November 2013

 Posted November 3, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Predestination & Justification: In reply to the inquiries of brother D. D. Mouser, we feel prepared to say that in our understanding of the subject, the Predestination of God fully comprehends the final and ever-lasting Justification of all the redeemed people of our God, and extends to all the events of time, however great or small; from the creation of worlds to the flight of a sparrow or the falling of a hair of our heads. But when we speak of Predestination we speak of it as having to do with the execution of the great designs of God by which He has determined the time, place, order and destiny of all beings, worlds or events, that every event must be accomplished in the order of time in the exact order and succession of events that He has determined in His infinite wisdom. We must remember that we in our earthly nature are creatures of time and subject to the vicissitude of time; but God is “the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity and his name is holy.” Nothing can be beforehand with God, nor behindhand with Him. He declares the end from the beginning, and all things are naked and present to His infinite and omniscient eye. Predestination therefore signifies to us the fixed, determined purpose and counsel of God, in which He has ordained irrevocably the destiny of all things, before they are brought to pass in the order of time. Of this, however, men are willingly ignorant, that with God a thousand years are as one day, or as a watch of the night. Time is measured out to finite beings, in days, and weeks, and years; measured by the constantly revolving wheels of nature. Our finite minds cannot yet comprehend the infinity of eternity in distinction from the passing events of time. “The things which are seen {by us} are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Time itself is a creature, or created thing, which had a beginning and shall have an end. Predestination therefore expresses to us the unerring certainty of the accomplishment of all the purposes and designs of our God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The most perfect knowledge of God that has ever been given to men, is but very limited, while here in our time state, “we see but in part, we know but in part;” but how groveling must be the mind that can believe that the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, created the heavens and the earth with all they contain, without any definite, settled or determinate purpose in view, or without a certain knowledge that He was able to govern and control them so as to secure the perfect accomplishment of all that was contemplated and determined in His own mind and will. The utter failure of poor finite mortals to comprehend how the entrance of sin and death, and all the train of evils which exist in the world are to consummate the vast, inscrutable design of God, is not strange, for we have only that measure of knowledge that God has been pleased to give us. But we are not to think that God is such an one as we are. “Deep in unfathomable mines, Of never failing skill, He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will.” It is fully sufficient for the saints to know that God has a purpose worthy of Himself in all his counsels and decrees; and that “he is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain” in his own good time and way. The perfect and complete salvation of all God’s chosen people, including their redemption and justification, is most assuredly secured by the predestinating purpose and decree of God. “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. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Now, “what shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” {Rom.8:29-34} The purpose and decree of God in the predestination of all the election of grace, to the adoption of children, and to make them accepted in the Beloved, is the purpose which God proposed in himself before the world began; but the justification itself is through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, who was delivered up for their offenses and raised again for their justification. The work of justification is that by which they are washed from all their sins, purged from all their guilt, and made pure and holy by the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. All this was embraced in the purpose and grace which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began, for they were all blessed in Him with all spiritual blessings according as they were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. Those who are the subjects of this work of justification were ungodly. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, 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.4:4-8} The work of justification required the shedding of the blood of Christ, for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” {Rom.5:8,9} Brother Mouser will perceive that the work of justification is that by which ungodly sinners are washed in the atoning blood of Christ and cleansed from all pollution, made holy and without blame before God. That eternal life which was given us in Christ was never contaminated with sin; it was perfect, pure and holy; from everlasting it is that incorruptible seed which, being incorruptible could need no atonement, no work of justification. It is in our Adamic nature that we have all sinned, and from the sin of which Christ came, in our flesh, to redeem us from all iniquity, and by his one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified. Some have failed to perceive the distinction between the eternal perfection of that eternal life which was given us in Christ Jesus, and which is manifested in us when we are born again of incorruptible seed by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever, and that justification of the ungodly which is by and through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. It is a glorious truth that; “In union with the Lamb, From condemnation free, The saints from everlasting were, And shall forever be.” We may speak of eternal justification in the same sense in which we speak of eternal redemption; for our justification is through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, “who gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” {Tit.2:14, 3:3-7} These scriptures forbid that we should separate the justification of the saints from the Mediatorial work of Christ in offering himself through the Eternal Spirit without spot unto God, and thereby obtaining eternal redemption for us. The great anxiety of the saints is to first learn by revelation how God can be just and the justifier of such guilty sinners as we have found ourselves to be, and to know by happy experience that Christ has borne our sins in his own body on the tree, and put them away by his one offering; and that having satisfied the law and justice of God on our behalf, in his holy life and bitter death, he arose from the dead for our justification, and has raised us up from under the guilt of sin, the curse and dominion of the Law, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in new and resurrection life and immortality. May we know him and power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and be conformed to his death. “Then should the earth’s old pillars shake, And all the wheels of nature break; Our steadfast souls shall fear no more, Than solid rocks when billows roar.” Gilbert Beebe, Signs of the Times, Editorial. Volume 44, Middletown, NY, July 15, 1870.

 Posted November 10, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Socinianism in the Fundamental Point of Justification Discovered and Confuted: Fragmented Bits & Pieces from a Volume by George Walker; entitled, “Socinianism in the Fundamental Point of Justification Discovered and Confuted,” 1641. George Walker, 1581-1651, an English Theologian, imprisoned for Non-Conformity in 1638 by William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and became a member of the Westminster Assembly in 1643; who in 1641 published this work which was directed against the Arminian John Goodwin. {The Truth for which you shall fight is strong, and will prevail; all power, might, glory and victory belongs to God, for whose cause you stand; and our Lord Jesus Christ, on whose Perfect Righteousness you strive to keep the Crown, hath all power given him in heaven and in earth.