October 2013


Posted October 6, 2013

{Writings of Robert Sandeman}

Biographical Information regarding Robert Sandeman 3rd. Revision.

{Selection of the Week}

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

{Biography of John Johnson}

John Johnson {1706 – 1791} During a half-century commencing in or about 1740, one John Johnson, the minister of a small and despised sect of ‘high grace’ believers, holding forth the faithful Word, as he had been taught and invigorated by the Spirit of Divine Prophecy to set forth the Testimony of Christ, in a way more in Gospel Harmony with Holy Scripture, which brought him into conflict with all who were in ways inclined to discredit the Person & Work of Christ. “The work of the Ministry,” said Johnson, “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.” And in this calling Johnson demonstrated great power and much vigor in the promulgation of these Glad Tidings of Life and Salvation by Jesus Christ alone. His remarkable influence was not confined to the pulpit; as he had much literary activity. He wrote many letters which were so full of matter as to be almost full treatises in themselves, and in addition published numerous pamphlets and several books. Neither Johnson nor his followers claimed any special illumination or any mission beyond that given to all true believers to proclaim the Gospel of God’s Grace in Christ. They sought to develop their doctrines from the Scriptures and the Scripture alone, and to renounce and disregard, so far as possible, all traditions, peculiarities, glosses, and commentaries, both of churches and individuals which were not based upon or did not proceed from the same source - the Bible. John Johnson {1706–1791,} whose name has been removed from any historical accounts as pertaining to what is known as ‘church history;’ and even those with specific historical accounts of such who may be labeled as ‘Baptist,’ scare, {if at all,} make any mention of him; and when they do it is with the utmost contempt. Johnson was a English Particular Baptist Minister who was born at Lostock, near Manchester, England in March 1706. Lostock was a very small place, its population not exceeding a thousand. It had a limited coal mining industry but was chiefly agricultural in character. His parents were humble and hardworking people, who raised their son in a conscientious manner, directing him to respect the Scriptures, and to follow on in an industrious way, wherever the Lord would direct his paths. In a letter to a friend he says, “what can you propose from a correspondence with a person brought up in an obscure way, in a very mean employ, and who never had the advantage of learning, business, books, or conversation to improve his genius or refine his taste, or any other thing that constitutes or improves the scholar or the gentleman? I only learned to read from my parents in a country way, and never went to school, except for a few weeks to learn the use of the pen.” A part of Johnson’s early experience, we may quote from a letter which he wrote very late in life, in answer to an inquiry as to his manner of worshiping God before the Lord had brought them out of darkness. He says, “to this I cannot make reply. I was so young at the time, and it is so long since that I do not well remember. I was under the operation mentioned, Romans 7, 9 – 10, and at that time I was not fifteen years of age; but I can remember that I never was taught to profane the Holy Name by a rambling over prayers as children commonly do. I remember once my Father pointing me to Matthew 6, verses 9-13, {that which is often referred to as the Lord’s prayer,} and bidding me to get it by heart, but that I did not need for I had it by heart long before, by hearing other children profane it. I cannot say that I ever thought praying to be serving God, but I thought it to be a thing necessary, and I thought I would study the Psalms to see how David prayed. But when my eyes were opened I then saw that whatever I had done was simply amusement.” He made a confession of Christ, and was baptized in March 1720, in connection with a Baptist Congregation and then united with a small Calvinistic Assembly of believers at Warrington, soon thereafter. It appears that he was only about twenty years of age when the assembly of which he was a member perceived that he was being “separated unto the Gospel of God” for the Ministry of the Word, and thus he commenced his labors as a Minister of the Gospel around 1726, although from 1728 until his move to Liverpool he was an itinerant preacher, and not attached to any particular congregation. The doctrinal conclusions at which Johnson had arrived by the time he had reached 34 or 35 years of age, and before he was called to Liverpool, were never essentially departed from or varied except in one or two instances which he refers to in his letters, and they were held and promulgated by him with the tenacity, perseverance, and energy which were his characteristics. He soon found that the forcefulness of his arguments, his refusal to bow to any creeds or confessions, and his faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures led him into difficulties and caused unpleasantness with other ministers and that {to use his own language} he became to them a speckled bird. Johnson was always receptive and open to fair argument and criticism, and ready to give to any earnest inquirer the basis of his belief, in much detail if necessary. “Search the Scriptures,” was his constant cry to all. He was maliciously accused of a number of doctrinal, or rather creedal {as pertaining to the accepted creeds or received notions of men destitute of the Truth} deviations from conventional orthodoxy, even the denial of certain aspects of Trinitarian Truth. Perhaps it may be well here to quote Samuel Fisher {who knew Johnson personally, and wrote a short biography of his life, which he attached the two volume set of Johnson’s Letters, which Fisher had published in 1796} whose well measured opinion of Johnson’s view on the Trinity may give us a glimpse of Johnson’s yearning to test all things by the Word of God. Fisher writes that Johnson “deemed the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity as the Glory of the whole Gospel and the foundation of all evangelical Truth. He, however, highly disapproved of what some writers had said about eternal filiation and eternal procession as obviously militating against the Divine Unity, and an attempt to explain what is infinitely above the comprehension of every created mind. He always chose to speak of the Three as their distinct characters are now made manifest in the dispensations of his Grace. The Father God indivisible - the Son God manifest in the flesh - the Holy Ghost God dwelling with and in his people, &c. In a word his judgment was that in the immensity of Jehovah’s Nature there is such a distinction as is improved by the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that it is the excess of arrogance for any man to attempt to define it by reason or to trace it to its origin. It is a Truth clearly stated as a matter of fact; but too sublime for human investigation.” About 1741 he was appointed pastor of the Byrom Street Baptist Chapel, Liverpool, but left about 1747–8 in consequence of his doctrinal views having rendered him obnoxious to a section of the congregation. His supporters built a new chapel in Stanley Street, opened in 1750, and he remained with this congregation until his death. By 1757 Johnson became a leader amongst a number of ‘high-Calvinist’ churches in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Associations, and his influence was such that his supporters were often dubbed Johnsonian Baptists. He married about 1740, and he and his wife had three children, born between 1741 and 1744. We do not know the maiden surname of Margaret his wife, nor any particulars about her prior to her marriage, but we know from one of Johnson’s letters, written long afterwards, what were his requirements, which we trust were fulfilled in the lady of his choice. He wrote, “When I was young I earnestly prayed to the Lord to guide and direct me either to a single or married state as might be most to his glory. At length I came to this determination that I did not see that I was called to any work or fixed in any station with which a married state might interfere to hinder my usefulness, and that it would really be more to my comfort. Then I directed my prayers to my God if it was his pleasure to point out and give me a wife. Marriage is the most awful concern that any man can engage in of anything material and earthly.” According to one source, Johnson was a vigorous pastor and preacher, with much originality of mind, unafraid of controversy; he was of medium height and short-sighted; his manner in the pulpit was solemn and majestic, but he used plain language. He attacked Arminians, Anglicans, Methodists, and other Baptists in print, entering into dispute with a number of men, including a few with whom he shared similar views regarding the sovereignty and absoluteness of Divine Grace, like the Particular Baptist author John Brine, who wrote a short treatise {it’s interesting that Brine in his preface to his work refers to Johnson as “a friend,”} against Johnson in 1755, entitled, “Some Mistakes in a Book of Mr. Johnson’s of Liverpool, Entitled, 'The Faith of God’s Elect,’ Noted and Rectified.” Brine accused Johnson of holding to the following tenets: I. That Grace and Glory might have taken place upon God’s Elect, on the Ground of Adoption, without the Intervention of Sin, and Salvation from it. II. That Adam was called earthy, in respect to his Mind, as well as his Body; or that the Apostle called him earthy, in Relation to his Person, and Nature. III. That Grace in the Hearts of the Saints is not a new Creature. IV. That Faith, though it hath Activity is not an Act. V. That Faith is not, nor can be a Duty. VI. That Faith is not purchased by Christ. VII. That Ministers are not commissioned to preach the Law. VIII. That they are not to admonish Sinners to leave their Sins, and amend their Lives. To this Johnson replied in a long {115 pages total} and able defense of his sentiments in a treatise entitled “Evangelical Truths Vindicated.” Herein he sought to re-enforce his doctrinal postitions, and to use his own language, to declare: “I. The freeness and sovereignty of Grace, to be above all influence, incapable of being purchased by any price, or being promoted or impeded by sin. II. The precious Faith of the saints, to be a participation of the Divine nature, superior to the nature or to the work of any creature. III. The preaching of the Gospel, to be a message of pure Grace; in subserviency whereunto the Law is to be opened in its clearest light, but the Gospel alone to be preached. As in all men’s writings, prayerful vigilance is desired as one searches Johnson’s vast array of spiritual truth, as set forth in his copious productions, for it would seem, that he came to a few odd doctrinal conclusions; but overall, he never deviated from the Pure & Essential Gospel of God’s Free & Sovereign Grace in Christ, Divine Imputation & Redemption Fully Accomplished at the Cross & Effectually Applied by the Spirit in Conversion. Johnson’s exclusive devotion to the Holy Scriptures distinguishes him from the mass of teachers. He looked upon the Book as the treasure house in which the king’s jewels were kept, and that it was his duty and pleasure, as one of the Divinely appointed guardians, to keep such jewels intact and free from the touch of sacrilegious hands. He counted and studied and polished them so as to preserve them from dust and rust and defilement of every kind. Let us hear what Johnson had to say in justification of his mode of preaching and teaching. “What is my concern? What is my desire? Only that I may be faithful to Him that sent me and to every soul to whom I am sent. And I cannot possibly be faithful without using hard sayings and so must be accounted harsh, censorious, and uncharitable. When the Lord was pleased to call me out of darkness, he did not call me asleep, but gave me life from the dead, and now I have been exercised in his school above fifty years. I do know the difference of the two seeds, Christ and Belial, light and darkness, life and death, flesh and spirit, and forasmuch as I certainly know that descriptions are almost universal among the religions of the world I cannot be faithful unless I point out their deceptions. I do no name the persons, but I often name the things in such a light that the persons know it themselves that are described; so they know it is spoken against them. And when a hypocrite hears a hypocrite described he knows that he is that hypocrite, but he rages to hear his nakedness discovered, and thinks to deaden the noise of his own conscience by crying out horrid, cruel, censorious, presumptions, assuming the judgment seat, &c. And these clamors frequently have the desired effect, the ringing of the bell when the bees swarm. But who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead? I hope to live and die pure from the blood of all men which I cannot do if I do not point out the diabolical delusions with which I know they are bewitched. My Lord spoke out without reserve and they cried out against Him, and so did his servants till men gnashed on them with their teeth. All persecution that ever was, was not simply for confessing the true God, but testifying against the false. The life of the Gospel cannot be preached without the two-edged sword which makes Christ’s ministers hated of all men for his Name’s sake.” Again, in a letter to a friend, Johnson says, “the man that writes upon Divine subjects with a righteous intention, contends not for victory but for Truth; and if himself is in a mistake, is willing that his own mistakes may be discovered. The end is only to point out where the Truth is, in a clear a light as we can; that those who are attentive to know it, may judge for themselves. I never expect the Truth of Christ to meet with general approbation; or that the religious world should either embrace or understand it; only to help some few, whose hearts the Lord shall be pleased to open, to attend to it. Johnson died on 20 March 1791, aged 85. Samuel Fisher preached the funeral sermon and wrote an account of his life, appended to the two volumes of Johnson's Original Letters published in Norwich in 1796 and 1800.

