November 2012


Posted November 1, 2012

{Truth Vindicated}

Some Objections to an Unconditional & Everlasting Covenant of Grace Answered: That the Covenant that was made with the Lord Jesus Christ, was the Covenant of Redemption, not the Covenant of Grace, or the New Covenant. In Answer to this I shall propose a few Queries: First, I desire to know where this Distinction is to be found; for I cannot find it in the Word of God; or by what mark the Covenant of Redemption, and the Covenant of Grace, or the New Covenant, may be known one from the other, if they are distinct Covenants? I cannot find any Marks or Characters in the Word that are peculiar to each of these. I have met with many that have made the Distinction, but I could never meet with one as yet that could make it intelligent to me, whatever they fancy to themselves. The Author to the Hebrews mentions but two Covenants, the first and the second, an Old and a New, one that is confirmed, and another that is done away; and yet he handles the Covenants more largely and distinctly than any other of the Penmen of Holy Scripture had done before; and does plainly show that Christ was the Testator of the New Covenant; {Heb.9:15-17;} and if so, then was the New Covenant made with Christ; as a party Covenanting. Secondly, I would know, whether the Covenant of Redemption may not properly be called the Covenant of Grace? Whether God did ever manifest more of his Grace and Mercy, either to Jew or Gentile, than in giving Jesus Christ, to raise up the Tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel, to be a light to the Gentiles, and to be for Salvation to the end of the Earth? Thirdly, whether the New Covenant be not the Covenant of Redemption, as well as it is the Covenant of Grace? My meaning is, whether Redemption be not a Branch of the New Covenant? Whether Jesus Christ was not the Mediator of the New Covenant, that by means of Death, for the Redemption of the Transgressions that were under the first Covenant, that they that are called might receive the Promise of Eternal Inheritance. I find Redemption, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification, put into the New Covenant, and all confirmed by the offering up of the Lord Jesus Christ. So that I see no room for a Covenant of Redemption, distinct from the Covenant of Grace, or the New Covenant. Objection the Second, the Covenant of Redemption was made with Christ, but the Covenant of Grace, or New Covenant, was made with us. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, &c.” {Heb.8:8} To this I Answer; First, we are not here {by the word ‘make’} to understand the first Transact of the New Covenant, for in that respect the New Covenant was made long before; as it was promulgated as soon as Adam fell, therefore it was in being when he fell. If the Covenant of Grace was not from the beginning, I desire to know by virtue of what, God did write his Law in the Hearts of his People, from the beginning. Secondly, by the word ‘make,’ we are to understand the Confirmation of the New Covenant, which was made long before. It is observed by those that understand the Greek, that the word signifies the Consummation thereof, and that it should be read thus, ‘I will consummate a New Covenant with the House of Israel;’ and it's applied to the offering up of Christ, by whose Death the New Covenant was confirmed. “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” {Heb.10:14-16} This Perfection consists in the Remission of Sin, and this Remission is that the Spirit bears Witness unto; “their Sins and Iniquities mil I remember no more.” And from hence the Apostle draws this Inference, “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” {Heb.10:18} Objection the Third, the Covenant of Redemption is absolute, but the Covenant of Grace is conditional; for faith is the Condition thereof. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” {Mk.16:16} If Faith be the Condition of Interest in the Covenant of Grace, then Baptism is the Condition also; the Text saith, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” God hath joined them together, and no Man may put asunder what God hath joined. Now should this be granted, that Baptism is the Condition of Interest in the Covenant, then the Argument for Infant Baptism, which is this, that Children have an Interest in the Covenant, therefore they must be Baptized, is gone, there being no Interest in the Covenant antecedent thereunto. And should the Objection itself be granted that Faith is the Condition of Interest in the Covenant, the Argument for Infant Baptism will fall to the ground; unless you will say, that all the Children of Believers do believe as well as their Parents. But this I think is a task too hard for any to undertake; sure I am, it is too hard for any to go through withal. Faith comes not by Generation, but by Regeneration, in respect of the Principle, and by hearing in respect of the Act. Secondly, the Text doth not say, He that believeth shall have an Interest in the Covenant, but that he that believeth shall be saved. Salvation here intends Glorification, for it is put in opposition to Damnation. Now though it be granted, “that he that believeth shall be saved;” yet it doth not follow, that Faith must be considered as a Condition, the performance of which doth entitle us to Salvation. Salvation may be considered as an end following Faith as a means preparing, fitting and disposing, but not as an end depending on Faith, as a means procuring, or as a Condition, the performance of which may be considered that which doth entitle us thereto. Secondly, faith is so far from being the Condition of the Covenant, that it is a Fruit of Interest therein, both in respect of the Principle and Act too. First, In respect of the Principle, for it is a New Covenant Blessing, held forth in a free Promise. “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.” {Ezek.36:26} First, this Promise is not made to all, but to a peculiar People. This is evident; First, In that the Promise is absolute, it doth not hang on Conditions to be performed by us, for what can be considered as a Condition antecedent unto a new Heart. Secondly, in that all do not enjoy the Benefit of it. Those to whom this Promise is made have an Interest therein, antecedent to the change of the Heart. This new Heart that is here promised is a Heart renewed; it's not new in respect of Matter, but in respect the Form; which new Form consists in those new Principles that are infused in a Work of Regeneration, so that the Principle of Faith is held forth in a free Promise. Secondly, in respect of the Act. First, as it is considered the Act of the Understanding. “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” {Is.54:13} “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD.” {Jer.31:34} This is the Act of Faith, as it is considered the Act of the Understanding, which is always followed with the Act of the Will. “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” {Jn.6:45} Secondly, as it is considered as the Act of the Will, so it's held forth in a free Promise, “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” {Ps.110:3} “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” {Jn.6:37} Now if Faith be a fruit of interest in the Covenant, then it is not a Condition; but it is a fruit of Interest, it doth not precede but follow Interest. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Posted November 3, 2012

{Writings of Richard Coore}

Doctrine of Christ: The making of differences in beasts, fishes and birds, calling some clean, and calling some unclean for Israel to feed upon, signified the Prophets or Ministers, and the Doctrines that man’s soul should receive and feed upon; so that if Israel touched but any unclean thing, he should be unclean, so if man receive and observe any Doctrine, but that which sets forth the Lord Jesus Christ to be all in all in the salvation of His people, all such hearing, and the righteousness that he performs thereby, and he, and all is abominable in the sight of God, as Paul testifies, when the false apostles had taught that it was necessary to salvation to be circumcised, and to keep the Law, he tells them, if any of them was circumcised, {in order to recommend himself unto the Lord,} he was a debtor to the whole Law, Christ should profit him nothing; and if any sought to be justified by the Law, he was fallen from Grace; and the Lord teacheth Peter by a clear vision, to call no man unclean; namely, to account no man unfit or unworthy to hear the Gospel of Christ; for that is the Doctrine that makes all clean, as our Savior saith to his disciples, “now ye are clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you;” {Jn.15:3;} that is the true food that feeds to eternal life. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Idolatry: In the fifth chapter, the ark of God being set by Dagon, the idol of the Philistines, it falls down and is broken, the face, the beauty of it is spoiled, but the Philistines patch it and set it up again. {I Sam.5:3} This plainly figures out man’s form of religion which is his great idol, when any manifestation of God’s presence comes in, it falls down, but man’s heart is so idolatrous, that he is not thereby moved to turn to the living God, but he will repair it and set it up again; he will not say there is no hope, he hath not the understanding to say, it could not save itself, how should it save me; but he accounts that he hath not been zealous and careful enough, he will amend his ways and be more zealous for the ways of righteousness; but he will not yield that his righteousness is filthy, and that he is deluded, and that there is no hope apart from Christ. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Life of a Believer – Hidden in Christ: In that David entered into a cave, and lodged there, {I Samuel 24,} in some sense may figure out a Christian life as it is hid from the wise and prudent of the world. “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed;” {Song 4:12;} “the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not;” {I Jn.3:1;} “your life is hid with Christ in God;” {Col.3:3;} “to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” {Rev.2:17} These read, hear and meditate, and think to find out his way, and imitate him, but when they read and hear, they are deaf and dumb, for they have stopped their ears like the deaf adder; {Ps.58:4;} the Word of God is a letter sealed, a book sealed with seven seals, and there is none found able to open the seals, nor worthy to look therein, but the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, {Rev.5:1-5,} and Him they abhor; for he is gone into a country far from them to receive a Kingdom, and they will not have Him to rule over them; {Lk.19:14;} when they meditate, they mind earthly things; for they are but shaping a god and a Christ like unto themselves, every form of religious worshipers make god and Christ like to themselves, well pleased with that form, and no other, as they are; therefore by David he saith, “thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself;” {Ps.50:21;} so the man of God is in a cave, but God speaks to him, he hath communion with God, as John saith, “truly our fellowship is with the Father,” {I Jn.1:3,} and the Lord said to him, “what dost thou here Elijah?” {I Kg.19:13} Why art thou thus separate from men in this secret solitary place? “I've been very zealous for the LORD God,” whereby I hoped to have had fellowship and comfort with them that professed thy name and worship, but “the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” {19:14} Where can I be? I must be hid from them all? Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Christ our Sabbath Rest: To keep the Sabbath signifies or figures out, a believer’s standing steadfast in the Grace of Christ; for that is our Sabbath, our rest, as the Apostle to the Hebrews declares at large, {chapter 4,} “we which have believed do enter into rest,” for Israel could not enter because of unbelief, therefore it was still cried to them, and is still cried to all, “today if you will hear his voice,” that you may enter into his rest, that you cease from all your works as God did from his; namely, to cease from your vain confidence, that any works of yours will avail to salvation. To save merely by free grace, to work all our works in us, to give his Son to us, to be unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, even all things necessary to salvation; in him and through him, to give us pardon of our sins, and assurance of everlasting life; this is his glory, and his glory will he not give to another; then doth man glorify him, when he trust not in himself, nor in any help of others, but trusts in the Lord alone, then doth man walk before him and is perfect when he believes Christ to be all sufficient. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Separation unto Christ: Not to marry strange wives, figures our joining ourselves to nothing but God, therefore the work of God is called by Hosea, a espousing us to Himself in faithfulness. “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the LORD.” {Hos.2:19,20} So all sinfulness is called adultery, and hypocrites are called an adulteress generation; so that when man accounts anything needful to salvation but the Lord Jesus Christ, he espouses his soul to idols, and not unto the Lord his first lover, and thereby loses his first Lover, even God in Christ, as the Apostle saith to the Galatians; “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace;” {Gal.5:4;} and whosoever is circumcised, Christ shall profit him nothing; therefore here is the zeal of all true servants of God, especially after desertions, whereby they have learned to know, that the service of God is perfect freedom, but the service of other lords, as drunkenness, covetousness, &c., is absolute slavery; then stand they on their watch night and day, lest Satan deceive them with his wiles, to draw their souls from faith in Christ or to join any other thing with it, for forms of religion, man’s wisdom in understanding and expounding the Scriptures, giving goods to the poor, long prayers, and great praises of God, hearing, reading, meditating, and the like, all these seem beautiful to man, but Solomon advises to beware of the wine, when it looks red in the cup, {PV.23:31,} and the Lord bid Samuel not to read the goodly stature and comely countenance of Eliab; {I Sam.16:7;} and our Savior by parable, compares the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed, and a little leaven, {Mt.13:31,} for faith is a little thing, and unlovely in the eyes of men, but it is of great value with a believer whose hope is in Christ alone. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Christ our Salvation: These only can worship the Lord in his glorious Sanctuary; namely, in Christ Jesus, for he alone is the Sanctuary, the holy place of God; for in Christ the Lord appeared to reconcile the world of his elect unto himself, and in Him he is well pleased. Also the Tabernacle and Temple made for to worship God in, were only types of Christ; and therefore as all worship was idolatry that was not performed in the temple at Jerusalem, so all religion is hypocrisy, but grace in Christ, whereby the soul of man is implanted into Him as the true Vine by the hand of God. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Posted November 4, 2012

{Selection of the Week}

Christ our Sabbath Rest: It is too long at present to show how the churches do err in every work of their hand; erring in all their ordinances, duties, holy days, feasts of Thanksgiving, conforming in all to the national churches, but especially and sanctifying the Lord’s day. “The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof; and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.” {Is.19:14} There is nothing, that they are more dark in than this; whereas the Lord’s day is no more than the day of the Lord, the day of God, when God shall reveal himself to man, and in them clearly, as John saith of himself; “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day;” {Rev.1:10;} that is, the manifestation of God; when God did fully reveal himself in Christ, John was all in the Spirit, his flesh fell down as dead; “and when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead;” {vs.17;} as Isaiah and Daniel were both undone, when they saw the Lord in glory appearing to them. “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” {Is.6:5} “Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” {Dan.10:8} But how comes the Lord’s day to be the first day of the week; or the Fourth Commandment, speaking of the seventh day, prove the sanctifying of the first day? Who can prove the change of the day by Christ; or that the apostolic churches kept Holy the first day as God sanctified the seventh? Especially, seeing the next succeeding ages, even the primitive churches of the first 300 years, kept the seventh day as the Sabbath; yea, celebrated the Lord’s day and Sabbath together for a long time; or the apostasy presently succeeded the apostolic departure. The celebrating of the Lord’s Day alone was first instituted by Constantine the Great; afterwards it was established by the Laodicean counsel in 364 A.D., commanding Christians not to Judaize in keeping the Sabbath, but to work on that day, and keep holy the Lord’s Day. I am the more large in this, that the independent churches may see their Judaism in their strict observance of an outward Sabbath. Their ignorance or connivance, not clearing those things which are so certain; their conformity with popish churches, their carnal complying with the Protestant state religion, their Laodicean condition, thinking they are rich, and have need of nothing, that they need no order, nor ordinance, nor officer; whereas they are so poor, blind and naked, that they have no true Gospel ordinances, nor a day it all; but walking in the dark, deceive themselves and others. The observation of the Lord’s day therefore depends much on popish churches, and the command of Christian princes, to which the independent churches are as conformable as prelates were. What I conceive of the Sabbath, I shall in a few words declare. That the Fourth Commandment is mystical as well as moral; for there is a mystery in the four first Commandments, even the mystery of God is there manifest. In the first Commandment God, the One only true God, even the Father is acknowledged. “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” {Eph.4:6} In the Second, the same God and Father is known in the Son, the express Image of his substance; and no other image is to be made of God, but the Man Christ. “Who is the image of the invisible God.” {Col.1:15} “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person.” {Heb.1:3} In the third, God, even the Father, so known in the Son, cannot be acknowledged, nor worshipped in Spirit and Truth, but by the Spirit; without this, whenever men think of God and Christ, they take his name in vain. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” {Eph.2:18} The Fourth Commandment holds forth man’s spiritual rest in God alone, so known in the Son by the Spirit; and this indeed is the morality of the fourth Commandment, the ceremonial part thereof being the sanctifying of the seventh day, which was so commanded to the Jewish Church; {not as a Law natural to all nations, as other Commandments are written in every man’s heart; but as a positive Law to that particular people;} now not a Sabbath or a seventh day, but the Sabbath, and the seventh day from the creation is that which the command speaks; contrary to all our Protestant Interpreters, who teach, that the Christian Sabbath, or Lord’s Day, is grounded on the Fourth Commandment. Now this Sabbath, or the seventh day was merely ceremonial, as it is called a sign between God and his people the Jews; that it was the Lord that did sanctify them; a people sanctified and set apart only for God. “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.” {Ex.31:13} Therefore that God is all in all to us, and that we are to rest in God only and alone in the true mystery and morality of the Sabbath. To this the all the Prophets and Apostles bear witness. The prophet Isaiah speaking of the Sabbath, saith thus; “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD.” {Is.58:13,14} Observe that the Sabbath indeed is nothing else but the Lord God rested on, and rejoiced in by us, when we turn away our foot from the Sabbath, and turn to God only; else he had said rather, “if thou turn thy foot to the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day;” but this last is not so read as we do, “from doing ,&c.,” as if we were forbidden to do our pleasure on his holy day, on the Sabbath. Nay, we are there commanded to “do our pleasure,” as the words read; for the Sabbath should be our delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and we shall honor Him; for he Himself is the Sabbath that is so honorable; the holy day of the Lord is the Holy One, the Lord Himself only, whom alone we are to honor in all our ways, works, and words; for if God be all in all to us in Christ, it is not our words that are spoken, nor our works that are done; but, as Christ saith, “the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works;” “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” {Jn.14:10, 8:28} This indeed is the sanctifying of the Sabbath, not to abstain from worldly thoughts and words, and from working on the seventh day of the week, but to sanctify the Lord alone, when he only is our all, then we are nothing. When we thus find not our own ways, nor speak our own words. Man neither speaks nor does anything indeed, but God does all, and is all to us in Christ. This the Apostle holds forth to be the Rest, or Sabbath keeping of the people of God. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” {Heb.4:9} Not as if this were a rest after death, as most conceive and comment; but it is a rest to be entered into this life, “for we which have believed do enter into rest;” {vs.3;} and what is this rest? When do we enter into this rest? When we cease from our own works, as God did from his. “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” {vs.10} Therefore it’s plain, that the seventh day or Sabbath of the Lord, was a figure or type of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, being our rest or Sabbath in truth. Yea, as the rest which Joshua gave to the people in the land of Canaan, was another type of this rest or Sabbath; {vs.8;} so surely the rest which Jesus Christ in truth did take in the Father, in the Father’s dwelling in him, and doing all in him, was but a type of the same to us, that we should be and abide in God, and God in us all in all, as in him. “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also; at that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” {Jn.14:19,20} “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” {I Jn.4:15} But as churches know not the mystery of Christ, of Christ in us, of the Son revealed to us, &c, so they know not the mystery and morality of the Sabbath; for how simple is it, what they say of the Lord’s day; as if the eighth or first day of the week were the morality of the seventh or Jewish Sabbath? As if Christ’s appearing so often after his resurrection on the eighth day, were a proof of his changing the Sabbath so that that day were now to be holy, when as Peter with the apostles went out fishing on that day. John 21:1-3. His appearing so often on the eighth, or the first day of the week, was rather to show, that the observation of the seventh was gone, as the apostles also meeting that day was no more. For as their assembling in their Synagogues on the Sabbath day was only to preach unto the Jews, meeting in most multitudes on that day; so the apostles usual meeting on the first day of the week {I Cor.16:2} was merely for order only to set in order something in the churches and to perform some ordinances among them in the Spirit, as breaking of bread, &c. Truly for love and peace sake, I can rest and refrain from labor on that day, not in conscience, but in a civil respect, that men might show some kindness to the poor creature, that in mercy the beast might have some rest, and that laboring servants might have a day to rejoice in; therefore I will not trouble the State in this, but entreat them to consider their own liberty and ours, not to the flesh, but in Christ alone. If men knew the liberty of the Gospel and their Christian liberty and the true nature of the Sabbath day indeed, they would be truly blessed; but, as men do they know not what, and willfully offend, they obey neither Law nor Gospel, but are cursed in both. William Erbery {Call to the Churches - Collection of Letters - 1653}

Unity of the Spirit in Christ: What some Saints scoff at others, and other say of themselves, that they are above Ordinances, I cannot judge nor condemn; but for my own part, I do not profess myself above Ordinances, but far below them in mine own estimation; yet as far as I know, I am below any Gospel Ordinance, having not that manifestation of the Spirit that always accompanied them in the early churches, nor that presence and power of the Spirit appearing in me {as was in them} to carry me up from living in Ordinances, to live in Christ alone; nor yet that testimony of the Spirit to tell me, that in the use of Ordinances as they are, I may be preserved pure from that uncleanliness which sticks upon them through the apostasy; for if everything in the churches is counted unclean by God, which is not wholly according to his Word, the Independent purest churches are not even clean, not being conformed to the first churches of Christ in any Gospel Ordinance or Order, but mere forms and confusion in all; therefore it is that I am thus a Non-conformist still, and separate myself from the churches and their ordinances as unclean. Common prayers, and the prayers of churches are both alike to me; the Prelates weekly Friday fasts, and the Presbyters monthly Wednesday fasts; yea the Independent feastings and days of Thanksgiving, are but as the holy days of bishops; so is their order, ordination, and every ordinance or work of their hands, saith the Prophet, it is unclean. “Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.” {Hag.2:14} Truly it was this that called upon me, “depart, depart, touch no unclean thing;” for that life and peace which I once found in Ordinances was departed from me, and myself dead unto them, as I believe many others are; though some Saints have still satisfaction and sweetness therein, and God seems to accept their prayers; yet this is no more than was before, when in our ignorance we used common prayers and mixed communions, &c. How sweet and satisfactory was God then unto us, though the use of those carnal ordinances was as unclean as the high places were of old to the people of God. God appeared to Solomon in Gibeon, though that great high place was never appointed by God for his people to worship in, but was contrary to his revealed will, yet he appeared to Solomon as well in Gibeon, as in the house of the Lord. {I Kg.9:2} Thus the Lord God and Father of mercies, who is free in his grace, abundant in goodness and truth, being not bound up to means, might appear for a time even comfortably to his people even in Gibeon, in corrupt forms and fellowships; not that he approves them, but that in his good pleasure he may manifest his everlasting love the more to his people, whose life is in their blood, as well as when they are washed, and who look as beautiful before God when they are black, as when white and ruddy; yea, the love of God is the same to the Saints however they are, for it is not their best performances that please him, but he is well pleased and rests in the Son of his love; yea, that this love may appear more to his people in lowest performances, than in highest attainments. - When that holy anointing was found wanting in the Church, all her flesh, all her Forms and Ordinances did stink, and became defiled, as those that touched an unclean thing, or dead body; for the manifestation of the Spirit being departed from the Church, the Church must needs be a dead body, as those dry bones in Babylon signified the state of the Church in the apostasy, in spiritual Babylon; where the Church is not in the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace; but as those divided sticks in the Prophet’s hand, the one for Judah and his companions, the other stick for Joseph and his companions. This is the dead divided state of the Church in Babylon, which is a city not in unity with itself as Jerusalem, but divided into three parts; so Babylon is, and so the churches in Babylon are Presbyterian, Independent, or Baptized; for though in the apostolic times, there were divisions between brother and brother in the churches; yet never was there a division between Church and Church, as at this day. All the brethren walked in one Church way, worshiping God with one consent, one Church Order, Ordinances, and Officers were all by the same Spirit alike in all the churches, who in this sense at least, kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; for as there was one body among all, so but one baptism; but as the churches are now divided bodies, so their baptisms are diverse, one Church baptizing the whole nation, another Church baptizing only the children of believers, and the third baptizing only believers themselves. - As there is not one Spirit, one baptism; so neither one body; and the body being divided, how can there be a communion, where there is no union; as in the churches appears, where there is not only division between brother and brother, {as in the apostolic churches,} but the division this day is between Church and Church, between body and body, which was never in the churches of Christ, when all the Saints were in Church Fellowship, and all walked in one Gospel way, had one way of worship; one baptism, one Spirit, one body. The churches this day do not discern the Lord’s body, they discern not the Lord’s body now in Babylon, nor themselves as those dry bones and divided sticks, {not branches, but sticks,} without sap or spirit of life appearing in them. {Ez.37:15-17} - Therefore I called the present churches, harlots and whores; and why should any take offense at my words; seeing that each Church calls the other a whore. For though Rome be the Mother of harlots, {Rev.17:5,} yet reformed and most refined churches may be her daughters. William Erbery {Honest Heretic, or Orthodox Blasphemer, 1652}

Note: William Erbury {1604-1654} was heretical in much that he taught, and denied the Glory of Christ as set forth in the Gospel; nevertheless we feel his remarks here {concerning the Sabbath & Unity of the Spirit} worthy of insertion.

