Old Testament is the root and stem, and the New Testament is the branch and the fruit. The truth of God in Christ is perfect unity. {II Cor.1:19,20} Thus the declaration of the whole will of God being completely formed into one perfect Testament, it is one  entire chain of truth, one uninterrupted stream of blessedness, one perfect path of righteousness and peace, one glorious shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. In this perfect system of holiness, light, and truth, the glory of the Godhead shines forth in the utmost splendor, magnificence, glory, and excellency, that ever appeared to created beings, or that possibly can be accommodated to mortal intellectuals. John Johnson {Book of Revelation, 1779}

Posted December 28, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Trinity in Unity: In order to understand the truth, it is necessary to have just conceptions of that special doctrine of the New Testament, which is the foundation of all evangelical truth - the Trinity in Unity; and which is to be mentioned with all reverence, and in the simple terms and phrases used in the Holy Scriptures, lest our minds imbibe gross ideas of the sublime mystery, which has been most horribly profaned by the logical inventions of the schools, and by their metaphysical subtleties, distinctions, and sub-distinctions; of substance, mode, personality, essentiality, &c; and by forming an image, and working it with their graving tools, have so mangled it, that sometimes there has come out three gods, and sometimes no god at all. In like manner have they done by every doctrine of the sacred word, as it hath come in their way, in every place, and in every time that theology has made a school science. For the Truth of God is absolutely above the reach of all their arts, reasonings, searches and researches. “The world by wisdom knew not God.” Nor did the Most High God ever make himself so contemptible as to subject the deep mysteries of his Kingdom to their apeish reasonings. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” For because they have found arts and sciences very useful, for improvement in natural things, they have grown so arrogant, that they will needs make the knowledge of the Holy, a dupe to their sciences. Not content to build a city for their own commodity, but they will also make a tower, “whose top may reach unto heaven.” Therefore the Holy Ghost hath called the name thereof, MYSTERY BABEL. “Because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth.” Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, hath not appointed anyone to teach the knowledge of the Father but the Holy Ghost. “He shall teach you all things.” Nor any rule whereby it is to be taught, but the word of his truth. “To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Nor is there any school where it is to be learned, but in the congregation of the saints. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto thee.” They therefore that desire to understand the glorious mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, must receive it alone from the Living Oracles wherein we are undeniably assured that, “there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.” - In all the Scriptures we find Three Holy Ones distinctly mentioned; and expressed by personal characters; yea, this stupendous truth shines conspicuous through the whole New Testament; and in every place, Divine attributes are ascribed, and Divine honors given to them all; yea, to each of the Three is ascribed all the Glory and the Majesty that pertains to Him that rideth on the heavens, and is extolled by his name JAH. Therefore they are absolutely and indivisibly ONE. This is the very life and glory of the righteousness, peace, salvation, joy and hope of all the saints; nor is it possible that any soul that is born of God should ever lose the sight, or disbelieve the truth of this precious doctrine; for it is that foundation truth, upon which all the saints are built; against which, the gates of hell never shall prevail. This truth being abundantly revealed, the believing soul embraces it in the light in which God has been pleased to express it in his Word; he bathes and delights in the open streams, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb; whilst the hypocrite, the vainly curious, the worldly wise, and the presumptuous {blinded with their own pride and conceit, and not discerning the Glory that shines in the Word of Life} assay to trace it beyond what is revealed; to discover the secret rise of these rivers within the throne; intruding into those things which they have not seen, and pretending to enumerate this mystery in the Godhead itself; telling of a Father eternally begetting, when there was no actual production; a Son eternally begotten, when nothing was visibly manifest; a Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son, when there was no other being in existence, for him to proceed unto, &c. These, and many such like things, concerning which, in Scripture there is profound silence; being only produced from the chambers of men’s own imagery; the inventions of them that are idol-makers; for whatever is asserted of God, which is not manifest in his Word, must be an image formed in the brain, or a similitude drawn from our own imagination; and is a full violation of his commandment. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” Therefore we ought to take the utmost care to avoid either speech or conceptions of God, which may detract from the excellency of his glory and majesty; but this, there is no way possible to escape, if we go beyond, or vary from, what is fully revealed in his Written Word; for the understanding of a man is so gross, and the nature of God so sublime, that so certain as we wander from his own declarations of Himself, we shall fall into idolatry. The wisest man upon earth is as ignorant as any stone or stock in the world; any further than he is informed by the Holy Scriptures. Notwithstanding, many of the haters of God, after they have learned from the Scriptures, so much as is consistent with their inclinations to acknowledge, reject all the rest; denying the Scriptures to be of Divine Authority, and pretending that those things which they are pleased to assent to, were discoverable by natural reason; though in truth, they are things which never were known to any man, but from the Scriptures alone. Where the true fear of God is, the soul stands in awe; and searches the Sacred Record with profound reverence; not daring to be positive in asserting or denying anything, until the Divine Spirit does enlighten the Word, and is therein led forth to ponder it, being convinced of the strength and clearness of the Scripture evidence, for, or against it. They humbly sit down at the feet of Christ, as learning disciples, to receive the truth of the kingdom of God, as little children; and take due heed, that what they embrace for truth is grounded upon the infallible testimony. Not being determined merely by the sound of words, to the ear, for many words may be alike in sound, which differ in signification; but deliberately attending to the genuine scope and design of the Holy Ghost in what he has been pleased to reveal in the Scriptures; and see that they receive those things, and no other, which are given in express intelligible words and sentences; or which are the natural and necessary consequences of the things expressed; so that the truth thereof, is really contained therein. Christians are not denied the use of their natural faculties; but, in due subjection to Divine Authority, obliged to employ them; and may frequently see certain truths fully implied in, and to be naturally deduced from, some portion of Scripture; which are not distinctly expressed. For instance, it is said that, “God created the heaven and the earth.” Divers truths, which are not expressed in these words do therein undeniably appear. As, that God is omniscient, and omnipotent, or else he could not have done this work. That God must exist, prior to the creation. That heaven and earth had a beginning. That they are dependent on their Maker, &c. But then, we are to observe, that we are not to draw propositions from our own imaginations, and palm them upon the Scriptures; but to see that the inferences drawn from the Word of God are the natural, genuine, undeniable consequents of the truths declared; either from some particular sentences, or branches of the sacred word, or from the whole plan, or universal system of Truth as contained and set forth in the Holy Oracles. And the sincere soul, thus earnestly seeking after the knowledge of God, and submitting his judgment to the Divine dictates, is led by the word of grace, under the guidance of the Spirit of truth into the light of life. “And unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” John Johnson {Word of God, 1776}

Posted December 29, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Gospel Glory of Christ: In these Holy Oracles are represented to us, the essential attributes of Divine Perfection; and though it is impossible for us to comprehend any one of these attributes, yet we may apprehend so much of them, as may lay a foundation for our ample satisfaction, respecting all the further declarations which the Lord God is pleased to make of himself unto us, as every work, counsel, or blessing that proceeds from God must depend on his Essential Perfection. And in this Sacred Word is clearly held forth to us, the mystery of the Divine Will, as it centers in the essential attributes of JEHOVAH; even the paternal counsels and purposes of God, which from eternity he purposed in Himself; in which were contained a perfect plan of all the works that God would perform, and of all the goodness that he has showed, and that he will show to the universal creation in general, and to his church in particular, through time and to everlasting. In these two points of light, that is, the eternal perfections of his Essence, and the immutable counsels of his Will, we, according to his Infallible Word, behold the Father. This Holy Testament opens to us the great mystery of godliness; God revealing himself in our nature, of all the perfection of the Father manifest in the Son; here we behold the deep counsels of God brought forth to light; all the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in the man Christ Jesus; the highest delight of the Father, and the life of all his chosen; thus he is perfectly qualified to stand a Mediator between God and man, having the perfection of both natures in himself. The Father gave him to his church in all his divine fullness, {Eph.1:22,23,} and he gave them to him in all their sin and misery. {Jn.17:6} Here was the proof of the love of the Father and of the Son; God is love. The children were involved in sin, wrath, and condemnation; from which, unless they were delivered, they must be separated from him forever; and as the wages of sin is death, there could not be any deliverance, but by his dying for them; his love could not bear a separation; but as he had all power, wisdom, and holiness in himself, he was able to redeem them, and this he was pleased to do, though the ransom must be his own life. And we are distinctly informed how the Father made him to be sin for us; how he bear our sins in the deepest of sufferings; how he made an end of sins and brought in everlasting righteousness; and how he was raised again for our justification; yea, we are further assured, that this same Jesus who poured out his soul unto death for us is now ascended into the highest glory of the Father, where he now appears in the presence of God for