} The notion that Faith in the judgment of every man is the condition required by God, on man’s part, to bring him into that communion of Justification and Redemption, which Christ hath purchased &c., is that which I find delusion and falsehood. --- That faith is the condition of the New Covenant, which man must on his part perform, instead of all Righteousness, which the Law requires; and so it is in the New Covenant, the condition of life. This is the very heresy, and damned error of Socinus, who doth here make the Covenant of Grace, a covenant of life, not freely, but upon a condition performed on man’s part, and so a covenant of works, contrary to Scripture. {Rom.11.6} I know that all Orthodox Divines abhor and detest this opinion. --- They therefore teaching that faith in a proper sense is counted for righteousness, do teach that we are justified by a work of obedience to the Law performed in our own persons. God requires on our behalf, no other righteousness for Justification, which Doctrine the Apostle utterly condemns; for no righteousness can justify which is not a perfect obedience and conformity of the whole man to the whole Law in his whole life, from the beginning to the end. Therefore their opinion and exposition is heretical and more impious than the Pelagian and Popish heresies concerning Justification. Secondly, that which was properly imputed to Abraham, and is so imputed to true believers is righteousness, so the Apostle in plain words expresses, {Rom.4:1-11,} but faith in a proper sense is not righteousness. For righteousness is perfect conformity to the Law, as sin is transgression of the Law; yea human righteousness is a man’s keeping of the whole Law, and his observing to do all God’s commandments with his whole heart all the days of his life, as we read. {Deut.8} Thirdly, this opinion that God counts faith for righteousness; that is thinketh, judgeth and esteemeth it to be righteousness, in a proper sense, charges God with error and falsehood in his judgment. For faith is not any true righteousness properly. Therefore this opinion is blasphemy, {for that which charges God with error and falsehood in his judgment is blasphemous,} if they plead that God by his absolute sovereignty of power, may accept and repute that for righteousness which is not true righteousness; this doth but more entangle them and involve them in error. For God and his sovereign power are all one; as God cannot lie, nor make contradictories true, so his Sovereignty of power cannot either make that to be righteousness which is not, or truly judge it so to be. Neither can his infinite justice be satisfied without perfect fulfilling of his Law, nor allow any man to be justified without righteousness; nor will his truth suffer him to count any just who is not just. Therefore by this base shift, and wicked pretense devised to hide and cover their blasphemy, they do run further into blasphemy, and make his Sovereign Power a tyrant and oppressor of his Justice and Truth. Fourthly, that opinion which taketh away, and denieth the means by which God is revealed to be infinitely just, merciful and wise, and makes the Satisfaction of Christ and his perfect fulfilling the Law, a vain and needless thing, is most heretical, impious, and blasphemous; for this opinion, that God by his sovereign power can and doth accept and count imperfect faith for perfect righteousness, takes away the means by which God’s justice, mercy, and wisdom are revealed to be infinite; yea, it extenuates and vilifies God’s justice, mercy, bounty, and wisdom, and makes Christ’s full Satisfaction a vain, superfluous and needless thing. Therefore it is an impious and blasphemous opinion. That which reveals God to be infinitely just is, that he cannot be reconciled to men that have sinned without execution of justice to the full, and a full satisfaction made according to his just Law, not by men in their own persons, which is impossible, yet by their Mediator and Surety, in their behalf, and by him communicated to them, and made theirs, as truly as if they had fulfilled the Law in their own persons. --- God is said to justify the ungodly, which cannot be meant of counting, judging, and pronouncing, but of making them righteous by the Communion of Christ’s righteousness. For to justify the wicked by judging and pronouncing them righteous, without making them such, is abomination to the LORD. {Prov.17:15} --- When God’s infinite justice was so strict, that nothing could satisfy it, nor redeem mankind, but a satisfaction of infinite value made for them. And when all the world was not able to find such a satisfaction; that his wisdom should find one out, and have it ready before hand in her eternal treasures, even a full satisfaction performed in man’s nature, by God the Eternal Son, and also the means to make it truly and really the satisfaction of every man truly believing.  --- In that God the Father would in this case give his only begotten Son, to be humbled in our nature, and to obey, suffer, and make such a satisfaction for poor miserable men, in that the Son would willingly take all this upon him to do and suffer whatsoever justice could require, and in that the Holy Ghost, when this satisfaction could not otherwise profit men nor be made theirs, makes them sensibly to enjoy him with all his benefits. This most wonderfully shows God’s infinite mercy, bounty and free goodness. And all these means which are manifested and maintained by our Doctrine of Justification, this wicked opinion of the Socinians doth utterly take away. First, it denies God’s justice to require man’s communion of such an infinite Satisfaction made by Christ for him; it treads God’s justice under foot by his sovereignty of power and meager justice, it makes man’s imperfect faith to go current for righteousness, and to be accepted for perfect righteousness, to justification. Secondly, if God by sovereignty of power can bear down justice, and make any weak and imperfect thing such as man’s faith is; serve instead of Christ’s full satisfaction and perfect righteousness; then he might by the same power have appointed the sacrifice of a lamb, or any clean beast, or the satisfaction of any mere man, and so it will follow that the giving of his Son to be made man, was no point of wisdom, but a going far about, and spending much, even Christ’s blood, when less might have served the tune. As for God’s goodness mercy and bounty, they are hereby made painted shows and shadows, yea needless prodigality, and Christ’s Satisfaction is made vain and superfluous. Therefore this opinion which brings in such impious consequences is blasphemous and heretical. --- Furthermore, this opinion overthrows the sacraments {rather, ‘ordinances’ of the Gospel, the term ‘sacraments’ being of Popish origins, implying a mystical conveyance of grace} of the Gospel, and takes away the true use of them, is heretical, profane, and impious. This opinion that Christ’s righteousness is not imputed to the faithful doth so. For the sacraments are seals of our union, and communion with Christ. Baptism {that is, the baptism of the Spirit, whereby we are sensibly placed into Christ in regeneration,} seals {testifies to} our engrafting into Christ in our New Birth, by which we become one {are identified; or, as in Water Baptism, identify ourselves as professed partakers of his benefits} with him. The Lord’s Supper is such a lively seal of our communion with Christ, in the benefits of his death, passion, and full satisfaction, expressed under the terms of eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, that it is commonly called, the communion of the faithful, when it is rightly received. But these Heretics by imputing faith in a proper sense, they exclude the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the faithful, they deny their communion and union with Christ, they take away the truth and the use of the Sacraments, for if the faithful are regenerate, and by one Spirit engrafted into Christ, and united unto him, as Baptism signifies, and sealeth; and if they have spiritual communion with Christ of his Righteousness, and all other benefits which the Lord’s Supper signifies, and is thereof a seal to them; then God whose judgment is according to truth, cannot but impute Christ’s righteousness to them, and accept it for them, and account it theirs. They who deny God’s imputing of it do either charge God with injustice and error of judgment in not counting and judging that to be theirs in which they have communion and interest, or else they deny the union and communion of the faithful with Christ and make the sacraments lying signs and seals of false things, and things which are not. Therefore their opinion is most abominable, profane, impious, and blasphemous. --- Likewise, that opinion which is invented and maintained by Heretics, who deny the eternal Godhead of Christ, and tends mainly to persuade that there is no use of Christ’s being God and Man in one Person is Heretical and Blasphemous. Such is this opinion of the Socinians, it is an invention of Heretics, and tends to take away the use of Christ’s being God, and to persuade men that there is no necessary use of his being God and Man in one Person. For all Orthodox Divines give this reason, why it was necessary that Christ the Mediator should be God in our nature, even that the obedience and suffering which he did undergo in man’s nature, might be the obedience and suffering of God, and so of infinite value, and though of him alone, and but for a time, yet of more worth, than if all men in their own persons had obeyed as much as he did and suffered forever in Hell. --- We affirm also that first for the removing of so great evils, as the infinite wrath of God, eternal death, and torment in Hell; and secondly, for purchase of so great a good, as is the state of righteousness, and of grace, and also of eternal glory in Heaven. God’s justice could require no less satisfaction and righteousness, nor be satisfied with any other, but that which is performed by him, who is God and man, in one person, that is the perfect righteousness and satisfaction of Christ which alone by the infinite value which it receives from his God-head, is fit to remove so infinite an evil, and to procure so infinite a good to men. But the maintainers of this Socinian opinion by denying that God’s infinite justice stands in strength to exact such a satisfaction being overruled, and oppressed, by absolute sovereignty of power; and by teaching that mercy, and bounty run beyond reason, freeing men from all need of such an infinite satisfaction to be communicated and imputed to them, and justifying them freely without righteousness, they do take away the use of Christ’s God-head in his mediation, and the causes, and reasons, for which it was