{Writings of Richard Coore}

Christ – the Alpha & Omega: John was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. {Rev.1:10} Some translations have ‘ravished in spirit,’ but the word ‘ravished’ is not in the original, nor should be here, for by being in spirit is to be understood that the power of God’s Spirit was upon him, to open his ear to the testimony of Truth, and by the Lord’s day is not to be understood the First Day which some celebrate, nor the Seventh which the Jews observe, but that day of eternal rest which we enter into by Faith in Christ, when we cease from all our own works, as God did from his; for he must live in this faith, and the power of the Spirit must be upon him, that hears and believes this great voice as of a trumpet behind him, saying, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last;” for all the wise and religious of the world reject this testimony, and by hearing this voice behind him, signifies no other but that Christ witnessed this Truth by all the Prophets and Witnesses of the Truth, that were before John; but none can understand them so, unless Christ be revealed, and the power of the Spirit be upon them, no not the Disciples of Christ themselves, while he was with them, for they had not yet received the Spirit, so Jesus was not yet glorified, therefore he called them, “O ye of little faith,” for how slow they were to believe all that was written of Him in the prophets. By “Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last,” {vs.11} understand, the whole worker and the whole work of our salvation, that nothing may be added, nor put in the midst neither, as in any ways necessary to our salvation, for that is to add to the testimony of this Book, and it is to diminish the sufficiency of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then follows curse and judgment. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

Life of a Believer – Hidden in Christ: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” {Rev.2:17} A life that is hid with God in Christ. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” {Col.3:3} It is that which neither eye have seen, nor ear hath heard, nor heart conceived, all professors seek for it, but they are stricken with blindness as the men of Sodom, for they cannot find the Door; {“Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep;” Jn.10:7;} for in praying, they pray but they ask amiss; in praising, they praise, but to the idol of their hearts, to a god that hath not taken away their stony heart, and given them a new heart and renewed a right spirit within them, to an idol that cannot kill and make alive; in baptism, they are indeed baptized, but not into death with Christ, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested; in Communion of the body and blood of Christ, they receive the Lord’s Supper, but it is not in the Unity of the Spirit, nor in fellowship with the Father of lights in whom is no darkness, and with our Lord Jesus Christ, for they that walk in darkness have no communion with Him; in believing, they do indeed believe, but not in Him that justifies the ungodly, that pardons sins freely, that rejects all the wisdom and righteousness of man, and testifies that harlots and publicans shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, before the strictest formalist in religion. No, they cannot believe the Truth of Free Justification in Christ alone, for Satan the god of this world hath given them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; for in their working of so-called righteousness, they indeed work, but not from love of God, but from lust, to be seen and praised of men; therefore they work to please God, but without the Mediator Christ, in whom alone he is well pleased. Richard Coore {Practical Expositor, 1683}

{Truth Vindicated}

Providential Reign of Grace: I must in the first place take a little notice how you read this Text, that you have so largely paraphrased upon; for you say the Apostle tells us, that Christ is “the Saviour of all men, but especially of them that believe.” {I Tim.4:1} I must object against your reading the Text, as well as against your Exposition, for there is not a word of Christ in the Text, nor is Christ considered there as Mediator; the Text runs thus, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” Now though Christ as Mediator is God as well as Man, yet he is not here considered as Mediator, nor as distinct from the Father and the Spirit. As he is in his Mediatory Office, the living God in this place is to be considered Father, Son and Spirit. Secondly, this Text speaks not of Redemption, but of an outward Salvation, which by the providence of God is extended unto all, but especially to them that believe; that it intends an outward Salvation appears; First, in that it is opposed to suffering, and is a Ground of Encouragement to the people of God in suffering. We therefore labor and suffer, because we trust in the living God, but what do they trust in God for? I answer, it's for Salvation; and what is that Salvation? Why, such as is extended to all Men, it's a Common Salvation in respect of the matter of it, though it be extended to Believers in a special manner, as it comes to them through the Covenant of Grace, and they are under his special Providence, and nothing shall befall them but what shall be for their advantage. God hath promised them, that he will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able. {I Cor.10:13} Secondly, It appears that it is an outward Salvation, in that Believers, considered as such, are the subjects thereof; He is the Saviour of all men, but especially of them that believe; but Believers considered as such are not the Subjects of Redemption; for Christ died for sinners, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring them unto God. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Particular Redemption by the Blood of Christ: If Christ hath paid the price of their Redemption, then Justice is satisfied with the price paid, or it is not. If it be, then Justice itself pleads their discharge for whom the price was paid; if it be not, it's for want of Merit in the price paid, and that were blasphemy to assert. Secondly, If Christ paid a price for all, then all are discharged, or they are not; if they are, then none shall perish; if they are not, then are they denied that which in Justice is their right. Thirdly, If Christ hath paid a price for all, then he hath his purchase, or he hath not. If he hath, then are all justified. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” {Is.53:11} Those whose Sins were born by Christ were justified by Christ. “By whose stripes ye were healed.” {I Pet.2:24} If he hath not his purchase, then the Promise fails to Christ. “It pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” {Is.53:10} Who can think that Christ sees of the travail of his Soul with satisfaction, when so many thousands for whom he travailed in Soul, and for whose Sins he made his Soul an offering, to go without the Benefit of it? Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Satisfaction of Christ: You say, that none do perish for want of Redemption purchased for them, but through their own wicked Willfulness. Reply: First, If there be Redemption purchased for all, then all have the Benefit of it, or they have not. If they have, then have all their sins pardoned, for Redemption and Remission of Sin is the same thing. “In whom we have redemption through his Blood, even the forgiveness of our sins.” {Eph.1:7} If they have not, then are they denied that which in justice they ought to have. It’s inconsistent with the justice of Man to hold a Captive still in bonds when his Friend hath paid his Ransom. But you will say, that some will not consent to be discharged upon the account of the Ransom paid by Christ. I answer, the Question is not what men will consent to, but what the Father by virtue of the Compact between the Son and himself hath conferred unto. Either the Father did consent that those for whom the Son paid this Ransom would be discharged, or he did not. If he did, then are all discharged, if not, then none could be discharged, for it was not the price paid, though it was of infinite worth, that could procure the Discharge of any, but the consent of the Father, to receive the Satisfaction in the payment of it. A Creditor may refuse a Debt, when tendered by another, he may require it of the Debtor, but when he hath consented to take it of a Surety, then he cannot refuse it, nor can he hold the Debtor under Obligation, having received full Satisfaction by the Surety. Secondly, Christ hath purchased Redemption from all sins, or he hath not; if he hath, then for their Unbelief, then for their wicked Willfulness, so that there is now nothing left to damn where Christ died to save; if he hath not, then do they still perish for want of Redemption purchased for them. Thirdly, the Efficacy of the price paid by Christ did depend on the Will of the Creature, or it did not. If it did, none could have the Benefit of it, for by nature men are averse to Jesus Christ, and to Salvation by Christ. Men will not come to Christ that they may have life. A Will to come to Jesus Christ is one of the Positive Blessings of the New-Covenant, held forth in a free Promise. {Ps.110:3} But men must be at liberty from the Curse of the Law, antecedent to the enjoyment of this Blessing. {Gal.3:13,14} If the Efficacy of the price did not depend on the Will of the Creature, then all for whom the price was paid shall have the Benefit thereof. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Posted November 5, 2012

{Truth Vindicated}

Particular & Effectual Redemption by the Death of Christ: You say that in this sense the Scripture plainly teacheth that Christ died for all; John 3:16, 17 & I John 2:2. You say that God so loved the world, and that Christ came to save the world, and that he is a Propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Reply: l suppose that one Answer may serve to all these Scriptures, for it is the word ‘world,’ or the ‘whole world,’ that you insist upon. This word ‘world’ hath various Acceptations in Scripture, and nothing may be concluded barely from an equitable word farther than the Scope of the place leading to it. There are three Acceptations of this word in one verse. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” {Jn.1:10} “He was in the world;” that is, the Habitable Part of the World, “and the world was made by Him;” that is, the whole Universe, Heaven and Earth, and all things therein; and the “world knew Him not;” that is, the poor, blind, unregenerate part of the World. In this last Acceptation the word ‘world’ is taken in I Jn.5:19, “and we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” There were some that were born of God, therefore it cannot be understood of every individual person, but of the unregenerate only. Secondly, this word is sometimes to be taken of all Believers in the World. “The truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” {Col.1:6,7} Thirdly, it is sometimes to be understood of the Non-elect. “I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” {Jn.17:9} Fourthly, it is often taken for the Elect only. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” {II Cor.5:19} The Non-imputation of Sin is their Discharge from sin, and such are in a blessed state. “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” {Rom.4:7,8} In this last sense I take the word in the three Scriptures that are before us; that in John 3:16, which tells us that, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, &c.” This is the greatest and most special Love of God, such a love that can withhold nothing from those to whom or for whom Christ is given. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” {Rom.8:32} He that hath given his Son will give his Spirit too, he will give Grace and Glory to those to whom he hath given his Son. “God sent not his Son to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved.” {vs.17} This is the same world for whom his Son was given in the verse before. If it were the end of God in sending Jesus Christ to save the World, then that World for which Christ was sent shall be saved, for there is no frustrating the end of God. You grant that none shall be saved but the Elect, or Faithful Preserving Christians, {which is the same thing,} and if none but the Elect shall be saved, then that world that Christ came to save are the Elect only. As for the third Scripture, “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” {I Jn.2:2} The Word ‘propitiation’ signifies a peace making Sacrifice. Now those for whom he hath made this peace, shall in time enjoy it, they shall enter into peace, and these are the Elect only, for they only shall be saved. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” {Rom.5:10} Reconciliation was the hardest part of Christ’s Undertaking, for it is easy for Christ to sanctify and glorify, in respect of what it was to reconcile; and having performed the most difficult Task of all his Undertakings, he will not fail to perform the lesser part; for those that are reconciled by his death, shall certainly be saved by his life. - I have in my Answer showed you as well as I can, how these Scriptures may be taken, so as that not one of them may interfere with particular Redemption; and have opened them so, as that the Harmony of Holy Scripture may be preserved; but to take these general terms in the sense that you do, neither you nor any man else can preserve the Harmony of Scripture. Should the Word ‘world’ be always taken for every individual Person in the World, then must we conclude, that none knew Jesus when he was in the World; for “the world knew Him not.” {Jn.1:10} This would interfere with John 10:14. “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” {I Jn.5:19} It cannot be supposed, that those that were born of God did lie in wickedness, and yet the whole World did lie in wickedness. “I pray for them; I pray not for the world.” {Jn.17:9} Did Christ pray for some, or did he not? If he did, then by the Word ‘world’ cannot be meant every individual Person; if he did not, then tell me what he means, when he saith, “I pray for these.” Take the Word ‘every man;’ of all that must be judged, and then those that stand at his left hand, of whom Christ will say, “I was hungry, and you fed me not,” must have Praise of the same, as well as those that stand on the right hand. And as great an absurdity would follow if the Word ‘all’ should always be taken in the utmost extent, for then those that never heard of the Gospel should be drawn to Jesus Christ, as well as those that have. “I will draw all men unto me.” {Jn.12:32} Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Posted November 6, 2012

{Truth Vindicated}

Spirit of Adoption: You say, that Christ was made under the Law to redeem those that were under the Law, {Gal.4:4,5,} but all were lost by transgression, and were under the Law, therefore Christ came to redeem and save all. First, if we consult the context, we shall find that this Scripture treats of a peculiar people. In the preceding verses you have a simile of an Heir, while in his childhood, who differs not from an hired Servant, though he be lord of all, but is under Tutors and Governors until the time appointed of the Father. {vs.1 & 2} This he applies to a Peculiar People; {vs.3;} so we, when we were Children were in bondage under the Elements of the World, but when the fullness of time was come, &c. Now to what end did God send forth his Son to redeem? Was it not that we might receive the Adoption of Sons? He applies it still to a peculiar people. Adoption is an act of Grace without us, that works no inherent Change in us; it gives us relation to God, but makes us not like unto God. Adoption may come under a threefold Consideration. First, in respect of Predestination. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” {Eph.1:5} Secondly, in respect of the Covenant, as it was transacted between the Father and the Son, and in this respect they were his Children before he took their nature upon him. “Behold I and the children which God hath given me;” and because the children were “partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” {Heb.2:13,14} Thirdly, in the respect of the Consummation of the Covenant, by the offering up of the Lord Jesus; and in this sense I take it here, “that we might receive the adoption of Sons,” not in respect of any act of ours, but in respect of the Confirmation of the Covenant of Grace by the Oblation of Christ; and so the word ‘received’ is taken elsewhere. “And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” {Heb.9:15} They that were called, though they had received the Promise by Faith, yet they had not received the Promise in respect of the Confirmation thereof, till Christ was offered up. A Testament is not of force till men are dead; when the Testator is dead, then the Testament is of force. “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” {Heb.11:39,40} They applied the Promise before us; they died in Faith, but they did not receive the Promise in respect of the Confirmation of it before us; upon that account their Perfection and ours was together and at once, and in this sense I take the word ‘received,’ {Heb.9:15,} and that for this Reason, there could be no Act of Application on our part, antecedent to the sending forth of the Spirit of his Son into our Hearts, but this Reception of the Adoption of Sons is antecedent to the sending forth of the Spirit of his Son. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father;” {Gal.4:6;} so that this text speaks of the Children only, not of others, of such as are so redeemed as never to come under Bondage again. “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” {Gal.4:7} Secondly, to be redeemed from the Curse of the Law, and yet to remain under the Curse, are Terms incontinent, but some are under the Curse of the Law, since Christ was offered up; “as many as are of the Works of the Law are under the Curse;” but who are they? I Answer, they are such as have no Relation unto Jesus Christ, such as are not Abraham's Seed. This Text divides the whole World, so then they that are of Faith; that is, they that are of Christ, Faith being here considered objectively, are blessed with faithful Abraham, but others are under the Curse. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Posted November 7, 2012

{Truth Vindicated}

Repentance: You say that while God waited for Men’s Conversion, and allowed them sufficient Grace, they were in a Capacity to repent, and if they had truly repented, they should have obtained mercy, and consequently then they would have been given an interest in the Covenant of Grace. Reply: I do not know what you mean by this allowance of Grace to capacitate men to repent? If you mean the first degree of Grace, or that which is called the habit, or principle of Grace, which is infused in the work of Regeneration, which alone can make men capable of Repentance, I grant, that such have an interest in the Covenant of Grace; for True Repentance is a fruit of interest, not the cause; but what is this to those that live and die impenitently, whatever Gospel means they live under. - Again, You say, that I acknowledge that such as truly repent have an Interest in the Covenant of Grace, and seeing I grant this, it must needs follow that they had a conditional right to the promise before their Conversion. Reply: They had more than a Conditional Right to the Promise, they had an absolute right, and their Conversion is a fruit of their Interest. To us re given “exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” {II Pet.1:4} But what is this to those that never repent? Such as do in time repent are the Subjects of the New-Covenant, that's granted, they that never repent were never the Subjects thereof. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Conditionalism: You say that the condition or Gospel-Obedience doth not infringe the Free-grace of God, for it was an act of Free-grace to make Faith and Sincere Obedience the condition of Justification and Salvation, and to accept and save on such conditions. Reply: That which you here call conditions, as Faith, and Sincere Obedience are themselves some of the Blessings of this Covenant, the fruit of Interest, and not the conditions. Faith is that which the righteousness of Christ, which is that Righteousness by which we are justified, entitles us to, and not that which entitles us to that righteousness. “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” {II Pet.1:1} Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Conditionalism: You say, If Obedience does fit and prepare for happiness, then it does in some sense procure it, for we cannot obtain happiness unless we be prepared and qualified for it. Reply: You should have declared in what sense, and if you mean that it gives a Right to it which we had not before, which I deny; for it is our Relation to Christ that gives us our Right and Title, and not any condition performed by us, nor may we ascribe to ourselves our preparation to Glory. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” {Eph.2:13} The vessels of mercy are afore prepared unto glory by God himself. {Rom.9} Secondly, it is Christ alone that is the procuring cause of Salvation or Glorification. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” {Rom.5:21} Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Heirs of Christ: I deny that the regenerate are the only persons that are related to Christ. The Elect were given unto Christ before they were regenerated; they were given unto Christ before Eternal Life was given to them by Christ; he prayed for none but those that were given to him by the Father, and yet he prayed for them that would believe as well as them that did believe; they were Christ’s people before they were a willing people, and I am sure that those that are Christ’s are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Union with Christ may come under a Threefold Acceptation: Federal, Actual, and Reciprocal. In the last Acceptation I grant that they are the regenerate only that are related unto Christ, but in the two former Acceptations all the Elect stand one with him. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Mercy of the LORD from Everlasting to Everlasting: You say, if we must co-work with Grace, then we are not necessitated unto good, and so may possibly receive the Grace of God in vain. Reply: If by co-working with Grace, you mean our living in the exercise of Grace, I grant it is a Christians duty, but this implies not a possibility of receiving the grace of God in vain; for when a Soul is principled with the Grace of God, he will so influence and assist him by his Spirit, that he shall live in the exercise thereof; for he hath promised to put his Spirit within him, and cause him to walk in his statutes, and to observe his judgments, and do them. “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death.” {Ps.48:14} Faith must have some Promise to bottom upon, or could not make this conclusion. The fear of the Lord, influenced by the Spirit of the Lord, doth necessitate the Soul to that which is good, for we can do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth, and we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard saith the Apostle, and he that is born of God doth not commit sin, neither can he, because he is born of God, for his seed remaineth in him. {Jn.3:9} - God will not leave us unto ourselves, when he hath put his fear in our hearts; he hath promised that he will never turn away from us to do us good, he will afford us the influences of his Spirit, by which this fear shall be exerted. “The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.” {Ps.103:17} He hath mercifully chosen them, and redeemed them, and sanctified them, and he will mercifully guide them by his Counsel here, and mercifully save them hereafter; but how the mercy of the Lord may be said to be from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear him, when yet such as fear the Lord may fall away, and be damned, I do not know; nor how can everlasting mercy leave the soul, that did once truly fear the Lord, under everlasting misery. Anonymous “Truth Vindicated,” London, 1695.

Posted November 13, 2012

{Weekly Selection}

Supralapsarian Glory of Christ: According to the Sublapsarian conception, Christ had not had the Preeminence to be set up prior to all the works of God, and all things to be made for him, and his Church to be given him out of his Father’s own bosom, of the pure will of God alone; for then the people had been first, and Christ had been afterwards raised up in subserviency to their felicity; not as the production of God’s original counsel, but as a supply introduced through necessity, to heal a breach, or support a sinking structure; and thus God’s Holy One, and all the Grace and Glory that shines in Him superior to all the creation, and in subserviency whereunto all things in heaven and earth received their being, is represented as an invention, introduced subsequent to the creation; yea, subsequent to sin and misery; for if the Council of God respecting the choice and adoption of his people in Christ was under the consideration of the Fall, it must needs be under the consideration of their Creation. So then, that Kingdom of eternal glory which the elect shall enjoy in Christ, which is no other thing but the enjoyment of Christ himself is only an accidental thing, as they were not originally designed for it in their creation; and if so, God in his first view of mankind, must behold them all standing in an equal relation to himself, before he beheld any of them in the peculiar relation of children; and those that are now his elect, were then no more his elect than the rest; for he must have beheld them out of Christ before he beheld them in Christ; beheld them as objects of his wrath, before he beheld them as objects of his delight. This undigested scheme is perplexed with as great absurdities as the opinion of the Arminians; that makes the Divine Will to be determined according to the good or evil dispositions of the creature. This represents his Councils of Grace as occasioned by sin and misery; and they both come in to one in this, that the purposes of Jehovah, relative to the Eternal Glorification of Emmanuel and his bride, do not proceed entirely from his own will, exclusive of any motive from without himself, or from the creature; but if the fall was prior to the grace of adoption, the giving of Christ and his Church to each other, and the settlement of eternal glory upon the elect Head and Members, as one perfect body in the Father’s immutable counsel; how came this grace into existence? This supposes it to have some kind of beginning, and whatever had a beginning, might possibly have an end. And if anything whatsoever was prior to Christ Jesus, in the Father’s Counsel, then He is not the same yesterday, and today, and forever; for then a change must have passed upon the will of the Father, the station of the Son, and the residence of the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as something new is supposed to rise up in the Divine Mind, and a new relation to subsist between the Eternal Jehovah and the heirs of glory; which strikes a more absurd figure than the Arminian scheme; for the Arminian does not represent the Most High as taking new resolutions and purposes, but as having one unalterable purpose to conduct himself by certain rules towards all his creatures, so as their eternal happiness or misery may be determined, according to their virtuous or vicious dispositions; which mistake arises through lack of due attention to the difference between the covenant of works, in which all mankind are considered as servants, under which the non-elect eternally remain, and the Covenant of Grace, in which the elect are considered as sons, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. For the tenor of the first covenant is, “the man which doth those things, shall live by them,” but the second runs thus, “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people;” and by keeping the former in their eye, without attending to the greatness of the Glory, as it shines in the latter, they lose the Excellency of Sovereign Grace, and confound the dispensations of God towards his sons, with his dispensations towards his servants. But they do not represent God so immediately changing in Himself, or new Counsels introduced in his own mind. Christ was set up from Everlasting, because he was the Father’s delight. His people were chosen in Him, and given to Him, because the Father loved them with the same love. “Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” That according to his eternal counsel to glorify his Son, and his Church together, therefore he created them; for “this people have I formed for myself.” That for the sake of his Church, all other blessings in heaven and earth were created; “for all things are yours” - all things are for your sakes. And notwithstanding, by sin God’s elect were sunk as low as any part of the creation, and became obnoxious to the highest condemnation; yet in the more early counsel of God, the unchanging love of the Father, the indissoluble relation between Christ and his chosen, and the treasures of inexhaustible grace already given them in Christ, and secured for them in his infallible hands, these heirs of God are amply provided against all events. The eternal I AM is their portion, sufficient to answer every circumstance that is possible for them; “for it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell.” Therefore, neither sin, wrath, death, nor hell can possibly hinder the original Grand Design, nor prevent their enjoyment of God in eternal glory. And in this view of things he must know how much his soul has been enlarged, established, and comforted; drawn forth in love to God, and melted in humility. What a bright consistency he now beholds through the whole System of Grace, and with what composure and serenity of mind he now contemplates thereon, compared with what he ever enjoyed while he conceived of the Councils of Grace as introduced under the consideration of the Fall! So that whatever regard he may have to those who differ from him in this point, it can never appear to himself as a matter of mere speculation! If the grace through which we are chosen to sonship, and eternal glory, had not contained an ample provision against every intervening obstacle that was possible to oppose, or attempt to prevent the consummation thereof, the Council of Election had not been complete; so that we are chosen to salvation, and chosen to be vessels of mercy, as mercy is a fruit of electing love, but election is not a fruit or act of mercy, and to speak of a number of creatures chosen, without immediate regard to the First Elect of God, his only begotten Son, his chief delight, in whom all the body of elect members are chosen conveys a very mean and unsavory idea of that Eternal Glorious Act of God. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