us. Our High Priest to make us accepted, {Eph.1:6,} our Advocate to maintain our cause, {I Jn.2:1,} our Intercessor to obtain all blessings for us, {Jn.14:16,} and our Fore-runner to give us access to the bosom of the Father. {Heb.6:19,20} And the riches of grace and glory revealed and communicated to God's elect in the Gospel by the special power of the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Father and the Son; and is of the same nature with that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested to us by the Son; and every believer dwells in God, and God in him, and has fellowship with the Father and the Son, {I Jn.1:3, 4:16,} being made partakers of the Divine nature, {II Pet.1:4,} and filled with the fullness of God, {Eph.3:19;} that is, so far as is compatible with creatureship, or as can be conveyed into earthen vessels; therefore, what the children of God enjoy of the fullness of Christ, is as far above that vague empty child's play, which by professors of every denomination is commonly called religion, as heaven is above the earth. The Holy One of God having glorified the Father upon earth, and finished the work which God gave him to do; and being exalted at the right hand of God, ascended into the highest glory of the Father; and having all power in heaven and in earth given into his hands; he now sends down the word of his grace, the gospel of our salvation; a message worthy to proceed from the Father of lights, to be sent by the Lord of glory, and to be communicated by the Spirit of holiness; for this gospel contains such light, truth, love, grace, peace, salvation, felicity, and eternal glory, as cannot fail to give new life to everyone that receives it; but it is never received into the heart, but by the power of the Holy Ghost, even by the same Almighty God in his Divine inspirations, making the Word of his Grace effectual to the soul. {Acts 16:14, I Thes.1:4,5} For the Holy Ghost is the very same God with the Father and the Son; their different relations to the church, and different modes of manifestation and communication makes no difference in their Divine Essence. These Three are ONE. The Gospel is the Word of God, revealing the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, sealing the instruction to the hearts of his people. The Spirit of God puts no ideas into the heart, distinct from what he has indited in the Scriptures; he never speaks of himself, but guides our hearts into the light and truth of that which is already spoken by the Lord in the word of his grace. {Jn.16:13}  And this he never does in an enthusiastic way, by darting sudden thoughts into the mind, raising extraordinary impulses, pushing the mind into ecstasies, agitating the passions, &c. These things proceed from the frame of a person's natural constitution; and to excite and encourage these agitations in ourselves or others, from a conceit that they are the operations of the Spirit of God is a seduction of Satan. The Spirit of Christ opens our hearts to attend to the Gospel of the Son of God; bows our wills to receive it with meekness; gives us to see and feel its excellency; inspires us with earnest desires to enjoy the blessings; seasons our hearts with deep reverence of God; lays us low in deep self-abasement; and excites in us true lively gratitude for all these rich blessings vouchsafed unto us, &c. He causes the Word of Life to take place in our inward man with power, so that we believe with all our hearts, love with all our souls, and submit with all our powers; all these impressions, and whatever spiritual operations or blessings we feel or enjoy are naturally felt and perceived in the heart to proceed from the Word of his Grace, and from thence alone. No spiritual blessing ever comes to any soul but by the Word of God, for this is the sword of the Spirit, and he never makes use of any other instrument in his work upon the soul; this every believing soul under heaven does certainly know, for it is impossible for anyone to receive anything of an heavenly nature, but what he receives in his understanding; therefore he must be as sensible of the receiving of it, from whence, and in what way he receives it, as every child upon earth is sensible how he receives natural food; but as a child does not receive all the blessings of nature at once, neither does a child of God receive all the blessings of the fullness of Christ as one transient act or operation; for the Lord gives his word line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, as they are able to bear it, till they grow up from new-born babes and little children, to young men and fathers. {I Pet.2:2, I Jn.2:12-14} John Johnson {Book of Revelation, 1779}

Posted December 30, 2012

{Selection of the Week}

Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ: The glorious Lord having revealed by the prophets the coming of his Anointed, and the riches of grace and glory that should then appear; and their predictions being fulfilled in the Person of the Son of God, and in the Preaching of the Gospel of his Grace; and the transactions of his Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Glory, with the acts of his apostles, and the success of the Gospel in their days, being faithfully recorded for our comfort and instruction; it was his pleasure, in one book, entitled the Revelation of Jesus Christ to finish his testimony; wherein he is pleased to instruct his church of all things necessary for them to know, reflecting all the dispensations that should come upon them, to the end of the world. It is to the elect body, the chosen, the redeemed, the called, the sanctified of the Lord, this prophecy is directed, as it relates to them alone; and if any mention be made of the state of the nations, the powers of this world, national churches, or anything civil or religious that