necessary that he should be God as well as man; and in conclusion, in places where they dare be bold to disclose the secret thoughts of their hearts, they roundly deny Christ to be the Son of God, of the same substance with God the Father. Therefore this opinion is most impious, blasphemous, and heretical; and indeed it is never found in Histories, to have been maintained by any but Socinian Heretics and deadly enemies to Christ’s Deity. --- That opinion which is built upon an heretical, and blasphemous ground, and is upheld, and maintained by blasphemous arguments, which do shake, and even raze the main foundations of true Religion, must needs be most wicked and blasphemous; and such is this opinion; for it is built upon this blasphemous ground, that God by his sovereign power may do and will things contrary to his justice; that is, count and accept that for righteousness, which is no righteousness, nor worthy to be accounted an act of perfect righteousness, for such is the faith of frail man taken in a proper sense. --- Though they seem to acknowledge Christ to be God, yet they take away the use of his being God as well as man in the work of our redemption. For if God by his Supreme Sovereign Power can dispense with the law of his justice, and instead of Christ’s full satisfaction made for us to the law, and imputed to us, and made ours, can and doth accept our weak faith for the perfect righteousness of the Law; what use is there of Christ’s being God in our nature? For all Orthodox Divines do give this reason, why it was necessary that Christ should be God in our nature; namely, that his suffering and righteousness performed in our nature, might be of value to justify all the sons of men, who have communion of them, and to whom they are imputed. This communion and imputation which he denieth, he takes away the use of Christ’s being God in our nature. --- Secondly, in affirming that Christ obeyed the whole Law in every letter, jot, and title, he doth mock, and delude his hearers, and readers; for he doth not hold, that he fulfilled the Law only for us, but primarily for himself; his words imply so much, for he saith, he obeyed the Law, as far as concerned himself, while he continued in the flesh; and he doth hereafter roundly affirm, that Christ was bound to fulfill the Law for himself, which is in effect, a denying of his Eternal God-head; for if he be God, infinite in glory, and excellency, his God-head must needs exempt the Manhood personally united to it from all bondage of the Law, and make it worthy of glory at God’s right hand, from the first assumption of it. He continued in the flesh, and obeyed the Law, only for us without all doubt, as the Prophet foretold, Isa.9:6, saying, “unto us a Child is born, and to us a Son is given.” --- Thirdly, as he denies the Satisfaction of Christ to be imputed to us, so he denies the imputation of our sins to Christ; and that very closely and cunningly, under color of that challenge which Christ made to the Jews, “which of you can convince me of sin?” For our Saviour speaks of sin committed by himself, and such aspersion none can say upon him; but all our iniquities God laid upon him, and he bare all our sins; {Isa.53;} and was made sin for us, {II Cor.5:21,} and to cast this aspersion of all our sins on him is a sure foundation of the peace and safety of the Church. --- In the second proposition, he doth most notoriously equivocate, and play the hypocrite; first in that he seems to acknowledge the sacrifice of Christ to be an atonement, and satisfaction for the world, and a propitiatory sacrifice for the sin of it. Secondly, in that he denieth his Lord and Master Socinus, and calls the spirit which wrought in him a spirit of error; whereas indeed he himself is led by the same spirit, and doth deny Christ to be the propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, as far as Socinus ever did; for in a propitiatory sacrifice, offered to purge sin, and to make atonement, there were three necessary requisites: First, the thing offered, must be of his own proper goods, for whom it was offered, so the Law required, and therefore David durst not offer for his sin, that which was not his own, purchased with his money. {II Sam.24:24} Secondly, the owner, whose expiatory sacrifice it was, did lay his hand upon the head of the beast which was to be offered, and thereby in a type imposed all his sin, and guilt upon it, so that it became his sin, and his guilt, {Lev.5:6 & Ex.30:10,} and did bear upon it all his sins. {Lev.16:22} Thirdly, this sacrifice offered up by the Priest in that manner which God prescribed in the Law, God accepted as a Propitiation for him, it was set on his score, and covered his sin, as the Hebrew word ‘atonement’ signifies. {Lev.1:4} He who denies any one of these, overthrows the sacrifice of atonement. Now this dissembler doth with Socinus deny all these things in Christ’s offering of himself a sacrifice of atonement to purge sin. First, he denies the true real Spiritual Union between Christ and the persons pardoned, and justified; by which Christ, and they are made one body, and he is their Head, and they his members; for if he, and the faithful be one, then all his goods are theirs, and their debts are his, and his Satisfaction, and Righteousness is theirs, and is set on their score, which he denieth, and altogether opposeth, and so denies their interest, and propriety in Christ, and their union with him, as his Master Wotton did, in express word, in his Essays of Justification. Secondly, he also denieth that the sins of the faithful, were laid on Christ, and imputed to him; and in this he charges God with notorious injustice, who laid the punishments of all our sins on Christ. For he saith, that Christ bare the punishments, though he had no share in our sins by any imputation. Thirdly, he denieth that the sacrifice of Christ’s suffering and obedience offered up by him, is imputed to us, set on our score, and accepted for us. And thus in the doctrine of Christ’s satisfaction and atonement he declares himself a true disciple of Socinus, led by the same spirit of error, and of the same opinion, though in words he denies it. And what he here seems to grant, is no more but what all Socinians yield unto. --- In the third proposition; namely, that Christ is the sole and entire miraculous cause of every man’s justification, &c., he doth equivocate and delude the simple, and while he deceives them, he is deceived himself, as the Apostle saith of wicked seducers. {II Tim.3:13} For if he doth understand his own words, that Christ is the sole meritorious cause of every man’s justification, that is justified by God, he must needs grant that Christ’s Satisfaction, made to God’s Justice, and his perfect Righteousness, as it is meritorious, and of incalculable value in itself; so it is appropriated, communicated and imputed to him; that is, it is made actually meritorious for him, and makes him worthy to be counted righteous, and to be justified; for his words signify so much, though he is in his purpose and meaning, as contrary, as darkness is to light; for he means no more, but that Christ merited for himself, that God should gratify and honor him with the justification of those that believe in him, so he explains himself in the last words. It is certain that a thing may be meritorious in itself, for the worth of it, but it cannot be meritorious to any particular person, till it be appropriated to him and set on his score. Wotton his Master, {this point being proved to his face with undeniable arguments} was driven to disclaim the word “merit,” denied Christ’s meriting for the faithful, and rejected it as a thing not named in Scripture, in his Essays on Justification. But this profound Doctor, {Goodwin,} with that stamp and superscription of rational authority, which he conceiveth to be set on him, hath not yet searched into the deep things of God; but we take him rather for a mad man, and put a fools feather in his cap, and cast him out of the doors, by the head and shoulders, for a saucy companion; for he had not best therefore use such speeches, nor write such phrases with his pen, for if they once proceed out of his mouth, and come to other men’s ears, he will thereby purchase to himself much score and derision. --- Furthermore, I find many errors, and untruths, as first that a man’s conscience can hardly think of being justified by God, without a perfect legal righteousness. Every regenerate man and true believer can upon his own knowledge and experience give him the lie, and tell him that the weakest conscience of any, who hath true Faith, being taught by the Gospel, can very easily think and believe that God justifies him by an Evangelical Righteousness, even Christ’s perfect fulfilling of the Law, which is far more perfect than that legal righteousness, which the Law requires of every man in his own person. This Abraham believed, and was fully persuaded of, this David professes, and Saint Paul preached, and I know no true Christian who doth not both think and believe it. If any man be found doubting of this, it is because the spirit of Antichrist and Socinus doth work strongly in him. --- For whosoever denieth such a Spiritual Union and Communion between Christ and the penitent, and believing sinner justified, as doth make Christ’s Righteousness and Satisfaction to become his ransom and righteousness, and to be imputed by God to him, and to make him accepted by God, as one clean from the guilt of sin, and righteous in his sight, this man denieth Christ to be the meritorious cause of the Justification of a sinner. --- These and divers other errors