{Writings of John Johnson}

Preaching the Gospel of the Grace of Christ: The work of the Ministry, appointed by Jesus Christ, and given in Commission to all his faithful messengers, is to preach Glad Tidings; freely to publish Grace, Peace, Salvation, and Eternal Life alone through his Name; or to testify the Gospel of the Grace of God, and no other thing. 1. The Commission which the Lord of glory received from his Father was to preach the Gospel. “The Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that his commandment is life everlasting.” “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings, &c” “I will declare thy name unto my brethren - I have preached righteousness in the great congregation - I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation.” Here we see the Name, Righteousness, and Faithfulness of God, and good Tidings of Everlasting Life, are the things which the Son of God was anointed and Commissioned to preach; and in the performance of this work, his Glory appears. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings.” 2. Christ gave the same Commission to his apostles. “And as ye go, preach, saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” “Go thou and preach the Kingdom of God.” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his Name, among all nations.” “And ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the outermost part of the earth.” In these orders nothing appears but Pure Gospel; for that repentance which accompanies remission of sins is an Evangelical blessing, a gift of Special Grace. “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” “To give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Again, the Commission given in the mountain of Galilee, where Jesus met his disciples by special appointment, and where it is probable the five hundred brethren were present, contains no direction for preaching anything but the Pure Gospel. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” The doctrine to be taught, must certainly be that into which the converts were to be baptized; that is, the name of the Sacred Three, which is the very quintessence of Gospel Marrow; and the things which afterwards must be taught them to observe, were such as had had the Power of the Gospel for their Foundation; being the commandments of Christ to his disciples, and having the promise of his Presence to encourage them therein; so that Grace is first and last. 3. The Apostles who received this Commission from the lips of the Prince of Light, understood it to intend the Gospel only. “The ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” “Called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God.” “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” “To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.” “That I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable Riches of Christ.” 4. The apostles strictly attended to their Commission, making it their constant practice to preach the Gospel, and nothing else. “Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” Saul at Damascus, “straightaway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Apollos in Achaia, “mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures, that Jesus was Christ.” Paul at Rome, “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.” And, “two whole years in his own hired house - preaching the Kingdom of God, and testifying those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.” And he declares to the Corinthians, {among whom he had resided a year and six months,} that, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And to the Ephesians, among whom he had gone preaching the Kingdom of God for three years, had kept back nothing that was profitable, nor shunned to declare all the Council of God; all that he showed and taught publicly, and from house to house, and testified to Jews and Greeks, is summed up in this, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” which is nothing else but the Grace of God exhibited in the Gospel. 5. It was the Gospel of Christ alone which the Holy Ghost was pleased to bless to the primitive churches. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the Word.” “When they heard this they were pricked in their heart.” “When they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women.” “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Paul at Thessalonica, “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; and some of them believed, &c.” “In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation.” “Our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost.” “He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And the Apostle, to convince the Galatians of this truth, and of their folly in being bewitched from it, thus interrogates them, “this only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of Faith?” We do not find anything to be preached but the pure Gospel of Grace, either in the Commission which Christ received from his Father, or the Commission which he gave to his apostles; nor do we find that the apostles understood anything else to be contained in their Commission, or that they practiced any other thing in their ministry; neither do we find that ever the Holy Ghost blessed any other doctrine to the calling of sinners, or to the edification of Saints. I do not say there is nothing to be mentioned but Christ, Grace, Gospel, Life, Peace, Salvation, &c., for these would be a set of unmeaning words, if they were not illustrated by the other things which are contained in the Scripture. But I say, as the Word of God is now digested into one perfect System, and every part, whether it be History, Law, Devotion, Prophecy, &c, is made subservient to Christ, and his glorious Gospel. “The Law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ.” And considered in its true Light and full Intent, the Scripture is a consistent chain of Divine Truths, all conspiring to magnify the Excellency of the Son of God, and the rich Grace given us in Him; and consequently those sacred Oracles, and all things therein contained, under the sanction of Gospel Grace, unite in one entire stream of Evangelical Blessings, to preach the Glad Tidings of Life and Salvation by Jesus Christ alone. Ministers must needs represent the Holiness, Justice, and Perfection of the Law, as a killing Letter to all that are under it, otherwise they cannot set forth the Perfection of the Righteousness of Christ; they must administer ordinances to believers, {which is only a different mode of preaching Christ,} for the enlarging of their souls, and drawing forth their minds in the things of the Kingdom of God; they must teach them to observe all the commandments of the Lord, to the glorifying of rich Grace, whereby the righteousness of the Law as Fulfilled by Christ is declared unto them. Thus, the fullness of Christ is the first and the last; the whole and alone design of everything contained in the ministerial Commission, and everything which is to be explained, performed, taught, enforced, or anyway touched upon in the work of the ministry is purely appointed in subserviency to the Gospel of Christ; therefore every individual things spoken in the Bible, {directly or indirectly,} contributes to the preaching of the Gospel; but it is the Gospel alone that is preached. Hence I take assurance to repeat the words for which I am reproved. ‘Nor is it included in our Commission, to exhort and admonish sinners, or a promiscuous audience, to the performance of duties; to caution and warn them against sinful practices; and to teach and instruct them in the regulation of their lives, &c. Our Commission is not to preach the Law, but the Gospel!’ 1. The ministers of Christ have no Commission to preach the Law. To preach is to publish, declare, or hold forth some certain Fact; or publicly to represent some message to the people, upon which some matter of consequence depends. As the enemies of Judah charged Nehemiah, saying, “thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, there is a King in Judah.” When it is understood in the name of God, it is a publication of his will to men; wherein a plan of peace is represented between God and his creatures; which was fully implied in the Commission given to Jonah, {and was understood by the Ninevites, when they heard his message;} “go unto Nineveh that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” And this is either a proposal of conditions, whereby God shall be glorified, and men made happy; or a proclamation of Free Grace from God, whereby that salutary End shall be answered without conditions on man’s part. The former of these has been tried, in the preaching of the Law; for, “the man that doeth those things, shall live in them;” but it hath not answered the desired end; “for by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” Wherefore, the latter is now appointed to be preached in the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ; “that the Righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.” Wherefore the Law is no more to be preached, or represented as the subject of our Embassy; yet is always to be retained, as a witness to that more glorious system of Sovereign Grace which now succeeds it. The Law is to be expounded in its Holiness and Righteousness, the intent and extent of its Spirituality, its Authority and Immutability; that the exceeding Riches of Justifying and Purifying Grace may appear in its native Lustre. But whether it be the Law, or any other thing, that may be retained, occasionally introduced, or treated on in our preaching, it is still in subserviency to the main Design, either by way of introduction, and illustration of the glorious Doctrine of Grace, or for proof of its Efficacy, or the obligations brought upon us thereby, or the obedience required in consequence thereof; for it all begins, ends, and centers alone in Sovereign Grace. For no other thing whatsoever is represented, as of itself answering any salutary end; only introduced for the magnifying the grace of God in Christ, and to render the glory of the Gospel of Christ more conspicuous, and used only as necessary concomitants in preaching the Gospel. Therefore, in a strict sense the Law is never to be preached, but the Gospel only. When our Lord gave that spiritual explication of the Law upon the mountain, he was then preaching the Gospel. “When he was set, his disciples came unto him.” It was to them he addressed himself; to whom he says, “ye are the salt of the earth - ye are the light of the world.” And often repeats to them, “your Father which is in heaven.” And upon these souls, who had received Gospel Grace, he begins with pronouncing Evangelical Blessings; and to them who by Grace had the Righteousness of the Law written in their hearts, he expounded the letter of the Law in its spiritual purity; that the righteousness of the Law being fulfilled in them, they might walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. But suppose him speaking to the multitudes, {which in a great part of the sermon he could not be,} he was only expounding the Law, maintaining the Equity, Justice, and Perpetuity thereof, to convince them of the imperfection of their obedience; and to lead them to Himself, by whom alone the Law is fulfilled, both for his people and in them. “Think not that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill; for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.” And if we attend to the main scope of the sermon, from end to end, he was preaching the Gospel, and expounding the Law in subserviency thereto; for himself the Fulfiller of the Law, the Grace of his Heavenly Father, the Kingdom of God, blessings of Gospel Grace, and instructions peculiar to the Saints, run through the whole. And when the Apostle Paul explains the nature, and asserts the authority of the Law, as a covenant of works, with its curse and condemnation to all the breakers thereof, he was truly preaching the Gospel; showing the insufficiency of all obedience to the Law for Justification; and the absolute necessity of Gospel Grace, to save the sinner; so that this was not preaching the Law, but the Righteousness of Christ. And when he urged the necessity of believers being under the Law to Christ, and discoursed of the various duties which are incumbent on the Saints, and exhorted them to the practice of those duties, {I am asked, therefore I answer,} this was not preaching the Law, but preaching the Gospel, and establishing the Law; forasmuch as it is the Law in the hand of the Mediator, by grace become a perfect Law of liberty; and all the motives to obedience are evangelical. “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” “I delight in the Law of God, after the inner man.” “Neither count I my life dear unto me.” “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Thus every precept of the Law is taken under the sanction of Gospel Grace; therefore the Gospel includes all that is to be taught by ministers, and all that is to be learned and practiced by Christians. Christ is Alpha and Omega, and Grace is the cry to every stone in the building. 2. Admonitions to the world in general, or to mankind considered in a state of nature and sin, to leave their sins, reform their lives, and practice goodness, are not any part of the work of a Minister of the Gospel, nor included in his Commission. All the commands, promises, and threatenings contained in the Law, and all the admonitions, exhortations, and persuasions used by the preachers thereof, have been found utterly ineffectual to turn one sinner to God, to cleanse the conscience from one pollution, or produce a spark of real holiness in the heart. This work has been fully demonstrated to be “what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh.” But in the preaching of the Gospel all the human species are considered as they really are, dead in sin, shut up in hardness and blindness, beyond the reach of any influence but what is absolutely Divine. And the Gospel is sent as a sovereign Remedy; “for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Therefore, the Ministers of Christ are not sent on such a fruitless message, to call upon corrupt trees to bring forth good fruit, to admonish thorns to bear grapes, or exhort thistles to produce figs. The Gospel is an entire stranger to any such empty inconsistencies, as to call upon carnal creatures to perform spiritual acts. And as for such acts of moral virtue, or performances in religion, as a natural man is capable of attaining to; these are only the productions of a carnal mind, and consequently must be utterly foreign to that Word of Grace which is Spirit and Life. And as the Holy Ghost assures us, “the carnal mind is enmity against God;” therefore it can have no affinity to the Gospel of Peace; nor produce any fruit in conjunction with the Word of Reconciliation. The Gospel is a Declaration of the Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of God, wherein all things are made new, and no old thing can possibly remain; but the highest attainment of a natural man, or the greatest improvement that he can possibly be brought to by any commands, promises, threatenings, or persuasions of any kind whatsoever, cannot ascend one step higher than to mend the old, nor to that in reality; for whatever appearances it may have before men, it is impossible for the carnal mind in a natural man, by any of his own endeavors and improvements, to become a whit better in the sight of God, “for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be.” Therefore, it is incompatible with the glorious message of Gospel Grace, and with the Commission given to the Ministers thereof for them to spend their time in teaching sinners to mend old things, when they know it is impossible for them to be mended; and were it possible for anything to be mended, it would still be impossible for any mended thing to enter that kingdom which they preach. “He that sat upon the Throne, said, behold, I make all things new.” The Commission is, “go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The Gospel is the Unsearchable Riches of Christ. Sovereign Grace, plenteous Redemption, ample Salvation, and Everlasting Life in the Son of God, which being preached in demonstration of the Spirit, and accompanied with the Power of God to the heart, communicates new life to the dead soul, according as it is metaphorically represented in the vision of the dry bones; where the whole house of Israel, after all the legal messages, warnings, and instructions sent to them from God, continued insensible, without life and motion, and utterly destitute of all spiritual blessings. “In the open Valley, and lo, they were dry.” But the message which God now sent must be effectual; therefore it did not consist in cautions, exhortations, and admonitions; but in a Pronunciation of Sovereign Blessing from the Fountain of Life, spoken with Divine Authority from heaven; “prophesy upon these bones.” The Prophet, who was a type of Christ, first pronounces the almighty Word, or powerful Benediction; “O ye dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.” Being in substance the very same as Jesus himself spake, “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” And this Word of the Lord was a Full, Free, and Pure Declaration of the Good Pleasure of God towards them, and of the Good Tidings which he would do unto them. In the vision, and in the explanation thereof, no other language is spoken but that of Sovereign Grace; “thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live &c.” “Thus saith the Lord God, behold, O my people, I will open your graves, &c,” which is the very language of the Gospel of Christ. “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” “You being dead in your sins - hath he quickened together with him.” All the sons and daughters of men are by nature dead in sin, “being alienated from the life of God.” And it is not possible they should be made alive unto God any other way than by a Direct Communication of Life from Christ. “This is the true God and eternal life.” And he has not appointed any other way of Conveyance whereby Life may be received from his fullness, but by the Gospel, the Word of Life, by which Word, under the Influence of the Holy Ghost, God reveals his Son in the hearts of his elect. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” But there is a common objection, which I have often heard, to this purpose, ‘the glad tidings of Gospel Grace will not give life to dead sinners, unless it be attended with the Energy of the Holy Ghost; and exhortations, admonitions, and excitements to come, &c, may answer the same end, if attended with the same power.’ I reply: This objection is a flat contradiction to the Word of God; for notwithstanding the Holy Ghost is pleased to bless exhortations, and admonitions, and to make them of excellent use in their proper place, yet never for conveying Life to the soul, for they properly pertain to the Law; and the Holy Ghost saith, “if there had been a Law given which could have given life, verily Righteousness should have been by the Law.” God cannot deny himself, nor be guilty of contradictions; therefore he cannot produce an Evangelical Operation by giving Energy to legal means. The more energy is given to anything, the more effectually it will operate according to its own nature. Power given to frost will not cause it to burn; and frost added to fire will not cause it to freeze; nor will the greatest strength cause the edge of a sword to heal a wound. If God is pleased to give Energy to his Law in the heart of a sinner, it will operate as a killing Letter to wound the conscience and rend the soul to pieces. And if he is pleased to give Energy to the Word of his Grace, it is Life from the Dead; and this is so familiar and experimental to all that have passed the new Birth, that it is impossible there should be one believer under heaven that does not know it in his own experience. Therefore when I hear persons talks such incoherent stuff, I know assuredly that they are either utter strangers to the Power of the Grace of God themselves, or else their minds have been infatuated by some vain conversation received by tradition; so that they inconsiderately express the undigested sentiments of other men, rather than the result of a mature deliberation, in comparing what the Lord hath wrought in their souls with what he hath spoken in his Word. But let us come to the real matter of fact; for a just conception of the nature of the Gospel, and of the true Design of the Preaching thereof cannot fail to form our conceptions right with respect to what is, or what is not, included in the ministerial Commission. To preach the Gospel of Christ is the same thing as to preach the Kingdom of God; and the intent thereof is to bring sinners out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son; and to edify and establish saints in all things pertaining to that Kingdom. The power and the success is of God; but the appointed means is the Preaching of the Gospel; therefore whatever means is in the Minister’s power to use, which has a natural tendency towards drawing souls from Satan unto Christ, or towards the edification of the Saints, so as God may be glorified, or in any way to promote the Kingdom of God in Truth; such means must of necessity be included in the Commission; and in consequence, in whatever Light admonitions to repentance, and exhortations to duty, &c., may really tend to any such salutary End, they must be the Ministers indispensable duty. Admonitions and exhortations, in their proper place, and justly adapted, have their special use; but in the way that many preachers apply them, they tend directly to invert the Purity of the Gospel of God; when they jumble them in such a confused manner, that the hearer cannot tell what the preacher intends by them; nor even guess whether he has any determinate meaning himself; or whether he intends to direct them to saints or sinners; or whether he calls upon them to keep the Law in its perfection, or only to make use of all the power they have, to imitate it as far as they can; or whether he calls upon them to work spiritual grace in their own hearts, or only to make use of the power and opportunities they have, in the use of all means waiting upon God for the blessing. And I have observed many of those preachers, when conversing on these points, that they shift from thing to thing, so that it is difficult to find out where they intend to fix. And I’ve often been told, ‘that if persons are not to be called upon to perform impossibilities, we must use no exhortations at all, because neither sinners nor saints are able to perform anything of themselves;’ but this is idle talk, for we never suppose a creature to do anything independent of the sustaining Power of God; and yet there is a special difference between those works which are proper to a creature to perform in that strength or capacity which God has given, and those works which are peculiar to God himself; and also between the nature of those things which a natural man is able to perform, and those things which a believer may perform under Divine Influence. The Ministers of the Gospel have no Commission to call upon any man to perform impossibilities; for this is directly the reverse of Gospel Grace, or of preaching Glad Tidings of Liberty. Nor have they any Commission to preach Eternal Salvation, in connection with anything which is in the power of man to perform; for this is to make it of Works, and not of Grace; and unless due distinctions be retained respecting these things, the Trumpet will give an uncertain sound. If we see our fellow creatures pursuing a course of sin, and have a proper occasion or opportunity put into our hands, {as Lot with the men of Sodom, Daniel with Nebuchadnezzar, &c.,} it is our duty to reprove, and admonish to Reformation; showing the hideousness of such crimes, and the misery that is likely to ensue upon such practices; but this is no more than that friendly part, which is the duty of every Christian, as well as Ministers; and therefore is not a part of the ministerial Commission, inasmuch as an external Reformation has no immediate relation to the Kingdom of God. And if we should suggest, that an outward Reformation from notorious sins, lays any Foundation for Eternal Life, we should then seduce them into a more damnable error than that we admonish them to forsake. So that it cannot be our duty to spend our time in these kind of Exhortations under any pretext whatsoever, to the neglect of the great Embassy which Christ hath given us in Commission. If we set forth the Law of God in its commands and threatenings, and call upon men to fulfill it; this is to preach the Law, and postpone the Gospel; and to the soul, whose eyes are not open to see the Law in its Spirituality, it naturally tends to establish its own Righteousness, by encouraging him to imagine it is in his power to perform it; and if he is told that it is utterly out of his power, and yet hears it laid upon him as a task, and himself called to fulfill it, this naturally tends to confound his understanding and harden his heart. And if the soul is sensible how Perfect, Holy, and Righteous the Law of God is, this kind of preaching is sufficient to sink him in utter despair. If we call upon persons to repent, believe, and come to Christ, in such an undigested way, as to convey to them an idea that they are called to perform those works in themselves which are inseparable from Salvation; or to cause them to conceive of these things as Conditions of Salvation to be performed by them; this is to preach man’s free will, and postpone the Work of the Holy Ghost; and to the soul, whose eyes are not open to see the excellent greatness of Spiritual Grace, it naturally tends to settle him in his carnal conceptions, to imagine the special work of God to be only some human performance, and consequently that himself may do it, and receive the Glory; and if he is told that it is of too high a nature for himself to perform, and yet hears himself called upon to do it, this naturally tends to alienate his mind, and cause him to look upon the Gospel as a Chain of Inconsistencies; and if the soul is sensible of the carnality, blindness, and hardness of his own heart, and the extent of his alienation from God, such preaching is sufficient to drive him to distraction, for knowing how impossible it is for him to work these things in himself, it naturally tends to deprive him of all Hope. But as Ministers are sent as the Ambassadors of Christ, to declare the Royal Proclamation of the King of Glory; it must necessarily belong to the execution of their Commission, to use all proper measures to attract attention to the Message they are sent to deliver. 1. They are to assert the Divine Majesty and Excellent Glory of their Sovereign Lord; which manifestation is attended with Authority, and is an immediate Call to all mankind wherever the Gospel comes, to pay Divine Adoration to his Name. For where the true God is revealed in Christ, there is an indispensable obligation upon men to forsake all idolatry, and all false worship taught by men, and to attend diligently to that Revelation which God is pleased to make of himself; and hence Paul declared to the Athenians, “God - now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;” and showed the things which they were to repent from; idolatry, superstition, and ignorant worship; and what they were to repent unto; “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him;” and to the same effect he spake to the people at Lystra, “that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God;” that is, to attend to his Word, and hearken to the Record given in the Gospel. 2. They have authority to call upon men to hearken to the Divine Declaration, “be this known unto you, and hearken to my words - ye men of Israel, hear these words - men, brethren, and fathers, hearken - men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.” 3. They have authority to call upon men to repent, and be converted from those practices whereby they have hardened themselves against the Heavenly Message; as Peter did to the Jews, who had “denied the Holy One, and the Just - and killed the Prince of Life.” And so Paul declared that he did, at Damascus, at Jerusalem, in Judea, and to the Gentiles, showing, “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” The Jews contradicted, and blasphemed, and the Gentiles mocked, and rejected the Word of the Gospel; which sins he showed that they ought to repent from; and that it was their duty to turn to God, by a serious attention to that Word of Salvation which God had sent unto them; and that they should do works meet for repentance, by casting off all those vanities which they had followed, and hearken to the Revelation of Infallible Truth; as the Ephesians did, when they confessed their deeds, and burned their books; and the Bereans, when they daily searched the Scriptures. But in all these Admonitions we may observe, that they respected such sins as the Admonishers were witness to, and could distinctly point out; that they called for practical Repentance, such as the people were capable of performing; and that the design was only to bring them to a submissive adherence to the Preaching of the Gospel; and in all the ministry of the Apostles we do not find any such thing as a promiscuous calling upon men to a general Repentance, Reformation, and to live religious lives, &c. It never was the design of the Gospel merely to change men’s manners; but that by the Power of Special Grace they should be translated into the Kingdom of God, and thence begin their whole lives anew. The work of a Minister of the Gospel is like that of a recruiting officer, who has no direction to reform the people in the streets, but to draw the attention of all, to hear the Proclamation which he is commanded to make in his Majesty’s Name; and when any one is encouraged freely to enter, then he instructs him into all things pertaining to the military life; so, in the Church of God, where souls profess subjection to King Jesus, it is the proper work of Ministers to teach them all the Commandments of Christ; and they have authority to warn the unruly, to reprove, exhort, and admonish as occasion shall require; and herein the Apostles of Christ have manifested their Faithfulness, both towards societies and individuals. And even with those that sinned, they continued using all proper means to reclaim and restore them, so long as they did not appear incorrigible in their iniquity. As Peter, when he was convinced that Simon the sorcerer was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; yet as he had professed to believe in Christ, and was baptized in his Name, he was a subject of the Apostle’s care, and he did not treat him as a common sinner, but admonished him as a brother. But the common objection is, ‘that to call upon men in general to leave their sins, to admonish the whole world to reform their lives and practice piety and religion was a great part of the work both of the Prophets and Apostles.’ To which I reply: That to read the Scriptures carelessly, and assert things unadvisedly is the work of too many. The Bible does not furnish us with one instance of any such thing in one of the servants of God in any age, unless there was some special occasion, or particular reason more than a general address to the world. Jonah being sent with a special Commission to a particular city of the Gentiles, is no instance of such a promiscuous call to a religious life; nor had his Message any relation to the Spiritual Kingdom of God, but to the destruction or preservation of the city. The warnings and admonitions sent by the prophets to the house of Israel, were under immediate Direction from God, and had respect to such particular sins as that people were guilty of at that present time; and however wicked that people might be, they were the visible Church of God, and considered in that capacity, in all the messages which God sent to them; and under that legal dispensation, the promises and threats annexed to those Admonitions related not to eternal Life, but to the tranquility of Israel as a nation. Therefore, here is no precedent to Ministers of the Gospel to exhort the whole world. John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus himself, and his disciples, preached that men should repent; but it was not the Gentiles, nor the Samaritans, but it was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, who were still considered as God’s Church, until the Death of Christ. And the repentance called for was not the groveling notion of leaving some gross immoralities, to betake themselves to a religious life; but to completely abandon the false foundations which they had built to themselves, of having “Abraham to their Father,” and “trusting in themselves that they were righteous;” and that they should attend to the Preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. But we often hear of the Parable of the Great Supper, where the servant received this Commission, “compel them to come in;” and hence they argue, ‘that ministers are to compel sinners, by urging, persuading, &c.,’ but as this discovers the Objectors unskillfulness in the Word of Righteousness, to dream of sinners being brought into the Kingdom of God, by urgings and persuasions; so it discovers his inattention to this Parable; where it is easy to observe, that there was no Servant sent but one; and this Servant knew all the seats, and for whom they were prepared, “yet there is room.” So that the thing intended is, the Father’s Commission to Christ. I know, that for Ministers to exhort, persuade, and call upon persons in a general way to mend their lives, to practice virtue, be religious, live godly, &c., is the most pleasing method of preaching, to persons who have a natural inclination to religion, affecting the form without the power; provided that they be not touched too close, for they cannot bear the Gospel Probe. They are not displeased to be called upon, and told what they ought to do, and how they ought to live; but they cannot bear the searching Word, to distinguish between Flesh and Spirit, for their carnal life is yet whole in them. And I am well assured that it is a very easy matter with many persons to be stimulated into a religious zeal, voluntary humility, external devotion, and reformed to a strict reservedness in their behavior, through a fond conceit of being saved, pleasing God, obtaining heaven, human applause, &c.; and yet be no more than stony ground hearers, carrying lambs without oil, or plants which the heavenly Father hath not planted. But this only proves the depth of the deceitfulness of sin; for such must needs be the more prepared for the unclean spirit to inhabit in a different form; and it does not give me any better opinion of human nature, or to conceive any less of its depravity and corruption; no more than the art of the serpent gives me a better opinion of him, while I observe into how many different postures he will turn himself, but still retains his poisonous nature. And this is the very thing which I insist upon; that sin lies so deep in our nature, that nothing short of Sovereign Grace can change it, or bring us the least step nearer to God. The Ethiopian may change his garments, and the Leopard his position, but the skin and the spots remain; so does the pollution of nature, whatever change may be wrought in appearance by moral suasion. But where the Pure Gospel of Christ enters the heart, in Spirit and Power, the soul is by Faith {experimentally} united to God’s Holy One; and this vital union with Christ cannot fail to produce righteousness and true holiness, both in heart and life. A hypocrite, a formal professor, or one that is carnally religious, may be an Antinomian in the worst sense of the word; making a vain pretense to the Righteousness of Christ, and despising the Holiness of God’s Law; which in my judgment deserves no better a name than a devil incarnate. But it is not possible that a real believer in the Lord Jesus Christ should be such; “because he is born of God, and is a new creature;” which new man “after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” and therefore “the Law of his God is in his heart.” For this motto remains upon all the Saints, engraven with the Finger of God, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD. These things, holy brethren, I leave you to try by the Word of God; and may the Holy Ghost guide you into all Truth. Amen. