February 2013

Posted February 1, 2013

{Writings of Edward Drapes}

Prayer & Worship: What true prayer is? Prayer is a part of spiritual worship which prayer is a pouring out the soul to God in the name and power of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit for the supplying of our wants which prayers acknowledge our relation to God and God’s sovereignty over us. The true prayer of the Spirit is not a composed form of man’s invention, but the breathing of the soul by the Spirit after the good things of God. This is to worship God when we seek to Him. - The true fear of God is the reverent, high and honorable thoughts and apprehensions a soul hath of God as his Lord, Father and Creator wrought in him by the Spirit; therefore are we commanded to fear the Lord and His goodness, which fear is no slavish posture, but a son-like temper, whereby the soul acknowledges all he hath to be from the Lord and so lies low in his own apprehension that God may be exalted. - This worship consists in praise and songs of joy; when we would honor men, we set forth their excellency; and a soul that truly honors God, rejoices in Him and praises Him. Now this praise of God is the soul’s spiritual acknowledging God to be praise-worthy, preferring God in his thoughts in all and above all, singing in his heart, making melody to the Lord. A word or two of the power of this worship that is spiritual likewise, for tis the power of God. 'Tis not of the first creation, but of the second. 'Tis not of generation, but of regeneration. Not of man’s will, nor of man’s activity, but of God that shows mercy. We are all dead in sin as void {as naturally in the first Adam} of power truly to serve God, as a dead man is to eat and drink, therefore is Christ the power of God unto us who worketh irresistibly in us. - He that prays to God, must seek Him as He is to be found in Christ. For tis in Him in whom only the Father is well pleased. God in Christ is a saint’s rest, delight, fullness and glory. A saint by Christ goes to God, falls down before Him, rejoices in Him and lives sweetly and contentedly in meekness and humility; yet triumphantly in the presence of the Lord for evermore. Edward Drapes {Gospel Glory, 1649}

Posted February 2, 2013

{Writings of Edward Drapes}

Contending for the Faith: We confess {say some} that you say true, these did preach the Gospel, but all these are ceased, the Apostles dead, Evangelists dead, and the brethren who were then gifted and enabled to preach. So that we would now know, whether there be any such Ministers of the Gospel in our days, and if there be, how we may know them? In answer to this, I grant that they are dead, yet I say, the faith which was required in the Gospel they preached, was not confined to their persons, but to their doctrine. Therefore says Christ, “I pray not for these only, but for all them which shall believe in thy name through their word;” and though those persons are asleep, yet the doctrine is the same. There is but one faith, one Lord, one Gospel; which Gospel Paul and the rest preached, and the power is the same still; that is to say, the Spirit. Edward Drapes {Gospel Glory, 1649}

Marks of true Ministers of Christ: What are the marks of true Ministers of Christ that we may know them? The only true ground of a visible judging or discerning them, is by their doctrine. Therefore John says, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; hereby know ye the spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God.” That is to say, by trying the doctrines brought unto you, you shall be able to judge from whence the Preachers come. Now to confess Christ come in the flesh, is to preach the Lord Christ, the man Christ, to be a King, Priest and Prophet, to have put an end to all ministrations before himself; to have given laws for his Saints to conform to; yea, 'tis to know the mystery hid from ages. Therefore says Christ, “Go preach the Gospel; he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.” But further; though they may be true Ministers of the Gospel, preaching the true Doctrine, that you may be able to judge them by their doctrine, you must be endued with the spirit, whereby finding the operation of the word in thee, you can say doubtless, though he is not a Minister to others, yet he is to me. Without this spirit we may be deluded and deceived. Therefore is it said, when the Apostles preached, “the hand of the Lord was with them, and many were converted.” Therefore is it said, “there are many deceivers entered into the world,” “but ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things;” which unction is only able truly to teach us of Christ, and the true Gospel. Edward Drapes {Gospel Glory, 1649}

Church of Christ: A true Gospel Church is a company of people called out and separated from the world by the word of the Gospel to believe in Christ, being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, walking together in mutual agreement in the visible profession of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ their Head and King. – Christ’s Church are only people. I mind this in a way of opposition to that carnal apprehension of ignorant souls, who esteem houses of stone or timber to be the Churches of Christ; not considering, that “the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands,” {Acts 17:24,} but in the contrite and broken heart. Though Heaven and Earth cannot contain him, yet he dwells in men. Which blind conceit has begotten such superstition in their hearts, that they esteem such Houses to be Holy, and so making an Idol of them, they fall down before them; that is to say, attribute that to them which is peculiar to the Saints of God. This church of Christ consists of people called out of the World, wherein you may observe, that the very same men and women, who were in the world, are the subjects of Christ’s Kingdom. 'Tis not something added to man, which is saved in man, but the same man is the subject of salvation, who before was in the state of wrath. 'Tis not something besides men’s natural souls and bodies, which are the subjects of Christ’s church, but their bodies and souls, which before were in an old state of sin and death, therefore called old man; but now, in a new state, therefore called new creatures, they are Christ’s members. These I say, are called, or separated from the world. The word Church, in the Greek, signifies called out, for the church is called out, or separate from the Kingdom of Satan. Therefore says Peter, “who hath called you out of darkness,” {I Pet.2:9;} and again, {Col.1:13;} saints are said to be delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into another Kingdom. Saints were once as others are, but now are they separated from the world in a two-fold consideration. First, from the wicked conversation of the world, therefore are the Saints said to be redeemed from the vain conversation of the world, received by tradition from their fathers. {I Pet.1:18} Therefore Paul says, we also had our conversation amongst children of disobedience in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, but God who had mercy on us, hath quickened us, when we were dead in sins. {Eph.2:2-5} They are to be separated from all the abominations thereof, for the church of Christ is or ought to be a pure Kingdom, into which nothing that defiles should enter. 2. They are separated from the worship of the World. Now by the worship of the World, I mean, that seeming worship which men perform to the Lord, without a lawful warrant from the Lord, perform to the Lord, even all the commands of men, in the things of God. The world, through the mighty operation of the man of sin, who works in the children of disobedience, has set up a worship among men that has the name of the service of God, when indeed God never commanded them any such thing. We are commanded to come forth of Babylon, out of confusion, and to touch no unclean thing, therefore, says the Lord, “what agreement hath the temple of the Lord, with idols; wherefore come out from amongst them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” {II Cor.6:16,17} We are to separate from all assemblies who say they are Churches, and yet are not built upon the Rock Christ, and the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner stone. - Christ’s Church consists of a people visibly professing faith, all in Christ’s Kingdom must be able to declare whose they are, whom they profess, whose subjects they be, and to whose laws they conform. Edward Drapes {Gospel Glory, 1649}

Posted February 3, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Unconditional & Everlasting Covenant of Grace: It is an Everlasting Covenant, {Jer.32:40,} “And I will make an everlasting Covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good, but I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” The motives that did move God to make this Covenant, was his everlasting love; and the Righteousness upon which it is grounded, is everlasting Righteousness. In this Covenant is presented to us everlasting pardon, everlasting kindness, everlasting mercy, everlasting joy and consolation, and everlasting life and salvation. - In the Covenant of Grace we may find the mouth of the Law stopped, and all the accusations of Satan answered, and the justice of God fully satisfied. God will have all blessings and happiness to flow to us, through and by the Covenant of Grace. 1. That the worst of sinners may have strong ground of hope. 2. For the praise of his own glory. 3. That vain man may not boast. 4. That our mercies and blessings may be sure to us, our salvation is by grace, saith Paul; {Rom.4:16;} that the promises might be sure to us; for if it in any sense depended upon works, we could not be sure thereof. Reader, understand these four choice things, viz. 1. That Christ by the will of God gave himself a Ransom and Sacrifice of a sweet smelling savor unto God, in behalf of the Elect. {Jn.6:27, Heb.5:10, 10:9,10, Eph.5:2} 2. That this ransom was alone, and by itself a perfect satisfaction to Divine Justice for all their sin, {Heb.1:3,} “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” {Heb.10:10,} “by the which will we are sanctified, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” {vs.14,} “for by one offering he hath perfected forever, them that are sanctified,” {I Jn.1:7,} “the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” 3. That God accepted it, and declared himself well pleased, and fully satisfied therewith, {Mt.3:17,} “and lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” {Isa.42:1-8} “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” “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.43:25,} “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” 4. That by this ransom of Christ we are delivered from the curse of the Law, {Gal.3:13,} “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us.” To close up all as to the nature of this Covenant; let me tell thee the main substance of the Covenant is in these words, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” sprinkling them with clean water, taking away the stony heart, and giving a heart of flesh, all these are nothing but the fruits of the Covenant. So Christ is given for a Covenant to the people; that is the Covenant of Grace takes its being from Christ to us. Adam was all mankind, as all mankind was in Adam, in the loins of Adam; so Christ is the Covenant, and all the Covenant is as it were in the loins of Christ, and springs to us out of him. - This Covenant was not made with us, but with Christ for us; God did not make this Covenant with us, we were children of disobedience and of wrath, who were not capable of any such Covenant and Conditions, but it was made with Christ for us, that upon the making of his soul an offering for sin, he would give unto his seed eternal life, {Zech.9:11,} “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” - The Covenant made with Christ, hath these promises, {Gen.12:3,} “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” {II Cor.1:20,} “all the promises of God, are Yea and Amen in him;” so then this Covenant was made with him actively, as a person that performed all the conditions upon which the promises were grounded; but with us passively, as the persons to whom the benefits of these promises do belong. If Christ merited nothing for himself, but wholly for the Elect of God, then all the promises made to him do belong to them; or the Covenant which was made with him as Mediator, doth belong to us, for whom he doth mediate. Now the parties concerned in this Covenant, are first God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Mediator, and the Church or body of Christ, for whom he was to mediate. Now this Covenant being made with Christ, he as a Surety is bound to perform and see performed all the duties that God requires of believers; so he was arrested, and brought to the bar of God’s justice, where he is convicted, adjudged, and arraigned as a sinful transgressor, so he suffered the uttermost rigor of the Law, and not one grain of justice abated him, nor a farthing of the debt forgiven him, no nor so much as one sin unaccounted for or not blotted out, till satisfaction was first made and given. - Now if we would yet farther know when this Covenant was made with Christ for us, let us weigh that text, {Eph.1:4,} “we are chosen in him, before the foundation of the world.” Now if Election be before the foundation of the world, {as most certainly it is,} then also by the same ground the Covenant or Promise was made before the foundation of the world, for the word doth prove the one as well as the other; these promises were made first to Christ on our behalf, before they are made to us, because the whole work of our redemption and salvation, was transacted between the Father and the Son, before the foundation of the world, and is afterwards revealed to us in due time, as is evident. “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” {Tit.1:2} “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} In this Covenant the Lord doth bequeath grace and glory on no other condition, but the death of the Testator, that is, Christ Jesus; and it will plainly appear in this Covenant of grace, that there is no condition on our part to entitle us to the blessing of it; it is true, to our Head Christ, this Covenant was conditional, though to us it is free; to him it was a Covenant of works, hence Christ is called the Mediator, Witness and Surety of this New Covenant, and that this Covenant is without conditions on our part, will appear more fully by these ensuing reasons. 1. Because a Covenant of Free Grace cannot stand with conditions, for if it had conditions it would not be of grace, for grace is not grace, if it be not every way free, {Rom.11:6,} “and if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace, &c.” 2. Because to give a thing freely and conditionally are contradictions; and to say there is conditions as to us, is to eclipse the grace of God, and to open a door for vain man to boast. So that the whole glory of our justification and salvation ought to be given to the grace of God, and to the merits of Christ. If either of them did depend, and were obtained by works and conditions performed by us, it would not be of grace. 3. Because that justification by grace, without conditions on our part, is the life and soul of the Gospel, {Gal.1:6,7,} “I marvel that you are moved from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel, which is not another, but there be some that would pervert the Gospel;” how can there be another Gospel, and yet not another Gospel? First it is not another, because it is not possible there should be two Gospels; yet another Gospel, because men did turn it aside in point of justification. 4. Because if any qualification or grace in us be a condition, Faith must needs be the condition, or one of the conditions; but if faith should be the condition of the Covenant of Grace, then it differs nothing from a Covenant of Works, for it is as impossible a thing for a man to believe, as it is to keep the whole Law. Again, Faith cannot be the condition of the Covenant, because we obtain it by the same means we obtain all other good things else, to wit by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” {II Pet.1:1} Again, Faith and Repentance, Justification and Sanctification, are things purchased by Christ for us, and freely given to us, and are the effects and consequences of the Covenant, as doth appear. “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” {Ez.36:27} “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an Everlasting Covenant with them, that 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.32:38-40} “I will make them to lie down safely; 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.2:18-20} It is true, Faith and Repentance are means of our enjoying the comforts of the Covenant, but not the conditions flowing out of the nature of the Covenant. So that all the blessings of the New Covenant are called gifts, not conditions, {Rom.5:17,18 compared with Rom.6:23,} and these are gifts that are given freely. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” {I Cor.2:12} We choose him, because he first chose us; and we love him, because he first loveth us; we cannot say God is our God, till he doth first say, we are his people; we cannot say we will run after him, till he doth first draw us; neither can we bring forth fruit, unless we abide in the Vine; nor purify ourselves as he is pure, unless we have this hope in us; so that we may not expect the effects before the cause, nor the light before the sun, or heat before the fire. There be no conditions in this Covenant, because it works and effects in us all things required of us. Now faith, repentance and obedience doth indeed describe the Persons that are saved, but not the terms or conditions upon which they do obtain salvation; that interpretation of any Scripture, that doth involve a contradiction, is not to be admitted; but to say faith is the condition of the Covenant, is an express contradiction. – Therefore, it is impossible that any soul should enjoy a firm and settled peace, whose confidence towards God is grounded upon conditional promises, or his own best and choicest performances. For the wanting in himself, the condition of the one, and not yielding a perfect, exact, universal, perpetual obedience to the other, the Law will be condemning, conscience accusing, and the heart misgiving, and all proclaiming that there is still in all thy duties imperfection, something polluted, and something defective, so that thy most spiritual duties are not wound up to command, they are all tainted with disproportion to rule, and polluted with spots, so that it is in vain to expect a bed of rest in the barren wilderness of our own performances, for that bed is shorter then that a man can stretch himself on it, and the covering is narrower than that a man can wrap himself in it. Oh the spots, the blots, the blemishes that are to be seen upon the face of our fairest duties; so that we may say with the Church, {Isa.64:6,} that all our righteousness are as filthy rags, which if rested upon will as certainly undo us, and everlastingly destroy us, as the greatest evil that can be committed by us; the consideration of this was the cause of those words, {Hos.14:3,} “neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy;” and {Jer.3:23,} “truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.” by Robert Purnell {A Little Cabinet Richly Stored, 1657}