hath a dependence on worldly influence, it is only occasionally introduced to illustrate those things which immediately concern the Church of the First-born, which is written in heaven. So far as the children of light might be affected by such things as prevailed in the world, they are noted in the general, that they might not think the trials strange; that they might be upon their watch, to escape the snares; that they might humbly submit to the afflictions, and patiently wait the times appointed of the Lord; and that they might rejoice to see the words of God fulfilled, &c. But if we look for the fulfilling of these visions in the reign of such an emperor, such a pope, such a king, or in such a particular nation, we shall wander into a wild maze, and utterly lose the clue whereby the Holy Spirit deigns to lead us. The Church of Christ was never designed for worldly empire; and for a few ages she was in her proper place, in subjection to the powers of this world in civil matters. And out of this position the true church of God never did remove, for the real followers of Christ never sought for earthly dominion; nor is it possible they ever should, so long as their Lord declares, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But when false professors became numerous, the spirit of the world prevailed among them, and they set up an emperor of their own. This was the foundation of the greatest mischief that ever came to the Gospel Church, in any external dispensation; the persecutions under the heathen emperors were only whips, but this proved a deadly scorpion. Not that this was the first introduction of the beast of Antichrist, for he began to prevail in the days of the Apostles, {I Jn.2:18,} and had made a great progress before this time, otherwise he had never had such sway in the world; for it was not the real Christians, but the Anti-Christians, that set up Constantine. However, this stroke was a great augmentation of the power of Antichrist; and from this time he continued increasing in power, till he advanced himself to sovereign dominion over the nation; for when he had power to set up his deputy-king, the pope, and the nations willingly submitted to his government, it was then undeniable, that the reign of Antichrist {whose servant the Pope is} was arrived to its height. Now it is very difficult to know the real situation of the true disciples of Jesus in these times, because those that are called ecclesiastical writers do not seem to have known anything of the true life and spirit of the gospel, nor of the real lambs of Christ, but only give us an account how religion went on in the world, and how things were approved or disapproved among the nations, and in the worldly church. {Dispensationalist writer J.N. Darby went on to say many years later that, “the yearbooks of Christianity are the yearbooks of hell.”} But how things have been in every age with the children of light, nothing can be particularly known, only what may be gathered from the prophecies in the Scripture; and according to the best that I can gather, I think, from the time that formality and the spirit of the world began to make great advances in the visible church, till the time that false doctrine, false worship, superstition and idolatry became universal, this to me appears to be a time of the greatest difficulty that ever the New Testament Church has been tried with; for in the days of the Apostles there was some degree of purity, and since the beast of Anti-Christ obtained full dominion, the church has had a safe retreat in the wilderness, and the Dragon and his angels cast out into the earth; but while the true Christians continued embodied with the false, and the dragon and his angels maintained war in heaven, we may well suppose it a dreadful conflict, the believers endeavoring to maintain the truth of Christ against a superior number, who were endeavoring to corrupt it, yet retaining some hopes of prevailing, and not seeing their way clear to quit the worldly church, until it was evident the Lord had utterly left the main body of professors, and then it was high time for all those individuals that feared God to leave them also. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” After this separation, the Dragon being cast out of heaven, and the True Church taken into the protection of her Lord and Saviour, still the dragon remained in the earth; the saints having left him and his seed together, there was none to molest or oppose his ravage. Then we have given us in this prophecy, a general hint of the progress of Popery, in the darkness of the bottomless pit, the devouring locusts, and the king they had over them; but no particular account what should be transacted by any of their popes, forasmuch as whatever was done among them could not affect the children of God, who have no connection with them. Then there is a general hint of the outrages of the Mohammedan powers, under the similitude of four angels loosed; these appear to be raised up as a punishment upon the false professors of Christ. These are not much spoken of as deceivers; as they do not profess to believe in Christ, they are not of Antichrist, whatever other deception may be among them; they are rather spoken of as destroyers, to lay the earth waste by an external plague, or overspreading of armies; and nothing appears pointed out distinctly of their particular empires or governments, either of any particular acts of the immediate successors of Mohammad, the Caliphs of Babylon, the Saracens, or the Turks, but all considered as one body. After these, the papists having to the utmost of their power shut up the Holy Scriptures from the people, we have a representation of Christ holding his Testament open in his hand, to give light to the world; this was accomplished at the time called the Reformation, when