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Eternal Life Union in Christ: Grace and Glory are Christ’s native Right, as he is “Heir of all things,” and the indisputable right of all his elect, as they stand in Him children of God, and “joint heirs with Christ;” and since these unspeakably high, rich, and glorious blessings reside alone in God, and proceed spontaneously from the stupendous Ocean of Infinite Perfection, the Grant is his Immutable Will, “I will be their God;” and the children’s right is hereditary in the Person of his Son; “if a Son, then an heir of God through Christ.” I confess that they must be persons of very little accuracy, who think that all that Christ did was to remove an encumbrance brought by sin upon that grant of Grace and Glory in him as a Head. Grace and Glory are, and always were, absolutely above all encumbrance. The encumbrance, thralldom, and misery brought by sin came upon the persons, and not upon the Inheritance. It is true, the earthly inheritance possessed by man in a state of innocency is lost by Sin, and never to be regained; but the Heavenly Inheritance, secure in God, never was within the reach of any encumbrance by sin or any other thing. The Portion and Inheritance of the Church is nothing less than the essence of Jehovah, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; “I am thy God;” and being the children of God, they are the children of the promise, “which God that cannot lie promised before the world began;” and have a native and unalienable right to their Inheritance; “for this God is our God for ever and ever.” Grace and Glory are the patrimony of the Church, and have no dependence upon anything but the Immutability of God; and a legal Title to all the Blessings of Eternal Life rests in Christ the First-born, and his elect, being “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Their right of Inheritance is founded in his indubitable Claim, “whom he hath appointed Heir of all things,” and who says to his children, “I have appointed unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” The Patrimony and the Purchase are not to be confounded, for they are two distinct things; the former is the God of his Church, the latter is the Church of God. Not the inheritance, but the persons were purchased. Transgression involved their persons in ruin; Christ {their Inheritance} purchased them to Liberty for himself, and by answering all the demands of the Holy Law in their stead, obtained for them a Legal Title to Pardon, Justification, Peace with God, and Freedom from all the Effects of Sin. And, as the Reward of his Sufferings, the Father promised him the enjoyment of his Purchase. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied - therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” These, and such like, are the Promises which the Father made to the Son on Condition of his fulfilling the Covenant Engagements; not Grace and Glory to bestow upon his people, for that is Himself, but full satisfaction in the enjoyment of his people, who are his Heritage. “The Lord’s Portion is his people.” They destroyed themselves, but in Him is their help. Through his undertakings and performances, through his meritorious death and life, through his blood and righteousness they have Redemption, Remission of Sins, and Eternal Salvation, for “God is the Portion” of his elect forever; with whom there never was, is, nor can be any restraint, obstruction, or alienation. Their indisputable Right is secure in their Eternal Union with Christ, and in their plenteous enjoyment proceeding in Divine Communications of Life, from “the fullness of him that filleth all in all - for it pleased the Father, that in Him should all fullness dwell.” Christ in undertaking our Redemption was “made under the Law,” and obnoxious to the wrath of God; and in that capacity obedience was his duty, and vengeance his due; and by the amplitude of his Obedience unto Death, and the preciousness of the Life which he laid down, he so completely fulfilled his Surety Engagements, and gave such honor to the Law as made “an end of sins,” and brought in “Everlasting Righteousness;” and it is my humble opinion, that he that has a just apprehension of the Infinite Value of the Righteousness of Christ, will never form any conceptions of a righteousness of his own in the sight of God, in time or eternity. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Posted November 14, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Faith of God’s Elect: In treating on this Divine Communication {the precious Faith of the Saints,} of Spiritual Grace and Vital Power, I propose to keep close to the thing under consideration; that is, the Faith peculiar to God’s elect, whereby they become {are manifested} spiritual members of Christ’s mystical body, and are thereby distinguished from all the rest of the sons of men. I know that the word ‘faith’ in Scripture, as well as in common speech, hath divers acceptations, wherein it may be applied to men in common, without any special regard to God’s chosen. Again, when it relates to the children of God in special, it may be variously understood, according to the subject under consideration; for it is not always to be taken in the most extensive light, but is frequently applied to some particular branch or fruit, or some particular outgoing of faith in the soul. But I shall neither discuss the different senses in which the word is used, nor regard any objections that may be raised therefrom; for my business being only to attend to the essence of that faith which by the Holy Ghost is held forth as the peculiar privilege of the members of Christ, and from whence they are denominated the children of God. This precious Faith is the indwelling of God, the Life of Christ, the powerful Breath of the Holy Ghost in the soul, whereby the soul is spiritually illuminated into the Knowledge, attracted into the Love, quickened into the Life, enlarged into the Grace, strengthened into the Power, transformed into the Likeness, and united into one Spirit with the Son of God; and whereby it enjoys all the spiritual Blessings, Comforts, and Enjoyments of God in Christ that it is capable of receiving, or ever shall be possessed of, until this mortal shall put on immortality, and faith shall be succeeded by open Vision. And from hence proceed all the fruits of grace, holy principles, and spiritual dispositions that adorn the heaven born mind. The Saints have but one spiritual Life, and that life is in Christ. “I am - the Life - he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” And it is said that, “the just {justified} shall live by Faith.” Therefore, to live by Christ, and to live by Faith is the same thing. “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” - The Operation of the Holy Ghost in the heart, and the Faith of Christ, are one and the same thing; or they are absolutely inseparable. “We having the same Spirit of faith.” Christ alone is the Foundation upon which his Church is built; “for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” “Upon this Rock I will build my Church.” Yet the Saints are built in and upon the Faith; “but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” “If ye continue in the Faith grounded and settled.” “Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the Faith.” - Faith is a Living Stream of Grace from the bosom of the Father, in the fullness of Christ, by the Power of the Holy Ghost, flowing into the soul. Can Faith be anything less than this; namely, an Efficacious Manifestation of Divine Grace to the Understanding, whereby the intellectual powers are enabled to trust in the All-Sufficiency, the affections United to the Excellency, and the will subjected to the Person of Christ. - Where the Holy Ghost speaks of the Faith of the Operation of God, it is plain he intends that Spiritual Union wherein God possesses the soul, and the soul enjoys all spiritual blessings in Christ. Christ is compared to a Vine, or an Olive Tree, and his people to the branches. The branch being grafted into the Tree, and the Life of the Tree infused into the branch; here is a living Union. The nature, virtue, and richness of the Tree lives in the branch, by perpetual communication; and the branch lives in the Tree by inseparable connection and perpetual nourishment. The Life of the Tree is the life of the branch. Thus Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and the life which the soul lives, it lives by the Faith of the Son of God. “I live - Christ liveth in me.” I can no better express my sentiments of faith than thus; it is “the Love of God, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost,” replenishing the soul, and the soul living in the enjoyment thereof. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Posted November 15, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Word of God: All Divine Faith is by the Word of God. Jesus saith, “the seed is the Word of God.” And praying for his disciples, he adds, “for them also which shall believe on me through their Word.” And again he saith, “he that heareth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting Life.” And forasmuch as all Grace is contained in the Word, and all faith comes thereby; the Gospel of Christ is called, “the Faith,” “the Word of Faith,” and “the hearing of Faith.” Faith is ascribed to the Word of God in its first commencement, called Regeneration, or being born again. “Being born again - by the Word of God.” And it is ascribed to the same Word in its increase and duration; “as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby.” By every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. And likewise in its power and stability; “ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you.” Nor doth the Scripture hold forth any heavenly blessing or spiritual grace whatsoever, of which it is possible for any soul to partake while in this mortal state, any other way than by the Word of God. I say, the Scripture doth not hold forth any such thing; for I never pretend to peer into God’s secret cabinet; but I avow that, if there be any Spiritual Grace which it is possible for any soul to partake of, any other way than by the Word of God, it is a profound secret to all living. For before the writing of the Holy Scriptures, when God revealed himself to the Prophets, it was by his Word. It is always said that, “God spake;” and in what manner soever the Revelation was given, it is still called His Word; and to this Word the effects are ascribed. “Thy Word hath quickened me.” “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.” “I commend you to God, and to the Word of his Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” And it is certain that faith cometh by hearing the Word. “Hear, and your soul shall live.” “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed.” “Unto you that hear shall more be given.” But hearing is not confined to the Preaching of the Word in a public audience; for when the Word of God is attended to, and received into the heart, it may be said to be heard, whether it be by preaching, reading, conference, meditation, recollection, or in what way soever it comes to the Mind. For in whatever method God has been pleased to reveal his Word, it is called by the general name of preaching. “The Scripture - preached before the Gospel unto Abraham.” So in whatever way the Word is brought to the Understanding, it is called by the general name of hearing. Neither is this hearing extended to all that hear the Word of God in the outward sound, or read it in the letter; but to such, whose ears and hearts the Lord is pleased to open, and to cause his Word to enter and dwell there. And I am well assured that no Fountain can produce a stream of a nature different to itself. Therefore, whatever the Word of God is, Faith is of the same nature; for faith is nothing else but the Word of God dwelling in the heart, filling the intellectual powers, incorporating with the faculties of the soul. But to assert, that the Word of God is not a Direct Communication of God Himself is utterly false. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” But to this there is a common reply, which having been received by tradition, and by often hearing, and often repeating is taken for granted by many, as if it were an incontestable truth. It is this, that the essential Word of God and the written Word of God are two distinct things. I confess, both this and many other undigested expressions, by often hearing and reading from those whom I esteemed persons of superior abilities, I have before now taken up and used without due examination; which when I have come more deliberately to scan, I could not find any Foundation for them in the Holy Oracles. Why do we not first inquire, whether the Holy Ghost has made any such distinctions? Is there any Word of God that is not essential? Every Word of God is pure! Why is Emmanuel called the Word of God? Is it not because he alone reveals the Father’s will? And is it not that very mind and will of God revealed by Christ Jesus which is committed to us in the Gospel? The Word of God itself, and the form in which it is committed to us, {whether as it is written with paper and ink, or as it is preached by ministers,} are two distinct things. But the mind and will of God as it resides in his Son, and the mind and will of God as it is spoken in the Scriptures by the Holy Ghost is the self-same thing. Jesus said of the words which he spake to his disciples, “the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life.” And the disciples acknowledged those very speeches to be the “words of Eternal Life.” Again he says, “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” And again, “the Word which you hear, is not mine, but the Father which sent me.” These are the things spoken by his lips, and they are nothing less than the Truth and Faithfulness of his heart; or they are God himself, in the manifestations of his Grace. The Gospel of Christ is by the Holy Ghost called “the power of God unto salvation,” “the Word of life,” the “Word of his grace,” “the wisdom of God.” Consequently, wherever this Word of God is received God himself dwells. Therefore to have faith is to have the Truth and Power of the Word of God abiding in us; and to have the Word of God in us is to have the Riches of the Grace of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as it is revealed in his Word replenishing our souls. The Grace of God in Himself, the Grace of God revealed in his Word, and the Grace of God manifest in and to his people is the selfsame thing under different considerations. As the sap and life of a tree is in the Root, in the branch, in the bloom, and in the fruit, is the very same, only it subsists, operates and manifests itself in different modes, so the same grace which is in the Father shines forth in the Son by the Gospel of the Grace of God, and by the Power of the Holy Ghost becomes efficacious in the soul, whereby the soul enjoys the heavenly blessings, and brings forth fruit unto God. But some persons are shy of acknowledging all spiritual blessings to be received by the Word of God, lest they should detract from the Special Energy of the Holy Ghost; for they retain a conception in their minds, that the Word of God, and the influence of his Holy Spirit are two things, and so they are indeed, if we form such low conceptions of the sacred Word as too many do. But if we conceive of it in the light in which the Holy Ghost gives it, the more honor we give to the Word of God, the more we magnify the Grace of the Holy Ghost; for he is the Author of the Revelation. “All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God.” It is the mind of the Spirit, and all his Divine Operations are wrought by the Word of his grace. All his will is laid open in his Word, and becomes Life to our souls by his special influence. As it is observed of Lydia, “whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul.” And of the Thessalonians, we read that, the “Gospel came not unto you in Word only, but also in Power, and in the Holy Ghost.” It is according to the experience of all the children of God, that every spiritual blessing, strength, comfort, joy, peace, hope, &c., and every spiritual impression, as humility, reverence of God, patience, tenderness of conscience, &c., proceeds from the Power of the Word of God in their hearts; nor are they ever produced any other way. Yet it is the Power of the Holy Ghost, making that Word efficacious. As the fire upon the altar burnt the incense, but the sweetness of the incense caused the perfume; the seraph’s hand carried the live coal from the altar, but the fire in the coal touched the prophet’s lips; Jehu’s strength drew the bow, but it was the arrow he shot that pierced Jehoram’s heart; so, all the Operations of Grace are from God the Father, in the fullness of Christ, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; but never take place in any soul but by the Word of the Gospel. But though every regenerate soul in the world might easily judge of these things; and, {could they disentangle themselves from all preconceived notions, and ideas formed upon conjectural speculations,} clearly understand how every Spiritual blessing, or Divine impression, that their souls ever tasted or felt, was and is by the Word of God alone; yet I doubt not, {were the question abruptly to be asked,} but that many gracious souls would be at a loss to return an answer, how their own souls came to the enjoyment of life in Christ; partly for want of having their senses duly exercised in spiritual things, and partly through the un-digested instructions which they have unwarily taken up from others. For many persons make a kind of separation between the Word of God and the Work of the Holy Spirit, whereby many of the weak lambs of Christ are confounded, and their minds wander in expectation of some occult imaginary operation, they know not what. I have conversed with many, who talk of something wrought in the soul by the Spirit of God, without the Word. They call it by various names; as a principle of faith, spiritual life, regeneration, &c., and often seem at a loss what name to give it; and all the arguments they use in favor of it are only conjectural; but the two main points concerning it I could never learn, though I have often urged for them; that is, some account of it from the Scripture, or some description how it operates, what effects it produces, or what the soul experiences, tastes, or feels from this separate operation. And until I can obtain a more intelligible definition of it than I have ever been favored with, I shall esteem it a chimerical fiction. The things of the Kingdom of God are mysteries, because they are of such a spiritual nature as the carnal man understands them not; and because they are so exceedingly sublime, that the greatest saint stands astonished, and cries out, “O the depth! What hath God wrought!” But the mystery is only in consequence of the inconceivable Greatness, the inaccessible Height, the unfathomable Depth, and the immeasurable extent of the Heavenly Excellence thereof. For there is nothing pertaining to the Kingdom of God of an occult, unintelligible, or enthusiastical nature. All those kind of mysteries are diabolical delusions; for “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” Therefore whatsoever creeps into the Church of Christ, which cannot bear the scrutiny of the Quick and Powerful Word, and according to that Word admit of a clear demonstration, is the offspring of hell; the serpent going upon his belly. For the true Light hath said, “he that followeth me, shall not walk in darkness.” The spiritual man does not feed his imagination with phantasms; and when he speaks of the work of faith, or the life of Christ in his soul, he forms no enthusiastical conceptions, nor endeavors to convey any chimerical ideas to others. “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” The soul who is blessed with faith does feel and enjoy the Word of God in his heart; and in the truth of that Word he enjoys the living God, and he can tell us how he enjoys him; for he feels the Word of God take place in such a manner that he receives it as the very infallibility of God; and he finds such love, grace, and salvation so gloriously and excellently displayed therein, that he approves, embraces, and delights in those Divine Truths, with all his intellectual powers, and receives those things preached in that Word as the very Life and Satisfaction of his soul; and his heart is drunk up therein. This is to have the Word of God dwell in us; and in this Word is held forth the Rich Grace of the Three-One, which he necessarily receives in receiving the Word; for he that receives the Word, must receive the Truth contained therein; so that the heart is filled with the enlarging, comforting, attracting, and establishing views of the love, wisdom, power, and boundless Grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and is enabled to trust in, to live upon, and rejoice in this grace with all his powers. Thus God dwells in him, and he dwells in God. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart; and all his mental powers are taken up in, and devoted to God, who is his life, his joy, his hope, his all in all. Thus he can declare in an intelligent manner, that Christ liveth in him, and that he lives by the Faith of the Son of God. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Posted November 16, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Freeness and Sovereignty of Grace: The origin of all grace is the Everlasting God, who is known by his name JAH, and rideth upon the heavens in the Excellency of his Majesty; and whom no creature is able to extol in accordance with his Inconceivable Greatness! Whose name alone is Jehovah, and is the Most High above all the earth. His essence and all his Attributes are Infinite Perfection. He calls himself I AM; which is, and which was, and which is to come; and tells us, “this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” He appropriates to Himself these characters - Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. He often avouches his despotic Authority; “I am the LORD;” and commands the whole creation to stand in reverent awe of his Sovereignty. “Be still, and know that I am GOD.” Nor can the Eternal HOLY ONE know any change, or be what he is not, or cease to be what he is. “According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth.” “Behold, heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” “Blessed be thy gracious NAME, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” Wherefore, as the Divine Being in all his Attributes is Independent, Immutable, and Uncontrollable; his Unfathomable Love, his Unsearchable Wisdom, and his Irresistible Power are Infinitely Perfect; and his Grace, in its immense original, in its glorious manifestations, and efficacious communications is absolutely free and absolutely Sovereign. That Grace which is in God the Father proceeds forth from him in his beloved Son, and is communicated to his elect by the Holy Ghost, and is infinitely above all created influence, has no dependence on any occurrence that can happen in time, nor can possibly be affected one way or other by anything found or not found in, done or not done by any creature; for “he is of One Mind, and who can turn him; and what his soul desireth, even that He doth.” From Everlasting to Everlasting he is known by the name of God ALMIGHTY – EMMANUEL. The Husband, the Life, and the Fountain of all grace to his Church, eternally dwells in God. “I am in the Father.” The union between Christ the Head and the select members of his body is in God. “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” Election is in God. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Adoption is in God. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself.” The Council and purpose of Grace is in God. “According to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself.” The execution of all the divine counsel is by his own Son, the Wisdom and Power of God. “Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” And all the blessings of grace and glory proceed from God, as a living Stream from an overflowing Fountain. “The Lord will give grace and glory.” Wherefore, upon this Foundation I stand, as an invariable Truth built upon the infallible Word of God; that the grace of God cannot possibly be excited by any motive, being in itself absolutely free; nor can it possibly be retarded by any obstacle, being in itself absolutely sovereign! John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Posted November 17, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Effulgence of the Glory of God in Christ: Since it has been the good pleasure of my Heavenly Father to enlighten mine eyes by his Sacred Word, to distinguish between the Divine Testimony and human glosses; and to strengthen my heart by his Spirit, to shake off those unnatural shackles; I plainly see that the Doctrines of Grace are perfectly harmonious without the least jar. Everything runs consistent, without any harshness or absurdity attending it. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Therefore it is not with me a light matter, but what very sensibly touches my heart with deep concern, to think of those tender lambs of Christ, who are kept back from feeding in the richness of the pastures, through being entangled in the same fetters as I have been; and however I may be esteemed a speckled bird for treading out the old beaten path, I esteem it my duty to hearken unto God, rather than unto men. And, my beloved brethren, I persuade myself that I am not writing to persons who conceive of no other rule whereby to regulate their judgments in Divine Things beside the opinions of men received by tradition; but to such as have learned to inquire for themselves, and to search the Scriptures, “whether these things are so.” 1. It is clear from the Scripture that the Love of God is eternal, for it is essential to Himself. “God is love.” Therefore, if God is eternal, his love is the same; but love doth not exist without its peculiar Object; therefore, the Object of his love is eternal, and eternally beloved; and this Object is his only begotten Son, EMMANUEL. “Behold my Servant whom I uphold, mine Elect in whom my soul delighteth.” “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” “The Father loveth the Son.” “Thou lovest me before the foundation of the world.” “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his Delight, rejoicing always before him.” 2. All God’s elect were eternally foreknown in Christ the Firstborn, therefore they were objects of the same eternal love of the Father. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” “According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” “Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.” 3. The everlasting love of God to his elect proceeds from his own eternal bosom, in Christ Jesus the ultimate delight of his soul, independent of any other inducement. “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” “Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 4. The children of God were heirs of eternal life from everlasting, and it was insured unto them as firm as it was possible for God to make it, before the world began, secured to his elect in Christ by the band of eternal love, which is God himself; and eternal life is nothing else but the living God himself. “Who only hath immortality.” “With thee is the fountain of life.” “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” “The living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father.” “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” “His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” “Christ who is our life.” “Eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” 5. Grace was secure to God’s elect from eternity. Grace is no other thing than love in its outgoings. This is the difference {if there be a difference} between love and grace. Love is grace residing in the Fountain, the Eternal Bosom. Grace is love issuing forth to us in streams of goodness; whereby we enjoy all rich, spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings. Therefore, grace is God himself; or it is the goings forth of the fullness of God, in Christ from of Old, from Everlasting. Grace is essential to the Godhead; for, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” But it is impossible for anything but the infinite I AM to be extended beyond the aboundings of sin. Every perfect gift is by grace, and the gifts are such as cannot possibly proceed from any but the eternal Father. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” “The Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” The Son of God is full of grace and truth; but all the creation of God cannot fill him, for he himself fills all things; therefore the grace, of which he is full, is Jehovah; and the Apostle’s common prayer was, for “grace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And this grace, according to God’s own purpose, “was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began. 6. Eternal glory was secured to God’s chosen, as firm as the Being of God, before the world was. Eternal glory is God himself. “The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” “The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” “They need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light.” This glory is the unalienable right of God’s elect. “The hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” “To sit on my right hand, and on my left - shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the world.” And this preparation is of the Sovereign Pleasure and Immutable Counsel of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, “whom he hath appointed heir of all things;” in whom all the elect are adopted children of God, “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ - that we may be also glorified together.” 7. The eternal plan of life, grace, and glory in the bosom of infinite love, perfect before all worlds, in the unchanging counsel of the uncreated mind is the Foundation of the grandest structure of the incomprehensible glory and perfection that ever was formed in the wisdom of Jehovah; or at least, that ever did transpire to created beings, from the unsearchable depths of his Will. It is nothing less than a palace for God; an habitation for the Most High; a dwelling for the Holy One; there to regale himself with infinite delight, and display the effulgence of his Glory to all Eternity. And in this building of God, “the Son of his love, God with us,” is the Foundation, Life, Strength and Glory of the whole. “Behold, I lay in Zion for a Foundation, a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation.” “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the buildings fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are builded together, for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” “Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house.” “This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in, yea, the Lord will dwell in it forever.” “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.” “And I will glorify the house of my glory.” The glory of the Father primarily dwells in his beloved Son. “It pleased the Father, that in Him should all fullness dwell.” “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And through Christ, the head of the body of the Church, the glory is communicated to all its members. “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Thus, Christ and his Church being one body, one house, are one habitation for God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” “The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” “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.” In this Grand Design, God is the First and the Last. The original ground is his love; the plan is drawn by his own wisdom; the Council is executed by his own power; all the provision is of, and proceeding from Himself; the situation is in his own bosom; the perfection is his own presence; the edifice is for his own ultimate delight, and the highest manifestation of his glory; the house is a sanctuary, consecrated to Jehovah, for his eternal residence. “That God may be all in all.” John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Posted November 18, 2012