Robert Purnell {1606-1666}

Robert Purnell {1606-1666} was a carpet weaver by trade, an early Baptist, probably a native of Bristol, England. Purnell attended the Broadmead Church in Bristol {established in 1640,} of which church he was a member for many years. It is clear from the Church Records that the question of believer’s baptism did not become an issue until 1653, when he, along with others, established the Broadmead Church along Baptist principles. The pastor of Broadmead, Thomas Ewins, {Note: Thomas Ewins, who became the pastor at Broadmead in 1651 was later imprisoned for his preaching; and according to Edmund Calamy he was “No scholar, and yet . . . a judicious methodical preacher. He was remarkable for having but one eye.” A political opponent said “Ewins is the most dangerous Anabaptist that ever lived, and has seduced thousands by his seditious teaching.”} and Purnell were both baptized in London by Henry Jessey, and Purnell became a ruling elder of the congregation. According to the official Church Record of Broadmead, we find the following entry, dated 1654, “our pastor, or teacher, Mr. Ewins, and the ruling elder that then was, namely, brother Robert Purnell - who, before that apostasy, {speaking of Quakers that had infiltrated their assembly, and were taking un-established ‘members’ of the church captive; a thing not uncommon at this period. Interestingly Cromwell, in his speech to Parliament in 1654 declared "that emissaries of the Jesuits never came in these swarms, - referring to the Quakers - as they have done since these things were set on foot.”} was a deacon, but after was chosen an elder, and brother Moone chosen a deacon; I say, those two were pressed in their spirits to take up the ordinance of baptism, of which they were before enlightened; especially brother Purnell, for several years, had been convinced of his duty therein, but omitted the practice thereof. Thus, they being now stirred up to their duty, to glorify God in their day, in owning his commands in the gospel, and in laying aside the traditions of man in worship, these two, namely Mr. Ewins and Mr. Purnell, went to London, and took up the ordinance of baptism. And they were accordingly baptized by brother Mr. Henry Jessey, after which they came down, and proceeded in the church and work of the Lord. Thus there seemed to be hinted why the great breach was made, because they had not walked faithful to their light in the ordinances of God {such kind of fear was upon their spirits;} and that they had not kept close to the Holy Scriptures for the rule of worship, and to the footsteps of the flock, the example or path of the primitive saints, recorded in holy writ; and they blamed themselves in that they had not rejected all notions of men whatsoever for matters of worship, than what is plainly laid down in the written word.” Purnell wrote a number of books, his largest work entitled, A Little Cabinet Richly Stored, {1657,} is a large volume of 467 pages, and is in itself a small ‘body of divinity,’ which in effect also became a catechism for the congregation at Broadmead. He wrote: 1. ‘Good Tidings for Sinners,’ London, 1649. 2. ‘No Power but of God,’ London, 1652. 3. ‘England’s Remonstrance, or a Word in the Ear to the scattered discontented Members of the late Parliament … likewise a Word to the present Assembly at Westminster and the Councel of State,’ 1653. 4. ‘The Way to Heaven discovered,’ Bristol, {in favor of the doctrine of grace and the true love of God,} 1653. 5. ‘The Church of Christ in Bristol recovering her Vail out of the Hands of Them that have smitten and wounded Her, and taken it away,’ London, 1657. 6. ‘A little Cabinet richly stored with all Sorts of Heavenly Varieties,’ London, 1657. 7. ‘The Way Step by Step to sound and saving Conversion,’ London, 1659. Purnell died in 1666; and we find the following entry in the Church Record book, in reference to the selection of an elder upon the death of their beloved friend and brother in Christ, “Before this time, our brother Purnell, the eldest ruling elder, being in the ninth month last deceased, the church had several times under consideration, whom to choose and make a ruling elder in his stead. At last, upon the third of the twelfth month, being the Lord's day, anno 1666, two of the brethren were proposed, that one of them might be chosen, namely, brother Richard White, and brother Edward Terrill, which were desired to depart; and accordingly they went to their homes. Then it being put to the vote, all the brethren were for brother Terrill, except the two principal, viz., Mr. Ewins, pastor, and brother Ellis, the only ruling elder left.” Though Purnell was unquestionably firm in his attachments to the Gospel of God’s Free & Sovereign Grace in Christ; nevertheless there is in his writings a subtle drifting away from the high-grace sentiments of a few of the earlier Baptists; namely the signers of the First London Confession, men like Kiffin, Spilsbury & Richardson … as a subtle Conditionalism, flawed Christology…in line with men of mixed notions like Keach, Bunyan… began to rear their ugly head. MPJ

Posted February 5, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Beast & False Prophet: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” {Rev.16:13} We can form no conceptions of spirits flying in the air, floating in the water, or reposing in the earth; they must have some residences, or receptacles, suited to their nature; and these vehicles are mental; as the spirit of God dwells in the children of God, and the spirit of the devil dwells in the children of the devil; so these soul spirits dwell in the children of darkness. They bear a resemblance to frogs, which are amphibious creatures, breeding in fens, bogs, marines, lakes, ditches, and mud; and though they sometimes come forth upon the land, into the open air, they cannot bear the sun, but always retreat to their old habitation, or natural element, mire and dirt. So these spirits are a confused mixture, and spring from the filthiness of the fleshly mind, the malignity of sin, and enmity against God; yet under presence of sanctity, but it is only a trick, as they cannot bear the true light; their element is contempt of God, a false Christ, and inducing imaginations; and as everything partakes of the nature of that from whence it is produced, so do these; they bear the very image of that from whence they came. The dragon, the old serpent, his nature is deceit and violence; his work, from the beginning, was to alienate men from God, by inspiring them with pride, ambition, and vain desires, and suggesting false and contemptible ideas of God; and, being naturally a liar, he is perpetually bent to oppose the truth of God, wherever it makes its appearance; and the spirit that proceeds from him into the hearts of his seed is the very life and breath of himself. The beast is the counterfeit Christ; or idolatry, superstition, enthusiasm, and inventions of men, in doctrine and worship, substituted instead of the truth as it is in Jesus, and the spirit that proceeds from thence fills men with the same principles. The false prophet is the band of false teachers, who endeavor to infatuate men’s minds with the doctrines of devils; and having led them into the dark, that they know not whither they go, then they amuse them with a false light, that men may have them in admiration, as their spiritual guides, though they are only leading them into the ditch; and their devotees imbibe the same spirit, infatuated to enthusiasm, in admiration of their holy leaders; some admiring them for their learning, and earthly wisdom, some for their zeal and piety, some for the power inverted in them, by papal, episcopal, or synodical authority, some imagining them to be inspired with some peculiar wisdom, visions or monitions from heaven, some secret intimacy or intercourse with God, whereby they know the Divine Will, or some supernatural occult power, beyond other men, to perform miraculous operations; and all that receive this spirit, are led into a state of mental deterioration, and adoring these men for their extraordinary sanctity, think it sufficient if they follow them, and pay no sincere regard to the truth of God. But we are not to imagine, that these spirits went forth only at the time of the pouring out of the vials; but they are described in this place, because this is the time of their greatest conflict; otherwise, they are going forth at this very day, and have been, ever since the dragon gave his seat to the beast; but at present, they find very little opposition, their possessions are in peace. - Remember therefore that Satan is a calumniator and a deceiver; his work is to degrade, contemn, reproach, or to represent in a false light the God of truth, and to beguile, to ensnare, to entangle, and seduce men; and to accomplish this, his spirits go forth in so many various forms, and in different bands. It is in the power of devils, working in the minds of wicked men, so artfully to invent lies, as to make them pass for truth; and to perform acts of legerdemain with so much cunning, as to pass for supernatural operations; as also to persuade, that such are men of so much holiness, as to be possessed of the key of the kingdom, or the cabinet of divine counsel; and all these, in every mode, are calculated to invert the gospel of the Holy God. John Johnson {Book of Revelation, 1779}

Posted February 6, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Great Dragon Cast Out: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” {Rev.12:9} When the children of God stand firm to maintain the truth, determined to have nothing to do with the world’s religion, nor pay any deference to their grimace or devout appearances, nor to be soothed and mollified into a charitable idea of their doctrines and practices, for fear of being deemed inflexible and rigid, and for fear of condemning such great numbers; but being valiant for the truth, as it is in Jesus, and refusing all assent to the traditions of men, or to have any fellowship with those that pervert the gospel, then the dragon is cast out, and if he be cast out, his angels are cast out with him. But so long as any persons or people retain what the world calls a charitable opinion of false teachers, or false professors, so as to hold a tampering dalliance with them, the devil and Satan is certain to keep possession of those souls. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; and what communion hath light with darkness; and what concord hath Christ with Belial; or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel; and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols; for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” {II Cor.6:14-17} But this is Satan’s grand murdering piece, or train of heavy artillery, whereby he beats down all before him; to cry out against un-charitableness, censoriousness, and want of catholic spirit, faying, “What; must none be esteemed Christians who do not receive the truth of Christ with such light, life, and spirit, as there is not one to be found among many thousands? What! Must we judge so many sincere pious souls to be no believers? Must we leave almost all the world behind us, and esteem them cast out?” The Christ of God has given us the ample description of his saints, and whosoever does not bear those characters, are none of his, the dragon and his angels deceive and reign over the whole world; therefore if I do not leave the whole world behind me, I cannot be a disciple of Jesus. John Johnson {Book of Revelation, 1779}

Posted February 9, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Eternal Generation of the Son of God: I am accused of denying that Jesus Christ is the Son of God by an eternal generation. That which they undertook to maintain in this particular was, the eternal generation of the Son by the Father in the Godhead, which was and is by me denied. The Scripture they had at first to prove it, was that in the Common Prayer book, in Athanasius Creed: That he was very God of very God, begotten before all worlds; I denied that to be Scripture; they affirmed it to be in the Scripture; I told them I knew no such Scripture, and desired them to look it; they searched the Scripture, turned their Concordance, but could not find it; I then told them where they might find it; but in the second meeting they produced these Scriptures, John 3:16. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;” and John 1:14, I John 4:9. “He sent his only begotten, that we might live,” &c., and hence endeavored to maintain this argument, that if Christ was the only begotten, then he was eternally begotten, &c., and this I deny; for he is not said to be begotten but as in the womb of the Virgin, by the power of the Most High, {Luke 1,} and upon this account he is said to be the only begotten Son of the Father, because there was never any son so begotten; but they still pressed this argument, that this begetting must of necessity be a begetting before all time. I answered them out of Psal.2:7, “I will declare the decree; the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” which is a begetting in time; they then fell to that in Prov.8:25. “Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth;” hence endeavoring to maintain an eternal begetting, which was denied; bringing forth and begetting being not the same; although after the flesh begetting precedes bringing forth; yet in the Divine mystery there is a bringing forth without begetting. In conclusion I charged Person Smith with blasphemy and nonsense; blasphemy in holding forth a generation in the Godhead, which is proper only to the creature; and nonsense in holding forth a generation in the Godhead, the Father begetting the Son, and yet the Son to be co-eternal, and that it was him that indeed denied the Eternity of the Son. Thomas Collier {Heads and Substance of a Discourse; first private, and afterwards public; held in Axbridge, in the county of Somerset, about the 6th of March, 1650; between John Smith of Badgworth, and Charles Carlile of Bitsham, &c., on the one part; and Thomas Collier of Westbury on the other, 1651}