many stood up against that imposition of the church of Rome, and maintained, that it was the right of all men to have the free perusal of the Word of God; and since that time the blessing has been enjoyed in many nations; this has been, and is, a matter of rejoicing to the children of God. Notwithstanding I make no doubt, that wherever any of the children of God were, in any age or nation, the Lord would grant them his Word, for he has bound himself by Covenant, to give it to all the true seed. {Is.59:21} But perhaps they might obtain it with greater difficulty; beside, it is now laid open to the world, that if any does not pay attention to it, they are left without excuse. Not that the Reformation is of much signification to the nations, only delivering them from popish tyranny; but as to the benefit of the word of truth, the people in general appear as ignorant of it, and as unconcerned about it, as if they had never seen the Scriptures; and those that profess to follow it seldom pay any regard to it further than they imagine it speaks, or they can construe it to speak, according to the traditions they have already imbibed; for they fancy there was no church but the church of Rome, before the Reformation. It is true, there was no other church in this part of the earth that made a show in the world; neither is there yet, for all the Protestant churches are no other than branches of the church of Rome reformed; and reformation only alters the mode, it never changes the substance; therefore, if the church of Rome be a false church, no church reformed from her can be a true church. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, not an old creature reformed; the children of God are spiritually gathered one by one, not brought in bodies together formed from the old rubbish. The Lord has had a church in all ages, but she has long been, and still is in the wilderness; therefore, in those days she was unknown to Papists, and to this day is as much unknown to Protestants. For the seven thunders uttered by the reformers, after the mighty angel {Jesus Christ} had cried with a loud voice, were forbidden to be written, because they were of man, and not of the Spirit of God; for had those men been true followers of the Lamb, they would have obeyed his voice; “Come out of her, my people;” but they did not come out as Lot came out of Sodom, but stayed to reform the city Babylon, for which God had never given direction; and the nations they reformed only changed the mode, but continued still upon the same foundation of national churches, or at least they retained many of the old traditions, like the nations whom the king of Assyria placed in the cities of Samaria. {II Kgs.17:32-34} The children of light eat the word of life, and it is in their mouth sweet as honey, but their bellies are made bitter to see the Holy Testimony so disregarded by the professors of the nations and in the same position as they were before, they must prophecy again, the peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings, being governed by the same carnal principles as they were. And it is by these bodies of people and nations we may expect the two witnesses of God to be killed, which are no other than the testimony of the Son of God and of the Spirit of truth; for among the Papists the testimony is so far banished already, that there appears very little left to be killed, nor even do they retain the dead bodies, or empty form of gospel truth; but those by whom these witnesses shall be killed, will still retain something of the dead form of doctrine and worship; and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And we may observe, the Holy One swear by Him that liveth for ever and ever, “That there should be time no longer;” or, that this should be the last time of trial to the world, and that there shall be no other general revolution or manifestation of God to the nations, till the seventh angel shall sound; therefore we may conclude, that the Protestants of all denominations will be the people, who, in the spirit of the beast of Antichrist, by their dull and dry forms, and their carnal winds of doctrine, shall make war, and shall overcome, and kill the truth of the Son of God, and the testimony of the Spirit of holiness. Upon the whole we may observe, that every part of this prophecy is entirely directed to the saints of the Most High, and nothing is contained therein, but what is for their benefit to know; and the facts represented relate either to the blessings of the gospel, or the oppositions which Satan makes against the gospel; or else to the destruction of the enemies, and the happy consummation of the saints. And the war so much spoken of is of a spiritual or mystical nature, Satan going about in a religious dress, to undermine or confound the truth of Christ, to decoy the young lambs of Jesus, and deceive the world with a false Christ. The malignant beast has no respect to kingdoms, empires, and worldly powers; those do not affect the children of light; for all the monarchs upon earth cannot bring one soul to Jesus Christ, nor prevent one from coming to him. All the concern the saints have with them, is only to submit to every ordinance of man, in civil matters; and pray for those in authority, that we, under them, may lead peaceable and quiet lives; for it may be in their power to molest and persecute, or it may be in their power to grant peace and liberty; and they may countenance and support false worship, but in the things of the kingdom of God it is impossible they should have any influence; for Christ hath said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Therefore nothing in the Book of the Revelation is intended as a description of any earthly powers or states, otherwise than as some hints might be necessary to illustrate the things relative to the spiritual warfare of the church. John Johnson {Book of Revelation, 1779}