{Selection of the Week}

Grace Reigning through Righteousness unto Eternal Life by Jesus Christ: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom.5:21. Paul in this Epistle to the Romans doth establish on heavenly grounds, and heavenly pillars of divine truths, and divine arguments the doctrine of Free Grace as a Rock, as a rock of Eternity, on which the Rock himself Jesus Christ, as he is the Mediator of the Covenant, is founded, against which all the gates of hell shall not be able to prevail; he established it against all assaults by which the powers of darkness do invade it; he sets it before us as the root out of which all the most precious and pleasant mysteries of the Gospel do spring, and as the head, which is chief of them all, on which they all depend, from which they all have the life, strength, beauty and sweetness. - The Free Grace of God is the Supreme and Sovereign good in the Covenant of Grace, and in the Gospel, 'tis that from which all the good things of the Gospel flow, on which they all depend, and by which they are all dispensed; as we see it lies plain in the Text, {grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ,} 'tis the great King that reigns, the glorified Person of our Lord Jesus Christ is but the Throne of this grace where it sits, from which it reigns; righteousness is the golden Scepter of this grace, and eternal life the fruit of this grace; this free grace reigns to eternal life, this grace must of necessity be Sovereignly, Supremely, Absolutely, and in every way Infinitely Free and Full when 'tis before eternal life, it being the beautiful cause that produces this blessed effect of eternal life, which comprehends the life of grace and of glory in the whole compass of it. - O the infinite freedom of grace, O the sovereignty and supremacy of grace, of eternal love reigning through righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord, reigning over sin and death, and even out of them from the blackest darkness, raising the more beautifully the Temple of Divine Light, and Divine Love. This love signifies a Divine love that flows freely and sweetly from its own nature; O how high a love is that of free grace. O how free is this grace and love in all its sweetness, and how sweet in all its freedom, flowing from the Divine Nature, from the God-head. The best of honey is live honey that drops from the Comb without straining; the purest myrrh is that which comes from the tree of itself; this is love at its greatest height, this is the pure honey of the grace of God, free grace that flows of its own accord, without anything moving, from the nature and heart of God himself. As a Fountain is a treasury of water which continually sends out living streams, as the Sun is a body of light which from the beginning of the world to the end sends out millions of beams every moment, yet it remains still full and undiminished, such is free grace, or God the Fountain of free grace. - Take heed of being strangers, and being enemies to the Grace of God, to Free and Sovereign Grace. How ignorant are many of the Religious Jews among us of the Glory of this Grace, of the power of its reign; this King that reigns by a Scepter of Righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Oh let no more thine own reason, the free will or power of the creature, or all works arising from these in opposition to the free grace of God, contend with it for the preeminence or co-partnership, to take the Scepter of Righteousness out of his hand; no, free grace hath a most glorious Minister by which he will reign to bring out eternal life through righteousness, and that is Jesus Christ; in the place of free will, right reason so called, and all created excellencies, he sets up Jesus Christ; free grace reigns through Righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ. - How is that relish of free grace, that savor and esteem of free grace, that eager feeding of the soul on the free grace of God, as the delicacy of Heaven and Eternity which was among the Saints of old, now almost quite lost? How do we play wanton with this grace of God that reigns so freely? We find no relish in it to satisfy our understanding, or to feed and feast our will and affections; take heed I beseech you of thus playing wanton with free grace, whosoever he be that subordinates the free grace of God to anything besides itself, or bounds it in anything besides itself, he that gives it confinement to or dependence on anything of the creature, or subjects the free grace of God to mans reason, or which is the other wantonness, turns this grace of God into a liberty to sin, and makes this high free love a pretense or cloak to licentiousness, he is a stranger and enemy to the grace of God, as 'tis of God, he that sees not God to be all in all, sees nothing at all of God rightly; so he whose heart is not established in the infiniteness, unlimitedness, and independency of Free Grace, in its own freedom and sweetness, transcendent over, antecedent to all good in the creature, he makes the grace of God nothing; grace is no grace, unless it be all grace; abate anything of the freedom of divine grace, and 'tis no more grace at all. “For I testify to every man that heareth the words of the Prophecy of this book; If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the Plagues that are written in this book, and if any man shall take away from the words of this book, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.” See the danger of adding to, or taking from the word of God; for this word of God is no other than the word of his grace, for no word comes from God to his people, but the word of his grace; it hath its beginning, strength, and end in this grace. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” {Acts 20:32} He takes from or adds to the Word of God, takes from and adds to the grace of God. O my beloved, let us all then, as the glory of God is dear to us, as the peace of our souls and bodies are dear to us, let us take heed of taking from, or adding to the grace of God. If we take from the grace of God anything of its own freedom, of its antecedence to all good in all creatures, God certainly will take from us proportionally of the purity, of the peace, of the power of his Spirit in our spirits, of the comfort and prosperity of our lives, of consolation and joy in death, of our blessedness and glory after death. If we add to the grace of God, any power in the creature, any free will in the creature, any excellency in the creature, God certainly will so withdraw from us, that by it we shall find we add to our corruptions, we add to our care, fear, grief, doubt, despair and anguish, while we live and add to the blackness of darkness in death and after death, if this free grace itself do not interpose and prevent it by its own freedom. Peter Sterry {Free Grace Exalted, 1670}