Law & Gospel Distinctions: I am accused of asserting that the Moral Law is abolished. The truth was, and it was assented to, that the Moral Law was abolished to believers, as held forth in the hand of Moses; but unbelievers are still under the Law; for whatsoever the Law saith, it saith to them which are under the Law, {Rom.3:19,} but believers are not under the Law, {Rom.6:14,} therefore the Law saith nothing to them. They answered, that was, they are not under the condemnation of the Law; nay, but the Apostle saith, they are not under it, therefore the Law, {viz.} as in the hands of Moses, saith nothing to them; for there is a great mystery in the right understanding of the difference between the dispensation of Law and Gospel, Moses and Christ. “The Law came by Moses, Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.” Person Smith, asked if I denied the Law, and whether there was no Law to believers? I told him No; I knew a Law under which believers were; he professed that he knew no other Law than the Law of Moses; I told him if he would confess his ignorance, I would tell him of another Law; he said, he knew it not; I answered there is a Law of Grace, both within and without; that within, is the Law written in the heart; promised in Jeremiah 31, and made good in the Gospel, Hebrews 8. That Law of the spirit of life, spoken of by Paul, {Rom.8:2,} which made him free from the Law of sin and death; this Law is the light and guide of Saints; whosoever hath not this Law within him, is none of his. {Rom.8:9} There is a Law without likewise, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Law of Love, a light and guide likewise in our weakness and childhood, unto the heavenly Canaan. He answered; this was all one with what he held. I answered nay; for he held still to the Law of Moses; he asked if believers should act contrary to the Law of Moses? I answered nay; not in the substance of it; yet it behooves them to know the difference between Moses and Christ, Law and Grace. I produced Rom.7:1-4, “the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband;” {vs.4;} “wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” That as a woman is dead to the law of her husband, so are believers dead to the Law; and as a woman is at liberty to marry with another, and then is subject to the Law of that husband; even so believers, being married to Christ, live to him, are subject to him, that so they might bring forth fruit unto God. At this Scripture he was at a stand; I pressed him to answer the Scripture; he refused, saying, I brought Scriptures which were not to the purpose, nor have any tendency to the thing in hand; and would not answer it; thus thinking to shift out when he could not answer; but I desired him then that he would give the meaning of that Scripture to the people, that so they might be satisfied in the truth of it, if I did misapply it; he endeavoring to wind out, refused; but being earnestly pressed to it, he answered, that notwithstanding believers were made partakers of Christ, yet the Law was holy and just and good. I told him it was a truth, but nothing to the truth intended in that Scripture, and desired him earnestly to speak to that Scripture; he then answered, that believers were freed from the rigor of the Law; I answered again, that in substance he granted what I affirmed; for if believers be not under the rigor, then they are not under the command; for it is the command which occasions the rigor; the transgression of the Law occasions the rigor. I farther produced II Cor.3:13, where it is said, the Law is done away and abolished, vs.11 & 13, and it’s the Moral Law that is there intended, as appears in verse 7. It was that which was written and engraved in stone. He answered, that it was true that the ministry of the Law was done away, but not the Law; it is the ministration of it that is there intended; I asked him then, why he did preach the Law & plead for it, if the ministration of it was done away? The truth is, that as the ministration of it, as it is death, so the ministry of it is to work up souls into its righteousness for deliverance from death; so in the Gospel, though a Gospel of grace and peace; yet those who reject it shall be damned; therefore is the ministry accompanied with it for the working up of souls into its grace and peace. If it be objected, that the Law was never given that men might seek or obtain life in it, but Christ was life then as well as now. I answer, its truth, the Law was in itself a ministration of death, and not of life; yet under that dispensation, the wisdom and way of God was such to his people, as that they first looking into that Law, seeing how far short of life they came in their not performing of it, might look above unto that righteousness which was presented in it, much like unto the fiery and brazen serpent; the one bites, the other cures; and this was the constant way and course of the Lord’s communicating himself unto his people; but now the manner of the dispensation is changed, and all things are made new; the way of God to his people is first, to bring them into view of his goodness, and to possess them with his love, and then from the same principle and power of love gives forth a Law within, a Law without, which is a Law of love, in which there is no condemnation to them who walk not after the Law of Moses, but the Law of Christ; not the Moral Law in the hand of Moses, but the Law of Grace in the hand of Christ, who serve not after the Law of a carnal command, but after the power of an endless life; not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the spirit. But to return, he asked me what was the difference then between the Law in the hand of Moses, and the Law in the hand of Christ? I answered, as much as between life and death; in the one the ministration of death, in the other the ministration of life; if the ministration of death was glorious, how much more shall the ministration of the Spirit exceed in glory? Thomas Collier {Heads and Substance of a Discourse; first private, and afterwards public; held in Axbridge, in the county of Somerset, about the 6th of March, 1650; between John Smith of Badgworth, and Charles Carlile of Bitsham, &c., on the one part; and Thomas Collier of Westbury on the other, 1651}

Posted February 10, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Justification by Grace in Christ: The question is not so much about the time, and terms, and matter of our Justification, but how we are made righteous in the sight of God, which the Scriptures do affirm, to be by the perfect righteousness of Christ alone, which God doth impute to all his seed freely, without works and conditions performed by us. 1. Consider if the righteousness by which we are justified, be a perfect righteousness, then we are not justified by our obedience to Gospel precepts, but the righteousness whereby we are justified is a perfect righteousness, which is the righteousness of Christ alone, {Heb.1:8, Mt.6:33, Rom.4:6,} an everlasting righteousness, {Psal.119:142, 22:31, 35:28,} that righteousness which justifieth us before God, as it is not ours, so it is not in us. But as it is Christ’s righteousness, so it is in him, “In me you shall have righteousness and strength,” {Ps.71:15,16,19,24,} “I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” Justice and mercy do both meet in this Justification. Justice, in that he will not justify a sinner without a perfect righteousness; and yet mercy, in that he will accept him for such a righteousness; that is, neither in him, nor done by him, but by his Surety for him. {The joy of a Believer would always be unspeakable, did he always apprehend his happiness in and by Christ alone. In a word, the pure, glorious, matchless and spotless righteousness of Christ is a souls righteousness and resting place. “I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only,” for thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. “In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.” - Jer.33:16 - the perfection of Christ’s righteousness is held forth unto us, and always lieth before us, that we may be thankful for it, and peaceable with it, and rejoice in the Bestower of it.} 2. Consider the Apostles all along were very careful to keep this Doctrine of Justification by grace distinct from all other things, they all along do oppose the Law and grace, works and faith, our righteousness and Christ’s righteousness, teaching us thereby how needful it is they should be kept asunder. Justification by grace hath been and will be the bone of contention till the next coming of Christ. Why so? Because learning cannot reach it, natural wisdom is confounded at it, evil spirits do not know it, most men do persecute it, as being bereaved of the knowledge of it, or else corrupt it in the simplicity of it. Consider we should not be justified by grace, if any condition were required of us, in order to our justification; for the condition whatsoever performed, makes the Covenant a due debt; then justification should not be of grace, but of debt, contrary to the express words of Scripture. - This Doctrine is as the foundation and basis of all Christian Religion. This Doctrine is the inlet of all spiritual divine peace and consolation. This is the root and spring of all Gospel obedience. This Doctrine is the great stop and bar to keep out all floods of error. This Doctrine is the main support of a soul under all trials. This is the great Doctrine by which Satan’s kingdom is undermined and overthrown. This is the Doctrine that Satan doth most war against, either to pervert or corrupt. This Doctrine is the most hardest piece to be learned, it being wholly supernatural in every part of it, above the reach of nature, and all things in us do oppose it. This Doctrine is the Root and Spring of all Gospel obedience, whatsoever men call obedience, if it ariseth not from hence, it is but forced and legal; for we must get up Gospel principles, if we would keep up Gospel practices. This Doctrine received, and the heart therein established, will be a stop and bar to keep out all floods of error. The floods of all error flow in at the pipe of ignorance, and especially ignorance of this very thing; namely, the Doctrine of Grace. The error of the Papists {the Papists hold that we are not justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed, but by the righteousness of Christ inherent in us, and righteous actions done by us} of building and resting upon works, springs from their ignorance of this blessed Doctrine; the error of the Quaker springs purely from hence; the error of the Arminian springs in at the same pipe, partly by works, and partly by grace; they not seeking salvation by grace, but as it were by the works of the Law, they stumbled and fell. {Rom.9:32} And all the instability, formality, legality that there is at this day appearing amongst the Presbyterian, Independent and Baptist, or any other people professing godliness, doth arise from their ignorance or their little knowledge in this great mystery; nay farther, did you ever read, or from any true Christian hear, that any man or woman that was acquainted with, and in some good measure established in this Doctrine of grace {by the Spirit’s direct infusion of this truth into the heart, thereby generating a deep love to the same – “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”} infected with, and overcome by these floods of error, that doth now swarm among us? Oh how doth Satan pollute and defile the souls and judgments of men, with Christ-dishonoring and soul undoing opinions. Robert Purnell {A Little Cabinet Richly Stored, 1657}

Posted February 11, 2013

{Writings of Robert Sandeman}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted February 17, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Daniel King was an early Particular Baptist, whose major work entitled A WAY TO ZION, SOUGHT OUT AND FOUND, FOR BELIEVERS TO WALK IN; {wherein he refers to himself simply as a Preacher of the Word near Coventry,} was an important treatise in regards to those associated with the ‘Baptist’ cause, in essence setting forth, according to King, that the Lord since the beginning of the Early Church has had a remnant seed, and that these could be identified by their adherence to the Baptist ‘faith’ & ‘order.’ That work written by King in 1649 was launched forth under the endorsement of Thomas Patient, William Kiffin, John Spilsbury {Note: Patient, Kiffin & Spilsbury were signers of the 1644 & 1646 LONDON CONFESSION OF FAITH} & John Pearson, all prominent Baptist leaders at the time. King anxiously awaited the return of Christ and held that the recovery of believers baptism was necessary for the establishment of the true church. In recovering God’s ordinances, the stumbling blocks were “removed out of the way” and some “beams of light” were let in “for the further clearing up of the way.” In 1651 King published another work, not so well known, entitled A DISCOVERY OF SOME TROUBLESOME THOUGHTS, in which he attempts by Divine Instruction to come to the aid of such as are afflicted in Zion. The full title of the work is as follows: “A discovery of some troublesome thoughts, wherewith many godly precious souls are burdened, and extremely pressed; that like a canker eats out all their comforts, and keeps their souls under continual fears and distractions. Together with a compound of some Scripture and experimental cordials, for the refreshing of those who are sick of such a disease; and through the blessing of God, may prove medicinal, to the cure of some, and the comforting of others, by Daniel King, Preacher of the Word.” It is from this work that these noteworthy remarks have been extracted.