{Writings of Robert Sandeman}

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted October 7, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Traditions of Men: The traditions of Men have spread themselves in the nominal Christian Church, like the Army of Gog upon the Mountains of Israel; as a Storm, and as a Cloud covering the Land. This Smoke of the bottomless pit hath so darkened the sun and the air, until men grope at noon day, as in the night; or as those that have no Eyes. And this infernal Idol “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God;” and gives such life to his worshippers, that they proclaim his magnificence, as much as the Ephesians proclaimed that of their Goddess; saying, who is like unto the Beast? Who is able to make War with him? All Denominations of Protestants {in the general Bulk} are as much bigoted to their own traditions, as Papists to theirs. There may be some differences between the Traditions which reign most in Britain, and those most in vogue in Italy. But whether they be of the established Church, or Dissenters; tradition is the governing Principle; and each one having imbibed their own popular system, are devoted thereto, more than to the Word of the living God; and though they profess to make the Word of God their alone Rule; yet, their leaders have followed the opinions of one another, until their sentiments pass for Oracles; and whosoever shall stand up for the Sacred Word, in opposition to their Traditions, shall straightway be esteemed Heterodox. And either through admiration of famous Men, or through having those things constantly sounded in their Ears; the People receive them as unquestionable Scripture Truths, even though they never read them in the Bible. Thus, the real Difference between a Papist and a Protestant {in the common Run, of every Denomination} is only this; the Papist believes himself not obliged to pay attention to the Scriptures, because his priest tells him that the Judgment of the Church is sufficient. The Protestant receives human teachings as divine Truths, because his minister tells him that they are taken from the Scriptures. And to plead the very Word of God, in contradiction to these celebrated Protestant ‘Divines,’ is as great a profanation, as if it were done against a Conclave of Cardinals. This usurper, Human Tradition, is the most formidable Adversary against the Kingdom of Christ, of any that bears a banner in the Camp of Abaddon; and it is from this very Adversary, that every faithful Minister of Christ experiences the greatest resistance in his work; and every tender Lamb in Christ’s fold, finds the fiercest opposition to his establishment in the Truth. John Johnson {Propositions of John Huddleston, 1766}