{Writings of John Johnson}

Prayer & the Will of God: The subject matter is Prayer. This is a spiritual exercise, inseparable from the being of the Saints; for Christ their Husband, their Life, their Prophet, their Priest and King; their example, and their glory, constantly practiced it, both in private and in public. He did it not to be seen of men, or to answer any sinister end; but from the pure spirit of grace and supplication; or the sincere breathings of his soul to God. All his children are blessed with the same spirit; for they naturally breathe after their Heavenly Father, and after the spiritual blessings that proceed from Him; and as the Lord hath given them the same spirit of supplication, he hath also instructed them how to conduct themselves in prayer, as well as what to pray for. Therefore they pray to their Heavenly Father in spirit and in truth, with order and with understanding. Prayer does not consist in a sound of words, though ever so pertinent in themselves, or joined in ever such regular form, or due connection. Nor does it consist in pathetic expressions, or ecstatic sentences, affections, or flows of passion; or any kind of whining, grimace, or moving gestures; but it consists in a reverential boldness in approaching to God, by the new and living way which Christ Himself hath consecrated; an humble opening our whole hearts unto Him, with profound resignation to his sovereign will; with holy awe, taking heed to express ourselves before Him as he hath taught us in his Word; to ask simply for the things we want, and for the things which God hath promised, and to see that our expectations be guided according as God hath laid the foundation of our hopes in his Word; taking heed that we do not presume before God, to intrude further than we understand; but that we have the Glory of God in view as our ultimate end. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” This gives boldness in prayer, when we ask those things which we know assuredly are according to the will of God. And we do know this, that it is the will of God to complete the work of sanctification in every believing heart. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Those things which God has promised, and for those persons to whom the promises are made, we may ask with fixed assurance. As Jacob pleaded with God, “and thou saidst, I will surely do the good, &c.” But in such cases, or respecting such persons, where there is no express or particular promise; though {with submission to the will of God,} it is lawful to present our petitions; it can only be by way of a wish, at a peradventure. As Abraham concerning his son; “O, that Ishmael might live before thee.” Of this difference, in prayer, our Lord has given us examples; when at one time he prays, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me;” but in another case, he uses a different style, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” So, when we pray for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom, and the spreading of the Gospel in the world, we may ask in bold and positive terms; but for the same blessing, in any particular place, or to any individual persons, {even supposing them our own children,} we can only present a submissive desire. So long as any soul remains uncalled, or so long as his calling is not so manifest, as for him to know his election of God, it is impossible for him to appropriate to himself, any of the special promises of God; for he can only draw nigh, as a sinner pleading for mercy upon the general Declaration of Grace made in the Gospel. But when he is manifestly passed from death to life, and not before, he may appropriate to himself every promise in the Word of God, and boldly plead with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, for all the spiritual blessings given in Christ Jesus to his Church. “For all the promises of God in him are yea; and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Spiritual Idolatry: Idolatry is not confined to professed heathens; or to such as publicly avouch a multiplicity of gods, openly denying the Scriptures of Truth, or adore real stones and stocks; for whatever men pretend to, if they worship God under any other character, than that by which he is represented in the Holy Oracles; according to anything gathered from human tradition, or conceived in their own imagination, or by a rash construction taken from Scripture expressions, without due attention to the true signification of those character qualities which God gives of Himself; the being they worship will prove an Idol; that is, in plain terms, a devil. For what we know of God, is from the characters whereby he is described in his Word. “And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Therefore, whatever conceptions, ideas, or opinions are formed of God, beside what is clearly expressed in his own written Word, must needs deviate from the Truth; and the being worshiped under any such imaginary characters cannot be the true God; forasmuch as our groveling reason, cannot possibly form ideas adequate to the Infinite Perfection of the Eternal Jehovah; and the thing we conceive of in our hearts is the thing we worship. We cannot worship at all, without some conceptions of the being we address; and our worship cannot ascend any higher, than the conceptions formed of the divine being in our minds. So then, if we form different conceptions of God to that perfect character by which he is described in his Word, we are not worshiping the true God. “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God.” For whosoever does but presume to give any description, or form any conception of God, beside those delivered to us, by Himself in his own Word of Truth is an idolater! “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Posted November 19, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Assurance of Gospel Grace: The Gospel of the Grace of God maintains the Essential Perfection, and All Sufficiency of God; his Infinite Wisdom, his Eternal Power, his Invariable Truth, his Unchanging Love, his Inexhaustible Fullness, his Everlasting Mercy, his Sovereign Grace, and his Immovable Faithfulness. So that whosoever is blessed with that Divine Testimony, in the spirit and life thereof is thereby enabled to trust in God with unshaken confidence and invincible stability. “They that know thy Name will put their trust in thee.” For if they know his name, they must understand what his name contains; not as it were the fictitious name of a creature; but the very identical Name of Him who calls himself I AM. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.” Whatsoever is expressed in his name, is in perfection contained in his nature; and his children, who have learned his name from his Word, can neither doubt his essential perfection, nor his superlative goodness. Their hearts are fortified by the gracious words which proceed out of his mouth; which they receive, not as the words of men, but as the truth of God; for he speaks to their hearts, saying, “trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” Some people tell us of the trembling saint, the fearful Christian, the doubting believer, &c. Such phrases as these might indeed be used in a good sense to express a contrite trembling at the heavenly Word, a reverent godly fear, and a humble jealousy over a man’s self. But the way they are commonly used is quite otherwise; to represent saints, Christians, believers, &c., in contradictory characters; and are only invented to salve the minds of hypocrites; to whom they are very salutary; for persons who are not built upon the Rock, nor have any solid rest in Christ, they love to be told, that doubts and fears are natural and common to believers; and they hate to hear of the composed rest, and strong consolation of those that are in Christ, because they are strangers thereto themselves. But the Scripture knows no such unintelligible jargon; but ranks the “fearful and unbelieving” among the vilest of characters; and dooms them to perdition, and gives the character of Christians quite different. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The matter is not, whether souls may be full of doubts and fears at their first awakening out of the sleep of sin, and before their eyes are open to behold the pure light? Nor whether, through a degree of darkness remaining in the minds of Christians, they may long continue unsatisfied concerning some particular branches of Divine Truth? But the question is, whether the truth of God, so far as it is received with life and power, does not fortify the mind with firm confidence, free from doubts and fears? Or, whether the soul who has, in very deed, received and believed the record which God gave of his Son, is not thereby strengthened to commit himself to the Lord, and rely upon his faithfulness without reserve? When any man hears, reads, or meditates any of the doctrines, comforts, blessings, testimonies or promises contained in the Gospel of Christ; and finds in his heart some difference, suspicion, or misgiving of mind; so as he cannot, without wavering, venture all his concerns for time and eternity upon the truth thereof; the thing is then self-evident, and his own experience tells him, that his heart does not receive that Word as the Truth of the infallible God that cannot lie, or as the very God himself. It is absolutely impossible for any man to have the truth of God in his heart, and at the same time to distrust that very truth. If any man distrusts the truth of the immutable Jehovah, it is because he never did possess it. For those that have his word dwelling in them, can express their confidence in him, without the least shadow of uncertainty. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Gospel of the Grace of God: The Gospel contains the truth of God; for it must of necessity bear the very Image of him from whom it proceeds. For whether a man be virtuous or vile, wise or foolish, true or false, his words will bear the inscription of his mind. So the Word of God bears the likeness of its original; whose invariable character is, “God, that cannot lie.” And it is noted, concerning his immutable counsel, and confirming oath, “in which it was impossible for God to lie.” Therefore, no falsehood can be contained in the Gospel of Christ, to which God bears witness; as the Lord said, “the Father himself which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me;” and of the witness he bears is so clear, and undeniable, that every soul that attends thereto with meekness, and sincerity, is immovably established in the infallibility thereof. As John saith to the children of God; “I have not written unto you, because you know not the truth; but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” The title which the Lord of Glory gives to his Heavenly Father is, “the only true God;” and that which he takes to himself is, “the Truth;” and that which he ascribes to the Holy Ghost is, “the Spirit of Truth.” These are three celestial Recorders; and the everlasting Gospel is their record. And therefore, that Gospel record is as true as God himself; for it is no other than the very truth of the eternal God; and there the Apostle fixes the immutable verity of the Word. “As God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” - The Gospel contains the love of God. This is the grand stupendous attribute of glory, which shines forth in the Gospel of the Blessed God, in all its refulgent beams of light, and dazzling rays of immortal excellency. This is the glorious center of eternal rest, where Jehovah, in all his infinite perfections unchangeably dwells; and from whence all the vital streams of blessedness perpetually flow, through the Son of his delight, to the objects of his good pleasure. This is a divine essence. “God is love.” And to reveal the everlasting God, under this character, is the main design of the Gospel; and its language richly abounds with love; “the love of God” – “the love of Christ” – “the love of the Spirit.” Or rather, it’s perpetual theme is the God of love; and of the streams of love that proceed by one invariable course from that open, full, free, inexhaustible Fountain. Take away this love, and the everlasting Gospel would have no existence. For the Gospel of Christ is no other thing, than the love of God manifesting itself to us; or the love of the eternal bosom displayed in open vision. The language of the great anointed, when publishing the Gospel was, “for God so loved the world;” when addressing his own disciples, “for the Father himself loveth you;” when speaking to his Father, concerning his chosen, “and I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.” Yea, whensoever, wheresoever, by whomsoever, or to whomsoever the Gospel has been, is, or shall be preached, the love of God is the striking accent; the loudest sound of the celestial Trumpet. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.” “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared.” “But God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us.” “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” “We love him, because he first loved us.” Thus the Gospel gives one harmonious sound, love moves every string in perfect symphony, without the least discord. The words of our Lord Jesus have laid a firm foundation for the strong consolation of his little ones. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” This raises in their souls the highest admiration; “behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” But it does not ferment the mind to irregular agitations; but composes it to sing praises with the understanding, “unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” - The Gospel also contains the grace of God. This is, in some respects, the same with love; but they may be thus distinguished: Love is grace in the original - grace is love in the outgoings; or, love is the fountain and grace is the stream; love is the disposition of the Divine Mind in Christ to his elect; grace is the flowing of his goodness in his beloved Son to the objects of his choice. Love in the eternal bosom of the Father was grace in the purpose; grace displayed in the man Christ Jesus is love in the execution. And this is the sum and substance of the whole Gospel; which is called “the Gospel of the Grace of God;” and, “the Word of his Grace.” God’s peculiar goodness, grace, and love in Christ Jesus never was known to any creature in heaven or in earth, but by the revelation of his Son in the Gospel. I know that the litigious caviler will be ready to say, ‘these things were known {at least in part} before the preaching of the Gospel;’ but this objection proceeds from ignorance; and that ignorance proceeds from enmity against God; for as the person does not like to retain God in his knowledge, and consequently, has never searched the Scripture with due attention and reverence of God; he therefore cannot understand what the Gospel is. For, notwithstanding the preaching of Christ and his Apostles, as contained in the books of the New Testament, is, by way of eminence frequently called the Gospel, in distinction from the Law and the Prophets; by reason, that then it arrived to the summit of its glory, far beyond anything that ever had appeared before; yet whosoever reads the Scripture with sincere inquiry, may easily apprehend, that the whole Scripture of the Old and New Testaments make One Entire System. For though the Sun of Righteousness was not ascended to his meridian altitude, as now he is; yet every ray of light that appears in the Old Testament, was no other than the dawning of our glorious day. Christ is the end of the Law, and of the Prophets; therefore, the Law and the Prophets were the beginning of the Gospel of Christ. John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Posted November 20, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Faith of the Operation of God: Faith is built upon God himself, and not built upon Him, apart from Divine Illumination, accompanied with deep digging, close scrutinizing, and deliberate pondering his Word; that we may come to an infallible certainty, that we are upon the very Rock Christ. And it is by the Spirit of God that we are thus directed and by the infallible Word of truth we are established, where no suspicion, diffidence, or uncertainty can come. They that receive his Word as it is in truth, the Word of God, can say without scruple, “we believe, and are sure.” The precious faith is God dwelling in us by the truth of his Word; or his Word, communicating the riches of his love, grace, and truth into our intellectual powers. “He that cometh to God must believe that he IS.” Faith is the truth of God dwelling in the heart, in its special efficacy and vital power, or it is the Gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth; received, as it verily is, as the Word of the living God; and effectually impressing the heart with heavenly influence, according to the Majesty, Glory, and Excellency of Him whose Word it is. “Whose Voice then shook the earth; but now he hath promised; saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” And if it, {his voice; that is, his Word effectually conveyed by the Spirit of Truth,} has not this effect; to go through all the powers of the soul, sharper than any two edged sword; to cause him to tremble at the Majesty, while he is astonished at the wisdom, and adores the love and grace of God in Christ; it is not received as the Word of God. And then there is no true faith. Let anyone consider, the great things which are ascribed to faith, and he must see, that it is not an empty speculation, or bare assent to the truth, though held in the most certain and clear light; but the life and spirit of the Truth, as it is the truth of God. If it be the true faith of the operation of God, it worketh by love; for God fulfills the work of faith with power; and it stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. And this power of God in the heart is invincible. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” But it first overcomes the soul, and brings it into total subjection to the Captain of Salvation; and then, under his banner, it always wears this motto; “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” The soul finds itself so overcome, that it cannot resist the truth of the testimony of God; but receives it with full assent and consent, and with full approbation of all the powers of his mind; for he cannot repel the clear demonstration of the Spirit, and of the power, in which the Gospel comes. He is blessed indeed with the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. As the Lord hath said, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The riches, the excellency, the blessedness that is in Christ unites his soul in love; as he seeks with desire and delight, and with all his powers, earnestly crying out, “draw me, and we will run after thee; whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” The infallible Word of truth, assuring him of the all sufficiency that is in Christ, his consummate Salvation, and the freeness of his Grace; through the power of the Spirit of grace, gives power to the soul, to commit himself wholly to the Lord for time and eternity; to depend entirely upon Christ, for righteousness, peace, and everlasting life. “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” This faith will assuredly produce true Repentance. That is, a readiness to relinquish everything that is contrary to that Holy One, in whom he has believed. “For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ.” He is ready to forsake all vicious practices, immoral conduct, and all filthiness of conversation; as well as to hate all internal wickedness, or perverse principles; and earnestly to seek after purity in heart and life; because He that hath called him is Holy; but, “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” He also is ready to explode all his own righteousness, wisdom, power, or excellency; with everything that is of man; or whatsoever the religious world may propose as a foundation of acceptance with God, life, or salvation; knowing that, “all flesh is grass;” and that, “other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He also is ready to quit all friendship with the world; with all relations, friends, or enjoyments whatsoever in case they stand in the way, to hinder him from following his beloved Lord. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” He that is wanting in this principle, to forego everything that stands in competition with Jesus Christ has not that repentance which is unto life; and he that has not the genuine repentance, has not that faith which is of the Operation of God. John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Assurance & Faith: With respect to the soul’s arrival, by faith, to a state of justification; or how he comes to that enjoyment is a matter that requires very serious attention, and mature deliberation. It is not a chimera, a bubble, a trifling affair, as religious people fancy it to be. For professors in general have no ideas of justification; but as a mere bauble, a child’s play or some unintelligible dream. If they find their minds agitated with some uncommon passion; or some peculiar warm vertigo in their heads; they imagine these to be tokens of their justification. Others, if they find, what they call, some good dispositions in their hearts, they then fancy they have the marks and signs of a justified person. All this while, they do not pretend to enjoy the blessing; nor have they any real knowledge, what it is; but conceive it to be some occult existence, which is only to be known, or guest at by symptoms; or found out by some conjectural signs. And so long as they can ferment in themselves, those delusive tokens; they go on pleasing themselves that they are, {or at least, it is probable they are,} in a state of grace and justification. And thus they delude themselves, with empty imaginations; until the bubble breaks, and the phantasm flies away. But every soul that is justified indeed, ascends by regular gradations upon steps which the eternal God has laid, solid as adamant, firm as rock; until he arrives at the strong consolation and infallible enjoyment of the righteousness of God in Christ, which is like the great mountains, where he stands, absolutely above all fear of wrath or condemnation. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord; and who shall stand in his holy place.” - If the foundation were not in the very essence of the Godhead, it might possibly fail; but as it is God himself, it stands immutable forever. Therefore all that believe are built impregnable upon the Rock of Ages; having the immutability of his Counsel confirmed by an oath; “that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, you might have a strong consolation.” If thus we can believe in the Father, there can be no ground to doubt the grace and truth that is revealed in the Son. “Now they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee.” – Thus, he that believes in the full virtue, and perfect efficacy of the sufferings of Christ; and that his blood, being shed on the behalf of his people was a complete propitiation for their sins; an adequate satisfaction to all the demands of the holy Law of God; to remove the curse, to cancel all condemnation, to bring in everlasting righteousness; forever, to justify the ungodly. “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” For Jesus Christ being truly the Son of Man, was capable of suffering in the very same kind, as the Law required us to suffer; or as our transgressions justly deserved; he being, by the appointment of God, constituted our Mediator and Representative, was properly adapted to answer for our faults, and to suffer in our stead. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” And being very God, was perfectly qualified to give a sufficiency to those sufferings; that his death should be an undeniable Ransom for our sins. “Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” And forasmuch as he came from God, proceeding from the bosom of the Father, in the fullness of the Divine Essence; and all his works, active and passive, were performed according to the will, by the power, and in the spirit of his Father, there could be no mistake, or defect; but as himself is, so all his works were, perfectly well pleasing in his Father’s sight. “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake.” Therefore it is said, “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.” Here the soul beholds the righteousness of God displayed in our eternal redemption. There needs no more! “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Thus, he believes in the seal which God hath set, to the validity of the Ransom paid, and the Redemption wrought by our Great High Priest; in that he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand; it being a clear demonstration, that all his work was amply performed, and perfectly accepted of his Father; and that no condemnation could ever appear against his chosen. “Who by him do believe in God that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.” For the Lord is risen indeed; and as the Father had given him for a covenant of the people, he could not be raised from the dead, so long as any branch of their redemption remained incomplete; or until the last mite was paid; otherwise, the covenant had been broken, which was impossible; for God had said, “my covenant shall stand fast with Him.” Had not the redemption of his elect been absolutely perfect, there would have been a tarnish in his glory; and the Father could not have invested him with the true glory, so long as the least flaw had remained. “As for God, his way is perfect.” Nothing could have been a more ample proof of the preciousness, and virtue of the blood of Christ; or the perfect atonement made thereby. Therefore he challenges, and defies all his foes to point out any defect. “He is near that justifieth me, who will contend with me; let us stand together; who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me.” This gives solid rest to the believing soul; and he can truly say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” – Thus, he believes, “to the saving of the soul.” He believes these great things which the Gospel declares, relating to the Righteousness of Christ, and the Salvation of God; and receives them as they are, the truth of the very heart and soul of the living God; and sees them to be a foundation absolutely immovable; that is, a foundation of God. And beholding them in the light of the Spirit of God, they appear to him in their true excellency; and viewing them by the power of the Holy Ghost, his soul is effectually attracted, and his heart united; he receives strength to believe, and embrace them for himself; and that without reserve, to commit himself into the everlasting arms of this great Redeemer. With the heart he believes unto righteousness; so as he can trust in the everlasting righteousness of Christ to justify him from all sin before the all searching eye of God; and with the mouth he makes confession unto salvation; for he can freely declare, that his soul looks to none but Christ for salvation! “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” He sees the whole Gospel perfectly replete with blessings; he knows it is the opening of the bosom of the Father; and the wisdom, the love, and the power of God shining with such clearness, and effulgent glory into his soul, that it overcomes all his darkness, enmity and unbelief. All his powers acquiesce, his soul melts in love, and his heart become strong in faith; he believes the testimony of the Spirit of truth; who says, “these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Therefore he believes, and lives by the faith of the Son of God. For the Gospel comes not unto him in word only, “but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” Thus the believer ascends to the strong consolation of Justification upon the basis which the eternal God has laid; every step being as a mountain of brass; and is established in the Infallible Truth of Jehovah; being built thereupon by the Power of the Almighty Spirit. John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Posted November 21, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Contending for the True Gospel of God’s Grace in Christ: The author of these pages does not expect that this or anything he can publish will be acceptable to the religious world; for the time is come, when they will not endure sound doctrine. Religion is become a mere ceremony among all denominations, governed by custom and fashion, as much as dress, behavior, or any other worldly thing; and in general it does not appear, as if God is in all their thoughts; for if any man pays due attention to the Word of the God of Truth, so as to tread in the steps of Christ and his Apostles, he makes himself the object of their derision, detestation and utter rejection. If any man shows so much regard to the Word of the living God, as to disregard the traditions of men, and not to pay deference to their pious teachers, famous doctors, and celebrated authors; they accuse him of pride and self-conceit. If he cannot leave the testimony of God to follow the multitude, and walk in the common beaten path of empty professors; they will cry out. If he cannot relinquish Divine Truth which the Holy Ghost has clearly testified in the Holy Scriptures; they will cry out. If he maintains the true Gospel, in the riches of its excellency, grace and glory; they will cry out. If he keeps close to the Doctrine of Christ, in spirit and truth, life and power, they will cry out. If he points out any of the innovations, or anti-Christian doctrines commonly held among professors, and shows them to be of men and not of God; they will cry out. If he cannot acknowledge any doctrines, practices, or imaginary experiences to be of God, which have no foundation in the Word of the Gospel of Grace, they will cry out. If he cannot address sinners in general as if they were all believers, and encourage them to go forward in the kingdom of God, even when they have never received the Gospel, to introduce them into that kingdom, and call upon them, and exhort them {whilst dead in trespasses and sins} to perform works of spirit and life; they sound it abroad, that he cannot preach to sinners, has nothing to say to sinners, &c, and thus, cry out. If he attempts to distinguish between the faith of the operation of God, held forth in the Gospel, and the counterfeits of Satan upon the carnal mind, commonly encouraged by ministers; they say, that he makes the hearts of the righteous sad, and stumbles weak minds by distinctions of his own. If he cannot soothe persons in their own vain imaginations, to think, that every strike of fancy that comes into their heads, or world wind of passion that agitates the mind, is a spiritual operation from whence they may conclude themselves to be Christians, they accuse him, that he tramples on the work of the Spirit, and denies the experience of the children of God. If he cannot allow any to be in a state of salvation unless they have been called by the Gospel of the grace of God, are born of God, live by the faith of the Son of God; they cry out. If he cannot admit that regeneration, or the heavenly calling consists in an imaginary dream, produced by some unintelligible operation, ecstatic agitation, or sudden impulse on the mind; but insists that the soul is born of God by the clear distinct light of the Gospel of Christ, under the special Power of the Spirit of Life; whereby the understanding is opened, the affections quickened, and the will melted into an humble submission to drink in the fullness of the life of Christ; and all the faculties of the soul are spiritually united to the Son of God, and all the intellectual powers are filled with the light, life, love and truth as it is in Christ; then they cry out. But forasmuch as the testimony of the Spirit of Truth in the Oracles of Divine Grace, makes a clear distinction between the young breathings of the newborn babe in Christ, and the old swelling imaginations of the carnal mind, it is to be humbly hoped that there are a few to be found, who are willing to attend to the distinction between the language of the Christ of God, and the delusive teachings of men. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Contending for the True Gospel of God’s Grace in Christ: To the genuine disciples of the true Messiah; the ensuing lines are devoutly dedicated. To them who utterly explode all human tradition; and entirely relinquish all manner of doctrines {respecting heavenly things} but that alone, which is contained in the written oracles of God; which may be depended on, as the very truth of the Lord of Glory; being the Infallible Record of the Spirit of Holiness. To them whose hearts are devoted, to learn, understand, and embrace the truth and the life of that sacred Word, in its whole extent, as it relates to the Council and Glory of God; and in its true intent, as it is directed to our very heart and soul, and as it is adapted to guide our minds into the excellency of the Knowledge of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. To them that cry day and night, to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to bless them with the spirit of his beloved Son, to open their understanding, to take away the veil of carnal mindedness from their hearts, and guide them into the light and life, spirit and truth, power and glory of the Gospel of his Grace, that they may be replenished with the special blessings of his love; and all their mental powers may enter into the abundant fullness of the Kingdom of God, and of his Christ. Without these things, no man can be a true disciple of Christ, nor can he enter into the kingdom of heaven, nor attend to the commandments of the Lord, nor confess the Son of God in truth. The vain world, who seek their portion in the things of this present life, whether they be great or little, learned or unlearned, polite or vulgar, wise or unwise, active or indolent, sober or drunken, they pay no regard to these heavenly things. The moralists who trust in the uprightness of their lives, whether it be the regularity, order, and decency of their behavior; or it be their negative righteousness, as innocency, or having done no hurt; or their positive righteousness, as virtue, or having done good, these do not seek the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The religious, who think to please God with their devotion; whether zealously following human superstitions, fervently attending to some particular precepts, or favorite points, as gathered from the Scriptures; devoutly performing some tasks, which they have devised and imposed upon themselves, or taking satisfaction from some pathetic agitations, ecstatic raptures, or energy of the mind in their devotion, these are not seeking the Holy One of God in truth. They that imagine they know God, either from the common notions and sentiments of men in general, from the acuteness of their own wit, from the wisdom learned in schools, or handed to them in traditions; or in any visionary or enthusiastic way, none of these know the true God. They that pretend to faith, either as a natural operation, wrought by their own endeavors; who join good works with faith in the matter of justification; whose faith lives upon frames, feelings, and good dispositions; whose faith receives its life from their works; whose faith depends upon impulses, sudden impressions, or something immediately darted into the mind; whose faith is only a strong presumption fermented through the power of imagination; or whose faith is only a dead faith, consisting in opinion or speculation, without the living fruits of love, humility, repentance, obedience, and holy conversation in Christ; none of these knows or truly believes on the Son of God. The mystic, who under pretense of spiritualizing, turns all the Word of God into fancy and conjecture, paying more attention to the imaginations of his own brain, than to the true Concord of Divine Revelation, or to the light which one part of Scripture gives to another, so confounding the natural things with the spiritual, that the truth of both is lost, for the natural things being perverted, the spiritual things which those natural things were intended to illustrate are obscured; these never did behold the Gospel in spirit and life. The sophist, who goes about to invent, or propagate new doctrines or systems in divinity, or to maintain some peculiar opinions by forcing his own natural glosses on the sacred truths contained in the Scripture; these do not seek the truth, as it is in Christ. The Arminians, who represent the Gospel as a new or mitigated Law; proposing grace upon certain terms, or conditions to be performed by the creature; or to be obtained by the power, and free will of man; and his grace, when thus obtained, having its dependence on the creature’s virtue, is liable to be lost any day; so that God not being all in all, it neither brings true glory to God, nor true consolation to the soul; these are all strangers to the riches of sovereign grace, and to the Glory of God in Christ. - Now my dearly beloved brethren, whosoever you are; or wheresoever you may be found; “which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh;” to you I write these things, to stir you up by way of remembrance, and to awake your attention, that you may not sleep as others, but that you may watch against the strong delusions which the sons of antichrist have introduced, and are introducing to pervert the Gospel and beguile unstable souls. That you may be fortified against all the policy of the gates of hell, the stratagems of the Prince of darkness, and assaults of the wicked one. That you be not tossed to and fro, nor carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. For antichrist never was more formidable, than he is in this day; and the only weapon to be used against the beast of the bottomless pit is the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Posted November 22, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Justified by the Resurrection of Christ: We are justified by the Resurrection of the Son of God. “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” This is not the matter of our justification; or that whereby we are made righteous before God; for that was, and is, in consequence of Christ being substituted in our very place, and stead; to suffer for us the very things which we ought to have suffered for our rebellion. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.” “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” And so, when we ascribe our justification to the suffering of Christ, to his death, or to his blood, these all come to the same thing; he suffered to death, wherein his blood was shed, and his life taken away, instead of ours. And in this very transaction our justification was absolutely perfect in the sight of God’s righteous Law, whose demands were now perfectly fulfilled. The resurrection of Christ was not any part of the fulfilling of the Law; or of the expiation of sin in the sight of God. It was the Law giving him a full acquittance; declaring him perfectly justified from all the sins that had been laid upon him, by the ample satisfaction he had made; and consequently, that all those whose sins had been imputed to him, were as perfectly acquitted as himself, and his righteousness imputed to them; and they made the righteousness of God in him. In demonstration hereof, Peter says of our Lord Jesus, “whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Thus we are justified by his resurrection; not as the matter, or cause, or the remission of sins in the sight of God; but as a full proof, or demonstrative evidence, that his life was an adequate ransom; and that “the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake.” God perfectly knew the virtue of his sufferings; but had all the creation been present, beholding the sufferings of the Lord, and had known the cause, they could not have known that it had fully answered the grand design; and that the work had been perfectly accomplished, so long as he was held under the bands of death. And indeed; we may say, that his confinement in the grave was a part of the penalty inflicted on him; which {because the wages of sin is death} he was to endure to a perfect period; after which, his soul could not be left in hell, nor would the Father suffer his Holy One to see corruption. There could not have been any foundation of our faith and hope, if the Lord had not been raised. Had not the Father given us this undeniable testimony, this 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, it had been impossible for us to believe to the saving of the soul. There must forever have remained a doubt, an hesitation, an uncertainty; and so our souls must forever have remained under condemnation, as we could not have had faith, and without faith no justification. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” But in the resurrection of Christ, our justification is irreversibly ratified; and a firm foundation of our hope immovably laid; which neither earth, nor hell, sin nor death can shake. “Blessed to be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Faith & Assurance: We are justified by faith; when the truth of Christ, in the fullness of grace, as sent from the Father; the virtue of his death, as our Representative, made sin for us; and the power of his resurrection, whereby the efficacy of his sufferings is perfectly demonstrated, is received by faith, and fully embraced in our souls. When, with all our hearts, we believe into the truth thereof; so that we live by the faith of the Son of God. Then we enjoy satisfaction in his righteousness alone; and find our consciences made free from condemnation. This is that justification by faith, so often mentioned in the New Testament. “That a man is justified by faith.” The original source is the divine will; the meritorious cause is the dying of our Lord Jesus Christ; the irrefragable demonstration is the resurrection of the Lord; and the enjoyment is by faith. The nature of the thing tells us, that when we behold the righteousness of Christ in such a conspicuous light, and our hearts drink it in with such unstaggering approbation, that our consciences are set free from all apprehension of condemnation; then, and not till then, justification takes place in the soul. For so long as the person finds condemnation in his conscience; that same conscience tells him that he is not justified. Justification by faith is nothing less than a fixed rest in the righteousness of Christ; as all sufficient in itself, performed for us, and sealed to us by his Word of truth in the power of the Spirit; and in this righteousness, the soul and conscience stand justified before God in full assurance that his sins are blotted out, and can say, “God is my salvation.” For every justified soul under heaven can say, without all wavering or hesitation, “in the Lord have I righteousness;” and without misgiving of heart, can address his heavenly Father by this appellation, “O God of my righteousness;” and without fear of fraud, can call the Holy One, “the Lord our righteousness.” For without this, common sense would tell any man that he is not justified in his own soul. Notwithstanding, numbers of preachers, {in order to please fools and children, and buoy up hypocrites,} tell us idle tales of doubting believers, persons having faith, and yet being justified, their sins forgiven, and being in a state of salvation, &c., and at the same time, themselves not knowing it; but being full of fears and diffidence about it; but these persons fully demonstrate themselves to be total strangers to the testimony of God in Christ. For such suggestions as these, represent God as a perfect devil, leading his children in darkness; whereas we are told, “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” They represent Christ as a liar, who has said, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life.” They represent the Spirit of Truth as a false witness, who though he is sent to testify of Christ, yet does not testify the truth, but leaves the children of God in doubts and uncertainty; whereas we are assured, “it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” And again, “he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” - But it is often objected, that it is presumption to be overconfident. I know it is presumption to be overconfident in anything; and therefore God reproves the wicked, saying, “what hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth;” but the soul that enjoys his God in truth, is not overconfident; when he says, “my soul shall make her boast in the Lord.” “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” “I know whom I have believed.” For God hath said, “my people shall never be ashamed.” The Scripture always speaks of it in positive terms; for God always speaks to them as persons that knew their relation to him; and they always speak of their relation as a thing unquestionable. “This God is our God for ever and ever.” “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” “Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Posted November 23, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Confessing Christ: When the Lord was pleased to call any man to his Kingdom, his usual speech to him was, “follow me;” and his general direction is the same to all, “if any man serve me, let him follow me;” and the description of his select disciples, is this, “these are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” But no man can be a follower of the Christ of God, who does not openly confess his Name. Christ was an Ensign lifted up; “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;” and his disciples are a city set on a hill; and appointed to be a light to the world. But whatever show people make, or however strict they be in external conversation; they bring no glory to Christ, so long as they do not boldly confess Him, as their Lord and their God, to make it manifest, to whom their lives are completely devoted. To confess the Son of God is to acknowledge him according to the Record which the Father hath given of him; to ascribe glory to him, in the most strong and pointed manner; so as to express the deepest impressions of the heart; or that our souls are perfectly devoted to him; in firm persuasion of mind, trust, love, submission, obedience, hope, delight, &c., and that all our intellectual powers embrace him as our all in all; and this is both to God, and before men. For the believing soul cannot keep silent. These confess him by a free and open declaration of their faith in the Holy One of God; whereby they acknowledge him, verily to be what he is; {as set forth in Holy Scripture and invariably inscribed upon the heart by the testimony of the Holy Spirit;} that he is, the Son of the living God. Mt.16:16, Jn.1:49. That he came from the Father, in all the Divine fullness. Jn.6:57, Col.1:19. That he is the true God and eternal life. Jn.20:28, I Jn.5:20. That he is Emmanuel, very God in our nature. Jn.1:14, I Jn.4:2,15. That he is the one Mediator between God and man. I Tim.2:5, Heb.8:6. That he is the Redeemer, Sanctifier, and Savior of his people. Eph.1:7, Heb.2:11, I Jn.4:14. That he is the true Prophet, Priest and King in his Church. Deut.18:18, Ps.110:4. Mk.11:10. That he is the Righteousness of all his Saints. Jer.23:6, II Cor.5:21. That he is the only way to the Father. Jn.14:6, Eph.2:18. That he is the brightness of all glory. II Cor.4:6, Heb.1:3. That he is the life their souls now enjoy; Gal.2:20, Col.3:3,4; and that he is their hope of eternal glory. Col.1:27, Tit.2:13. They confess the Lord of glory, when they present praise and thanksgiving to God by him; ascribing glory and blessing to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. Heb.13:15, Eph.3:21. That which by the psalmist is called, giving thanks; Ps.18:49; is by the Apostle called, confession. Rom.15:9. If we ascribe praise to the Father, with understanding, by Jesus Christ, we give equal glory to the Son, as to the Father; forasmuch as all the glory of the Father shines in Him. Jn.5:23, Acts 3:13. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Baptism of Repentance: It is called “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;” therefore, everyone that is baptized according to the primitive institution, is one that has been truly convinced of his sinful state, and confesses his wretchedness; that his whole life has been a life of sin, and alienation from God; and that, so long as he remained without Christ, whatever he thought to be his best works, were done in a carnal principle, which being enmity against God, those works have all been unholy before God; and that he now comes to the Great Redeemer for deliverance from the whole body of his sinfulness, depending alone on the virtue of the blood of the Lamb for remission of his sins; and declaring his sincere repentance from his dead works, and that he now yields himself to God, to be refined from all his pollutions, through the special Grace that is in Christ Jesus the Lord, by the powerful influence of the spirit of holiness, in the effectual application of the Gospel of the Grace of God; and that he now submits to the teachings of the Word of Christ, under the guidance of the Spirit of truth, to direct him how to walk to the glory of God the remaining part of his earthly pilgrimage; and that his heart’s desire is to keep the Commandments of the Lord; and that he is now waiting for the wisdom and power from Christ the Fountain of life, that he may live to the glory of the Father, till God shall please to call him out of the body. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Baptism: Baptism is a representation of our putting on the Lord Jesus Christ; passing through the water in his name is a figure and a profession of our passing away from all other things to Christ alone; to embrace him as our salvation, our life, and the fountain of all our blessedness; to submit to his will in whatsoever he is pleased to command to lay upon us, or to do with us; and to acknowledge him in all things as our Lord and our God. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” All that are baptized into the Son of God, do thereby confess themselves, in everything, to be given to Him, as sons and daughters, servants and handmaids, disciples, followers, and worshipers. They put on his name as the height of their glory; they put on his Righteousness as their peace with God; they put on the Doctrine of his Word as their light; they put on the Promises in his Word as their hope; they put on his ordinances in the appointed order as their distinguishing character among men; they put on the worship and order of his house for edification and comfortable communion one with another; and they put on such a conversation as becomes the Gospel, that it may be manifest that they have learned of Him in truth. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Posted November 24, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Eternal Justification in Christ: “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Now be it observed, that everything that comes from God, must have a time, and a beginning; but as they are in God himself; that is, in his perfect will, or immutable counsel, they are absolutely eternal. For whatever blessing is brought forth in time, is according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself. “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And therefore, because all the Council of God is absolutely irreversible; the things that are spoken of, are {in accordance with Divine Immutability} as if they were already done; by Him who “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Yet it may be the Lord may speak of those things which are so fixed in his counsel, with an IF; as if they were precarious, or contingent; but then it is to those souls who are not yet called by his grace; so that the blessings still remain uncertain as to themselves, “although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Now Justification must be one of those works, that were finished from the beginning of the creation; forasmuch as Christ is called, “a Lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world;” and again, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” These are one and the self-same thing. For in that he is said to be ordained, before the foundation of the world; this ordination was in God himself, as firm as the Eternal Throne; no more to be frustrated than if this had already been accomplished in time. And whereas Christ is said to be slain from the foundation of the world; it could be no other than in the Divine Purpose; and the same purpose, in which Christ was ordained to be slain, the end of his death must also be ordained; that is, the blotting out of the sins of his people, and the justification of their persons in Himself. The Son of God could not be slain for anything but for our sins; he could not be slain for our sins, but his death must be a sufficient propitiation, to take away our sins; and our sins could not be taken away, but we must be acquitted, and justified from them. “Now, where remission of these are, there is no more offering for sin;” so that, from whatever date, and in whatever light Christ was the Lamb slain; from that same date and in that same light, sin must be laid upon him; and in whatever sense sin was imputed to him, in the same sense it was taken away by him; and in whatever sense he made an end of sins; in the same sense he brought in Everlasting Righteousness. The bosom of the Father is the infinite ocean of blessedness, from whence all the springs of life proceed, and every work stands in ample perfection, from everlasting to everlasting. All the fullness that is in Christ, all the works performed by Christ for his Church, and all the works performed by his Spirit in his Church, and all the glory and felicity which the saints shall enjoy in the world to come; are no other than the openings and outgoings of the infinite, eternal, immutable love of the Father. “For I proceeded forth, and came from God.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Faith: Faith is the belief of the truth; for it is the truth of God, as it appears in the Gospel, in such clearness of demonstration, and such strength of evidence, as that it preponderates in the understanding, makes its way into the heart, and gains the full assent of the mind. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” God is the God of truth, and the Gospel is his Word; Jesus Christ is the truth of God, and the Gospel is the Record which God gave of his Son; the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth, and the Gospel was spoken by holy men of God, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and hence, our Lord said to his Father, “thy Word is truth.” In the Gospel of God’s Holy One is revealed, the perfection of all the glorious attributes of God; all his will, counsel, and purposes of grace; all the blessings of peace, righteousness, and salvation; and all the blessings of Divine light, everlasting consolation, and lively hope; even all the fullness of God, as a residing in Himself; and all the fullness of grace and truth, as it is extended to us, and is represented to us in its supreme excellency and glory as dwelling in the Son of his love. “For it pleased the Father, that in Him should all fullness dwell.” Now, the mind of the Father, opened in the Son, by the Holy Ghost is revealed to us in his Word of grace; for us to receive and believe, that we may have life thereby; and as it stands in the Word of the Gospel, it is called Truth; and the same truth received and believed in our hearts is called faith. So then, faith is no other thing than the truth of God, received, believed, and dwelling in us. Or in other words, it is the Record that God gave of his Son, abiding in our hearts, with full acquiescence of soul. Belief is an unwavering credence, an immovable certainty, an unshaken assurance of the Truth believed. John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Unity of the Brethren in Christ: Therefore I am certain, that it is impossible that there should be a believer under heaven, but he understands my language; and I understand his, because we have both been taught by the same Master. We have both learned the same volume of truth, into which we have been guided by the same Spirit; and in the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ by the special power of the Spirit of truth, we are led to have just conceptions of God the Father. His tremendous Majesty, his flaming Holiness, and his unchanging Righteousness, which we behold with the deepest reverence, shamefacedness and trembling; and we see ourselves, {as considered in ourselves, as creatures, but especially sinners,} at an infinite distance; with the impossibility of ever coming near. But his superlative love, and sovereign grace in Christ, we behold with the most exalted joy, wonder and gratitude. This invites us near. For while it has the most powerful attractive influence upon our hearts, it yields the strongest ground of encouragement; and presents to us an inexhaustible treasury, with an uninterrupted flow of the riches of all blessings as a residing in the bosom of the Father, and freely opened in the Son. This animates our souls, with love, desire, and hope; in drawing near to the God of all grace, to be made partakers of these blessings; and with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our intellectual powers, we approach to God in prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings; waiting upon God, hoping in his Word, and pouring out our very selves into his bosom; and this we do with the eyes of our mind instantly fixed on the Son of God. Having our entire dependence, on the excellency of his Person in the sight of God, the relation he bears to his Church, the virtue of his blood shed for our sins, and his prevailing intercession before the Father, to give us access, and make us acceptable in his presence; and in this way we find a door open, which no man can shut; and come boldly to the throne of grace. Our souls find admission within the veil; “whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest forever.” Thus every believing soul stands in the presence of God, in the Perfect Righteousness of Christ, exempt from all condemnation; for he knows in whom he hath believed; and who has borne his iniquity, and who shall present him to God, “faultless before the presence of his Glory, with exceeding joy.” John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Faith: Every blessing of grace and truth that dwells in Emmanuel is revealed in the Gospel; every blessing of grace and truth revealed in the Gospel is communicated to his elect by the power of his Spirit; and everything communicated to the heart, by the Spirit of God, is received by faith in that soul, and becomes a nail fastened in a sure place; for it is written in the table of the heart; not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. Thus, whatever any soul receives by faith is absolutely unalienable; it is eternally his own; for it is the gift of God; and, by his own finger it is indelibly inscribed in the intellectual parts; engraven in the soul by the hand of the immutable God. This is faith; and nothing less than this is the faith of the operation of God; notwithstanding the religious world make such a child’s play of what they call faith; as if it were an ignis fatuus. Thus, the righteousness of God, the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness of the Gospel, and the righteousness of faith is all the self-same thing, coming from the Father, in the Son, by the Gospel, and perfectly made one with the soul through faith. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what Law? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.” God is the fountain, and God himself sends forth the stream. God communicates the grace, and faith is the gift of God. So that from the beginning to the end, God is the justifier. John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Posted November 25, 2012