Troublesome Thoughts Concerning Christ: Consider what ends the Lord hath in keeping close his countenance, and hiding his face sometimes from a soul that is dear to him. God’s ends in hiding his face from a soul. 1. To bring such a soul to self-examination, to look narrowly into their own hearts, and to search out some corruption which it may be they do not see for the present. And it is a great benefit to have discovery made of those traitors that lie lurking within, that a man seeth not; and this God often brings the soul to by hiding his countenance. When the spirit of the Psalmist was overwhelmed, and the thought of God troubled him, and his soul refused to be comforted, and he cried unto God, and still his sore ran in the night, and ceased not, and his eyes were held waking, and he was so troubled that he could not speak; {Ps.77:1-4;} now saith he in the 6th verse, “I commune with mine own heart; and my spirit made diligent search;” now he falleth a searching what the matter was; and inquires, will the “will the Lord cast off forever; and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone forever; doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious; hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.” {vs.7-9} Mark here, upon serious search he durst not tax God, nor his mercy, nor promise; but mark, he finds it out now where it was, “and I said, this is my infirmity; {vs.10;} by this means he finds out some weakness in the soul, which before he saw not. So that this was beneficial to him; for God would have no sin harbor and lurk in the souls of his Saints. 2. By this means the Lord brings a man or woman to the confession of sin. We are all proud by nature, and are loath to come to acknowledge our sins. Now the Scripture saith, “he that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” {PV.28:13} “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” {I Jn.1:9} Now God in mercy to a soul, when he sees they are willing to connive and wink at some beloved sin which they would favor, and are ready to say as David, “deal gently with the young man Absalom;” or as Naaman, “the Lord be merciful to thy servant concerning this thing;” withdraws his face, to show them his dislike against every sin, and to bring them to a free and willing confession of it. So it was with David, “when I kept silence, {that is, from acknowledging my sin,} my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” {Ps.32:3-5} “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face;” {Hos.5:15;} until then {saith God} I will hide my face. 3. God sometimes hides his face that his people might see that they are nothing in and of themselves; but that all their sufficiency is of God; that they may see their own emptiness, that they can do nothing, bear nothing, manage nothing to God’s glory without a special assistance from God; that they may learn to deny themselves, and live upon Him alone. “I hid me, and was wroth, {saith the Lord,} and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” {Is.57:17} When God hides himself, then the frowardness of the heart appears. So hereby the servants of God are kept humble, from self-glorying or boasting. 4. Sometimes the Lord by the hiding of his countenance trieth the graces of his spirit in his servants, that it may appear to them that they are found genuine. As sometimes he tries their faith by this means. “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light, let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” {Is.50:10} To try if they will hold and hang upon him, and follow him, though he frown upon them, as the woman of Canaan did; that he may say to them at last, as he did to her, “great is thy faith;” and this will be a sweet satisfaction to them, when they come to see that though they saw not God’s face, yet they found his grace to enable them to wait upon Him in dark times. It is a precious thing to have faith tried; {I Pet.1:7;} and this way God trieth it. Again, hereby God trieth the sincerity of your love to him. As when Christ had withdrawn himself from his spouse, she falls sick of love; it works; she could not be quiet, nor satisfied without him; her affection runs out after him, though she wanted the discovery of him, and this affection of hers puts her upon a constant seeking of him. {Cant.5:6-8} “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth, &c.” {Cant.3:1-2} It tries their sincerity, whether they will stick close to his work, though they see no reward; whether they will fear the Lord, and obey him, though he hide himself. “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light; let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” 5. Sometimes the Lord doth it, to bring thee to the sight of thy negligence, deadness, dullness, security, senselessness, that you are apt to slip into; and to make thee see thy unkind dealing with him; that puts him off with idle excuses for self ends. So Canticles chapter 5, when Christ had withdrawn himself, then she comes to remember how unkind she was to let him call, and beg for admittance, and wait till his head was filled with the dew, and his locks with the drops of the night; she could make excuses when he was so near her; I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? But when he was gone, then she remembreth her slothfulness with sorrow; and then she confesseth her negligence, “my soul failed when he spoke;” {vs.6;} as if she had said, “my heart smote me; I knew it was he, yet this sleepy spirit of mine overcame me, and now I must smart for it.” 6. That the Soul might prize him the more when he manifests himself again to the soul, that there might be the sweeter embraces between him and the soul; as it is with a perverse child, the mother sometimes is fain to hide herself from it, and call for the bug-bear to take it, that it may be quiet and more esteem of the mother when it hath her again. The child cries out as if she were quite gone; but she stands nearer it then it is aware of; she intends not to forsake it. So the people of God in their dark times greatly mistake to say God hath utterly forsaken them. “Zion said, the LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.” Here is the poor discouraged souls conclusion; but what saith the answer of God to it? “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” {Is.49:14,15} When we look upon the countenance of God, as we do upon the sun shining every day as a common thing, then he clouds himself from us, that we may learn to set an higher rate upon it; and that there may be more endeared embracings when we meet with the Lord again. After she had sought for her beloved, and missed him, at last saith she, “I found him whom my soul loveth;” and how was she affected then? Oh saith she, “I held him, and would not let him go, &c.” {Cant.3:4} Then she clings to him with more delight and affection than ever. So the bowels of the Lord {if I may so speak} do more yearn upon a poor soul after his withdrawings than ever; as in Isaiah; “the Lord hath called thee, as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.” This is a sad time; but now mark how he makes up for this, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies I will gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” {Isa.54.6-8} 7. The Lord hides himself sometimes from a poor soul for the regulating of the prayers and desires of his people. Many times we are begging and crying for things of lesser consequence, and our minds are much upon the serving of self; now God would have us to seek him, and his face and countenance as the chiefest thing; therefore sometimes withdraws that he may draw up our prayers higher, and put our affections into better order then they were. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early.” {Hos.5:15} Now it is God’s command to seek his Face evermore. “Seek the LORD, and his strength; seek his face evermore.” {Psal.105:4} 8. That his excellency, sweetness, beauty, and loveliness might be set forth by those that want the manifestations of his countenance, unto others that take notice of their distempered sad condition, that they may be moved also to seek after his discoveries. God is pleased by this means sometimes to sweeten himself to others that stand by, and behold the agony poor souls are in for want of his love manifested to them; and to stir up their spirits to look after him. He is pleased to help such distressed men to preach him forth sweetly for the winning of others to him. When they see them mourning, and grieving, and complaining, and cannot rest without him, thinks the poor soul there is some excellency in him that we see not; we will certainly go along to seek him with these poor souls; he is worth seeking after; and so it sets them aflame after him also. Daniel King {Discovery of Some Troublesome Thoughts, 1651}

Conversion Experience: Thou fearest thy state, and questionest thy conversion, because thou hadst not so extraordinary a work at thy first Humiliation; not such a breaking by the Law as some others have had; but by intermixing fits, and a soft way; therefore thou fearest. I answer. It is good indeed for every man to make proof of his state, whether he have Christ or no. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” {II Cor.13:5} But yet we must not prescribe God a way, in what order and method he shall bring us in. The manner and violence of Humiliation is not essential to the bringing a man into the state of grace; nor it is no matter whether God open the door with an oiled key, or break it to pieces, so he open it. For the end of Humiliation is, the engrafting of Christ, and saving grace into the Soul. And it’s no matter how the plough go, so the corn growing on the Land be as good. And no matter for the manner of Humiliation; look to the End, look to the Issue, look to the fruit of it. If God have not broken thy heart with the large mallet of Humiliation, but thawed it more gently; thank God for it. God made two Mediators, Moses a typical Mediator to fear and quake exceedingly; and Christ the true Mediator to sweat drops of blood and be in a pitiful agony; and therefore if God gives thee the sight of sin, in the sweetness of a Father, in the sweetness of a Saviour, more than in the wrath of a Judge; and if thy tears have flown more from sorrow of Love, than from sorrow of fear; if he have given thee a new birth, in gentler pangs; it may be as true. The sweetness of Christ in his dealings, makes Christ as sweet to thee as thy deepest mortifications under a sense of judgment. Peradventure, if thou hadst had some remarkable note of humiliation of soul, thou mightst have rested in some such work, and have grown secure afterward; and the want of such a thing perhaps may make thee more watchful afterward; whatsoever course God did take to bring thee to Christ, make the best use of it, and it is the best for thee. But some may say, will the Scripture show that Christ brings in men to himself after different manners and measures? I answer, Yea, it is clear by Scripture; and for it, Consider these things. The word of God which is the ordinary means of man’s conversion is compared to rain. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” {Deut.32:2} “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” {Heb.6:7,8} Now rain cometh sometimes by sudden dashes; sometimes more mildly like dew; sometimes great drops, and sometimes small; sometimes falls violently, and is quickly over; and sometimes more moderately and holdeth longer. And if the ground be thoroughly soaked it’s no matter; it may as well be by a mist, as by great showers. So the heart may as well be mollified and softened by the Lord’s blessing in gentle drops distilled upon it as by a violent storm. Our Saviour, {in Mark 4:26.27,} seems to speak of someone’s conversion and growth in an insensible way; the words are these, “so is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed {seed, that is, the word of God, vs.14} into the ground; {that is into the man, or heart, as the parable before clears it;} into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.” Mark, here is effectual workings; the seed takes place, yet in such an insensible mild way, he that sows it knows not how; which could not be, if all that are converted to God, were brought over by such violent storms as some are. We read of Paul stricken down by strong hand, {Acts 9,} but where do we read of any such conversion that Timothy had? Saith Paul, “from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise to salvation, &c.” {II Tim.3:15} Christ called in Zacchaeus at once, come down at once, for today I must abide at thy house; but the prodigal, was fain to be starved out by degrees. Some may be in such a case as they may be mightily pressed at, and wounded in the heart; others may have the word dropped in more gently, by gentle instructions, as the Eunuch. {Acts 8:23-39} We read not of any such heart-breaking, rock-renting tempest that he had, and yet faith truly wrought. To conclude, I conceive, all that the Lord brings in, he doth it by the blowing of his Spirit. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” {Jn.3:8} But whether it be a wind to break the rocks, or a still wind; whether a high wind, or low gentle puffs, that is in God’s choice; whether a North wind, or South wind. “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” {Cant.4:16} Mark it, thou canst not say thy Spices flow not out, because the North wind blows not; for the South may make them flow out as well. Daniel King {Discovery of Some Troublesome Thoughts, 1651}

Growth in Grace: A man complains, he doth not find that growth in the inward marrow of Religion which should be answerable to his time and means of knowledge; though he be grown in gifts, yet he cannot find that he is grown in inward acquaintance and familiarity with Christ; and hence he questions the truth of his conversion. I answer. Thou mayst herein be deceived; and therefore view over thy heart and life, and try thy growth a little. 1. By thy rooting; hast thou taken root into Christ? A tree that spreads and lives at root, we say grows, though it appears not to man to grow; and because thou art worse in thy own sight, wilt thou say thou growest not? Why man, trees and corn grow downward, and die, or seem dead, before they grow upward. “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die,” saith the Apostle. {I Cor.15:36} It may be God intends thy humility, and self-denial, that thou mayest be kept low in thy own sight; and self-denial is the best sign of growth spiritually; and when the duties you perform do not so much please the soul, as the love of God in the duty, it argues growth. 2. Men try their growth by their reaching to some mark set, as to the top of some bed, or beam, or pin in a wall, &c. So art thou more heavenly minded, canst reach nearer God in prayer; is thy affection more enlarged towards him, though thou find not him manifesting himself to thee as thou desirest? Thou art grown. 3. Men try their growth by their ability to lift a weight, or bear a burden. So if thou canst not see that thou art any higher in affection; yet if thou canst suffer more, hast more patience, and contentedness, art able to bear more, with more constancy, and less fear &c. Thou art grown. 4. By their skill; though one may not be grown in height, yet he may be grown in wisdom, and manliness. So, hast thou more skill to use the spiritual weapons, able to find out Satan’s designs, able to confute an error, and give thy soul satisfaction in a truth, then heretofore? Surely it is growth. - Get as much experience of Christ as thou canst; learn to taste Christ in his Merits, and Offices, and Spirit. Labor so to grow into Christ, that thou mayst not trust to swellings instead of growth; I mean to outward gifts. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” {II Pet.3:18} “Grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ. {Eph.4:15} Daniel King {Discovery of Some Troublesome Thoughts, 1651}

Troublesome Thoughts Concerning Christ: What should be the Cause that Christian’s faith and other graces should be at so low ebb, when they most stand in need of them? 1. Because Christ alone will be seen in the business to be all in all; and that we may see that he doth the whole work in us, and for us. “Christ is all, and in all.” {Col.3:11} “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us; for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” {Is.26:12} As at his death, all must forsake him and fly, and Peter deny him, that he may alone do all, without being beholden to man for anything. So in casting out that devil out of the man’s son, the Disciples unbelief disabled them from casting him out, that the power of Christ alone might be seen in doing it. 2. That the people of God might be humbled out of themselves, and out of the pride of their own undertakings, when they see how weak they are, and their graces failing them; and that God is all in the thing. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” {Job 42:5-6} 3. Because many times they stand too much upon their own strength; and live not clearly upon Jesus Christ, as they ought to do; and so they miscarry. And that their confidence might be regulated. Therefore Peter fell, that he might see the misplacing of his trust. “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” {II Cor.1:9} And in another place, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” {Phil.4:13} That we might learn to live above our graces, to have grace and all from Christ. 4. That so thou mightest learn to deny thyself, in thy sanctified self, as well as in carnal self; in thy very graces, and not rest upon them; that so thou mayst account all thy Righteousnesses as filthy Rags; and be forever kept from boasting. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded.” {Rom.3:27} Daniel King {Discovery of Some Troublesome Thoughts, 1651}