Faith of God’s Elect: If a Man, in his whole heart, and his whole soul, believes without reserve, the Sum and Substance of the Everlasting Gospel, in the Truth, Life, Spirit, and Power thereof, the Faith of God’s Elect is no more. For this is nothing less than to have the Word of God dwelling in us; the Record which God gave of his Son, written in our minds by the Eternal Spirit; which is the same thing, as Christ dwelling in the heart. {II Cor.3:3, Eph.3:17, II Jn.2} The things of the Kingdom of God are of infinite and eternal consequence; therefore cannot be believed, but upon evidence which is absolutely infallible. Persons may pretend to believe those things, which in themselves are divine Truth, when this belief is only grounded on human testimony; received, as the word of Men. But this, which they call faith, is no more than opinion, and will vanish in time of trial. The faith of the Operation of God, of which Christ is Author and Finisher, is grounded on the infallible Truth of the living God, written in the heart by the finger of the eternal Spirit; and can never be shaken by anything within us, or without us; visible, or invisible, in earth or hell; in time, or eternity. Forasmuch as it is the Gift of God, whose Gifts are all without Repentance. {Eph.2:8, Rom.11:29} The common rant of Ministers {under pretense of comforting the weak, and miserable Comforters they are} telling of persons believing, then disbelieving, and believing again; having faith, losing it, and finding it again, &c, is only a delusion of the Devil to encourage hypocrites by vain deceit. He that doubts the Truth of God never did receive the Divine Record. {Is.59:21, Lk.10:42, Jn.17:8, I Jn.2:27} Therefore the hope of a Believer is an unshaken dependence on the infallible Promise of Jehovah. {Rom.4:21} With a patient waiting, and unwavering expectation of the ample completion of all the Grace, and perfect consummation of all the Glory, promised to the Church of the First-Born. {I Jn.3:2} Nothing less than this is the Believer’s Hope. {Rom.5:2, II Thes.2:16, Heb.11:1} The Believer ventures nothing on the Score of his Christianity; he rests all upon Christ.  John Johnson {Propositions of John Huddleston, 1766}

Posted October 8, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Authority of Holy Scripture: Concerning the Holy Scriptures, our antagonist says, “but I hope that I may safely say, as was wrote of John the Baptist; they are not that light, but sent to bear witness of that light.” This is a sophistical artifice, by making use of a Scripture expression to impose upon the unwary. But his design plainly appears, to degrade the sacred record that God gave of his Son. Jesus Christ is the true light, “in whom is hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” And as the knowledge of the Father cannot be revealed any other way than through the Son, so the knowledge of Christ is no way manifested to any man, but alone in the Word of Truth. Therefore the Scriptures are that light to us; forasmuch as the light, fullness, wisdom, power, truth, life, love, grace, glory, and all the perfections of Christ shine therein. Neither is there any other vehicle, whereby the light which dwells in the Son of God can be conveyed to us; nor can we behold his glory through any other medium. Some persons tell us that the Scriptures are not God; the Scriptures are not Christ; the Scriptures are not the Holy Ghost, &c., but he whose word they are, and whose will is therein revealed, is God; he whose light and truth shines therein is Christ; and he whose wisdom and power is therein displayed is the Holy Ghost. But they say that the Scripture is paper and ink, the writing of men, a dead letter, &c., but this is a most base insult upon that God whose record it is, whose truth it contains, and whose stamp it bears. The Holy Ghost does not speak of it as paper and ink, or as the handiwork of the scribes that wrote it, or as a dead letter; but as the power of God, the Testament of his Christ, and the Word of life. It is true, that these blessings are communicated by means of paper and ink, &c., and so are all the edicts of the king, statutes of the realm, deeds of conveyance or a person’s last will and testament. But the matters therein contained are wisdom, counsel, sacred determinations and authoritative decrees; and it would be great contempt cast upon the authors of those acts to treat them as inconsiderable or diminish their virtue. They are the very will, truth, spirit and mind of him that published them; the intentions of his heart, represented in those certain modes; and those representations bear a sacred stamp; and wherever they come, they carry the same authority as the authors own presence. Our Lord directs us to the Scriptures alone for instruction concerning Himself; for he has promised his Holy Spirit to guide his disciples into all truth; and says, “he shall teach you all things;” {but he points out the way of his teaching,} “and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” His work therefore is to open the heart to receive those precious truths which Christ hath spoken, and which the Spirit of Truth himself hath inspired his servants to write in the oracles of God; and to cause those Divine testimonies to make a spiritual impression upon the mind; not as an empty sound to the ears, but as life to the soul. And thus, through the power of the Holy Ghost, the Gospel is made unto all that believe, what, in itself, it truly is; “the power of God unto Salvation.” So long as the vision and prophecy were incomplete, the Holy Ghost continued, from time to time to manifest his will to his servants in visions and revelations, which he directed them to write, for the use of his Church, until he had revealed his whole will, and given us a perfect system of Divine Truth in the Holy Scriptures; and then he sealed up the vision and prophecy, and pronounced the heaviest of curses upon whosoever should presume to add or diminish thereto. These are therefore the days of blessedness; because “the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” There is no want of spiritual knowledge, only by so much as we fall short of understanding, in this word of Truth. Nor can there be any need of any other way of communication of Divine light, seeing that the Scripture contains perfection of spiritual wisdom; and the Spirit of Truth, by whom this light is made to shine, has promised to abide forever with them that believe. By his power and special influence, the Truth of this gracious revelation is blessed to his people; so that they receive it, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in them that believe.” This word is called a lamp and a light; for as a lamp gives light, by reason of the oil and fire, which burns and shines therein; so the Scripture is a perfect light, by reason of that Grace and Truth which it contains; and it is the alone light that is in the world, inasmuch as Christ, the true light, manifests all his excellency therein, and in no other way. The Holy Ghost speaks of the Scripture as containing the fullness of Him who is the essential and eternal word of God; calling it “a light that shineth in a dark place;” and a just character it is; for, our Savior Jesus Christ, “hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” John Johnson {An Occasional Review, in a Letter to a Friend, 1762}