{Selection of the Week}

Separation from False Churches Imperative: Seeing that we have received a most sure Word of the Lord our God, it behooveth us to give heed thereunto, as unto a Light that shineth in dark places, whilst we travel in the dangerous wilderness of this world. In which Word, the whole Wisdom and Council of God for our direction and instruction in all things are fully revealed unto us; so that now we are not to say in our 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;” or who shall go over the sea, and bring it us, and cause us to hear it, that we may obey it; for lo, “the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart;” and set before our eyes for obedience to the faith; the sound of the Gospel having been long since carried forth through all the regions of the whole earth; so that no nation shall be excused, which will not serve and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; which being proclaimed with his own blessed mouth, sealed with his own blood, written with the pen of the Holy Ghost, delivered and commanded by his holy Apostles and Prophets unto us as his Last Will and Testament; whereunto nothing may be added, nothing diminished, altered, or changed, violated, or willfully neglected according to the fleshly wisdom or worldly policy, without most heinous transgression, sacrilege, and impiety. Neither hath any angel in heaven, any mortal man, no nor the whole Church, power or prerogative to alter or neglect the least iota or tittle thereof; but God hath especially committed these Holy Oracles to the careful custody of the Church, there to be inviolably preserved, as inside of the ark of the covenant, purely taught, expounded and delivered without corrupting, mixing, hiding, obscuring, or wresting; there to be precisely observed with all reverence and fear, without any willing or known transgression, or swerving either to the right hand or to the left, of the whole Church or any member thereof. And hereunto is the whole Church, and every particular member thereof, both jointly and in unison as one, bound together, both because they have all of them interest in the Tree and River of Life, all being bound to the maintenance of the Faith which is given, and is common to all Saints, and because they are all of them the members of Christ, and together his body and each other’s members in Him; therefore are they so often by the Apostles charged and stirred up to exhort, edify, and admonish one another, to stand upon the watchtower of their faith, to scout, and observe them diligently which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which they have learned; to try the spirits, to examine the doctrine whether any man teach otherwise, and consent not unto the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness. Many weighty and grave reasons are added to induce them to be the more vigilant and careful; the doctrine being likened to the light of the eyes, to food; yea, to the life of the soul; as also error and corruption associated with darkness, leaven, poison, &c. Moreover, such teachers are compared to false and deceitful workmen, blind and unfaithful guides, to grievous and ravaging wolves, to thieves and murderers, &c., whatever counterfeit titles and sheep’s clothing they take unto themselves; yet the Holy Ghost speaks evidently and everywhere warns, that these builders shall seek to destroy the temple of God, whose house and building we are, &c., for these blind guides shall seduce and mislead us in the ways of death and destruction, these thieves and wolves shall spoil and murder us; {if the Lord delivers us into their cruel hands.} Now to what extent these poisons are the spiritual death of the soul, by so much are they more carefully to be avoided, shunned and eschewed. Therefore our Savior Christ and his Apostles, as they were most vigilant and faithful, did both present and foresee diverse dangers and great evils to come, so gave they very earnest, and often warnings hereof unto the disciples, unto the churches, commanding the porter; yea, every servant of the house to watch, to beware and to take heed, showing them that many false Christs and many false prophets should arise, showing great signs and wonders, whereby to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. He foretold them of antichrists original increase and exaltation, how he should behave himself, what havoc he should cause in the Church of God; as also of the general defection, and even of the very beginnings thereof. How immediately after the tribulation of those days; namely the destruction and desolation of the earthly and material temple, the sun should be darkened, the moon should not give her light, the stars should fall from heaven and the powers of heaven should be shaken, and the beauty thereof wrapped up as a scroll; that the whole world should be drowned in sensuality and security, as in the days of Noah, because iniquity shall be increased, and true faith scarce found upon the earth at his coming. So that if those days should not be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. Yet, that all these things must and should undoubtably come to pass, he showed it by the nearer things; namely, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple; as also confirmed yet by the truth and steadfastness of his Word, showing how the heaven and the earth should pass away, but his words should not pass away, neither should this generation pass, until all these things were fulfilled; and as far off, and by diverse types as one finds in Is.14:13,14, Nahum 3:4-7, Dan.9:27; also Is.13:10-13, Ezek.32:7, Joel 2:31, 3:14,15. But the Apostles gave much more evident and plain warning of these things, chiefly they that lived longest, and came nearest to these times. As the Apostle Paul to the Elders of the Church at Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears;” {Acts 20:28-31;} and in all his epistles plentifully. The Apostle Peter in his Second Epistle, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction; and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” {II Pet.2:1-2} The Apostle Jude; and John in his Epistles; but especially in that Heavenly Book of the Revelation, wherein he most lucidly describes these things, even from the original, in several visions, according to the several ages which would ensue; wherein he shows the blessed state of the Church, whilst God’s glorious Throne was in the midst of the Elders, and whilst it was yet enlightened with the burning lamps of God’s Spirit, and whilst that the book was received and opened of the Lamb, and whilst Christ sat upon the white horse, his own holy Word, and whilst that they remained together in that heavenly order, wherein Christ had placed and bestowed every member, and the Apostles those excellent workmen had planted and left them, being fitly coupled and joined together by every joint, for the service and help of the whole, according to the effectual power that is in the measure of every part, until Satan I say, that ancient enemy of all righteousness, had that great sword given him, wherewith he made and still shall make bloody war, and raise up grievous persecution against the woman and her seed without, and within, even whilst they slept and were negligent, sowing his darnel of errors, and tares of discord amongst them, raising up sects through the ambition and vainglory of some, drawing others into schism through pride and hypocrisy, others into heresies, through their headstrong and unbridled affections; all into his snare, through the general default of all, who slacked their duties, and kept not their orderly watch one over another, and jointly over the whole, as they were commanded and prescribed by the Apostles. But as the age that arose after Joshua and those elders of his time, was soon corrupted, and soon forgot the ordinances of their God, and the great things the Lord had done for their forefathers; so these soon fell from the Apostolic Order, and left their primitive diligence and care. The people also rendered superstitious reverence and preposterous esteem unto their teachers and elders, resigned up all things, even their duty, interest, liberty and prerogatives into their hands; suffering them to alter and dispose of all things after their own lusts, without inquiry or controversy; whereupon the true pattern of Christ’s Testament, so highly and with so great charge commissioned by the apostles unto the fidelity of the whole Church, was soon neglected and cast aside, especially by these evil workmen, these unsent hirelings, who loved to have the preeminence, and sought to draw an absolute power into their own hands; procuring unto themselves, those positions in the church as servants of Christ, and turning them into swelling titles of fleshly pomp and worldly dignity. Thus wrought the mystery of iniquity; yea, so far were many of them carried away with a vain opinion and false estimation of the excellency of their gifts, as they under feigned pretenses of doing good unto others, sought also under this cloak a jurisdiction and regency over other congregations also, which was easily obtained, the people through the just judgments of God being now so bewitched and blinded with their sweet tongues, that they easily consented. - Thus Antichrist being now established and fortified in the midst of his strongholds, he now receives the grand charter of his prerogative, even the dragon, his power, throne, and authority. He now boldly opens his mouth against God, blaspheming the Tabernacle of Christ, and them that dwell therein; innovating and changing all things after his own lust, the ministry, government, order and worship; thus exalting himself against all that is called God, and sitting in the temple of God as God, showing himself that he is God, causing all men to worship his image, to receive his mark, to buy his wares, &c., bringing forth his harlot upon the stage of the world, stately mounted upon his beastly power, pompously arrayed, and gorgeously decked and adorned, the more to allure and entice; whose cup of fornications was carried far and near, to many nations, people, and tongues, so that the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, the inhabitants of the earth were drunk with the wine of her fornication, which she conveyed unto them by the hands of her proselyting merchants, who are waxen rich with the abundance of her pleasures. Yet in all this defection, corruption, and apostasy hath God still reserved a seed, a poor small remnant, who have been marked with the mark of God on their foreheads, and have been preserved from the sting of these scorpions, the plague of these locusts, which have had light in the midst of these hellish fogs, {“but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings;” Ex.10:23;} which have not bought, nor sold with the mark of the beast, neither drunk of the whore’s cup, neither have been defiled with her fornications; but have been the Lamb’s called, chosen, and faithful soldiers, following the Lamb in white array wheresoever he goeth, who leadeth them from faith to faith. These by the light of the Word, read the harlot’s misery written in her forehead, discover her skirts, and all her abominations, and by that same light make her known to be that spiritual Babylon, where the servants of Christ are kept in servitude from the practice of his Word; where the true temple, his Church, and all the vessels and instruments thereof, are utterly ruinated, defaced, profaned and trodden underfoot. These also do show by the same light, even from the ancient prophecies, her, and all her synagogues, to become the very habitation of Devils, the hold of all foul and wicked spirits, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. - It behooveth us therefore, whilst yet God vouchsafeth us time, carefully by the light of God’s Word, to examine our ways, and to reflect upon our condition, whether we be in that broad way that leadeth to destruction, amongst those multitudes over whom the whore sitteth and reigneth; or in the straight and narrow way which leadeth unto everlasting life, with Christ’s little flock and marked soldiers, whom the Lamb leadeth and ruleth? Whether we be in that great defection, in that spiritual Babylon under Antichrist and the beast; or whether we be in Mount Zion, in the spiritual Jerusalem, where the commandments of God are kept, and the faith of Jesus? - Therefore let us, for the appeasing and assurance of our consciences, give heed to the Word of God, and by that golden reed measure our temple, our altar, and our worshipers, even by this Rule whereby the apostles, those excellent workmen, planted and built the first churches; {“Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;” Eph.2:20,21;} for as there is but One Truth, so whatsoever is diverse more or less than that One Truth is false and to be repented of. Henry Barrow {Brief Discovery of the False Church, 1590} - Henry Barrow or Barrowe {1550? – 1593} was an early Non-Conformist, and Separatist from the Established Church of England, who cried out against her abominations, was consequently jailed, and after a long six year imprisonment, was then executed by hanging for his Faithful Confession of Christ.

{Writings of John Johnson}

Mediatorial Work of Christ: Christ, the Prince of Life is our Representative in the presence of his Father. For Jesus the Son of God, our Great High Priest is now passed into the heavens; and having obtained eternal redemption for us, he entered into the holy place, by his own blood; where he now appears in the presence of God for us. That is, to present our persons acceptable to God; to maintain our cause in the court of Divine Justice; and to prevail for every blessing that is needful to perfect us with Himself; for all which, he is perfectly qualified. “Of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum; we have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” It is very clear, that all the chosen of God, are made acceptable in his sight, alone in Christ; their great Forerunner, and High Priest forever. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Christ is the mountain of the height of Israel; of whom the Lord says, “there will I accept them - I will accept you with your sweet savor.” He alone is the altar that sanctifies the gift; of whom it is said, “they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar.” Peter tells the believers, that they, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” And as he makes their persons accepted, he also maintains their cause. Notwithstanding their sins, he has paid the ransom. “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He is righteous, and they are made, “the righteousness of God in Him.” He pleads his sufferings for us; and then calls upon his Father, “let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake; let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law; and now presents himself in the presence of God, as a Lamb that has been slain; and has borne our sins in his own body on the tree; having carried our sorrows, and borne our griefs; and made atonement with his own most precious blood. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” And as he maintains our justification in right of his own life having been given, a sacrifice for us; he also, as our Intercessor, obtains for us, and communicates to us, every spiritual blessing in heavenly places; “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” All the blessings of the kingdom of God, come from the Father of lights; and are conveyed to us through him, “who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” An advocate pleads right and justice; an intercessor makes request for favors. By the former we are delivered from wrath; by the latter we are enriched with all good things. John Johnson {Riches of Gospel Grace, 1776}

Holiness unto the Lord: In that great Day of Judgment, the holiness of the Lord God shall be manifest in truth; and magnified in its utmost perfection; for then it shall shine in its full glory, in Him who is the image of the invisible God; and the brightness of his glory. The Most High God takes this name and character, HOLY; as that by which he will be known to his people; it being the highest epitaph that can be given unto him. Of which name he appears the most jealous, and in the strictest manner, commands all that come near unto Him, to reverence. Therefore, in that great and glorious day, he will assuredly magnify the Glory of his Holiness above all things. Holiness appears to contain all the excellency, greatness, fullness, riches, glory, blessedness, and every perfection of all the attributes of the eternal God. Or in other words, it contains all that is great and good; or it is expressive of all that the infinite Jehovah IS. I cannot express; I call it, the excellency of his Majesty, the glory of the Divine Essence, the dignity of his Nature, the richness of the uncreated Mind, the fullness of the blessedness of the Fountain of all beings; but both my expressions and thoughts fail. But would we know what the holiness of God is; it may be best conceived in the contemplations of an humble mind, by observing, with sacred reverence, and tremendous awe, how it is set forth and recommended to us in the Word of God; and regarded by all that loved and feared his Holy Name. The Most High God, whom the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain, has taken the name HOLY, as his appropriated character. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place;” {Is.57:15;} and he very often uses this phrase, “my Holy Name;” and that in the most sacred manner, to impress reverence and godly fear. And when he brought his first begotten Son into the world; to distinguish him from all other beings, he is called, “that Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee” - “thine Holy Child Jesus” - “the Holy One of God.” And in many places he is called, “the HOLY ONE;” to show his super-excellency above all other beings. “Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” {Ps.89:19} And that Spirit of God, which the Father gave to the Son, without measure; and gives, through the Son, to all his Saints, in measure, to express his eminence, and infinite distance from, and superiority above all other spirits, is called, “the Holy Spirit” - “the Spirit of Holiness.” In our translation, he is most commonly called, “the Holy Ghost.” {It is a pity, that the old obsolete Gothic word, ‘Ghost,’ had been retained by our translators; for it is not so expressive, or intelligible, as the word, ‘Spirit.’} Thus, the descriptive character, whereby the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are distinguished from all other beings and manifest to be perfectly ONE is HOLINESS. “There is none holy as the LORD; for there is none beside thee; neither is there any rock like our God.” {I Sam.2:2} “I the LORD your God am holy.” {Lev.19:2} “Thou only art holy.” {Rev.15:4} The account, and description given of the seraphs in Isaiah’s vision; standing above {upon} the throne; at whose voice the door posts moved; and by whom the living fire was communicated to the Prophet’s lips; can comport with no other, but the Son of God, and the Spirit of Truth; by whom the glory of the Father is proclaimed; and who perfectly answer to each other, in everything, and are, with the Father, included in the message, on which the Prophet was to be sent. “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” They, to manifest the infinite excellency, and superlative glory of the Immortal and Invisible God are represented crying one to another, and saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory;” {Is.6:3;} as if holiness was the very ultimate altitude of all that can be expressed or known of God; or as if it was the highest ascription of glory, that can be given him; as if it were the very climax; that having expressed that word, they could no higher ascend; but repeat the same, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Though the true design of the vision is to express the grand intention of all that is revealed, and performed by the Son of the blessed; and all that is communicated by the Spirit of his grace; that it all centers in this point, to declare the Infinite Holiness of Him, whom Christ calls, “Holy Father.” In the New Testament Church, under the glorious beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and the vital streams of the enriching Comforter; represented in the Book of Revelation, by four living creatures; being brought into the same spirit, and image, express the same language, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.” {Rev.4:8} Yea, so holy is the Lord, that everything that proceeds from him, or pertains to him is holy. The writings wherein his will is revealed are the Holy Scriptures; and all his commandments are holy. Every place where his presence dwells is a holy habitation. “Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD; for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.” {Zech.2:13} Every place is holy where his presence appears. “The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” {Ex.3:5} The temple, the ark, the altar, all the utensils, and everything pertaining to the worship were sanctified {rendered holy} by his presence. And the times which the Lord appointed for his people to draw near to him, were holy; therefore, it is called, “the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD.” {Ex.16:23} But we do not conceive that places, vessels, times, &c., are capable of any intrinsic holiness; but the Lord was pleased to sanctify them to his use, and appoint that they should be held in sacred reverence, to teach his people to reverence, to fear and tremble at his presence, and at his holy name; and that they whose hearts were capable of receiving a different kind of holiness, should be sanctified to God, in spirit and in truth. Therefore he says, “ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.” For he calls his chosen with an holy calling; dwells in them by the Spirit of his holiness; and creates them, after God, in righteousness, and true holiness; and so they grow, unto an holy temple in the Lord. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” {I Cor.3:16} And to them he says, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God; the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” {Deut.7:6} And having called them with an holy calling, brought them to himself, and his Spirit dwelling in them, they are made partakers of his holiness. Hence they are called, “holy brethren” – “an holy nation” – “an holy priesthood;” and such they must be, or they cannot stand before this Holy Lord God. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” {Heb.12:14} It may be asked, if God only is holy; how can a man be holy; or, if holiness in God, be of so sublime a nature; what is holiness in man? I reply, that we ought to distinguish well what we read, and attend to the difference, between the very identical thing, and an adjunct, which sometimes bears the name, by reason of its relation to, or dependence on the thing itself. There is a holiness in its kind in everything that relates to God, or to the worship of God. Some places were called holy, because the glory of God appeared there, striking the hearts of those that beheld it with sacred awe, and reverence of his Majesty. Some things were called holy because they bare some resemblance to, or were figures of the true; or were used in any service, relating to the Holy Lord God. Some things, or persons, were said to be sanctified, and deemed holy, purely because they were separated from things common, and appointed to be employed in things pertaining to God. Sometimes purifying is called sanctifying; though purification and sanctification are perfectly distinct; the former is only putting away filthiness, the latter is to be beautified with Divine Grace; yet the former is called holiness, {“by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,”} because it is a preparative for the latter. Sometimes a sincere, humble, upright walking in the fear of God is called holiness; because it is presumed to proceed from a principal of holiness in the heart; but, since none is holy except the Lord, if we come to speak of the truth of holiness in man, it is no other than God dwelling in them. “As God have said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” {II Cor.6:16} Hereby is the soul of man sanctified, and made holy to the Lord; and there is not a spark of true holiness, in any being in the creation of God, only what proceeds immediately from God, in consequence of his dwelling in God, and God in him; and so, by vital union with Him that is holy, the soul is made partaker; {by virtue of Divine Imputation, Christ our Representative unto the Father in all the perfection & holiness of his Mediatorial Representation;} of his holiness. “For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” {I Cor.3:17} Now, it is easy to observe, with what awe, submission, reverence, fear and trembling, all those persons, whom the Holy One of Israel hath sanctified through his truth, draw nigh to God, and make mention of his holy name. With what solemnity they speak of his holiness; and what Glory they ascribe to his Inconceivable Excellency. “Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.” {Ps.99:3} “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.” {Ps.99:5} “Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.” {Ps.99:9} And again, “who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods; who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” {Ex.15:11} When exalting his mighty works, and wonders of grace, they come to this conclusion, “He sent redemption unto his people; he hath commanded his covenant forever; holy and reverend is his name.” {Ps.111:9} And they admonish one another, “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” {Ps.29:2} And again, “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” {Ps.30:4} And again, “Glory ye in his holy name.” {I Chron.16:10} And when the prophet had spoken of the rich blessings, and the most glorious things to the Church; he resolves them all into this, “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” {Is.12:6} Thus it appears, how all the Saints have revered, adored, magnified, and rejoiced in the holiness of the glorious Lord God; and if these things, duly attended to, do not furnish us with expressions fully to declare, nor yet enable us to form perfect conceptions of the holiness of our God; they are sufficient to fill us with profound reverence, joy, and admiration. This was the motto worn in the crown of the high priest, in the tabernacle; and now under the Gospel, that all the saints are kings and priests; it is the motto worn by every believer in Jesus: HOLINESS TO THE LORD. John Johnson {Son of God on the Throne of Judgment, 1776}