Election & Calling: A man is God’s two ways: By Election, and Calling. 1. By Election. So a man may be a sheep not gathered. “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them MUST I bring.” {Jn.10:16} So that they are not yet brought, and yet sheep, which Christ must bring. Therefore ye cannot make this conclusion, that ye are none of God’s by Election. But, Secondly, a man is God’s by Calling; “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} And so he is a Saint; for we are saints by Calling. Now the purpose of God’s electing is the calling of a man, and the Evidencing of his Calling. And therefore our Calling is effectual and powerful, because it is a calling according to God’s purpose. {Rom.8:28} And the purpose of God in Election is evidenced to us by Calling; the first dawning and evidence of this love of God to us, is this calling us to Christ. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” {I Cor.1:9} “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” {II Pet.1:10} So that the way of Evidence is from the second to the first. Now it is best for a man to know himself God’s both ways; for though this assurance doth, nor make a man to be a man in Christ; yet it makes him to be a lively man in Christ; for he is made a man in Christ simply by believing, or taking Christ at the hands of God. Now we are evidenced to belong to Christ both ways; by a double witness, that gives evidence. The evidence of our spirit, and the evidence of God’s Spirit. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the Sons of God.” {Rom.8:16} Now this Calling is evidenced two ways. 1. By regeneration, or being born of God. Secondly, by Adoption; whereby being strangers, we are made Sons by our incorporation into Christ. “As many as received him, to them gave he power {privilege or right} to become {manifestly} the sons of God; even to those that believe on his name.” {Jn.1:12,13}  Sons of God, who are those? Those that are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Now observe, that the sons of God by faith in Christ, are sons of God by the birth of the Spirit. Therefore see whether your faith reach this or no. “They were born not of blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” For prove one, and prove the other. Yet know, that Regeneration and Adoption are two distinct things. The one is the act of God towards us; the other is the work of the Spirit in us. But the Spirit of sanctification, and the Spirit of Adoption are both one, but they are two distinct acts. The Spirit of Sanctification worketh in us a new life; the Spirit of Adoption may rather be called the evidence. So that prove the one and prove the other. Prove that a man breathes, and by that you prove he liveth; yet there may be a more proper proof, as if he feel or see, &c.; so that this is it that I would say, that the witness of our spirit may properly be said to attest our Sanctification, and the witness of God’s Spirit our Adoption; and by both, our spirit and God’s Spirit, we are witnessed to be the sons of God. But observe, that the witness of our spirits that witnesseth our new birth, and Sanctification, witnesseth it by Water and Blood. “This is he that came by water and Blood, even Jesus Christ, not by water only, but by water and Blood; and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth. And there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, and Water, and Blood, and these three agree in one.” {I Jn.5:6-8} And it is by virtue of these two, that our spirits do attest and witness that we are the sons of God. For blood, and water, all the Scripture over are said to purge and cleanse, as in all the Legal Types; yet God giveth to them an office of witnessing. Properly they purge; but they Witness by their work of purging; this BLOOD, the blood of Christ, purgeth away the guilt of Sin, as it bindeth a man over to hell and damnation; this Water, the Sanctifying Spirit of Christ, purgeth away the love of Sin as it hath Dominion. “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. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” {Ez.36:25-27} Of both these the conscience of a regenerate man comes to be sensible in himself; the sense of Blood purging by pacifying of his conscience, that he cannot but look upon God with a conscience full of tranquility; and the water purging by Sanctifying him, to make him walk with God, out of the power of sin. Now the witness of a man’s spirit witnesseth that he is translated out of the guilt of sin, and power of sin, and that he is born again. - Now for the Testimony of God’s Spirit, the Spirit of Adoption; If we shall speak distinctly of it from our spirits; for the spirit, and water, and blood are distinct, though they agree in one. {I Jn.5:8} Now if you consider them distinct, I conceive then, that the Spirit of God witnesseth by an immediate impression upon the Soul, representing to the soul and conscience, making you understand and know that you are the sons of God, and heirs of God and Christ; which spirit of testimony is gotten by faith in Christ, by viewing, eying, and surveying Christ. “For because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, whereby you cry Abba, Father.” {Gal.4:6} Whose office is to attest to Christ. So that here the office of faith is to look upon Christ, and eye Christ, that so we may receive the seal; for a man must be a believer, else he cannot be a son; but being a believer and so a son, then comes the Spirit and witnesseth the same. Daniel King {Discovery of Some Troublesome Thoughts, 1651}