which were here and there interlaced, I did at the first discover in some sermons, to be no Doctrines of Sacred Truth by him dug out of the deep mines of Holy Scripture and newly brought to light {as his seduced Disciples proclaimed them to be} for the enlightening of the blind world in these last days of darkness and perilous times; but the old errors and Heresies of Servetus and Socinus, newly revived and raked out of hell by Arminius, Bertius,  {Petrus Bertius, 1565-1629, a Flemish theologian; Bertius was a friend of Jacobus Arminius, and spoke at his funeral in 1609. In 1612 Bertius published a Latin work - “Hymenaeus Desertor,” - that went further than Arminius in theology, against the advice of fellow Remonstrants. In 1620 he converted himself to the Roman Papal System,} and others of their Faction. --- All our learned and judicious Divines do hold that the full Satisfaction and Obedience of Christ being communicated and imputed to true believers is that by which they are absolved, and have their sins pardoned, and are counted, and judged righteous by God; as men who have satisfied the Justice, and just Law of God, by Christ their Head and Surety; not in their own persons, which the Law in strict terms requires, and this is Justification in the Judiciary sense, which is approved by the learned. --- That Judiciary sense, improperly so called, which our enemies approve and allow in this dispute, is an Heretical and Socinian concept; for so long as God the Supreme Judge of all the world is immutable and infinite in Justice, he neither can, nor will dispense with his Law, in any jot or tittle, but will have it perfectly fulfilled either by ourselves or some sufficient surety in our behalf, and will forgive no sinner, without a full suffering and satisfaction made to the Law in the same sense which the law requires, though not in every man’s person; and this full satisfaction must be communicated to everyone, and made his own by union with Christ his Head; before that God will judge or account him righteous, and pardon all his sins. To imagine a mitigation to some degree in consideration whereof God forgives sinners, and accepts them as if they were righteous; besides the full satisfaction of God’s Justice and just Law, is to conceive God to be mutable, and not the same in his infinite justice at all times; and to affirm it is Socinian Blasphemy. --- We do not plead for our Justification, any consideration according to the Law; that is, we do not plead our own innocency, nor satisfaction and righteousness performed in our own persons; but we plead more than somewhat done for us, even all Christ’s obedience active and passive, by God’s free grace communicated to us, not obtained, or merited by our works of the Law. Though the Law justifies no sinner, but threatens the curse, death and condemnation as the due reward of the transgressors of it; yet it justifies all who are free from all sins committed against it, and are made righteous by the perfect fulfilling of it to the utmost. The Gospel hath brought us to the Communion of Christ’s full Satisfaction. --- The arguments by which it is commonly maintained are also blasphemous, and wicked; to wit, first they argue, that Christ’s righteousness is not imputed to true believers, neither can be made or counted theirs by God; because Christ’s righteousness is the righteousness of another far different from them; and God cannot justify one by another’s righteousness, and therefore we are not justified by Christ’s righteousness, neither is it imputed in Justification. Now what is this but a denying of the union of the faithful with Christ, for if he be one with us, and we one with him, then are our sins made his by communion, and in him satisfied, and his righteousness and satisfaction is made ours, and we thereby are pardoned, and justified, by it as it is made ours, and is not the righteousness of a stranger, nor of one who is another so different from us, but that he and we are one spiritual body, and all his benefits are ours, and we have an interest in them, and possess them, and enjoy them; so far as everyone hath need of them. - And though God’s justice exacted of Christ our Surety a full ransom, and did not abate him the least farthing of our debt, yet we are freely pardoned, and have free forgiveness, and are freely justified by God’s grace, because he did freely give his own Son to satisfy and fulfill the Law for us, and doth freely by his grace, and the free gift of his Spirit unite us to Christ, and make us partakers of his Satisfaction, and imputing his Satisfaction freely to us doth for it freely forgive our sins, and justified us. --- They allege that in the New Covenant God requires faith and believing, which we on our part must perform for justification, life and salvation. And hereby they abolish the freedom of the New Covenant, and make it a Covenant conditional, and not of Free Grace. For whatsoever is covenanted and promised, upon a condition to be performed, is not absolutely free nor freely given; and so according to their Doctrine, they that are justified are not freely justified by grace, whereas they plead Scripture for their error, and allege that justification and life is promised upon condition of believing. If you believe, you shall be saved. I answer that, this is a gross and absurd mistake. For every conditional proposition doth not propound the condition of a Covenant, which the party to whom a thing is promised, must perform, that the promise may be made good to him; for such a condition whenever it is performed, makes the thing covenanted a due debt which the Promiser is bound to give. But oftentimes a conditional proposition propounds the means, by which a free gift is received; or the qualification by which one is made capable, and fit to receive, and enjoy a free gift; as for example, it is often said in Scripture: “If ye will hear and hearken, ye shall eat the good of the land, and shall live, and not be destroyed,” {Is.1.19, Jer.26.3,} and many other places. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us.” {I Jn.4:12} “If we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” {I Jn.1:7} “If we confess our sins, he is faithful, and just to forgive.” {I Jn.1:9} “If a man be just, and do that which is right he shall surely live.” {Ez.18:5,21} In all which, and the like places, there is no condition of the Covenant propounded, {Christ having met all the conditions,} but only the way and means to receive blessing, or the quality and condition, by which men are made capable and fit to enjoy the blessing, and sometimes the signs, tokens, and effects of them, that are in a blessed estate. And even so when God’s Word saith, “If you believe, ye shall be saved,” there is no condition of the Covenant, propounded to be performed on our part for justification and salvation, but only the means by which he enables us to receive {rather, perceive by faith} righteousness, and to lay hold on salvation, which is freely given to us in Christ. Upon these particulars severally observed out of their own words, and writings, I strongly conclude, that this opinion being builded upon such a blasphemous and heretical ground, and upheld, and maintained by such blasphemous arguments, must needs be most impious, heretical and blasphemous. --- Lastly, they take away the true end and use of Justification; namely, the Revelation of God’s infinite justice, mercy, bounty, and free grace; for they overthrow his infinite justice, while they teach that God by his sovereign power puts his justice to silence; and without Christ’s full Satisfaction, made to it, for us, and made ours by Imputation, doth accept our weak faith instead of it, and makes himself as countable for it in all rewards, as he would do for the perfect fulfilling of the Law by ourselves, or by Christ in our stead. They extenuate and vilify God’s mercy, bounty, and free grace; by setting up faith instead of Christ’s perfect righteousness, and making it the condition of the New Covenant. For whatsoever is given or promised to us, upon a condition to be on our part performed, is not a gift of free grace and bounty. And when justice may be turned out of doors, without a complete satisfaction; there is nothing left for mercy wherein to show the power of it. The infinite mercy of God doth appear in this, that, when his infinite justice required that we should all be damned without a full satisfaction {which none could make but the Son of God in our nature} and that performed for us, and made ours; He would give his only Son for us to satisfy in our stead, and his Holy Spirit to unite us to his Son, and to bring us to communion of his satisfaction. Thus we see that they shut up the door of Heaven, and stop that only way to eternal life, by overthrowing justification, which is the making and accounting of men righteous, by that only Righteousness of Christ, besides which there is not any other to be found sufficient, and able to bear us out before God’s tribunal of justice. Now let all true Christians well weigh and consider the difference, between truth and error, life and death, true Christianity and Antichristian infidelity; for such is the damned Socinianism before discovered. And if any man in the midst of the light of the Gospel shining so clearly, and discovering so plainly cursed heresy, will be blind, let him be more blind still; and if any will be filthy, let them be more filthy still. And if any love not the LORD Jesus, but hate and blaspheme his truth, let him be Anathema Maranatha. Amen. George Walker “Socinianism in the Fundamental Point of Justification Discovered and Confuted,” 1641.