Posted October 11, 2013

{Writings of Robert Sandeman}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted October 13, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Gospel of God’s Free & Sovereign Grace in Christ: “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” {Ex.33:19} What is this glorious name? The remaining clause of the text, which is what I fix upon, gives is one grand particular of it, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, &c.” God is pleased to mention his sovereignty first, and to place it foremost in the account he gives of himself; as if it were the highest attribute belonging to his nature, and the greatest glory of his name. That saving Grace is sovereign Grace may be made to appear from the analogy of Faith. A phrase used by the Apostle, {Rom.12:6,} translated, the “proportion of faith;” by which I perceive that he meant something like what I now intend by it; namely, that central or fundamental Truth of the Gospel; by and according to which all our Doctrines and Exhortations ought to be regulated, in dispensing the Gospel; that Truth from whence all the lines of Gospel doctrine are extracted and in which they terminate and center, namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the only and perfect Savior of sinners as such; the only and sure Foundation of faith and hope towards God. This is the maxim of the Gospel, that there is Salvation in no other, and that in him all fullness dwells, and that in him alone God is well pleased. This is the Truth which every real Christian is persuaded of; for the explaining, illustrating and improving of which the whole Bible seems chiefly to be written. Now if we understand this Truth clearly, we shall easily perceive from it, the sovereignty of Grace in the affair of Salvation; for if Jesus Christ be the only Savior, then the sinner himself cannot be supposed to be his own savior in any degree. Is Christ the perfect Savior? Then the whole of the sinner’s Salvation is comprised in his Purchase and Fullness. Oh my brethren, this is the grand fundamental Truth of the Gospel; and it is its peculiar glory. Now can a person clearly believe this, and yet imagine, that anything found in him, or done by him, contributes towards his Salvation from wrath, or towards his title to eternal glory? Surely, he that apprehends and believes this Truth, must look upon his entire Hope and Salvation to be contained in Christ alone. From whence it follows that his Salvation is of absolutely free Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Here is no room left for requisites, conditions or qualifications on the sinner’s part; and if so, nothing else but free and sovereign Grace must take place. If we then look upon the whole of Salvation as purchased by Christ, for sinners, for sinners as such, and even for the worst of sinners, we must naturally infer from hence, that the Grace which saves must be sovereign. But if we allow that there is anything in the creature’s will or power that gives the turning point, we practically deny that Christ is the only and perfect Savior of sinners. But it is evident, that persons are justified freely by God’s Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. {Rom.3:24} These very persons will freely acknowledge for themselves, that they never did nor could contribute anything towards their own state of Salvation; for they know that their whole Salvation is in Christ; they dare not lay the least stress of their hope upon any but him; they know and own, that it is the Spirit alone that hath convinced them of sin and righteousness; that they themselves could have no hope if Christ were not a complete Savior in all respects; and that they themselves would never have known and embraced this hope, had they not been led by the Word and Spirit of God into this blessed Truth, and unto this only sure Foundation. If Grace were not absolutely free and sovereign, it would follow that some conditions are to be performed, some endeavors to be aimed at with this view, in order to entitle ourselves to the Divine favor some way or other. Now this plan would vastly suit the natural sentiments and desires of mankind; as it would set them about a round of self-righteous duties and devotions, in order to come up to the required terms and conditions, that they might lay some claim to the favor of God upon that account; but while a person is upon this plan of thought and duty, it is easy to make it appear that instead of bringing himself nearer to God, he is in every act and endeavor running counter to the spirit of the Gospel, is setting about to establish his own righteousness, is running back to a Law of works, is gratifying his natural pride; and so instead of being found able or willing to do anything aright, he is only found able and willing to fulfill one of the lusts of the flesh, and that lust which is as opposite to the Spirit of God and of the Gospel as any other. I might add, that upon this plan, a person could never come to a solid peace in his own conscience, because he may still have occasion to doubt, whether he had properly come up to the terms required; and if he had any peace, it would not be founded upon the Blood and Righteousness of Christ, but upon his own duties and qualifications. Oh; how would this detract from the honor of Christ! How would this swell the pride of the creature, making him think himself something, when in all respects he is nothing. That saving Grace is sovereign Grace appears further from our experience. As to experience; surely I may address myself to the children of God with freedom by asking such questions as these: Did you make yourself to differ from others? Have you ever contributed anything toward your being in a state of Salvation? Does your hope arise from anything found in or done by yourselves? To all questions of this kind you will answer in the negative, disclaiming and abominating the thought of attributing anything to yourselves. And thus the experience of every true believer is a standing proof of the sovereignty and freedom of Grace; so that we may make the appeal which the Apostle doth to the Galatians, “received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of Faith;” by any duties you performed, or by the report of free and complete Grace in Christ? {Gal.3:2} Those who have slight thoughts of the sinfulness of their own sins, and the corruption of their hearts, and who fondly imagine they have some good dispositions, with some capacity to amend themselves, can repose themselves with some degree of satisfaction and contentment upon their notions of conditional Grace; for they lower the terms of Grace to what they imagine is in their own power or enlarge their apprehensions of their own ability to come up to the supposed terms; and thus they are in the most explicit manner seeking Justification as it were by the works of the Law. Now while persons are of this spirit, the doctrine of sovereign Grace must indeed be very distasteful to them. What a rebuke, what a disappointment must be felt by such, when they are told from the Divine Word that after all they can offer in their own favor, yet still it is a Truth that, “the Lord hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.” Not everyone that knows the nature of Gospel Faith and Conversion must see that all such reasonings in our own favor are the grand obstacle in the way of a sinner’s prizing the pure Gospel and loving the Lord Jesus under the character of a perfect Savior. That doctrine therefore which overturns all such self-righteous arguments and thoughts cannot be esteemed a useless one. Now let a person be once brought to believe the sovereignty of Grace upon its proper evidence as applicable to his own case, and all these false presumptuous hopes are demolished, and he is become dead unto the Law, that he might be married to Christ; for if Grace be really sovereign, then all these thoughts, hopes and reasonings are shown to be false and groundless. But oh; how difficult is it to persuade sinners who are really lost and undone in themselves, to believe in their consciences, that all these imaginations of theirs are but mere delusions. We are all so naturally prone to warm ourselves with sparks of our own kindling, while God will have the freeness and perfection of his Grace displayed; that, under the influence of his Word and Spirit, sinners may be convinced and humbled in themselves and brought to take all their peace and hope from this Grace in Christ Jesus alone. Upon the whole then we see, that if this doctrine of Sovereign Grace be rightly understood and cordially believed, it detects and demolishes both the legal hopes and the desponding fears of the sinner; it destroys both a self-righteous presumption and a legal despair; and accordingly removes every obstacle in the way of a sinner’s application to Christ upon the pure and true principles of the Gospel. This doctrine brings the greatest glory to God, for it gives us the highest and most exalted idea we can receive of the great Creator and Disposer of all things. It is absurd to suppose anything greater than Deity; it is impossible to imagine anything greater than God, or to have too elevated notions of him; and I apprehend that we have but a very lame and defective view of him, if we cast aside the attribute of sovereignty. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.” {Rom.11:36} {Nothing can be a greater evidence that the carnal mind is enmity against God, than this; that those doctrines which bring the greatest glory to God, are such as are most displeasing to man. This is so generally true, that it looks as if mankind envies the Lord his peculiar glory and dignity, and is utterly averse to give him the glory due to his name.} Were I to attempt a concise and more exalted description of the grandeur of Deity, I should find myself obliged to exceed the bounds of all language and conception; for here the Apostle exalts the truth to the highest by three words; “of” him, and “through” him, and “to” him are all things. All things are of him, as the great Creator of all things, and the absolute disposer of all events. All things are through him, as it is by his perpetual sustentation, concurrence and management that all things subsist, and every event is conducted. All things are to him, as they are to the praise of his glory and for the honor of all his perfections; and as the Apostle introduces these grand thoughts on occasion of his having treated upon the subject of Divine Sovereignty, let us see to it, that we, in our thoughts, connect the idea of Sovereignty with all his perfections and attributes, if we desire to speak and think in the language and spirit of the inspired Apostle; and if our thoughts are rightly conducted, we shall perceive that sovereignty is a general attribute, which belongs to, and is the special glory of all the other Divine perfections, whether we regard his infinite wisdom, power, holiness, justice or goodness. The voice of sovereign Grace serves to direct the hope; to tell the sinner where his only hope lies, to shut him up unto it, and to guard him against every other hope. This voice heard, understood and believed will not permit the soul to be seeking after any other refuge; or to rest himself upon any other prop; but on the contrary will fix the attention here; and as this truth appears more fully to view, the condemned sinner sees here a door of hope opened, that is perfectly consistent with all the perfections of the Godhead; he sees here offended justice satisfied, provoked wrath appeased, the broken Law fulfilled, by the perfect atonement and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Here then he sees enough to satisfy his disquieted guilty conscience. Here therefore the soul fixes; being assured from the word of God, that this and this only is the foundation for a poor helpless sinner; and here he is encouraged to trust and rest, because the same word assures him that this is a most safe and sure foundation, separate from everything else. This voice likewise serves to give a turn to the whole soul; as it reaches to and operates upon every faculty of the mind. Under the influences of the Spirit it turns the understanding from darkness to light, giving the believer quite a different view both of himself and of the Lord from what he had before. It likewise turns the will; so that he who before was rebelling against the light of the Gospel through the pride of his heart, or who was wanting something for the foundation of his hope, besides or along with Christ, through the unbelief and discouragement of his heart, is now brought cheerfully to submit to the Righteousness of Christ, and thus he is made willing in the day of Divine power. This voice of absolutely free Grace, likewise exceedingly suits to attract the affections, to set them on work towards God in Christ in a way of love and delight. This voice likewise serves to ennoble our conceptions; for we no longer delight or desire to consider God as altogether such a one as ourselves; to frame a deity according to our own inclinations and imaginations, but we are led to behold more and more of his infinite Dignity and Majesty. We do not want him to be less holy, less just, or less sovereign than he is; but desire more and more to rejoice in his Holiness, to submit to his Authority, to revere his Justice and to adore his Sovereignty. Until God reveals himself to our souls by the voice of free sovereign Grace, these perfections of his Nature are terrors to the mind; and in order to have a little ease, we must divert our thoughts from such disagreeable subjects, or else frame in our minds some lower, debasing thoughts of these glories of his nature; but now we can dare to think of him and enlarge our conceptions of him, without fear of being hurt, but in hopes of being benefited by such views of his infinite greatness. This voice likewise serves to excite our endeavors; and to make us willing and desirous to be and act to the praise of his glory; to love him with all our hearts, to serve him with all our strength, and that upon such principles and motives as are the most acceptable to him. A person therefore that complains of the way of the Lord as unequal, proclaims himself a stranger to his own heart, and to have a proud conceit of himself; as if he had done or could do something, which should make it meet, that God should accept him on that account. Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. This is the hope of the Gospel; this is the Truth which continually stands firm as a rock, for the relief and help of the otherwise wretched and desperate. You need not, you should not entertain the least suspicion about the firmness and solidity of this foundation, when separated from every other consideration. This singly viewed is the firm and immediate foundation of a sinner’s hope as such. Now all the great and grand things recorded in the Gospel concerning the Person, the Atonement, the Righteousness and Purchase of Jesus Christ arise clear to view in their majestic simplicity for the refreshment and consolation of those who cannot, who dare not entertain any hope in and from themselves or from any other quarter. Now Christ alone appears in the Gospel as the stable foundation upon which the worthless and helpless sinner may rest with the utmost confidence. They that rest their whole Salvation here shall never be put to confusion, and he that believeth will not make haste. To believers who acredit this doctrine of Absolute Free Grace, who see the necessity of it for themselves and the suitableness and fullness of it to their own condition, and accordingly take pleasure in it. Surely you are led to rest upon it, are made desirous to love and adore, to serve and honor the sovereign Lord upon this account. If so, then the grand end of this Truth is answered upon you, then it has reached your very hearts and taken possession of your souls. You find this free Grace in Christ working upon you to produce and promote a submission to the Divine Righteousness, a reverence of the Divine Majesty, a love of his Name and a delight in his Ways. You cannot but look upon every self-righteous endeavor as an affront to the freeness of this Grace, and every act of iniquity as the highest ingratitude to the riches of this Grace. You dare not seek after pleasure by any criminal indulgences, because this is a turning the back upon the love of God in Christ, which is the believers chief delight. You dare not give way to a light indifference of spirit in the love and service of the Lord, because that would be contempt upon this matchless love. Neither dare you seek rest to your souls from anything else, because this would be a going off from the true foundation, and placing your hope upon that which cannot secure you from the wrath of God due for sin. Samuel Pike {Saving Grace, Sovereign Grace; set forth in two Sermons preached in Pinner’s Hall, 1758}