Posted February 19, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Exaltation of Christ the Alone King of Saints: Christ rules and reigns in the Saints; the kingdom of God is within you; beloved, Christ hath a kingdom within you, if ye are his; “Christ is in you except ye be reprobates. {II Cor.13:5} And this is a privilege more than all the kings in the earth have, for they may reign here over their subjects, but not in them; but Christ first reigns in them, and then over them; he reigns spiritually over none, but those in whom he reigns. Now Christ reigns in the souls of the Saints; first in opposing all things that are contrary to himself; for there are other lords that will seek to rule in the hearts of the Saints, if Christ subdue them not; the Devil, he will seek to be Lord, {he that is the god of the world, and rules and reigns in the hearts of the children of disobedience,} where Christ doth not rule; but when the Lord Jesus comes he dispossess him, and casts him out, and so keeps him out. The Devil will make many a strong assault, throw many a fiery dart at the soul of the Christian, endeavoring if possible to shake his hold; but Christ, he is the King, he is the Watchman, the Keeper of Israel, he giveth power to the weak fainting soul, to overcome all those laws and edicts, that Satan shall endeavor to set up in the soul; so that now the Christian espies all Satan’s plots and artificial devices to trap and ensnare him, rejects all his temptations, and says as Christ, “Get thee behind me Satan;” when the Devil acts and works in others, he hath no power over the soul where Christ reigns; though it is true he may throw in his darts, sometimes make effects either to tempt to some evil, or to shake the faith of Christians, but Christ the King reigns there still, conquers him, subdues him, and so caries on his own work, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against that soul where he dwells. Thus Christ reigns keeping under Satan; believe it beloved, for Christ and Satan cannot reign both in one soul. Christ opposes the power of sin in the soul, where he reigns; sin bears a strong sway in the soul, now Christ he opposeth it; sets himself against it; hence it is there is such a strong opposition {warfare} between the flesh and the spirit; that is, the spirit of Christ; the spirit lusting against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit, and these two are contrary each to other; and thus the Lord Jesus continues opposing of sin, of the lust and corruption that is in the hearts of the Saints. Question: How doth Christ oppose sin and Satan; for sin is Satan’s work. “For this cause was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the work of the Devil.” {I Jn.3:8} The work of the Devil is sin, he that committeth sin is of the Devil. Answer: Christ destroys sin, which is Satan’s work, two ways. First, Christ destroys the guilt of it, and that he did, in bearing both the sin, guilt, and condemnation of it upon his own body; {“who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” - I Pet.2:24 - “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;} and now he comes, and in the Gospel makes it known unto his people; “and not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” - reconciliation. {Rom. 5.11} Secondly; he destroys the power of it by his Spirit, by the operation of his power, working, reigning, and ruling in the hearts of his people. Now Christ subdues this iniquity by his Kingly Office, reigning in the Saints. “Ye are not under the law but under grace,” under Christ, in whom was manifested the fullness of grace. This doth Christ two ways; first, he comes to the soul of a poor sinner, discovering his excellency, the riches of his grace, and so shedding abroad his love in the heart, as to make the soul willing to receive him out of love unto him, desires to have Christ set up, and his Kingdom within itself; for Christ hath never a Kingdom in the heart of man, till he thus comes and breaks in upon the soul, discovering love; yet now saith the soul, let Christ be King, and none but him; although it is true, it is by his power he breaks in upon, and subdues the stout spirit of man, who would not willingly submit of himself, yet Christ makes him willing, by the shedding abroad of his love in the heart. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” {Rom.5:5} So that now, the Lord Jesus with the free consent of the gracious soul, sets up his kingdom in the heart, so that when Christ saith, “my Son give me thine heart;” the soul replies, “Lord, take my heart, dwell there, rule there, set up thy kingdom there;” so that you see Christ doth not rule as tyrant in the souls of his people, but with the free and full consent of the mind of the person in whom he reigns, for this is both the wisdom and power of Christ, that he makes his people - a willing people. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” {Psal.110:3} Then secondly, Christ having purged the heart of man in some measure, overcomes those strong lusts and affections, and makes it a meet mansion house, a Temple for his Holy Spirit to dwell in; as he then sets up laws and statutes in the hearts of his children, in his kingdom, and there he rules, opposing all other laws, for there are, and will be, the stirring of corruption, and that very strongly too. Now Christ first sets up the law of faith in the hearts of his people, and that in opposition of infidelity; for naturally the Saints are subject to infidelity, through the motions of corruptions, and temptations of Satan. The believing soul, when it sees, what a base nature it still carries about within itself, being sensible of the stirring of lusts and corruptions, Satan helping, then it is seriously troubled. “O this evil nature of mine,” saith the soul, “who shall deliver me from this body of sin?” Now the law of Christ is to believe, and in this condition to live by believing; and so Christ enables to put faith in exercise, and to believe above hope, almost as Abraham; and so he still quiets the soul by enabling it to believe constantly in the name of the Son of God; and that when it cannot work, for he is the Prince of our faith, the Author and Finisher of it; and so here is in the heart of the Christian a strong conflict between the law of faith, and the law of infidelity; the spirit of faith and the spirit of infidelity; infidelity coming in with a mighty commanding authority upon the soul of that Christian, set on by Satan’s malice, and perhaps, sometimes seems almost in the eyes of reason to get the victory over faith; but then Christ {who maintains his laws, and puts them in execution} arises and raiseth up the heart above those doubtings and carries on the soul in a way of believing still, and so quashes infidelity, and treads it under feet, and leaves it dead, executed for present by the law of faith. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted February 20, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Law of Love to Christ: Christ sets up the law of love in his Kingdom, I mean in the heart of the Saints; and that in opposition to hatred. For the truth is, that every soul in whom Christ reigns not, doth indeed hate Christ; now Christ sets up this law of love in the hearts of the Saints; love to himself, to his holiness, to his Gospel, Ordinances, Saints, everything that have the name of Christ stamped upon it, he loves it for his sake, and this law of love opposeth hatred, for there may come sometimes, hard thoughts into the souls of the Saints under afflictions, and fiery trials, ready perhaps, to say with David, “Hath the Lord forgotten to be merciful? Hath he shut up his tender mercy in displeasure?” Now the law of love comes in, and helps the soul to see that there is in Christ nothing but love to it, notwithstanding the souls present apprehensions, and sees all things shall work for good to them that love the Lord; and so can say with the Prophet, “Lord, out of very love hast thou afflicted me;” and so the soul is knit to Christ in all conditions, and cannot but have high thoughts of him, even then, when it suffers either for him or from him. For him; that is, for want of the enjoyment of the manifestations of his pleasing countenance, and the fresh incomes of his love; or for the bearing up of his name in a visible profession of the Gospel of Christ. From him; Fatherly chastisements out of love, to make us “partakers of his holiness.” {Heb.12:10} In all these sufferings, when perhaps sometimes the carnal part is ready almost to quarrel against Christ, this law of love quells and subdues all, brings this heart-rising in subjection, and knits the soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. As it causeth the soul to love the Lord Jesus, so it causeth it to love all that is Christ’s, and highly to esteem of it; and opposes any other Law that may seem to arise, as sometimes perhaps through the workings of Satan, with the corruptions of the Saints, there may be some beginnings of slighting the Saints, of entertaining hard thoughts of them, but then Christ stirs up, and revives this Law of love in them, kills that hatred, those hard thoughts, that it was apt to conceive against them, and so knits the soul to them by a more firm united love than ever, and thus this law of love, overcomes this law of hatred. In a word, it causeth the Saints to do all that they do out of love, the love of Christ constraining them. {II Cor.5:14} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Law of Heavenly Mindedness: Christ sets up the Law of heavenly mindedness in the heart of a believer, and indeed it is no wonder, for his Kingdom is there, heaven is there, “the Kingdom of heaven is within you,” {Lk.17:21,} and therefore needs must Christ set up this Law in his Kingdom, and that in opposition to earthly mindedness, sinfulness, or anything that is opposite to holiness and heavenliness; and you know how the spirits of men, nay, of Christians, are apt to be below the Lord Jesus Christ, sometimes overcome with earthly objects; sometimes, vain, proud, unprofitable things running in the mind, but Christ comes, and scatters those low things, and raiseth the heart to himself, and keeps the heart in such a temper, that nothing can satisfy it but himself, and when it loseth its heavenly temper, its heavenly glory, it is presently troubled, and it cannot possibly take comfort in anything beneath the Lord Jesus Christ; and here is a continual combat and conflict between the flesh and the spirit, the corrupt nature and the divine nature; and certainly here corruption and Satan, many times brings sadness upon the spirits of the Saints, in darkness, in overshadowing their heavenly enjoyment, I mean in way of sense, although they can never shake the faith of the soul in whom Christ dwells, as “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” {Mt.16:18} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom: The matter of Christ’s Kingdom is spiritual, Saints called out of the world; this is the Church, the Kingdom of Christ; the Saints gathered out of the World, by the preaching of the Gospel, into the order and fellowship of the Gospel; they are Saints, although some think strange to hear of Saints in this World, yet they are in Scripture called Saints, {I Cor.1:2,} “called to be Saints,” called to be holy. “Wherefore holy brethren partakers of the heavenly calling;” {Heb.3:1;} so that the kingdom of Christ is, or should be Saints, holy ones; not the world, for all the world are not Saints, but the Kingdom of Christ, are Saints called out of the World. “Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” {Jn.15:19} The Church of Christ are Saints chosen out of the World, they are not of the World, they are a people separated, or severed out of the World, so was the Church of the Jews. “And ye shall be holy unto me; for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” {Lev.20:26} And thus it is with the spiritual Israel of Christ, under the Gospel, of which the natural was a type; they are not of this World, they are called out of this World, and severed or separated from the World. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; and what communion hath light with darkness; and what concord hath Christ with Belial; or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel; and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” {II Cor.6:14-18} They are to be separated from the world, although the world hath gotten a form of godliness. The Apostle speaking of the last times, reckons up what courses men should take, what sins they should be addicted to, and yet concludes they shall have a form of godliness, but from such turn away, or be separated. {II Tim.3:1-5} So that you see, the Church, which is Christ’s Kingdom, are a people called out of the world, they are not of this world as he is not of this world. Then certainly those are no friends to Christ, that would turn the World into a Church, and so make the kingdom of Christ not a spiritual, but a carnal kingdom; and so make the Lord Jesus Christ a liar, for he hath said that, “his Kingdom is not of this world;” but let Christ be true, and every man a liar. The Church of Christ, his kingdom, they are such as are in the order and fellowship of the Gospel, compacted together, according to the Gospel rule, in order and fellowship; it is in the spiritual kingdom of Christ in this case, as in the body political; the whole kingdom under one government is but one body politic, or state; so the Kingdom of Christ, his church, although gathered in many bodies, yet it is but one body, and everybody hath the same power, the same privileges, so that it ought to be a body compacted together, under the reign and rule of one Lord Jesus Christ. {Eph.4:16} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted February 21, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Christ Alone Exalted: Now I come to my text, for the manner how he is to be exalted, as in the preaching of the Gospel, and in the hearts of his people, in his offices, so in my text which sets forth that Christ is to be exalted and lifted up even as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness. Now it is true, this has a primary relation to his lifting up upon the cross; “and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all {elect} men unto me.” {Jn.12:32} Now John interprets it in the next verse, “this he said, signifying what death he should die.” So that Christ was lifted up upon the cross, {Jn.8:28,} so he is still to be lifted up, a dying, a crucified Christ for sin. But he then was, and still is to be lifted up as the Serpent was lifted up in the wilderness. First, there was the lifting up of the Serpent with the manner of it above all the people. The cause of it, that whosoever was bitten with the fiery Serpent, might look to this brazen Serpent and be cured. Note the lifting up of the Serpent, with the manner of it. “And the LORD said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” {Num.21:8,9} Here was the lifting up of the Serpent in the wilderness; he was lifted up, upon a pole above all the people, to the end that all that were bitten, might behold him; so Christ is to be lifted up, he is to be exalted above all, as the Serpent in the wilderness; and that either in the world, or in the Church. So Christ is to be exalted in the preaching of the Gospel, in the view of all, above all, that so men may come to the view of him; and in the Church that so Christ may have the preeminence. Christ is to be exalted above the world, or any creature. O how doth the world prevail amongst men? Nay, too much amongst Christians; but where Christ comes, he sets the soul above the creature. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? {I Jn.5:4,5} It is the clear sight and apprehension of the Lord Jesus Christ that sets the soul above the world, for the more the soul enjoys of Christ, the more it slights things below; thus Christ is to be lifted up, both in the preaching of the Gospel, and in the hearts of the Saints. Christ is to be lifted up above duties and all legal righteousness, thus the Apostle lifts up Christ, both in preaching and in his own soul, for he preached Christ and him exclusively. “For I determined not to know {or make known} anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” {I Cor.2:2} Christ as the alone Justifier of all that believe. “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ;” {Rom.3:24;} so that he is just, and “the Justifier” of all which believe in Jesus. {vs.26} “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” {Rom.10:4} Christ justifying believers from all things, from which they could not have been justified by the Law of Moses, {Acts 13:39,} and thus is Christ to be lifted up in the view of all. “Preach the Gospel to every creature,” {Mk.16:15,} and thus is Christ to be lifted up above all and every name, that is or may be named under heaven, wherein men usually rest and deceive themselves, for “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” {Acts 4:12} Christ is to be lifted up in the hearts of the Saints, as he is to be lifted up above all duties, legal righteousness, or anything that may be named; all in the soul of the Christian is laid down as emptiness, nay, as dung and dross, at the feet of Christ, and the soul glories in nothing else but Christ and him crucified; thus Christ is to be exalted and lifted up as upon a pole, as the brazen Serpent, above everything or name, that may be named under heaven. Question: What is the reason that Christ is thus to be exalted? Answer: Because God hath exalted him and lifted him up for that end and purpose. “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, &c,” {Phil.2:9} God hath given to Christ a high transcendent name, a name above every name, the name of a Saviour, and there is no salvation to be attained without him. “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.” {Hag.2:7} That the desire of all his people in every Nation might be to him, as the desire of the wife to the husband; the King of his people, men may come, and bow and fall down, and worship before him. God the Father hath set him up as the ensign to whom the Nations must come. “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious;” {Is.11:10;} as the Saviour and Governor of all God’s elect. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Law & Gospel Distinctions: Christ is to be lifted up, that so men may have life by him. The serpent was lifted up, that whosoever was bit with the fiery serpent might live, for the Lord sent fiery serpents amongst the Jews in the wilderness, for their sins, as you may see, {Num.2:6,7,} who bit them that they died, and this was the end, that whosoever was bit with the fiery serpent might look to the brazen Serpent and live. Now I am apt to conceive, that the fiery serpent holds forth the Law, for I find the Law called a fiery Law. “From his right hand went a fiery law for them;” {Deut.33:2,} and the brazen Serpent holds forth Christ. Now as the fiery serpent did bite the children of Israel for their sin in the wilderness, so the Law which hath nothing but fire in it, bites men, and when they are bitten of the Law, they are to look to Christ. Objection: It seems then that the preaching of the Law is that which prepares for Christ. Answer: Nay, it is not so, for although all men are under the law by nature, yet it is the preaching of the Gospel that discovers it. I give you these grounds. A man never savingly sees his evil condition without a Christ, but it is the Spirit of God that discovers it unto him; this all that are sound in the faith agree unto; then the preaching of the Law brings not this spirit. “This only would I learn of you, {saith the Apostle, speak out of your experience,} received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” {Gal.3:2} Beloved, God hath appointed his Spirit to be the means in the preaching of the Gospel, to convince the world of sin. {Jn.16:9} It is the Spirit of God that convinces the world of sin, and that in the preaching of faith, the Apostle was once alive without the Law, that is, without the spiritual understanding of the Law, but when the commandment came, sin reigned, and he died; that is, when Christ had opened his eyes to see into the spirit of the Law, for you may see that the ministry by which Paul comes to see himself, is the voice of Christ, “I am Jesus of Nazareth,” then Paul comes trembling, &c.; {Acts 9:4,5, &c.;} so that it is Christ in the preaching of the Gospel which is glad tidings for sinners, remission of sins for believers, and this Gospel, this glad tidings, cannot be rightly held forth to the world; but withal, men must be showed that they are sinners, and the emptiness of duties, all other foundations must be discovered, the danger of not submitting to Christ, &c.; this preaching of Christ and faith in opposition to all legal work and duties, is the means Christ hath appointed to bring men to the knowledge, both of himself and themselves. It is true, every man and woman without faith, is bitten with the fiery serpent, the fiery Law, but are not sensible of it, till Christ come in the preaching of the Gospel, to discover it unto them. So that this is the reason why Christ is to be lifted up in the days of the Gospel, that sinners who behold him may live. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted February 22, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Christ Alone Exalted: Question - But some may say, how shall I know that I do {not “I do,” but rather that “he is” – God has} indeed exalt Christ in my soul? Answer - First, Christ is then exalted in the soul, when the Lord brings over the soul to look upon Christ, as its alone justification. O beloved then is the Lord exalted, when the soul comes to see that there is nothing but emptiness in itself, when the soul can through the power of God cast down all at the feet of Christ, and look upon all its own righteousness as dung and dross in comparison of Christ, so the Apostle Paul, {Phil.3:7-9,} the Apostle having in the 5th & 6th verses laid down what he was once in divers particulars in his own righteousness, he amongst all the grounds, {as once he thought them grounds of comfort,} one and the least was, he walked “as touching the Law blameless;” but what things were gain that is, I counted gain, and rested upon them, I now count them loss for Christ’s sake; “yea doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” and ver.9, “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.” O here is a soul exalting Christ above all, laying all his own righteousness low, even as low as dung and dross in comparison of Christ. What saith thy soul to this, now man, woman, didst ever see thine own righteousness, or at least thine own unrighteousness? Hath the Lord opened thine eyes to see a vanity, emptiness in that you once trusted? Hath the Lord let forth a glimpse of his glory into thy soul, shining down in the face of Jesus Christ? Can you say, “Yea doubtless, I account all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Is thy soul carried forth above, and beyond thy self to the Lord Jesus Christ as thine alone righteousness? “Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” {Is.45:24,25} In the Lord Christ thou seest thy justification, and in him thou dost glory, thou canst say, God forbid, I should glory in anything below Christ. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” {Jer.23:6} This is his name by which he shall be called, “The Lord our Righteousness,” the Lord our covering, our justification; this is the ground, when thou canst look upon Christ as thy alone righteousness and justification, and so seeing an excellency in the knowledge of Christ in this particular. A soul then exalts Christ, when it looks so upon Christ, as that it is carried with a principle of love after him, and it is by love as it were glued and knit up to him, so the Apostle; “who shall separate us from the love of God?” {Rom.8:35-38} And when love constrains thy soul to follow God, “the love of Christ constrains us,” {II Cor.5:14,} and when love so glues and knits thy soul to Christ; when thou canst follow Christ in all conditions, to trial, prisons, death, nothing severs thee from him, when as with Abraham thou goest forth from thine own Country, thy sins, sinful companions, and followeth Christ, not knowing whether thou goest, whether to liberty or prison, that makes nothing with thee. “By faith Abraham…obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went;” {Heb.11:8;} this flows from faith; “faith which worketh by love.” {Gal.5:6} Thirdly: When the Lord Jesus is the alone delight and joy of thy heart, believe it beloved, if the soul exalt Christ rightly, he will be thy delight and joy, thou wilt be able to sing the song of Mary. “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my Spirit rejoyceth in God my Saviour;” {Lk.46:47;} there will be joy and peace come in through believing, “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice.” {Phil.4:4} The soul that truly exalts Jesus, is satisfied in the enjoying of him, and now the soul hath enough, when it hath Christ, let who will have the world, sin, pleasure, “I have Christ,” saith the soul, a goodly portion; now the soul is fitted for any condition, come affliction, persecution, the soul glories in all, because it enjoys God through Christ in all. After the Apostle has mentioned his afflictions, he concludes that he will glory in all. {II Cor.11:30, 12:9} Lastly, when Christ is all in all to the soul, then doth the soul rightly exalt and lift up Christ, when it enjoys a fullness in Christ in the want of all things, and sees an emptiness in all things without Christ; this the Apostle could see and say, “he is all and in all.” {Col.3:11} Christ is all and in all, he is the way, the truth and the life. {Jn.14:6} He is the light and life of men. {Jn.1:4} He is meat, drink and clothing as we use to say, to the Saints, he is their meat and drink. “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” {Jn.6:55}  O beloved, every believer spiritually eats and drinks the flesh and blood of Christ; that is, lives upon Christ, as he doth not build upon ordinary prayers, duties; “No, No, give me Christ,” saith the believing soul, Christ in hearing, Christ in preaching, Christ in the Ordinances of the Lord &c. Believe it, beloved, nothing less than Christ can satisfy the living, the believing soul and likewise in temporal things, the believer sees all purchased for him by the blood of Christ, and so in every situation, he lives upon the flesh and blood of Christ, and believe it beloved, thus every believer lives upon Christ. “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” {Jn.6:53} Hearken ye friends; he that doth not thus spiritually eat and drink the flesh and blood of Christ hath no life in him; a sign of a dead soul that lives upon ordinary creatures without Christ. Christ is clothing and covering also, as he covers the nakedness of men and women that believe. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.” {Rev.3:18} What is this clothing? The righteousness of the Saints. “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” {Rev.19:8} The fine linen is the righteousness of the Saints; Christ Jesus is the Saints righteousness. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” {I Cor.1:30} “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS;” {Jer.23:6;} and so the Saints covering. The Saints spiritually enjoy Christ also in their external covering, so that I say, he rightly exalts Christ in his soul, that sees Christ to be all, and in all to him, &c. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Sunday, February 24, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Considerations Concerning God’s Eternal Decree: Some Considerations to quiet any under pressing trials, in order to their patient submitting to, and cheerful doing of the Divine will. First; consider, who can govern the world better than He which made it? Who can dispose of His creatures better than He which gave them a being? Who can tell how to keep a house or nation in order, better than He which made them? Shall magistrates acquire the name of wise governors, and shall not the Governor of the world, who is essentially wise, be so accounted in His “working all things after the counsel of his own will?” Who is fitter to govern the world than He which made it? This was the very argument God stilled Job, withal; “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Hadst thou no hand in making the world, and wouldest thou a hand in governing it? Am I not able to govern and dispose of my creatures by the same wisdom I made them? Did I take no counsel of man in framing it, and shall I come to man for wisdom to govern it? Had I no counsel of man when I made my decree, and shall I come to man for wisdom to execute them,” {Job 38-42,} when it's for my own glory to “work according to the counsel of my own will?” Secondly; consider, God takes pleasure in all His purposes and decrees; as God’s counsels will stand, because immutable, so His counsels are called “His pleasure.” “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” {Is.46:10} God’s electing, redeeming, adopting, sanctifying, and saving the Ephesian saints, is called “the good pleasure of his will;” that wherein He took delight, or was well-pleasing to Him. {Eph.1:5} Shall God take pleasure in His decrees, and the execution of them, and shall we not be pleased with what God is pleased withal? Shall we cheerfully submit to His just decrees, and His will and pleasure of earthly governors, as unto Him whose Kingdom rules over all? All good men do delight in their own just decrees and purposes, and shall not God in His, who cannot go out of Himself or His own purposes to a greater Good, because He is the chief Good? If it do please God to make you His people, {I Sam.12:22,} and for your profit is pleased to correct you, {Heb.12:10,} shall we not say, “Blessed be God” for the one, as for the other. “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” {Job 1:21} Although it is too low for a Christian to say, I must submit; it is the glory of a believer to embrace the Divine will. Reprobates and devils must submit. If it be God’s will to divest a poor sinner of the Devil, he must come out, whether he will, or not. Pharaoh indeed obeyed God’s will in letting Israel go; but it was sore against his will. A believer will submit to the Divine will out of choice, and not force, for that is no more than devils and reprobates do; and herein Christ is our Pattern, though the human flesh did sometimes recoil and draw back under the sense of approaching judgment, as good men sometimes do; yet His judgment and will was for complying with the Divine will, though it was to die, {Lk.22:42,} not only from the eternal transaction between the Father and the Son in reference to man’s salvation, but knowing it was best to choose the will of such a One who is not only righteous, holy and good, but will “work all things after the counsel of his own will.” Thirdly; consider, Divine contentment ariseth alone from this principle: Am I content with this revolution, this alteration in the nation, in my family, my person, in my estate, because it is my Lord’s will? So Paul could never be content in every condition, but from this principle, knowing not only that the condition he should be in was best for him, but that it was also according to the purpose of God’s own will. “Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed.” {Phil.4:11,12} Some heathens, called Stoics, labored after contentment in every condition, from the improvement of natural principles; but that was far from Divine contentment. God’s content and satisfaction ariseth out of Himself and His decrees, knowing Himself perfect. Now when our state of contentment is in accordance with principles of godliness, it flows from this principle purely, and abstract from all other considerations, this is the Divine will, therefore I submit, and therefore am content, and can do no other but choose it, because it is the will of One who is perfect in Wisdom. Lord, if Thou shouldst refer any case to me, to make my own choice, I would refer it to Thee again, and say as the brethren of Berea and Thessalonica, concerning Paul whom they loved dearly, and shed so many tears for at parting, “The will of the Lord be done.” {Acts 21:14} Fourthly, consider, all in God, and all about God, serves to bring about His decrees and counsel. First, all in God, if I may so express it; all the attributes of God are concerned in the accomplishment of His eternal will; his Will decrees all, His Wisdom orders all and His Truth and Power accomplishes all. Mark, God’s Power acts not beyond His Purpose; though in point of power, God could do many things more than He doth, and prevent many things that come to pass; yet in point of His decree, cannot. In point of power God could prevent those garments rolled in the blood of the nations of the world, and many family, relative, personal afflictions upon us, and upon the churches; yet in point of His decree cannot. The Power of God is active, one whilst to accomplish His will, and at another time ceases to act, to bring about the Divine purpose. If God withdraw His Power from a creature, he quickly ceases to move; and if God do send forth His Spirit, we are activated. {Ps.104:29,30} Some may say, I committed my near relation, husband, wife, or child, into God’s hand, with a firm belief God could raise them up; and yet they died. Soul, thou didst well to believe in God’s Power, but would you have God act His Power contrary to, or in the preventing His decrees? Remember God’s Power acts not beyond His decrees, but all in God, either in a way of action or cessation from act, serves to bring about His own eternal will. Secondly; all about God serves to complete His Divine purposes and decrees. The holy saints and angels in glory all “do his commands, hearkening unto the voice of his word.” {Ps.103:20-22} The spirit of the living creatures, and the wheels, went in Ezekiel’s vision, wherever the Spirit of God went for to accomplish His will; so the four spirits or chariots in Zechariah’s vision, {Zech.6:1-4,} which came out from between the mountains of brass, the immutable decrees of God, these are all employed in the four quarters of the world, to accomplish those eternal decrees; so that whatever providences they were employed about, whether frowning providences, toward the enemies of God and His church, signified by the red and black horses, or mixed providences signified by the grizzled and bay horses, some mercy and some affliction; or whether smiling providences upon the church, signified by the white horses in the third chariot, these all serve to accomplish the immutable decrees of God; and seeing none shall enter the Holy Place “but he which doth the will of the Father,” {Mt.7:21,} let it be our daily cry, “Lord direct and help me to do thy will on earth, as it is done in Heaven; {Mt.6:10;} to suffer patiently, and do cheerfully the will of God upon earth, is a very great resemblance of the Heavenly life; for there is nothing in Heaven, but the Divine will done and delighted in. The angels which are in chains of darkness, their hearts did no sooner rise against the Divine will, but were cast out of Heaven into Hell; and all such as obey not the Gospel of Christ, can expect no less than flaming fire. {II Thes.1:8} Is it fit a king should entertain a company of rebels, which continually oppose His will? Let such remember, as God hath Power and Goodness enough to fix the godly and obedient in everlasting bliss, so He hath Power and Justice enough to fix the disobedient in complete misery. Remember, O disobedient soul! He does work all things according to the counsel of his own will. Will you not tremble at his presence, who appointed the sand for the bound of the sea? {Jer.5:22} “Who knows the power of his anger?” {Ps.90:11} Whoever hardeneth himself against God, and prospered? Who but one lunatic would oppose the joint commands of a general, whose army is an hundred thousand strong that can crush him as a moth? Oh! What Armies in Heaven and earth can God raise against an impenitent sinner, an army of angels, stars, lice, frogs, caterpillars, locusts; yea, God can arm thy own conscience against thee, which is more than all. Provoke not this Lord to jealousy. Are you greater than He, who can destroy soul and body in Hell? Rather labor to “take hold” of his strength, that ye make peace with him, and you shall make peace with Him. {Is.27:5} Finally, doth “God work all things after the counsel of his own will?” Then blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance, because the counsel of the Lord standeth forever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations. {Ps.33:11,12} Hercules Collins {Mountains of Brass, or a Discourse upon the Decrees of God, 1696}