Posted November 17, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

The Mystery of Godliness: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” {I Tim.3:16} If iniquity, with which all the fallen sons of Adam are so familiar, be a mystery beyond the comprehension of our finite powers, how much more profound and inexplicable must be the mystery of godliness, which can only be known as it is revealed by the Holy Spirit to the children of God, and even to them, while here in the flesh, it is only made known in part. Yet when the apostle says, “without controversy” this mystery is great, we do not understand him to mean that this truth is not controverted by the enemies of the truth, but that among all who are born of the Spirit and taught of God it is so clearly apparent as to admit of no denial or successful contradiction. The popular religion of the world is only on a level with the literature and science of this world, and that they so regard it is demonstrated by their classing it with the things which are taught in the schools of men. The science of law or medicine in their estimation are as obscure and mysterious as that of godliness; and that an understanding of the latter is as easily attained by study as that of the former. The same appliances are by them resorted to teach godliness, or what they call divinity, as are successfully employed in acquiring a knowledge of law, or of medicine; and they whose intellectual capacities are too limited to make talented lawyers or skillful physicians, are put through a course of study to fit them for the ministry; and they are by them considered quite competent to teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “know the Lord.” But all this proves rather that godliness, in the sense the word is used by the apostle, is a mystery so great and unsearchable by human minds that the wise and prudent of the world have not the remotest conception of it. They are pleased with their own delusion, and are perfectly satisfied with a religious creed of their own vain imagination, which they can reduce to a theory that can be taught and learned in schools of various grades, from the infant and Sunday Schools up to their Colleges and Theological Seminaries, as easily as grammar, arithmetic, or geography are taught and learned. But while we concede to them the ability of teaching what they profanely call divinity, or godliness, the Scriptures of truth declare of them that they are ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They may heap to themselves teachers and pupils, but this truth of God they cannot overturn, that God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes, for so it seemed good in his sight. For it has pleased God, in the wisdom of God, that the world by wisdom should not know God; and he has made foolish the wisdom of this world in regard to spiritual things. They who know nothing of the godliness of our text, of course cannot successfully controvert the declaration that it is a great mystery. For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned; and none but the spiritual, who are made so by being born of the Spirit, can spiritually discern anything of a spiritual nature. While all natural men are held under chains of darkness, all who are born of God and taught by his Spirit are delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the marvelous light of the kingdom of Christ. And all the true light they have they receive from the Sun of Righteousness, in whom was life, and the life was the light of men; so to have this light is to be quickened with that life which is light. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” The word ‘godliness’ in its general application in the Scriptures, is used to signify a Christian walk and deportment, purity of faith and practice, induced by a holy principle or life implanted in the saints by the New Birth, leading its recipients to a conformity to the precepts and examples of our Lord Jesus Christ. As it is said, “the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us, {the saints to whom Paul is writing} that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present world.” But the particular sense in which it is used in our text is defined as especially applicable to our Lord Jesus Christ. In every sense in which the word is used in the Scriptures, mystery beyond what human reason can solve is involved; but when applied to our Emmanuel, {God with us,} the mystery is far more deep and profound. Our text applies it to the incarnation of the Son of God, or to his manifestation in the flesh. This sacred mystery comprises the wonderful union of Christ and his church, and of the sublime and glorious Economy of Grace, in the salvation of the people of God by and through our Lord Jesus Christ. It involves the mystery of a union of Deity and humanity; of the Creator and the created, wherein the Word was made flesh and dwelt among his creatures. This mystery would be dismantled of much of its profundity and surpassing glory, in our estimation, if Christ, in his Godhead, were only an emanation from God, a created, or derived offspring of the Godhead, or if it were only some part, as a second or third part of God that came in the flesh. But the Apostle avers that God was manifest in the flesh. He was inspired by the Holy Ghost to use no such terms as, the first person in the Godhead, or the second person, or the third person, but God himself. The same apostle affirms, {Col.2:9,} “for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” And we challenge those who preach that there were two equal and distinct parts of the Godhead that were not embodied in our Emmanuel, to tell what essential parts of God were not manifest in the flesh? Do they dare to say that the Father was not in him, or that he was not one with the Father, and so perfectly identified that they who have seen the Son have seen the Father also? Do they not know that he is in the Father, and the Father is in him, and that he and the Father are one? How else can it be said in truth that “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead,” if only a part of that fulness dwells in him? How shall we account for this express declaration? We are aware of the names, titles and relations applied distinctively to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but dare not so construe them as to deny that these three are one, or so as to imply a plurality of Gods, or so as to imply that any less than all the fulness of the one only true and living God dwells bodily in our Lord Jesus Christ. He that was manifest in the flesh was and is God. To fully believe the declarations of the Scriptures because they are declared in the Scriptures is not to claim ability to comprehend what they aver; for if finite mortals could comprehend the Deity, it would no longer be a mystery. We notice in our text then that he who was manifest in the flesh is God. We do not understand that God was manifest to all men, for we read of those who know not God; and that he does manifest himself to his saints as he does not unto the world. “He was in the world; and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” Yet, as we shall presently notice, “He was believed on in the world;” but it was by those unto whom he was manifested. Many who saw Jesus when he was here in the flesh, had not the slightest conception of his Eternal Power and Godhead; they saw him only as a root out of dry ground, but saw no beauty or comeliness in him to admire. The manifestation of God to his people is a subject so vast and heavenly that all we can say, or write, or think, falls infinitely below our theme. But the manifestation is thus set forth by Divine Inspiration. “But God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” {II Cor.4:6} All that we can possibly know of God is revealed to us in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. “All things are delivered unto me of my Father; 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.” {Mt.11:27} “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” {Jn.14:6} “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God; and Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” {Mt.16:16,17} “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} From these and many other Scriptures it is evident that all we can possibly know of God is revealed to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “God was manifest in the flesh.” In the fleshly body in which he was born of the virgin, in which he humbled himself and learned obedience, in which he sorrowed, wept, and groaned, and died. The body of his flesh is the veil through which, by a new and living way consecrated for us, we have access unto the Father. In the veil of his flesh the fulness of the Godhead dwelt, and no man cometh unto the Father by any other way. {Heb.10:19,20} Even Nicodemus was constrained to confess that no man could do the miracles which he performed, except God were with him. There was a striking manifestation of the Godhead in the wondrous works which he wrought. In healing the sick, in giving sight to the blind, in raising the dead, and casting out devils, the power of God was manifested. But in his complete control of the elements of nature, wherein the winds and waves obeyed his voice, his Godhead was demonstrated while he was here in the body of flesh in which he suffered on the cross. And even in his suffering, the trembling earth, the rending rocks, the darkened heavens, the opening graves, the rising dead, all proclaimed that he was the Son of God; but above all other demonstrations, his resurrection from the dead, and victory over the grave, presented beyond successful controversy his eternal power and Godhead. But God was also manifest in the flesh which he assumed in taking on him the seed of Abraham. And to this wonderful assumption we understand the beloved disciple and apostle to allude in his declaration, “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” {I Jn.4:2,3} The church of God is the body of Christ, and including all that are Christ’s in the Economy of Grace is called the seed of Abraham, which our Redeemer took on him when he was made flesh. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” {Heb.2:16} “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” {Gal.3:29} “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death.” {Heb.2:14} The children spoken of in this last quotation are in the context called seed, or the many sons whom Christ was engaged to redeem and bring to glory. “For we {that is, Paul the apostle, and the saints which were at Ephesus, and all the faithful in Christ Jesus} are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones;” and “for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” {Eph.5:31,32} Without controversy this is a great mystery! This church which is his body, his flesh and his bones, is the temple of the Lord. “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early.” {Ps.46:5} Here will he dwell forever, for he hath desired it for his habitation. In this temple of the Lord, where his honor dwelleth, and only in this temple which is the ground and pillar of the truth, is the consecrated “Ark of the testimony,” and in this temple God is manifest in the flesh. But we pass to consider. He was “justified in the Spirit.” In the Spirit of the Lord God which was upon him, by which he was anointed {as the name CHRIST signifies} to sustain his Mediatorial office, to preach good tidings to the meek, bind up the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. {Isa.61:1-3} This comprehends the Mediatorial work of our Divine Redeemer, in taking on him our flesh, the transgressions of his people were laid upon him. In being made flesh, or taking part of the same flesh and blood that the children are partakers of, he was made of a woman, made under the law which held its stern demands against us, and all the sins of all his people were laid on him, and he bore them in the body of his flesh, and put them away by the sacrifice of himself. Thus he was numbered with the transgressors. Although immaculately pure and holy, by the laying on him the transgressions of all his people ample satisfaction for them all was exacted at his hands. In his flesh, {that is in the seed of Abraham which he took on him,} he was condemned to die, the just for the unjust, to redeem us to God; and it pleased God to bruise him; he hath put him to grief. Had he not been God, as well as man, and Mediator between God and men, the sacrifice must have failed; for if only man, it would have been but a human sacrifice and our justification could not have resulted from his death. He was put to death in the flesh; the Mediator was put to death in the flesh. Justice could not be satisfied with anything less than his death; but although put to death in the flesh, he was quickened and raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, and by the Spirit of Immorality by which he triumphed over death, he was justified. He was delivered up for our offences, and raised from the dead for our justification. Crushed beneath the weight of the sins of all his members, he stood condemned to die; but having washed them from all their pollutions in his most precious and efficacious blood, justice could demand no more at his hands. Through the Eternal Spirit by which he offered himself without spot to God, he arose from the dead, and thus by his glorious resurrection the Eternal Spirit by which he was quickened demonstrated that he had effectually put away sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake,” for he has magnified and honored all the righteous demands of the holy law. He has abolished death, and brought immortality to light through the Gospel. The Spirit justified him, in its approval of his perfect work, and to him unbarred the gates of death, and brought again from the dead his crucified body. And by his resurrection all his members, whose sins he bore, are also freely justified through the redemption that is in him. “God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” {Ps.47:5} The victory is complete, the redemption of all his seed is accomplished, and they are by his resurrection from the dead begotten again to a lively hope, and the challenge is given, “who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” {Rom.8:33,34} The justification of Christ as the Mediatorial head of his church secures, or rather includes the justification of all his mystical body; for if in this he had failed, the object of his sufferings and death would have failed. For they were included in the seed of Abraham which he took on him, and they are crucified {legally} with him, dead with him, risen with him to newness of life. Buried with him by baptism into death, and risen with him from under the curse and dominion of the law, and now being dead to the law by the body of Christ, they are made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Justified in the Spirit also, in the Spirit’s work in calling and quickening of the people of God, and in the faithful application of his blood and righteousness experimentally and effectually to all for whom his blood was shed, and for whom that everlasting righteousness was brought in. In all the work of the Spirit, in teaching, leading, comforting, and making intercession for the redeemed people of God, it justifies Christ; for it is all in testimony of the efficacy and efficiency of his Mediatorial work. Every thought and every emotion in the saints inspired by the Spirit testifies his justification, in the Spirit. Hence every spirit that is of God confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and that he has finished transgression, made an end of sin, and accomplished all that was given him of the Father to do. And every spirit that does not so confess and exalt him is antichrist. He was “seen of angels.” Whether we understand the Apostle to speak of the heavenly hosts, or of chosen witnesses, called and qualified of God to proclaim Christ and the resurrection, the declaration is sustained by corroborative testimony in the Divine Record. Of the heavenly host one was sent to announce his conception to the virgin, and to Joseph; and a multitude of them proclaimed his birth to the shepherds in Jerusalem. Angels came from heaven to minister to him when in agony in the garden, and angels were present at his resurrection. To the truth, therefore of the declaration of our text there are celestial witnesses to confirm the testimony of his advent, his sufferings, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension to glory, when a cloud received him out of the sight of his apostles. But the messengers by whom Israel received the law are also called angels; they received the law by the disposition of angels; these angels saw his day, rejoiced in it and were glad. The apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the gospel church are also called elect or chosen angels. All the apostles saw him; although Paul was as one born out of due time, yet to him he was manifested as the risen and exalted Savior; and he was seen, after his resurrection by more than five hundred at once. Many of his angels or messengers saw him in his incarnation, and since his resurrection from the dead he is revealed by the Spirit to the faith of all his chosen witnesses. Hence they can say, in testimony, “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” {I Jn.1:1 & 3} “Preached unto the Gentiles.” This part of the divine mystery baffled the understanding of the Jews, who had been taught traditionally to believe that they alone were to be interested in the Messiah which was to come, and that the Gentiles were to have no part, nor lot in his salvation. As they had read and understood the Old Testament, they could not understand that any of the Gentiles could participate in the benefits resulting from his coming. Nor does it appear that the Gentiles understood this mystery which Paul was called to preach amongst them. He says, “for this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles; if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward; how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; {as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ;} which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” {Eph.3:1-8} Again he says, “whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” {Col.1:25-27} From these Scriptures it appears that the preaching of Christ to the Gentiles, and their salvation through Christ, is an important part of the mystery of godliness which beyond all controversy is very great. But another part of the mystery is found in that he was. – “Believed on in the world.” When we consider the credulity of the human family, and with what avidity they will drink in error and delusion, one would think it not strange that the truth; especially when attested by strong demonstrative evidence, should also be believed. But such is the depravity of mankind that none can truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ while in an unquickened state. Of nominal professors there is no lack, but of them who believe to the saving of their souls there are comparatively but few, and unto them it is given on the behalf of Christ, not only that they should believe on, but also that they should suffer for his sake. “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} “Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” {Jn.6:29} “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” {Acts 13:48} Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the fruit of the Spirit, and until the power of the Spirit is given, none can possess it. Christ, and not the creature, is the Author and Finisher of it; and when we consider the aversion of the natural mind of men to the truth as it is in Jesus, we are amazed at the wonderful display of the Sovereign Power and Grace by which the Savior is believed on in the world. He is not believed on by the world, but by those whom God has chosen out of the world. His kingdom is not of the world, but still a portion of it is in the world. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” {Jn.1:10-13} It is a mystery indeed to the world that any sentiment beyond or above the comprehension of human reason should be believed on in the world; that that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, that hath not entered into the heart of man, {of an unquickened man,} and which God hath hidden from the wisdom of this world, should be believed; for the world can conceive of no belief that is not based upon evidence present to the natural mind and reasoning faculties of the natural man. And even to the enlightened Christian, the mystery of godliness plainly appears in the revelations of the Spirit to the heaven born subjects of regeneration, by which the truth and amazing greatness of this mystery is presented to the faith of babes and sucklings in Christ Jesus. Paul said to the church of God which was at Corinth, “and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” {I Cor.2:4-7, 13-15} “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” {Ps.35:14} And finally, he was. – “Received up into glory.” This seems to be the crowning climax of the mystery of Godliness. The reception of Christ up into glory, as the first begotten from the dead, and the first fruits of them that slept, not only demonstrates the perfection of his Mediatorial work in the salvation of his people, and his exaltation as the Mediatorial Head of the church, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; but it also gives assurance that all his members also shall in due time be raised up and glorified with him. The triumphant voice of the risen Savior, as anticipated by prophecy, is thus described by the inspired psalmist; “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.” {Ps.24:7-10} The mystery of godliness shines in resplendent glory, in that as the Head of the church, the King of saints, the Resurrection and Life of all his people, the heavens have received him, and he has now entered within the veil for them, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God. Gilbert Beebe, Signs of the Times, Editorial. Volume 39, Middletown, NY, August 1, 1871.