{Writings of Robert Sandeman}

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

Posted October 14, 2013

{Writings of Robert Sandeman}

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

Posted October 15, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Divine Authority of Holy Scripture: Some persons cannot acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Infallible word of God; then there is no difficulty, without hesitation to pronounce that soul to be one that God cannot acknowledge as an Object of his love; for God never had any way of acknowledging anyone as a belonging to himself, but by giving them his word. “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them.” {Jn.17:8} “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” {Jn.17:14} “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God; for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” {I Thes.1:4,5} Whosoever denies his word denies God himself; and it evidences a desperately wicked heart, thus to deny the God in whose hand their life and breath is; for it always proceeds from a insensible stupidity, like the beasts that perish, that they will not lift up their rational powers to attend to the knowledge of God; or else it proceeds from dint of imaginary wit, they thinking themselves so acute in the wisdom of this world as to overthrow the wisdom of God; and they set themselves to find something in the Scripture to animadvert upon, and to tell us what is fit and what is unfit, for that God {of whom they nothing know} to reveal to his creatures. ---- It never is worth the while of anyone to reason or dispute with these persons; for their hearts are so deep involved in enmity against God, and their eyes are so determinedly closed against the light, that they will not see, and their ears are so stopped against the Truth, that they will not hearken; for they despise instruction, “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God;” they hate knowledge, therefore, “they set their mouth against the heavens;” and having no desire, but an aversion to the knowledge of God, it is vain to reason with them against the determined bias of their own minds. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, “will not seek after God, for God is not in all his thoughts.” But it may be objected that, “some of these are not wicked men; and though they deny the Scriptures to proceed from God, they are not atheists; for they do not deny the Being of God.” I reply, he that rejects, despises, and tramples on all the laws, edicts and manifestoes of rightful Prince is a wicked rebel; notwithstanding he may behave cordially among his associates, who are in the same predicament with himself. So every man that despises the Word of the Living God is an avowed rebel against the King of Kings, notwithstanding he may behave with decorum amongst men; and as to their being atheists, they can be no other; for every one that is destitute of the true knowledge, love, and enjoyment of God {which it is impossible for these men to have} is an atheist in the full sense of the word; which is, to be in enmity, alienation, opposition and without God. John Johnson {Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures}