Posted December 31, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Effectual Sanctification by Christ: The high priest was to purify the sanctuary, and to sanctify the people from all their uncleanliness. {Ex.29:36,37, Lev.14:4-7, 20, Num.19:3-6} The Lord of glory, the High Priest of our profession sanctifies his Church, purifies the hearts of his people and purges their consciences from all pollution. Without perfect, spotless purity, no creature can possibly stand in the presence of him whose name is HOLY. {Is.57:15} “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” {Rev.21:27} And none but the immaculate Lamb of God can possibly perform such an operation upon such a creature as man, who is altogether become filthy. “Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” {Jn.13:8} But he who is the great, the consecrated Sanctifier is all sufficient to perfect that which he has undertaken. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” {Jude 24} And he is thus able, has faithfully promised. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” {Ez.36:25} And that he is faithful in performing, and does in every deed purify effectually, every soul that believeth on him, we have undeniable testimony from infallible evidence. As the Scripture testifies of him. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” {Tit.2:14} Christ said to his disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” {Jn.15:3} Paul said to the Corinthians, “And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” {I Cor.6:11} The twelve apostles testify, that God had put no difference between them and the Gentiles, “purifying their hearts by faith;” and the Holy Ghost affirms, of the whole collective body, the Church, “In their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God.” {Rev.14:5} Now it is to be observed, that in the ceremonial purification of the leper or unclean person; there was, besides the absolution on the flesh, a sacrifice offered, to make the purgative application effectual. So it is in the virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, that the Spirit of holiness operates by the word of truth, to the purgation of the heart by faith. It is said that, “Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it.” And this is laid as the foundation of the purification operation, afterwards expressed. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” {Eph.5:26,27} This purification which is wrought in the souls of all the saints, is always ascribed to the Son of God alone, as the great Refiner, and the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. But the operation is variously expressed or attributed to different agents or influences. Sometimes to the blood of Christ, sometimes to the word of God, sometimes to the Holy Ghost, and sometimes to faith; but these are no contradictions; nor, in fact are they different influences; but a united chain of agents; one in, and by another, communicating their conjoint influence to the producing of one pure operation. These are the very same that are mentioned by the Apostle John. “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.” {I Jn.5:8} For in this place, {as well as many other places of Scripture,} the water, means no other thing, but the word of God; and to receive the witness, is the selfsame thing as to be given faith. The thing, therefore, is exceeding plain. It is the blood of Christ {or his life, which is the same thing,} that is given as a ransom for our sins; whereby guilt and wrath is taken away in God’s sight. And so soon as this is clearly manifested to the soul it removes guilt and wrath from the conscience; but not only so, but such a scene of Divine love is thereby opened, and shed abroad in the heart; as effectually conquers the affections, expels the enmity, unites the soul to God, and makes it delight in holiness; and thus the mind is purified from the power of sin; as it is genuinely expressed by the Holy Ghost, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” {Heb.9:14} This is the purifying fountain. But as the word of God is the stream of conveyance, whereby the virtue of the blood of Christ is communicated, or revealed unto us; therefore the effect is ascribed to that word. And as it is alone by the power of the same Spirit that indicted the word, that the Gospel becomes effectual in the heart; or that the truth of Christ takes place in the soul; therefore it is justly ascribed to the Holy Ghost. As faith is the evidence of the Spirit of God, according to the word of truth, in the conscience; the testimony received, or the truth of Christ residing in the heart; therefore it is ascribed to faith. Thus the work is ascribed to them all; and were any of these to be excluded, the purification of conscience would be impossible. For, exclude the blood, and there is nothing for the word to declare; exclude the word, and there is no truth for the Spirit to apply; exclude the Spirit, and nothing can produce faith, or convey the truth of Christ into the internal faculties; exclude faith, and the soul is destitute of all spiritual influence. But our great High Priest leaves nothing imperfect; therefore everyone that believeth in Him receives effectual sanctification. Not like the hypocrite, who knows not how his sanctification came, or by what streams it flows; nor whether it be real or imaginary. For the believer knows from whence it comes, and how it operates; and experiences its effects, as familiar as he knows his right hand from his left. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” {I Jn.3:3} John Johnson {Christ – the Great High Priest, 1776}


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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