Posted November 24, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Prayer: Few subjects, perhaps, have occasioned greater concern in the minds of the children of God than that of prayer; and it is indeed, when rightly understood, a comforting thought that the living children of God are more seriously tried upon this subject than any other people. Indeed, we do not know that any other people have any trouble at all in regard to prayer. The Pharisee who stood and prayed with himself, and paraded before the Lord what he evidently regarded as his own good works and self-esteem, had not a single petition to ask of God, and being full of self-righteousness, betrayed no doubt or fear that his prayer was meritorious in the sight of God. The parable of the Pharisee and Publican was spoken by our Lord unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, {Luke xviii. 9-14,} and it is applicable to all self-righteous Pharisees, whether of ancient or modern times. The ease and fluency in which all self-righteous persons can read or recite what they call their prayers, is very observable. They profess to regard it as a duty to do a certain amount of praying; and when they have read or repeated their task, they can say, with the strange woman described in Proverbs vii. 14, “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows.” Of this class of will-worshipers, not a few are like their ancient brethren, fond of being heard in their devotions; they choose the corners of streets, or market places, or places where they may be heard of men, that all may see how devout and righteous they are. They think, as we are told, that they shall be heard for their much speaking, and therefore make long prayers, and use vain repetitious; but our Lord has said of them, “this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me; but in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” {Matt. xv. 8,9} --- It is not then the fluency of speech, the eloquence of language, nor readiness to engage in public or in private prayer, that God will accept as worship. Nor is it a periodical appropriation of times in which to go through the form of prayer, for the spirit of grace and supplication are not at our command. In his sermon on the mount, our Savior forbid his disciples praying as the hypocrites do, or using vain repetitions, as the heathen do. “Be not ye therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Even the repetition of the form of prayer which Jesus taught his disciples, {Matt. vi. 9-13,} becomes with us vain and forbidden repetition when we are not led by the Spirit to pray with the spirit and with the understanding. How many of us have been taught from our infancy to commit to memory what is called the Lord’s prayer, and to repeat it, as though by so doing we could secure the mercy and protection of the Lord. It is used as a kind of charm, to keep evil from us when we lie down to sleep, and we have felt as though we have secured the favor of the Lord; when not a word has been felt in or uttered from our heart. Even the saints of God, including the apostles of the Lamb, have asked in prayer of God and received not, because they have asked amiss. We may rest assured that we have asked amiss, if God withholds from us that which we ask for; and this is a great mercy to us, that he does withhold those things which his Spirit has not made intercession for. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” {Rom. viii. 26,27} Our Savior said to the woman of Samaria, “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” {John iv. 24} --- The experience of the saints is in harmony with the last two references, especially when they feel their heart drawn out in prayer to God. When they remember that God is a Spirit, infinite and eternal, the inquiry from their heart arises, “wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God?” {Micah vi. 6} They know they cannot approach him with a price in their hand, or with any offerings they can bring. How often in their heart, the unuttered and unutterable desire is hidden, “O that I knew where I might find him!” They may bend their knees to the ground, but their lips are sealed; they perhaps cannot utter a word, a syllable, and they sometimes even fear that they have offended God by their very attempt to pray. How sensibly do they now feel their weakness, and in deep humility they groan in spirit, in inexpressible breathings of desire. This is prayer, and this prayer enters the ears of the God of Sabaoth. And this prayer God has promised to hear, for he has said, “when the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” {Isa. xli. 17} This is truly helping their infirmity. Their tongue has failed; it can utter no sound, it cannot express the deeply hidden groaning for the water of life which is felt within. No created ear can hear the silent emotions that rend their broken hearts; the deep contrition that overwhelms them in unspeakable anguish can be heard only by their gracious prayer hearing God. “I the Lord will hear them.” What heavenly consolation is found in these gracious words. The heavens had seemed to them like brass, and the earth as dust, and their prayers had seemed utterly unavailing, and shut out from the ear of Sovereign Mercy. A consciousness not only of infirmity, but also a sense of guilt and unworthiness had paralyzed their tongue; but their inability to articulate with their tongue cannot prevent him, who searches the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of men, from hearing the prayer which his own Spirit has indited in the heart, and no other prayer than that which his Spirit indites will be accepted, though uttered in thunder-tones. “For we know not how to pray as we ought,” nor can we learn from all the prayer books ever published, or by any lessons taught by good or bad men. It is only the Spirit that can search or know what is the mind of God, or make intercession for the saints according to the will of God. The spirit of our flesh would ask that God would yield to our carnal desires; but the Spirit of God teaches us to say, “not our will, but thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” and to ask for grace to reconcile us in all things to God. --- The Spirit of our God will never lead to pray for or desire that God should grant us anything more or less than what he has in store for us; and when we pray for the gratification of our carnal desires, we surely pray amiss, and it will neither be for our good or his glory, and therefore he graciously denies our requests. The saints are instructed to pray without ceasing, and in all things to give thanks. We do not understand this injunction to mean that all our time is to be devoted exclusively to a form of prayer, for vain repetitions in prayer are forbidden; but at all times in our heart to breathe forth our desire to God to preserve us from evil, and lead us by his counsel and wisdom in all things. There is no place or period of our pilgrimage when we can say our prayers are ended, or that we can cease to call upon the name of the Lord. And in all things, whether agreeable or painful to us, we are to give thanks to God. --- The peculiar trials which are experienced by God’s praying children, when their prayers seem to be unheard, and they feel as though they were sinking in deep waters of sore affliction, should not lead them to conclude that God’s ear has become heavy that he cannot or will not hear them; for he often withholds the answer to our prayers for the trial of our faith and patience, and that we may the better understand and more fully appreciate the blessings when received. Our blessed Lord spake a parable of the unjust judge and importuning widow, “to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” {Luke xviii. 1-5} A sense of our abject poverty and utter unworthiness should not cause us to faint, or despair of the mercy of the Lord, for it is the poor, humble, contrite, laboring, heavy laden child that God has made welcome to come boldly to his throne of grace in their Redeemer’s Name; and the promise is that they shall obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need; but the rich, self-righteous, he sends empty away. The poor publican, bowed down under a sense of unworthiness to even raise his eyes to heaven, in deep contrition smites upon his breast, and the hidden anguish of his heart in trembling accents cries, “God, be merciful to me;” and to this last petition he signs his name and character, “a sinner.” He does not claim to be a saint, nor indulge a thought that his sad prayer is meritorious. If God shuts out his prayer, and spurns him from his presence, he feels in his heart that God is just. But with fear and trembling he feels that this is his last, his only hope; for if God withholds from him his mercy, he sinks in hopeless despair. But O, what wondrous grace! His prayer is heard, and he is justified rather than the boasting Pharisee. --- There are times with some who have hoped in the Lord, when they have had so deep a sense of the infinite majesty and holiness of God, and so deep a sense of their own pollution, as, like the publican, to stand afar off, and because they dare not to lift up their eyes to heaven, or take the sacred name of God upon their lips, have concluded that they have not, cannot pray; when perhaps in no part of their experience have they in reality and truth prayed more, or with greater acceptance. Their prayers have not been formed into words, nor articulated with their voice, but from the deepest recesses of their aching heart the pent up ejaculation has in unutterable groanings, in heaving sighs and flowing tears, expressed the desire and confession, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” --- The subject of prayer opens before us a boundless theme for serious reflection. The God to whom prayer is to be made is the “high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, and his name is Holy.” He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.” Yet in the amazing riches of his grace he has provided a way of access through Jesus Christ, the one and only Mediator between God and men, whereby his children may approach him, and come even unto his seat, and not be consumed. Most truly, Jesus Christ is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and no man can come unto the Father but by him. {John xiv. 6} Our prayers to be acceptable to God must be presented in his name, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must or can be saved; and he has instructed us to address all our prayers to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ the Son, and as indited by the Holy Spirit. This rule should be strictly observed when we approach the throne of grace. It is true that these three are One, but officially to be regarded in our prayers, as Jesus has commanded us. By the Spirit we address the eternal God, as “our Father which is in heaven,” whose name is hallowed; and we find access to him through his Son, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, whom the Father has given to be the Head over