Posted November 26, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Sanctification: Sanctification is ascribed to God the Father, as Jude directs his Epistle, “to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” A thing is said to be sanctified, when it is appointed, devoted, or consecrated, to an office, or condition of holiness. In which sense, the Father sanctified all his people from eternity. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” The image of his Son is holiness; inasmuch as he is the Holy One of God. Therefore in this purpose of God, they were appointed to holiness; sanctified to himself in Christ. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” {Eph.1:4} As also it is said again; “but we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” {II Thes.2:13} And yet more, to the same purpose, this character is given of the children of God, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” {I Pet.1:2} Thus the true origin of sanctification rested in the eternal bosom, when there was no creature in being, with whom he might take counsel; or from whom he might receive instruction in that affair; and forasmuch as this foundation stands impregnable, the superstructure irresistibly rises therefrom; and according as he hath chosen them to be, so they are. “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” {Deut.14:2} Sanctification is ascribed to the Son; as it needs must be, if it proceeds from the Father. “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” {Jn.5:19} Therefore Paul directs his Epistle, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” {I Cor.1:2} But though it be ascribed to the Son, actually {as the Executor of his Father’s Counsel} it is still ascribed to the Father, originally. “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} So it may be said, the Father sanctifies his elect by his Son. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” {Heb.10:10} And it is said again, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” {Heb.13:12} Thus it appears to proceed from the will of the Father, in the blood of the Son; yet the influential sanctification in the conscience is wrought by the special application of the word of Truth; not as a different operation; for the virtue of the word lies in this, that the love of the Father, and the grace of the Son; the design of the Father, and the execution of the Son; the gift of the Father, and the conveyance by the Son; or the incomprehensible riches, which is in the Son, and in the Father, is thereby made known to us; and we are made partakers of those inexhaustible treasures by the word. For the glorious riches of grace which the word reveals, is the life of the word; take away the truth which it contains and the word has no existence; the word of God, is the truth of God; that is, God himself in the revelation of his Will. So then, whatsoever is ascribed to the word of God is ascribed immediately to God himself; only holding forth to us the manner in which God performs the operation; or what part of the work is intended, the determination, or the execution; whether in his own purpose, in the Person of his Son, or in the hearts of his people. To the Ephesians, this truth is intelligibly expressed. “Even as 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.” {Eph.5:25,26} Here, Christ giving himself, or sanctifying his Church with his own blood, is laid as the ground of his sanctifying it by the word; he did the one, that he might do the other. He sanctified, or presented them to God, in the virtue of his blood; having made reconciliation by the blood of his cross; and in consequence thereof, the Gospel of Peace proclaims life and salvation, by the virtue of which glad tidings, their hearts are reconciled, and united to God, and holiness becomes their delight. Thus, it is the work of the Son of God; both by the sacrifice of himself, in which he took away the condemnation due to their sins; and by the Gospel of his grace, whereby he removes guilt from their consciences, through faith in his blood; and alienation from their hearts, by revealing the streams of overcoming love. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” {Rom.5:8} Yea, and as the Father sanctified them, by adoption, or fixing them in a near relation to Himself; “having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself;” the Son likewise, in consequence of that near relation, sanctifies them, by manifesting to them their adoption, embracing them in a vital union, and giving them to enjoy spiritual communion with Himself. “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” {Heb.2:11} Sanctification is likewise ascribed to the Holy Ghost; and so it needs must be; for whatsoever proceeds from the Father, and dwells in the Son, is communicated to the saints by the Spirit; and no spiritual blessing ever was enjoyed by any creature upon earth, or ever will be enjoyed by any creature in heaven, but what is equally to be ascribed to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are One.” {I Jn.5:7} Whatsoever the Father doth, in the inconceivable tremendous Councils of his own eternal bosom; the same doth the Son, in the majestic execution of his mediatorial office; and the same doth the Holy Ghost, in the efficacious, illuminating, quickening, transforming operations of his grace in the elect. For God, in his Sacred Word, has plainly revealed himself to us, under three distinct personal characters; and each of these, stand in their peculiar relations, and perform peculiar offices; yet so as nothing ever was, or ever can be performed by any one of them, but what is performed by all the three. For God is ONE. But while the aspiring, presumptuous, vain boasters of orthodoxy, attempt to describe things that are not revealed; intruding into those things which they have not seen; and torture each other’s mind, with metaphysical reasoning, about the distinct subsistence of the Three Holy Ones, in the Divine Essence; or in the Being of the Godhead itself; the believer, with meekness and profound reverence, receives the simple truth as the word expresses it, and believe it with all his heart; and employs his mind upon the glories of this stupendous truth, in the light that God has been pleased to reveal it, to the unspeakable joy of his soul. For concerning this great mystery of godliness, everything is clearly opened, and fully expressed, that can possibly yield us solid comfort, or spiritual edification. Therefore, sanctification being from the bosom of the Father, through the medium of the Son, it must become effectual in the children of God; and this efficacy is by a special revelation thereof in their hearts, by the Word of God; which word was indicted by the Holy Ghost, as “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;” and the truth and power of that word can only be applied by the same Divine Spirit, by whom it was indicted. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost.” {I Thes.1:5} So that sanctification, in its internal influence, is entirely of the Holy Ghost; yet, the Son prays for it, unto the Father. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” {Jn.17:17} That is, as it is originally from the Father, and proceeds through the Son, who is the truth of the Father, or the Father’s word; and as the Holy Ghost, who is the effectual operator in the saints is the gift of the Father. As he had said before, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” {Jn.14:16} For, to be sanctified, and to be filled with the Spirit, is one and the selfsame thing. And for that reason, this title, or epithet, HOLY, is joined to the Spirit; not because it is possible for him to be more holy than the Father, or the Son; but because that holiness which proceeds from the Father, and the Son, is, by the Spirit communicated to the saints. And thus the Apostle speaks of the Three, in strict conjunction; though he ascribes sanctification immediately to the Spirit. “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” {Rom.15:16} Thus it appears that sanctification is from God alone. Through the whole counsel, manifestation, and operation, he is the Alpha and Omega. Sanctification is a copious subject; and taken in its largest extent, comprehends all spiritual blessings, or all the holy illuminations, all the holy communications, all the holy operations, and all the holy relations, stations, enjoyments, and displays of Sovereign Grace that are necessary to, or can be enjoyed by any creature; or all that is done for a soul, to bring him out of a state of sin, and bless him with life and salvation, until he be complete in consummate felicity; or eternally established in the full enjoyment of the glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. God is essentially, infinitely, eternally and immutably holy; for as nothing can proceed from him but what is holiness, all the blessings whereby a creature is prepared for, advanced unto, or perfected in eternal glory, proceed from God alone; therefore all that is done for, in, or upon any creature, whereby he is delivered from the anguish of the lowest hell, and possessed of the glory and felicity of the highest heaven; is no other thing than sanctification, or the going forth of the holiness of God towards him, in, and upon him, through Jesus Christ our Lord. John Johnson {Evangelical Sanctification or True Holiness, 1776}

Posted November 27, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Sanctified in Gospel Truth: There is a sanctification in relation to our understanding; that is, when the mind is enlightened into the spiritual knowledge of Divine Truth; and this light dwells, and abides with special influence, and sweet savor. Christ himself is this Light; for he is called, “the true light;” {Jn.1:9, I Jn.2:8;} and again, “in him was life; and the life was the light of men.” {Jn.1:4} Hence it is plain that Christ alone is eternal life, and he alone is superlative light; for this is his character. “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” whose character likewise is this, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” {I Jn.1:5} So then, as the life and light in him are one, no man can receive life from him, or in him, but through the illumination of the understanding, and no man can receive true light in his understanding, but thereby he receives {in his perception as pertaining to that understanding whereby he beholds Christ the light of life} eternal life. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” {Jn.17:3} And thus the Holy Ghost, by the Apostle John, states this truth in ample order. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” {I Jn.5:20} This Divine light, whereby the elect of God are sanctified, shines entirely in the written Word, and cannot possibly be derived from any other fountain; for as there is no light but in Christ, so there is no medium whereby this light is conveyed to us, but the Scripture of Truth. The sacred writing, indicted by the Spirit of Christ, testifies of the Son of God, revealing the mysteries of his kingdom; and is a perfect vehicle, wherein is contained all the glory of God, the fullness of Christ, and the riches of his grace; and whereby all the blessings of eternal life are manifested and communicated unto us. Christ is called the Word of God, because he is the wisdom and truth of God, and that because the love, life, grace, salvation, and glory of God perfectly shines forth in Him, and is revealed to us alone by Him. And for the selfsame reason, the revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures, {that is, the matter therein revealed,} is called the Word of God, because the very same wisdom and truth of God shines therein; or because Christ himself, in all his fullness, excellency, glory, and perfections is the substance thereof; and thereby alone is revealed unto us. But some persons tell us that, “there is a difference to be made, between the eternal Word, and the written Word of God;” but this sophistical distinction is a vain amusement; and has no foundation in the Sacred Record, and can have no tendency to edify the Church of God. Is there any word of God in the Scriptures that is not eternal? The trivial objectionist will say, “yes, a thousand things are mentioned in the Scripture which shall have an end;” but let the serious judge. The question is not, whether a thousand perishing things are circumstantially mentioned in the Scripture; but whether any part of the truth of God, which those things are designed to illustrate shall ever vanish away? Is it not the same wisdom and truth of God which is in Christ that is written in the Scriptures? Is it another light, life, grace, and glory that dwells in Christ, than that which shines in the sacred writings; or is there any other way, whereby any soul can either know, or enjoy the riches of grace and glory in Christ, but as it shines in the written Word? It may be said, “the Holy Ghost guides into all truth.” It is true, he opens the heart to attend to, and the understanding to receive the word of life; and so guides the mind into those things which Christ hath spoken in the Scriptures. He is both the Heavenly Inditer and Applier of that word. But since that sacred volume was complete, did the Holy Ghost ever communicate any branch of Divine knowledge to any creature, but from that Word alone; or if any should pretend to have received any such revelation, by what rule will he pretend to convince us, that it is not a delusion of the devil? But they tell us, “Christ Jesus, and the Holy Scriptures, are not one and the same thing.” It is true, the writing, the paper, ink, sound of words, or arrangement of letters is not Christ; but the subject matter, which is written, recorded and manifested to us in that holy book is Christ. The truth, will, wisdom, power, love, life and grace of God in Christ are the selfsame thing with what is contained in the Holy Scripture. Therefore Christ, the Truth of God, in his own Divine Person, and the Truth of God, in the Scripture is one and the same Eternal Word. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” And it is by the Divine truth, which, for our learning and admonition, is written in the Scriptures, that Christ sanctifies his Church. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” {Jn.6:63} “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” {Jn.17:17} The understanding is sanctified, when with full assent and consent of all its powers, the soul receives the knowledge of the Word of God, so as to distinguish it from all false lights. As saith the Apostle John, “we are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us; and hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” {I Jn.4:6} And saith the Lord, “the sheep follow him; for they know his voice; and a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers;” {Jn.10:4,5} and this distinguishing knowledge of the Word of truth is inseparable from the knowledge of Him that dwells therein; the great Jehovah, who thereby shines forth, in the glory, majesty and perfection of his holiness. This Word declares his majestic greatness. “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods; who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” {Ex.15:11} God declares himself, “thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy.” {Is.57:15} “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” {Is.66:11} “Do not I fill heaven and earth; saith the LORD.” {Jer.23:24} And to express his absolute, infinite, eternal and immutable perfection, he takes to himself this character, “I AM THAT I AM.” And we find the sublimity, preciousness, excellency and holiness of his nature, fully manifested in his pure Word. “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” {Jn.4:24} The bright seraphs which stand before the throne, veil their faces, and cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” {Is.6:3, Rev.4:8} “Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.” {Ps.99:9} This branch of the knowledge of God is received from the sacred Word by everyone that knows that word of Truth; and it enters the deepest recesses of the heart, in the efficacy thereof. The superlative glory and perfection of God is so powerfully revealed to the mind, that God is indeed and in truth, sanctified, adored, blessed and magnified in that soul. “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness.” {Ps.150:1,2} “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” {Ps.29:2} “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” {Ps.97:12} This enlightened mind trembles before the exceeding glory of his Majesty, with reverence and godly fear; and wants to know his perfect will. “My heart standeth in awe of thy word.” {Ps.119:161} It presumes not to approach him under any other character but what he has given of himself in his Word; nor takes liberty to come before him in any other right, than what God himself has granted; or to worship him in any other order, than himself has prescribed. “I will hear what God the LORD will speak; for he will speak peace unto his people.” {Ps.85:8} “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” {Ps.130:5} “Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” {Ps.25:4,5} John Johnson {Evangelical Sanctification or True Holiness, 1776}

Posted November 28, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Imputation & Righteousness: Jesus Christ is the Center of Righteousness, being both essentially righteous in Himself, and fulfilling all righteousness for his people. The Father calls him, my Righteous Servant. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” {Is.53:11. A Righteous Branch. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” {Jer.23:5} The Branch of Righteousness. “In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” {Jer.33:15} The Sun of Righteousness. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” {Mal.4:3} And again, he is called, Jesus Christ the Righteous; “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” {I Jn.2:1;} to show that he is the essential residence, and original source of all righteousness; and to him it is ascribed, in every character, and every performance. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” {Ps.45:6,7} “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” {Is.11:5} “I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” {Is.45:19} “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” {Dan.9:24} “Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.” {PV.8:18} From him alone, who is the inexhaustible Fountain, proceeds all the righteousness of the saints; and he is, of God, made to them righteousness. They know, they expect, they desire, they seek no other righteousness, but that which Christ is. “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.” {Is.45:24} “In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” {Is.45:25} “That I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” {Phil.3:9} And in this perfect righteousness of Christ, they stand complete before God. “Ye are complete in Him.” {Col.2:10} They are as righteous as God himself; for they do not stand in the righteousness of their own; nor in a righteousness inherently wrought in them, or conferred upon them in an abstracted sense, distinct from its radical source; but in the very identical righteousness of the Son of God. “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” {Is.54:17} They are presented to God in the perfection of Christ; called by his name, and approved in him, even as himself is approved. His righteousness is, of God, made theirs by Imputation and they are made the righteousness of God in Him. In this righteousness they are justified in the sight of God. Acquitted from all guilt, wrath, curse, and condemnation which sin had introduced; and all their iniquities, perfectly and eternally extinguished, as if they had never been. “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins; return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” {Is.44:22} “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” {Jer.50:20} “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” {Mic.7:19} And this justification from sin, is alone by his blood; having borne our sins in his own body, and poured out his soul unto death for us, whereby he became, “the propitiation for our sins.” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” {Heb.10:14} His blood, {that is to say, his life laid down for us,} being of infinite value in the sight of his Father, must needs be of infinite virtue, to answer the end to which it was devoted; namely, to make full atonement for transgressions; and deliver his children from death and misery. “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” {Zech.9:11} “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” {Rom.3:25,26} “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” {Rom.5:9} “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” {I Jn.1:7} Thus, when regard is had to the matter of our justification, or that whereby the remission of sins is obtained, it is always ascribed to his blood. But when the evidence is in view, or that which proves the sufficiency of the atonement, it is ascribed to his resurrection. For the resurrection was an undeniable demonstration that the sacrifice was accepted. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” {Rom.4:25} In this righteousness, the saints are justified in their claim and title to the everlasting kingdom of God. Undoubtably they have an eternal inheritance settled upon them, which includes all the blessings that can possibly exist, in God, or in the creation of God; in time, or in eternity; and secured to them by the most firm conveyance that a faithful God can make. “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” {Mt.25:34} “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” {I Pet.1:4} “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death.” {Ps.48:14} “The LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” {Ps.84:11} “All are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.” {I Cor.3:23} “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” {Rev.21:7} But by what right or title do they come to this inheritance? This right of inheritance to the saints is alone in Christ Jesus. The only begotten of the Father; “whom he hath appointed heir of all things;” {Heb.1:2;} and the saints possess a title to the eternal inheritance, by virtue of their union with the Son of God. He being sole heir, by native right, and they, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, in marriage relation, are no more twain, but one body and one spirit with the only Son of God. And thus he is made righteousness unto them. Nor is it possible for anything to dissolve this union with the Son, to disannul their relation {as children} to the Father, or efface their title to that glory which is in immortality; for in the right of Emmanuel, their title is irreversible. Some persons talk of these things being purchased by Christ for his Church; yea, they will tell us of his purchasing grace, the Holy Spirit, eternal glory, &c., but these are mere fictions; and betray the ignorance of such vain talkers; for these things are absolutely above the nature of any purchase, being nothing less than the outgoings of Divine Perfection. Christ purchased his Church with his own blood; and by making atonement for the sins of his people, procured for them eternal deliverance from everything that is evil, but to procure real endowments, to obtain positive good, or merit enriching blessings, never was the design, in the shedding of the blood of Christ. By his sufferings, we have redemption from sin; and by Union with his Person, made heirs of God. Eternal life and glory comes not by purchase, but by patrimony. “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” {Gal.3:29} John Johnson {Christ: All in All, 1776}

Posted November 29, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Lord’s Supper: In this ordinance of breaking bread, {though in itself only a shadow,} are represented spiritual things, and the figure extends to eternal things. {Mt.26:29} Therein we confess the Holy One of God; we confess that we believe in the Lord Jesus, what he himself is, what he has done for us, what he freely gives us; in what relation we stand to the Christ of God, what we now enjoy in him, and what we hope for in the life to come. For, in coming to this table, we confess him to be the Fountain of all our supplies, and declare ourselves to be the children of his grace, with a fixed dependence on him as belonging to his family, and having a right to all the blessings of his household. For all the riches of grace and glory reside in Himself, in whom we now enjoy the blessings of grace and truth, and by whom we expect to be blessed with all the perfection of everlasting life and glory. And thus, while we attend to these visible signs, the eye of our mind is fixed on the spiritual substance therein held forth to us. The time of the institution of this ordinance was very significant, for it was the night of the Passover, which was an ordinance commanded to Israel on a very awful occasion, the slaughter of all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, and bringing out the armies of Israel with an high hand and an almighty outstretched arm. So was this at a very awful period. The night in which our Lord Jesus was betrayed into the hands of sinners; when he was immediately to launch forth into the depth of suffering, to bear the heaviest of all sorrows, and to be crushed with the most tremendous agonies for our sakes, that by his stripes we might be healed, and set free from the most intolerable bondage. And herein was love manifested in very deed! That when the Lord knew he was just going to fall under the fiercest wrath, to be tormented with the most excruciating pain, and sustain the most tormenting anguish that ever was felt by any being, and that, entirely for our iniquities and sins; even at that very time that he should express the most tender compassion and invariable kindness, the most exquisite love and sincere affection! This superlative love every believer, drawing nigh to God in this ordinance, dost celebrate with the highest gratitude, and with all his soul; yea, with the deepest humility, self-abasement and self-abhorrence, yet with the most elevated joy and heavenly delight, crying out, “behold, what manner of love is this!” The order. “When the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.” {Lk.22:14} This was to express the unity of the body, Christ the head, and all his disciples as members, standing in an indivisible union with the Lord, and with one another. For no schism can be in this body, for all his children are of his flesh and of his bones, being one spirit with him, and the same with one another. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.’ {Rom.12:5} No separation is possible; for they are all one in the eternal counsel. {Eph.1:4} All one in covenant, when the Father sent the Son into the world. {Is.42:6} And all one in Spirit, when they believe on the Son of God. “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” {I Cor.6:17} Christ and his saints have all but one life, {Jn.14:19,} one kingdom, {Lk.22:29,} one everlasting habitation, {Jn.14:2,3,} and one eternal glory. {Jn.17:22} These things are excellently represented to us in this glorious ordinance; for it was the good pleasure of the Lord to ratify to his disciples, in lively figures, those things which he had spoken to them in his doctrine. And sitting down together as one family, with the Lord at the head, represents our sitting spiritually with Christ in heavenly places, {Eph.2:6,} as also our sitting with him in the mansions of eternal glory. {Lk.22:30} Thus drawing nigh to God in this ordinance, we confess the very truth of Union in the love of the Father, in the fullness of the Son, in the power of the Spirit of truth, and in the glory which shall be revealed when Christ shall appear. The body of Christ; that is, the fullness of the Godhead in the Man Christ Jesus is represented by the bread, as he said, “this is my body.” The very Christ of God, Immanuel, the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in the man; for notwithstanding the manhood of Christ was in very deed irreprehensibly perfect, {Heb.7:26,} it is absolutely impossible, that created nature should be possessed of such virtue in itself as to give eternal life to any being. “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” {Jn.6:34} It is the Word made flesh, or God manifest in the flesh; that is, the human nature filled with all the fullness of the Divine nature, that the heart and soul of every believer feeds upon by faith. It is spiritually, mentally in the understanding; the soul beholds the infinite riches that dwells in the Holy One of God, and from thence receives the knowledge of life in Christ. If Christ were not the absolute God, no blessing of eternal life could proceed from him; and if he were not perfect man, he could not convey those blessings to us. This is the great mystery of godliness, yet there is not a believer under heaven that does not know it; for it is not possible that any sinner should be in a state of salvation, who does not believe it with all his heart, even so as spiritually to eat it, and live upon it with all his soul. “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} Therefore when Jesus speaks of his flesh, or of his body, nothing less is intended than the infinite eternal perfection of the Divine Being, by an indivisible union, inhabiting the nature of man in perfection; and everyone that comes to this ordinance in faith, beholds the Son of God in this light. Every believer, when he comes to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, finds the Son of God to be his life, and forever ceases to seek life by his own works, or to go about anymore to establish his own righteousness. {Phil.3:9} John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Posted November 30, 2012

{Writings of John Johnson}

Lord’s Supper: Jesus took the bread; that is, he presented it before God and before his disciples, a lively sign and figure of himself in his mediatorial capacity, presented to his Father and presented to his Church. He was set apart, devoted, sanctified, sent, and given of the Father to his Church, to be the bread of life to every soul that believeth; {Jn.6:27;} and he presents himself to his chosen as his Father’s gift, and as their eternal life; {Jn.10:10;} and at the Head of his Church, as their Representative, he presents himself a sacrifice to God; {Heb.9:14;} and he presents them in Himself as one body and one bread. {Is.8:18, I Cor.10:17} Christ is in every light presented as the delight of his Father, and as the life of his Church lifted up as an ensign, in whom we behold the ample perfections of the Mediator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, Savior, High Priest, Advocate, Intercessor, and every desirable office or quality. For we feed upon him in every light, and in every capacity, while we behold him in his personal excellency, his union with his Father, and his special union with his Church. {Jn.1:14} John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}

Redemption by the Blood of Christ: The cup was presented; that is, the liquid therein contained, which was wine, for the Lord afterward called it, “the fruit of the vine;” which is a significant representation of the blood of the Lamb, by which we are redeemed. As the red wine has much the resemblance of blood, it is called, “the pure blood of the grape.” It is the virtue of the vine and of the grape which makes the wine so rich and salutary, so it is the perfection of the precious nature of the Son of God that gives such efficacy to his blood. It is called God’s own blood. {Acts 20:28} Therefore by this blood we have redemption, peace, remission of sins, justification, purification of conscience and access into the presence of God. Not that any man in the use of his reason can imagine that blood should pertain to the essence of the Godhead; but Christ being God in our nature, man filled with the fullness of God, Emmanuel, God with us, all that he is, all that he spake, all that he did, all that he suffered, all that he communicates, or whatever pertains to him, or proceeds from him, hath in it all the perfection of the Divine Essence. But when we ascribe all this virtue to the blood of Christ, we do not consider his material blood as separate from his Person, but we intend the perfect sacrifice of Himself, his sufferings, his death, the laying down of his life, which terminated in the shedding of his precious blood, by which our redemption is purchased. John Johnson {Believer’s Confession of the Son of God, 1781}


Home Page

                 Index of Authors                

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