Divine Authority of Holy Scripture: If we acknowledge the Most High to be a Being of such order and perfection, to grant to mankind a revelation of himself; or to give him the certain knowledge of an Object, to exercise his mental powers upon, suitable to the excellent faculties with which he has been pleased to endow him; then to inquire, where this revelation is to be found. Bring the two Testaments to the test, and let all the religious systems, all the productions of human wisdom that ever were in the world stand forth; the strained intellectuals of all the Jewish scribes and rabbis; the exquisite learning of all the heathen poets and philosophers; the soaring imaginations of Mohammed and his followers; the infallibility of the Pope and all his blinded adherents; compare them all together, and see if any of these bears any proportion in a concordant chain, from the creation to the fullness of time, in majesty, in perspicuity, in goodness, in harmonious consistency, in depth of penetration, in adaptness to the condition of man, and in laying a foundation for eternal felicity. Nay, examine whether any of the others arise any higher than perfect childish romantic stories compared with the Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles? If any soul be impressed with seriousness and with reverence of the God that made him, he will find no difficulty to determine where God is revealed. But I do not wonder that persons of good sense, who are yet destitute of due reverence of the Divine Majesty, that they should become deists; for they only judge of things, from what they observe in the religious world; and hearing doctrines propagated so nugatory, so indigested, so unsavory; and seeing worship so loose, so inconsistent, and so formal; they inconsiderably judge of the glorious testimony of the Divine Being, by the contradictions they view in the pretended followers thereof. But had these persons any serious desires after the knowledge of the true God, they would not suffer their minds to be prejudiced by the empty noise of common professors, but would pay deliberate attention to the word of God itself, whereby they might be convinced that these defects do not proceed from the oracles of God, but from the hypocrisy of those who falsely pretend to be guided by them, when at the same time, they pay no sincere regard to the Scripture record, but vainly follow the traditions of men, and are carried away with every empty custom that prevails in the world. Their doctrines and their worship are only taught by the precepts of men. This certainly is the fact with the greatest part of the people who profess to be directed by the Truth of God; that they have so little regard to the Divine testimony, and are so wedded to the traditions of men, that to urge anything upon them from the Scriptures, unless they think it speaks the same, as they have already learned from human teachings, one might as well present colors to a blind man, or cast feathers against the wind, or attempt to break a bar of steel with a straw. For alas, they commonly have already sucked in so many traditions of men, and have their heads so full of preconceived notions of one kind or other, that they only read the Bible to establish them in the opinions they have already imbibed. So whatever they read in the Scriptures, they fancy it favors of the same sentiments, which were their favorite ideas before. These are mere dupes to tradition, and under strong deception, for they are very positive, they have read such and such things in the Bible, when no such things were ever therein contained. There is scarce a person to be found who can be prevailed upon to give due attention to the sacred word, according to the Majestic excellency thereof. Yet some persons, instead of attending to the Sacred Testimony as the standard whereby to judge of themselves and others, they look at the common run of professors, and make them the standard whereby to judge of the record of the living God, which is as far above anything that is to be seen amongst religious people in common, as heaven is above the earth; and while this is the case, that they give no sincere attention to search for themselves, but let their minds be imposed upon, by what they observe amongst the crowd, I make no wonder they turned deists, and deny the Gospel of Salvation, and seal upon themselves eternal damnation. John Johnson {Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures}

Divine Authority of Holy Scripture: To attend to any doctrines of human wisdom in things pertaining to God is to despise the goodness of God in giving us his Infallible Word and to trample on his authority in commanding us to attend to his Word alone. It is to pour contempt on God’s Holy One, the great Prophet, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world to teach us all things, saying, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” {Deut.18:18} If all that God commands be taught by Jesus Christ in his pure Gospel, then it must be a very high affront to the Son of God for us to pay any regard to the teachings of men; but some object, “that we are so weak and ignorant that we cannot understand the words of Christ without the expositions of learned men to instruct us therein;” but may I ask this objector, did Christ direct thee to apply to learned men to tell the meaning of his word? If he did not, you do but insult Him to the last degree by suggesting that he has only mocked thee in pretending to give thee his word, when it is only given in a sealed book, which thou canst not look into; or delivered in terms so abstruse and unintelligible, as he hath not given thee a capacity to understand; but thou art reduced to the necessity of seeking instruction from that wisdom which God has declared he has made foolishness. {Is.29:14, Rom.1:22, I Cor.1:19} ---- To ascribe the knowledge of Divine things to the learning of this world would be to give the lie to the Son of God, who said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” So then, to pretend to come to any knowledge of God, any other way than by the Sacred Oracles alone, {opened unto our understanding by the same Spirit that gave them,} is such a disparagement to the Father and the Son, as no man can be guilty of, who has the true love of God in his heart. John Johnson {Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures}

Divine Authority of Holy Scripture: Whatsoever is set up in the name of Christ which is not according to his direction is Antichrist; and every follower thereof is following the son of perdition. {II Thes.2:3,4,11,12} And how shall they escape if they be led by a false light? For the more light they fancy that they see, the greater the darkness is. {Mt.6:23} If anyone should say, he does not believe that any person under heaven can be saved whose faith is not built upon the infallible word of the living God, abstracted from the teaching of the very best of men, I know that it would cause an hideous outcry among the sons of antichrist. They would make the arches of hell ring with exclamations against pride, arrogance, assumption, self-conceit, dogmatical censoring, un-charitableness, rash judgment, &c., but let the noise a little subside, and I would seriously declare, that I am ready to give attention to any of them that shall point out a possibility of any man upon earth being saved from the damnation of hell, whose faith is not built upon Christ according to the record that God gave of his Son in the pure word of life, without any dependence on the wisdom or authority of man. John Johnson {Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures}

Divine Authority of Holy Scripture: That light in which the wisdom of men represents the most High God is always more adapted to the carnal mind, than the light in which the word of Truth represents him. The Divine Testimony holds forth the true character of him that IS in such a light as is discustful to the carnal man, for he cannot receive it, it is foolishness to him, because it is life and truth, spirit and power. The learning of men always holds forth the great God in a sordid show of empty unmeaning words to amuse the unseasoned mind, but still leaves an idea of a mean, low, inconsiderable Being, much such an one as themselves, just suiting the carnal taste. They use great swelling words of flimsy panegyric eloquence, but it all ends in the force of rhetoric to persuade men that he is such a being as is worthy the carnal mind to approve. Yet, every sentiment is flat and diminutive; for the true life and spirit of the Divine Character has no place in all their pompous expressions. This will please fools, though there be no appearance of true majesty; or as the heathens praised and extolled their idols, with all the arts of speech, and when they had wasted their wit in bombast encomiums, they left them perfect dung gods as contemptible as brute beasts. Thus the wisdom of men does in describing the true God, for they fall as far short of the truth as the images and baubles in a puppet show fall short of the majesty of the king’s court. This is the thing that makes it pleasing to man, because it is adapted to a base, earthly and carnal mind. But what is it that influences men to give delightful attention to the word of the living God? For certain it is that all that are born of God delight in his Word as the very life of their souls, and in comparison thereof, they account all the wisdom of men as chaff and dung. The Word of his Grace they esteem above all riches, they hide it in their hearts, it is their strongest desire, their trust and hope, it is their joy and delight, and it is their life. {Psalm 119, Jer.15:16, Mt.4:4} Every soul that has true delight in the word of God does very well know by what {and whom; that is, the Spirit in giving infallible testimony to the Person & Work of Christ} he was thereto induced; that it is the majesty, the excellency, the truth and glory of God; with the loving kindness, grace, mercy, peace and goodwill to men that shines so clear in that sacred word, which is the attractive cord that first did and still does unite his heart to the Divine revelation, and the way that this strong band took hold of his affection was the Lord opening his heart to attend to it, and opening the eyes of his understanding to behold the true light, life, riches and blessedness contained in the holy oracles; and the more he attends to the sacred record, the more he beholds of the boundless fullness therein contained; and the more he delights in the salvation, righteousness, peace, and comfort that shines therein, until it becomes the very life of his soul, and he finds this word to be no other than God himself; that is, in the vital manifestations, outgoings, overflowings and gracious communications of his will; his wisdom, power and infinite riches; and hence, all the intellectual powers of that soul cleave to this Divine testimony, for here he finds the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and all the blessings of eternal glory clearly revealed. Therefore, everyone that is taught of God explodes every other mode of instruction, and rejects every show of wisdom but that alone, that is contained in the word of life. And with Peter he cries out, “Lord to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life.” In this pure infallible record we have the true character of God; free from those blasphemous reproaches and calumnies cast upon him by wicked men. Here he is represented as a Being of absolute perfection, majestic glory, order and sovereign dominion; and all his works, and all his government, performed in perfect wisdom, righteousness, goodness, and truth. Forbidding all heathen traditions and fables, such as signs, tokens, dreams, omens, presages of good or ill fortune, good or bad luck, &c.; of which there be such numbers of old tales that there is scarce a creature or thing to be seen, but some diabolical divination is to be drawn from it, which are hated of every true believer, because they represent the God of perfect glory as a mere trifling, whimsical being, as if he was acting a child’s play with his creatures, or as if he had left the government of the world to the foolish petty deities of the heathen. This majesty of God equally forbids all antichristian superstitions; or anything of human invention in the worship of God. For be the thing what it will, and be introduced with ever so much gravity and solemnity, he must be an avowed rebel against God that dares presume to set up anything in the worship of God which God has not appointed; for whatever is of human invention always detracts from the glory of God, representing the Most High in a very contemptible light, as they suppose him to be pleased with mere parade or empty baubles. John Johnson {Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures}