Posted February 25, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Exaltation of Christ as High Priest: I shall now come to the exaltation of Christ in his offices, in the days of the Gospel, Priest, Prophet and King, for in these is Christ to be exalted. Christ is the great High Priest of his people, and in this particular he is to be exalted in the days of the Gospel, that is, as the alone atonement and peace maker betwixt God and man. The Levitical High-Priests under the Law were a type of Christ our Great High-Priest under the Gospel. Therefore, for my more clear proceeding, I shall endeavor to unfold unto you what was the Office of the High-Priest under the Law. What their office is, and wherein they agree, for those High-Priests in all their administrations, typed forth Christ our Great High-Priest. 1. The Office of the High-Priest was to offer sacrifice for the sins of the people. “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.” “And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; and he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering; also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meat offering mingled with oil, for today the LORD will appear unto you; and they brought that which Moses commanded before the tabernacle of the congregation; and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD; and Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do; and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you; and Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people; and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded.” {Lev.9:1-7} This hath Christ done; he hath offered sacrifice for sin, and herein Christ doth not only agree with those High Priests in offering sacrifice for sin, but he differs also, excelling those High-Priests, for they offered sacrifice it is true, but it was the flesh and blood of creatures, a lamb, a ram, goats, bulls, &c. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; 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.9:13,14} Christ offered not the blood of goats and calves, but his own blood, {Heb.9:12,} his own body. {Heb.10:10} Christ hath offered himself a sacrifice. “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.” {Eph.5:2} So you see Christ exceeds in the very first, in the offering, in the Sacrifice; he offers his own body, his own blood upon the cross a sacrifice for sin, and indeed those legal sacrifices were but a type of Christ our sacrifice, and in themselves could not do away sin, but as they directed to Christ, therefore Christ is called the Lamb slain from the beginning, or from the foundation of the World. {Rev.13:8} 2. The High-Priests by offering sacrifice were to make atonement and peace for their own sins, and for the sins of the people. “And Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people; and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded.” {Lev.9:7} The Priest for the unclean woman, was to offer a sin offering, and a burnt offering, to make an atonement for her before the Lord; {Lev.15:30;} this was the end wherefore he went into the holy place, {Lev.16:3,} to make an atonement for the children of Israel before the Lord. {vs.34} This Christ our High-Priest hath done; harken you beloved, Christ our High Priest hath offered sacrifice, and by his sacrifice he hath put away sin, made an atonement, that is peace and reconciliation between God and man. “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” {Rom.5:10} Note, here is Christ reconciling by his death, Christ a sacrifice dying, and so reconciling; you shall see all along the Scripture that it is Christ a Sacrifice, Christ dying; that is, our reconciliation, our atonement, and peace. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ;” {Eph.2:13;} “he is our peace,” {vs.14,} “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, &c.,” {vs.15,} “and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, &c.” {vs.16}  You see Christ hath made peace by his blood, having abolished in his flesh the enmity of the Law, made reconciliation by his cross. And making peace how? Through the blood of his cross. {Col.1:20} It is by the blood of his cross, by his death, wherein he offered himself a Sacrifice for sin, that he hath made peace for all his people. Note, in this also, that Christ our High-Priest exceeds those Jewish High-Priests. Christ our High-Priest hath indeed made peace and reconciliation for sin, he is our peace; and that the Jewish High-Priest could not do, their Sacrifice could not make peace farther than the soul was lead unto Christ. “The law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” {Heb.10:1} “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” {vs.4} Christ hath done that which the blood of bulls and goats could not do, that which never a High-Priest in the world could do, he hath taken away sin, he hath made peace, and every believer receives the atonement from his hands. “We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” {Rom.5:11} O beloved! What do your souls say to this? Christ hath wrought peace for every soul rightly receiving him, he hath done that which the Priest could not do, he hath done that which thou thyself could never have done, if the Lord help thee rightly to look to him; and this he hath done in offering himself a Sacrifice for sin, dying upon the cross. How should this inform poor creatures where to look for their peace and atonement? O do not look for it in duties, in tears, in professions; it is not crying but dying that will take away sin; it is not tears but blood that will make peace. {Col.1:20} Without blood there is no remission. {Heb.9:22} Believe it, if ever thou hast peace, thou must have it from a Christ dying. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, &c.” {Rom.8:33,34} Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification; {Rom.4:25;} it is through him who hath given himself a Sacrifice for sin that sinners are brought to see their sin pardoned, if ever they see it pardoned. O how do poor ignorant blind creature deceive themselves, seeking peace where it is not to be found, in duties, tears, &c. They hew “them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water, {that is the reason they are so empty;}” {Jer.2:13;} they compass themselves about with sparks of their own kindling; which is the reason they lay down in sorrow; {Is.50:11;} they seek the living among the dead; that is, living consolations amongst dead works, and that is the reason they find it not. Believe it beloved, if ever your souls enjoy true peace, it must be let into your souls by a dying Christ, if ever you are saved it must be by eying of, and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. “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} 3. The High-Priest was to bear the names of the children of Israel in two stones between his shoulders. {Ex.28:12} So hath Christ born, not only the names, but the sins of his people also upon his shoulders. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” {I Pet.2:24} He which knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Believe it, beloved, those sins and corruptions that so much trouble the souls of Saints, he hath borne them all himself, he himself bare our iniquities upon his own body on the cross. 4. The High-Priest bare the names of the children of Israel on a breast-plate of judgment, for a memorial before the Lord continually. “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.” {Ex.28:29} He bears their names, and judgments before the Lord, &c., and so doth Christ, our High-Priest, bear the names of all his people; yea, their nature, and judgments upon his heart, before the Lord continually; he presents them before his Father continually. Now Christ may be said to bear the names of the Saints upon his heart. First, in his continual presenting them to himself, and Father, {without spot} righteous in his own righteousness. “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 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.5:25-27} Secondly, in respect of their nearness unto him. Beloved, that which comes to a man’s heart, comes near him; the Saints of God are as near unto him as his own heart; he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye; {Zech.2:8;}  he that persecutes them persecutes Christ. {Acts 9:4} O, therefore, let men take heed how they persecute Christians; for it were better a millstone were hanged about their necks, and they cast into the Sea, then offend or persecute the Saints. But the Saints, whom the Lord hath, or shall call, are upon his heart, in respect of his love unto them. Beloved, the elect were upon the heart of Christ from all eternity. {Eph.1:4} That was the reason, why he comes into the world, to take their nature upon himself, their sins, become sin and a curse for sinners. It was his love; the elect of God was so upon the heart of Christ from eternity; and he will give his heart blood before he will lose one of them. O what do your hearts say to this; {dear brethren and sisters;} is not here comfort for your souls? O thou art perhaps afraid whether Christ loves thee; this is the complaint many times of a gracious soul; but know this, you, to whom, God hath given faith in his Son, thou art upon the heart of the Son in respect of nearness, in respect of love, he loves the more than thou canst love him, for God is love. {I Jn.4:8} He bears thee upon his heart, {poor soul,} and what canst thou desire more? “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” {Cant.8:6} See what Christ saith of his Church. {Cant.4:9, 6:5} Thirdly, the Saints are upon the heart of Christ in respect of his remembering of them. “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.” {Psal.112:6} Here is comfort for the poor afflicted souls of the Saints! It may be, you are under affliction, either external or internal, and art ready to complain, as once David did, as if the Lord had forgotten to be merciful. {Ps.13:1,2} Whatever thy condition be, God hath not forgotten thee; No, No, thou art upon his heart, thou art near and dear unto him, thou art very precious unto him, he hath set thee as a seal upon his heart, and he cannot forget thee. Objection: But you will say, perhaps, will not God forget me when I forget him? I have a wicked deceitful heart that gives me the slip, when I come to pray, and the name of the Lord is not so precious upon my heart as I wish it were many times. Answer: But God will not forget thee. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” {Is.49:15,16} O blessed word, the Lord will not forget, thou art not only upon his heart, but within his hands; also, ever in his sight, his eye is ever over thee for good. Fourthly; the Saints are upon the heart of Christ, and there he will keep them. “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost.” {Jn.17:12} Ah blessed word! Able to bear up the spirits of the Saints, to whom God hath given faith. O you poor doubting Christians, who are sometimes afraid that your hearts will deceive you, and perhaps are ready sometimes to complain with David, “I shall one day fall by the hand of Saul.” So thou art ready to say, “O this wicked heart of mine, O this proud, this stubborn heart of mine, I am afraid lest all is nothing, and that I shall one day fall by it.” O beloved, you {to whom God hath given faith} are upon the heart of Christ, and if thou canst but once see thyself there, it is enough, thou needest not fear thy falling. Dost think that Christ hath set thee there for nothing? No, No, he will keep thee there; it is true, if the power of standing or falling were left to thy self, then thou might well doubt, but thou art kept by the power of God, through faith. {I Pet.1:5} Thou art preserved at, and in the heart of Christ; his love is so to thee that he will not lose thee, for none shall pluck thee out of his hands, he loving thee once, will love thee to the end; however some pretend a falling away from grace, after the soul comes truly to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is but a vain fancy, and an imaginary conceit, for it is a part of the Covenant of Grace on God’s part, to keep thee from falling. “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, {in Christ,} that 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} Fifthly, the High-Priest was to bear the iniquity of the holy things in a plate of pure gold on their fore-heads, before the Lord, always, that they might be accepted before the Lord. {Ex.28:37,38} So Christ bears the iniquity of the holy things of the Saints, the best Saints, I mean the most consecrated, is not able to performed any duty to God, but there is a great deal of sin in it, iniquity cleaving thereunto. Now beloved, as Christ hath borne all the rest of the sins of the Saints, so he bears all the sin, all the iniquity of the holy things of the Saints. O comfort for the Saints, thou canst not even hear, nor pray without sin. Christ bears all the iniquity of thy holy things, he presents thy person and prayers to God without spot. {Eph.5:27} There is never a prayer put up unto God in the name of Christ in faith, but Christ presents it. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, it shall be given you.” {Jn.16:23}  “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” {Rev.8:3} Thus, Christ Jesus, the Messenger {our Covenant Messenger & Angel} of the Covenant, stands at the Altar, and having a golden censer with much incense, that he might offer it or add it to the prayers of the Saints. O beloved, here is a blessed word for the souls of the Saints, whether particular Saints or Churches. Christ adds to your prayers much incense, the incense of his own merit. Sixthly, the High-Priest was to go once a year into the most holy place, within the veil. “And 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} “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” {Lev.16:2} “And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.” {Lev.16:34} Compared with that which is spoken of Christ in Hebrews. “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people; the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing; which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” {Heb.9:7-12} So Christ our Great High-Priest is passed into the heavens, within the veil, into the Holy of Holies. Neither with the blood of goats and calves; but by his own blood, he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. What doth Christ there? Why beloved, as he hath made peace and reconciliation for his people, so he is entered in within the veil to make intercession for them. “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” {Heb.7:24,25} Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted February 27, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Eternal Justification & the Blood of Christ: As Christ hath made peace in bearing the sins of his people, so also in laying down his life and blood for them. Beloved, before ever there could be peace and reconciliation made, Christ must die for it, give his life and blood for it. All those ceremonial sacrifices under the Law were a type of a dying Christ; hence it is that he is called a Lamb slain from the beginning. Beloved, Christ having undertaken to become a High-Priest, a Peace-Maker between God and man, nothing less than his blood could do it. Without blood there is no remission; {Heb.9:22;} no justification without blood; Christ’s dying is a believer’s justification; “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved,” &c., {Rom.5:9,} no purging of sin without blood; “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} “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood;” {Rev.1:5;} there is no pardon and so no peace without blood. {Heb.9:22} Thus beloved you see that all must be done by blood, and that by the blood of Christ too, for the blood of all the creatures in the world, nay of all the men in the world, was not able to redeem, to make satisfaction for one soul, nay, for one sin, nothing less than the precious blood of Christ could do it. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” {I Pet.1:18,19} 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}