all to the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all; and in whose sacred Sonship is treasured the sonship, heirship, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, with every other spiritual blessing of all his members, and their eternal, vital union is securely treasured up in Him. Therefore when we pray we should ask our petitions of the Father in his name, as taught by his Holy Spirit. Thus the “Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost,” are recognized in our spiritual devotion. While we call upon God, as our Father, this relationship is in and through Jesus Christ his Son, who by the gift of the Father is our Head, and officially our Mediator, in whom alone we stand accepted. The Holy Spirit which is given us, while one with the Father and the Son, is officially our Comforter, our Teacher, and the gracious, infallible Prompter of our prayers. Every prayer, therefore, to be acceptable to God, must be addressed to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ our Mediator; for in no other name or way can we have access unto God. The new and living way unto the Father, which is consecrated for us, is through the vail; that is to say, through the flesh of him who was made flesh and dwelt among us; whose glory we beheld, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. How frequently Jesus informed his disciples that after his resurrection and ascension to his Mediatorial throne, they should address all their prayers to the Father in his name, “and in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” {John xvi. 23, 24} “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” {John xiv. 12-14} The privilege of asking in his name belongs exclusively to those who are embraced in his name; as all the members of a man’s body are included in his name, and as a wife is in the name of her husband, and as children are legally included in the name of their paternal parents, so the church of God, as the Lamb’s wife, and all her members, are members of his body, and covered by his name; and as his seed, or children, his name is their inheritance, and their approach unto God in his name implies a vital relationship to him; and his name is to them a strong tower, and perfect indemnity for all they need for time or for eternity. And the Holy Comforter shall lead them into all truth; for he shall take of the things of Jesus and show them unto them. This Spirit shall make intercession for them and in them, according to the will of God. Hence the gracious assurance is given, that whatsoever they are moved by the Holy Spirit to ask in the name of Christ shall be given them; for the Spirit will not lead them to ask for anything contrary to the mind and will of God. And as none can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost, so none can pray in his name but by the same Spirit. An inspired apostle has assured us that all our necessities are known and amply provided for by our heavenly Father. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” {Phil. iv. 19} But as we have not wisdom to discriminate between our need and what our carnal mind may crave, the blessed Spirit maketh intercession for us, withholding only what would be hurtful to us, and incompatible with the righteous will of God; for he will withhold no good thing from them who walk uprightly. --- The subject of prayer opens before us so wide a field for meditation, that we cannot, we know not where to stop when dwelling on the subject. Our principal object in this article is to relieve, so far as we may be enabled, some trembling ones who, from a sense of unworthiness, and of inability to order their speech aright before the Lord, have been sorely tempted to doubt their right to pray, and fear that its sinful for them to attempt it; we have labored to show that such are the very ones that are the most welcome to approach the awful Majesty of God in prayer and supplication. They come not in their own name, but in the all-prevailing name of him who forever liveth to make intercession for them and in them. --- Prayer, as a mere duty, is a very dull and unavailing employment, yet it is a duty devolving on all who feel their need of Divine favor, because Christ has enjoined it upon them; but when led by the Spirit to the throne of grace, it is a most delightful privilege. Poor, weak and worthless as we are in and of ourselves, yet, “Sprinkled with reconciling blood, they may approach the throne of God,” and not be consumed; because the name of Jesus Christ, their Advocate with the Father, is upon them, and has sealed them with the Holy Spirit of promise. {Eph. i. 13} In prayer we are permitted to hold communion with God, through our High Priest, from over the mercy-seat. The apostle speaks {Eph. vi. 18} of “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” &c; from which we infer that the apostolic practice of social as well as private prayer is to be perpetuated in the church of God until time shall be no more. --- In social prayer, one is mouth for all who are present and qualified by the Spirit to unite in the devotion. If the saints who meet for prayer are, like the primitive saints, all of one heart and one mind, and all are led by the one spirit, there will be no discord, nor confusion, and the prayer expressed in words by him who is mouth for all will be equally the prayer of all. In social prayer we use the plural form of the personal pronouns, ‘our,’ ‘us,’ &c., as taught; {Matt. vi. 9-13;} this is proper, because it is the prayer of all who in their hearts can say, Amen. We have many instances recorded of the saints meeting for prayer, and the practice should be continued in the church of God. When Herod the king had killed James with a sword, and had imprisoned Peter also, intending also to deliver him unto death, many were gathered together praying; and their prayers were graciously heard and answered. {Acts xii. 1-19} We have many other accounts of the meeting of the primitive saints at places where prayer was wont to be made; and should not the saints of the present age walk in the footsteps of the early Christians? --- But in social or public prayers, we should carefully avoid all ostentatious display, or effort to elicit the admiration and praise of men. Be not like those who pray to be heard and admired by men; nor should we use vain repetitions, for that is forbidden. Our words should be few; for God is high in the heavens, and we are on the earth. It is not becoming in ministers, while assaying to lead in public or social prayer, to presume to explain or expound anything to the Lord; for he needs no logic or explanation from us, and our prayers are to comprise supplication, intercession and thanksgiving, under a full conviction that the Lord knoweth all about us, that he searches the hearts and tries the reins of all, and with a solemn consciousness that all things are naked and open to his all-seeing eyes. In our public or social prayers, our wandering thoughts are prone to seek the applause of those who are present, and almost forget that we are professedly addressing the God whose dwelling is in the heavens, and from whose sight the inmost secrets of our heart cannot be concealed. The cruel tempter is ever ready to divert our mind from the awful solemnity of holding communion with the eternal God. How cold and dull and formal are our prayers when thus yielding to the carnal impulse of our fleshly nature and the temptation of the adversary; our pride and vain ambition are either inflated or mortified, as we have succeeded or failed to make a display. One would hardly believe Christians could be troubled in this way; but they are the only class that are really troubled on this account. Carnal professors and self-righteous Pharisees feel perfectly satisfied with their prayers if they can secure the applause of men; but those who are taught of God feel and lament the imperfection of their most solemn devotions, for they feel deeply their short-comings; and were it not for the blessed assurance that the Spirit helpeth their infirmities, supplying the ability which they lack, and making intercession for them according to the will of God, they would not dare to take the sacred name of God upon their lips in prayer or praise. --- The humblest and most simple expression of desire that comes welling up from a broken and contrite heart, is far better than the most eloquent flow of words that charm the carnal ears of men; for the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit God will not despise. --- In our secret prayers, when alone in our closet, that is, when the world is shut out from our mind, and there is none but God can hear, and we feel that our devotion is a personal matter between the trembling suppliant and his God, we use the personal pronouns in their singular form; as, ‘my God,’ why hast thou forsaken me? God be merciful ‘to me;’ ‘hear me;’ ‘deliver me,’ &c. Whether upon our knees, prostrate on the ground, or upon our beds, or even when our hands are engaged in labor, by night or day, when our heart is drawn out to God in the secret aspirations of the heart, we pray with the spirit and the understanding, even when our lips are sealed in silence. We cannot suppress the secret desire inwrought by the Spirit, and involuntarily arising from the depth of our heart to God as the Giver of every good and perfect gift; and from a deep sense of our own vileness, every ejaculation is presented in the name of Jesus, with a full conviction that we can approach God in no other name. The apostle Peter reminds us that the end of all things is at hand, and admonishes us therefore to “be sober, and watch unto prayer.” {I Peter iv. 7} What Jesus our Lord has said unto one, he also says unto all his dear saints, “Watch.” “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” In a careful, vigilant watching, we cannot fail to find abundant incentives to prayer; and if our watching does not have the effect to incline us to pray, it must be that we are in the sad condition of those saints of whom Peter speaks, {I Peter i. 9,} who having neglected the admonition given at that chapter, are blind, cannot see afar off, and have forgotten that they have been purged from their old sins.  --- In conclusion of this already lengthy article, we wish to say to those who have been exercised upon the subject and who have requested to write upon this important subject; you cannot be too poor, too needy, or too unworthy to call upon the name of the Lord. It is especially for those of just your description of character that God has provided the new and living way, which he has consecrated for all who, being humbled under his mighty hand, do feel their need of his mercy and grace. It is the poor that he filleth with good things, while the rich he sends empty away. --- “Blest are the humble souls that see, Their emptiness and poverty; Treasures of grace to them are given, And crowns of joy laid up in heaven.” Gilbert Beebe, Signs of the Times, Editorial. {Volume 47, Middletown, NY, January 1, 1879.}


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