Posted October 16, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Antichrist: The next matter to be attended to is the blessings that are kept in store, promised unto, and waited for by all that believe on the Son of God, and these are to be considered in general as they relate to the whole Church, and in particular, as they shall be to every individual believer. In the first place, respecting the Church of God; many of the promises are already fulfilled, such as the coming of the Messiah; all his performances on earth; his ascension into glory; the sending down of the Holy Spirit; the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles; the deliverance of the Christian Church from the anti-Christian national Church, by her flight into the wilderness; and now, the prohibition of the holy Scriptures taken out of the way; but the matter is to be considered, as it now stands, and what yet remains, and is to be accomplished in its season. First: The destruction of antichrist; the false Church, called, the beast of the bottomless pit; or in plain speech, the religion of this world, fictitiously called Christian religion. This beast or antichrist is not the Pope of Rome; though he is once called, the second beast, coming up out of the earth. {Rev.13:11} But this is only a servant to the first beast, rising out of the sea, with seven heads and ten horns. {Rev.13:1,8} It is a deep contrivance of the bottomless pit to call the Pope antichrist; like the fable of the thieves, crying out, “thieves, thieves,” to set the people a gazing after some other object, while they made their escape. For by this device, people are made to believe that if they keep clear of open Popery, they are free from antichrist; when at the same time, antichrist reigns as powerful in every other denomination, as in the Church of Rome. And in many, his deceptions are much more; for the Church of Rome is become so gross in her errors that none can be deceived by her, but such as willfully deceive themselves. But the great deceivers are those that counterfeit the doctrine of Christ with more delusive art, and bring their inventions to a more apparent resemblance, to make them pass for realities. Howbeit, the Church of Rome, having usurped authority over the nations, beyond what any other hath done, we may expect her cup to be filled in a different manner; but we have no reason to expect the Church of Rome, to be the instrument, to kill the testimony of the Son of God and the Spirit of Truth, who are the two witnesses; but the more subtle imposters, who pretend to faith in Christ, salvation by Grace, the operation of the Holy Spirit, &c., yet represent these things in the light so loose and flimsy, that they contain nothing but the empty husk; and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple, making a show of the truth of Christ, but dressing it in such a garb, as suits the carnal taste. This is the very thing that pleases the religious world, to fancy that they enjoy the things of the Spirit, and at the same time to have their rejoicing in the flesh. This is the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, who in the most delusive mode makes war with the true Christ; and by his deep deceptions shall draw all the world after him, until the testimony of Christ and the Holy Ghost shall be so disregarded, that they shall appear to men, only as dead bodies. John Johnson {Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures}

Duty Faith: Objection – “But faith is frequently expressed as the work of the believer; taking the shield of faith; putting on the breastplate of faith and love; striving together for the faith of the Gospel; holding faith and a good conscience; fight the good fight of faith; I have kept the faith, &c.” Reply: Expressions of this kind do not prove that faith is of any lower extractions than sovereign Grace. The shield of faith is the chief of the armor of God, or above all; therefore it is God himself and our Lord Jesus Christ, who is in Scripture so often called a shield; and the saints experience Him to be the shield of faith, inasmuch as it is through faith that they behold and enjoy him as their Strength and Tower of defense; his boundless grace, almighty power, unchanging love and faithful promises are their help and their shield against all the fiery temptations of Satan; and to take the shield of faith is the same with looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; to run to his Name as to a strong tower for safety under all trials; to fly to him for refuge in all dangers; to wrestle with him by prayer and supplication; to meditate on his attributes, his grace, his covenant, his works, &c., thus taking hold of his strength to fortify our minds against all the power of the enemy. To put on the breastplate of faith and love is the same as to put on the Lord Jesus Christ; put on the armor of light; put on the whole armor of God. Practically to apply our minds to Jesus Christ in a vigorous close attention, that we may obtain a more intimate acquaintance with him, and may be made more conformable to him; to stand firm in the profession of faith in Christ Jesus; to walk steady in love to all our Christian brethren; and to persevere in all holiness of conversation. To strive together for the faith of the Gospel is to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment, and to keep the unity of the Spirit, with one consent pressing forward after further attainments in the knowledge of Christ, and stability therein; and to maintain the purity of the Gospel in doctrine, order, worship and holiness of conversation. To hold the faith, to keep the faith, to fight the good fight of faith, &c., is to earnestly contend for the Faith, or to stand up boldly for the Truth of the Gospel; to withstand the adversaries of our precious faith, and practically to manifest the integrity of our hearts in a diligent walking with God. But these things do not prove faith to be the work of a believer, any more than my natural vigor and activity proves my natural life to be my own work. It is not common, upon some occasions, to excite persons in expressions to this effect, “be wise, be strong, be alive, &c.,” but does this imply that wisdom, power, and life are their works? No, it intends no more than to manifest in a proper manner what blessings God has endued them with. So these admonitions are only some branches of the great commandment that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. Faith is not a principle which the soul can act, or exercise, any more than it could produce it at first. It is not everything that is spoken with an active sound, that is the act of the creature in a proper sense; for to live and breathe are actively expressed, and so is believing; but to live and breathe are not in a proper sense the acts of the man, for they are the nature of the man, when life and breath are given; and it is the nature of the heaven-born soul to live in Christ, and breathe in the Spirit; it is his nature to cleave to God with delight, as it is the nature of the impregnated needle to cleave to the magnet. It is the soul that believes, that thinks, desires, delights and enjoys by faith, and these may be called acts of faith, when they proceed therefrom, or are under the influence thereof. I affirm that whatsoever is absolutely beyond the line of created beings, peculiar to God alone, that cannot possibly be touched by any hand, but by Jehovah himself, depending alone on his sovereign will and almighty power; this, I say, never was required by any Law; neither is, nor ever was, or ever will be the duty of any man; and as the faith whereby we enjoy eternal life in Christ is of so high and heavenly in nature, I’m not afraid to deny that it could ever come within the compass of a duty. John Johnson {Evangelical Truths Vindicated, 1758}