Christ’s Mediatorial Intercession: The second part of Christ’s priestly office, consists in his intercession at the right hand of the glory of his Father. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” {Rom.8:34} “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” {Heb.7:25} Beloved, this is one part of Christ’s Priestly office to intercede for the Saints. He maketh intercession for us, also he ever liveth to make intercession. O blessed word for the Saints; for he maketh intercession for every particular Saint, he maketh intercession for his Churches, “for us” saith the Apostle, and through him it is, we have access with boldness, unto the Father, &c. Objection: But some may object, did not Christ make satisfaction, peace and reconciliation when he died upon the cross, when he said, “It is finished?” Answer: It is true that Christ in his death, and resurrection finished the work of man’s justification, “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him;” {Rom.5:9;} Christ made peace and reconciliation through his blood. “Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.” {Col.1:20} We are not to understand by Christ’s interceding any new act of Christ, done, either in way of satisfaction, or justification; neither are we to understand that Christ sits in Heaven pleading with the Father in words, as a counselor pleads a cause before the judge; but Christ is in Heaven with the Father at his right hand; that is, in glory with him, presenting our persons, and in presenting our persons, all our services, in his own person; not by any new act of doing, but by the worth of his merits, the excellency of his person, the near relation of the Saints to himself, viz. members of his body; so that now God cannot look upon the Son but he must behold the Saints in him, he having so near a relation to his Father, both by his personal presence, and the excellent worth of his merits, {whose blood spake better things then the blood of Abel, Heb.12:24,} he continually makes intercession to God for the Saints. “He hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” {Is.53:12} Here you have the whole priestly office of Christ - bearing sin, and so working peace - making intercession by that means for transgressors. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Christ - the Wisdom of God: 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, and there is no numbering of it. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” {Ps.145:3} How should this take off from the Saints all cares and fears concerning the things of this world? He who is infinite in wisdom; wisdom himself hath taken care for thy soul, for thine eternity. Doubt not, but rest upon him, his wisdom shall be for thee, he will so order, and dispose of all thy actions, as shall be most advantageous for his own honor, and thy good. And know this, that nothing comes to pass but by his wise disposing hand of grace; nay, he is made unto thee, that believest, wisdom. {I Cor.1:30} O admirable mercy, that the God of wisdom, should not only, wisely contrive a way for the reconciling of sinners to himself, but should become their wisdom, he is made to us wisdom, admire at this, all the sons and daughters of God; what, God himself become your wisdom; then truly, thy folly shall not harm thee. O thou art ready to say I am so foolish, so ignorant, &c. O poor soul, it matters not, it is mercy thou seest thy folly; for the truth is, thou must be a fool that thou mayst be wise. {I Cor.3:18 & 4:10} That is, thou must renounce all thine own wisdom as folly; for it is self-wisdom that is the greatest enemy to Christ. Therefore let no man deceive himself, “if any man amongst you seem to be wise in this world, let him be a fool that he may be wise.” Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Everlasting Love of God in Christ: What cause have the Saints to admire God in Christ for his love! O admirable love! What, God to give his Son to become a propitiation for the sin of sinners? Is not this rich grace and mercy? For God to take upon him the nature of man, and the sins of men, to make peace and reconciliation for men? What soul can behold this love, this mercy, and not stand admiring in the enjoyment of it? Beloved, this love of God manifested unto men; it is Free, Full and Everlasting. Love, it is free without desert, for there was nothing in man for to procure it, he hath loved thee freely, poor soul. “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for mine anger is turned away.” {Hos.14:4} Beloved, God loved freely, for he loved his before they were; “according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” {Eph.1:4} He loved them freely, for he loved them when they were sinners. {Rom. 5:8} The manifestation of this love is free, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. This love he manifests unto them, when they would none of it, when men had rather keep their sins than receive Christ, as a Priest, and an atonement; so Paul {Acts 9;} the Lord meets him and overpowers him, when he was going in a way of persecution, as it is in Is.65:1; “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not; I said, Behold me, behold me, &c.” God first seeking and finding, causes the creature to seek after God. 2. It is full grace and love, great love; “God so loved the world, that he gave his Son, &c.” {Jn.3:16}  O unspeakable love, that nothing less than the Son of God can serve for a gift, and truly beloved, nothing less could have done the deed, and therefore nothing less could be given from a God of love, who intended in his gift to do good to man. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;” {I Jn.4:9,10;} and herein is the love of Christ manifested to become a Priest, a Sacrifice, to lay down his life for sinners. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” {Jn.15:13} Here is great love, love to be admired of all the Saints. 3. This love of God manifested in the Son is everlasting love. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” {Jer.31:3} Harken you, {beloved friends,} God hath loved his people from everlasting, and he will love them to everlasting. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end;” {Jn.13:1;} that is, forever. Hence it is that the kindness of God is called everlasting kindness. “With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” {Is.54:8} His mercy is everlasting mercy. “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” {Ps.100:5} His Covenant made with thee {in Christ} who art a believer, is an everlasting covenant. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them;” {Is.61:8;} a Covenant that shall not be removed; “for the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee;” {Is.54:10;} neither shalt they depart out of it; “and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that 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;} and hence it is that the joy of the Saints shall be everlasting, for indeed, were not God’s mercies, God’s Covenants, &c. everlasting, there could be no true joy, but this is that which occasions both true and everlasting joy and consolation. “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, &c.” {II Thes.2:16} Here is everlasting consolation flowing from the love of God, and truly the consolation could not be everlasting, were not that love communicated through grace everlasting. Here is admirable mercy, admirable grace, free full and everlasting. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

Posted February 28, 2013

{Writings of Thomas Collier}

Salvation in Christ: The Saints have cause also to admire the power, the almighty power of God, working salvation for them, for he doth declare himself to be the Almighty God, able to do whatsoever he pleaseth, he is able to save, he is able to work salvation for his people which way he pleaseth, and the power of God is manifested in Christ, working salvation for his people. “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save;” {Is.63:1;} behold the Lord Jesus is called the Mighty God, {Is.9:6,} and a Mighty Redeemer, {Prov.23:11,} and their Redeemer is mighty, he shall plead their cause, &c., and truly beloved, he had need be mighty, for he hath undertaken a mighty work, the redemption and salvation of sinners, and this appears to be a mighty work; because none else could do it. Beloved, God hath done such a work for his people that no creature, nor created power in heaven or earth could do it. “There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me;” {Is.45:21;} none can save beside God, “for there is no Saviour beside me;” {Hos.13:5;} therefore in “vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.” {Jer.3:23} Beloved, it is in vain to look for salvation from the hills and mountains, from creatures, or anything beneath the Lord Jesus Christ, for “there is none other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved,” but by the name of Jesus. {Acts 4:12} O beloved, how should the Saints praise God, and admire him for that great and glorious salvation he hath wrought for his people; this is the song the Saints sing unto his praise: “And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen; Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.” {Rev.7:10-12} They sing forth God’s saving power, for who is a God able to save after this manner? It appears to be a mighty work, exceeding the work of the creation, or any of the rest of the work of God, if we consider the several circumstances, or concomitants thereunto appertaining. Beloved, the Lord made the world with his word, he spake the word and it was done, but it was not a word that could save man being fallen; No, no, beloved, there is more to be done, first, God must take upon him the nature of man, that is, the seed of David, {Rom.1:3,} of Abraham, {Heb.2:16,} and “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” {I Pet.2:24,} taking their curse, “being made a curse for them,” {Gal.3:13,} and their condemnation. {Rom.8:3} And to effect this great work of man’s salvation, He that was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God, was found in the form of a servant, and became obedient to the death, even the death of the Cross. {Phil.2:6,7} Here is a great work by which man’s salvation is accomplished; and was there ever the like work wrought by God, greater than the creation; there a word doth it, here must be blood, not of an ordinary man, but of the Son of God; greater than the destroying or building of Nations or Kingdoms, here a word doth it, {Jer.18:7,8,} here must be blood. {Heb.9:22} Thus you see, beloved, the admirable power of God, manifested in this work of reconciliation. Thomas Collier {Exaltation of Christ, 1647}

 

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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