Posted October 20, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

To whom is the Gospel Addressed: There is, and long has been, much controversy between legalists and the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, not only as to what the gospel is, but also in regard to whom it is or should be addressed. If all the parties engaged in the controversy could understand the scriptural signification of the word, those who are now zealously contending for a universal application of it to all mankind indiscriminately, would desire rather to restrict than to extend its application, as they have ever exerted themselves to suppress its publication. What they call gospel differs very widely from what Christ and the holy apostles proclaimed in the primitive days of the gospel church. Our Redeemer encountered the same class of zealous fanatics, who compassed sea and land to disseminate their false gospel, but a perversion of the gospel of Christ; and exposing and denouncing their hypocrisy charged them with teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men. The voluntary religious institutions originated and enjoined by men without any divine authority from God are now very widely taught and greedily received by graceless men, and such teaching is by them dignified with the name of gospel. Their preachers may entertain conflicting opinions in regard to what is contained in the Scriptures, for the doctrine of the Bible and the laws and institutions of Christ are regarded by them as minor points, while opposite sects can freely unite in opposing the doctrine of Christ, and in the propagation of any or all of the inventions of men. They can and do, with much seeming cordiality, take each other by the hand, and with wonderful reciprocity compliment each other as “truly evangelical,” while in truth there are but two points in which they are really agreed among themselves; the one is that salvation is attainable by works, and the other is in denouncing the true followers of the Lamb. As to precisely what works will secure salvation, and by what mode of warfare they should fight the saints, they may differ widely without interruption of fellowship. What they call gospel may be obtained in any quantity from the schools of men, in which every man is engaged in teaching his brother and neighbour, saying, “Know the Lord.” From Infant and Sabbath Schools, and Bible Classes, as well as from Theological Seminaries; from books and tracts, and various other sources, they can procure all of that kind of delusion which they call gospel in indefinite quantities. We would by no means misrepresent them; but we have failed to understand their language, if what they call gospel is not with them an article of commerce. Do they not propose to send it to the heathen; to Burma, Hindustan, and to all the distant islands where they can find a profitable market? They gravely tell us, in a business way, what amount of capital must be invested, what number of men and amount of money, how many ships and seamen must be employed, and how long it will take to supply the world. To make their false gospel salable, they must, of course, adapt it to the taste of all. Those who have no ears to hear what the Spirit saith to the churches, have no difficulty in hearing the doctrines of men; hence there is a great cry about preaching to sinners. Their doctrine is precisely what unconverted sinners can feast upon; for instead of being told that they are condemned already and the wrath of God abideth on them, they are told that they are probationers, free agents, and have ability to move by their prayers the power that moves the world. Instead of being told that “no man can come to the Father but by Christ,” and that “no man can come to Christ except the Father draw him,” they are told that they can do a great deal for the Lord. And this is profanely called preaching the gospel to sinners; while with an air of affected superiority, they charge those who proclaim salvation by Grace in Christ, that they do not preach the gospel to sinners, while they themselves do not preach a word of gospel to saints or sinners. It is not gospel to utter falsehood in the name of the Lord; there is no gospel in telling men what they can and must do, or be damned. To call on dead sinners to repent and believe the gospel implies ability in them to do so, whereas the gospel proclaims that Christ is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins. It is as exclusively the work of our exalted Saviour to give repentance as it is to forgive sins, and the dead sinner can no more do the one than the other. True repentance which is unto life and needeth not to be repented of, must proceed from life. If the repentance be spiritual, it proceeds from a spiritual source, and must be preceded by the quickening Spirit of God. The sorrow of the world worketh death; but godly sorrow worketh repentance unto life; and to be godly, in distinction from the sorrow of the world, it must come from God, it must be given by the exalted Prince and Saviour. Faith is also the gift of God, Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of it, if it be genuine; for it is not the faith of the creature, but it is the faith of the Son of God, and without it no man can please God. Paul says, it is “not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” To preach the opposite to what the inspired Scriptures teach, is not preaching the gospel to saints, nor to sinners. But we propose to show how the Scriptures define the word gospel. Compare Isaiah 61:1, with Luke 4:18, and you will see that what is by the prophet called good tidings, is by our Lord rendered gospel, and to prevent any caviling, the good tidings in the prophecy, and the gospel in its fulfillment, are defined to mean, good tidings to the meek - “to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and 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 garment 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.” Observe who these meek, poor, broken hearted, prisoners are, and what gospel is preached to them. The Spirit of the Lord God qualifies those on whom it is poured, to follow the blessed Saviour in preaching good tidings, or gospel, to the meek; not to the proud, haughty, and self-righteous. It proclaims liberty, not to free agents who were never in bondage, who have all the religion they live for, and could have as much more if they pleased to work for it. The poor broken hearted, helpless prisoner hails with joy the tidings that proclaims his release from prison. But how could the same tidings be joyful, or gospel, to those who are not poor, nor captive, nor broken hearted, nor meek? When Jesus said to the poor dying thief, “this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise,” we cannot doubt it was good tidings to him. But would the same words, if spoken to his murderers who were reviling him, been appreciated as gospel tidings? The gospel is discriminating; it finds out the “humbled sinner in whose breast a thousand thoughts revolve.” You who complain that we do not preach the gospel to sinners, would you have us, if we meet a band of robbers, pirates or murderers, say to them, in gospel terms, “fear not, little flock; it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom?” Or to a company of Atheists, “let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Jesus?” If this is not what they mean by preaching the gospel to sinners, how far short of this do they come, when they address the most blessed and sacred assurances which Christ gave to the meek, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the peace makers, and the persecuted saints, to unconverted sinners, as an inducement to them to “get religion,” saying to them, “Seek, and ye shall find; Knock, and it shall be opened unto you; Ask, and it shall be given to you?” Not one of these gracious promises were ever addressed by our Lord or any minister of his to any but to quickened subjects of his saving grace. Instead then of preaching the gospel to saints or sinners, they pervert the gospel, in attempting to give the children’s bread unto dogs, in direct defiance of the special command of Jesus Christ, who positively forbid that that which is holy should be given to the dogs. By their artful misapplication of the Scriptures, they are charged by an apostle with “turning the truth of God into a lie,” by making the Scriptures seem to say what they do not say; and so by handling the word of God deceitfully, they not only lead the blind into the ditch, but frequently perplex and worry many of the unsuspecting honest-hearted enquirers after truth. We will correct a misapprehension of the position and practice of the ministers of our order. While we believe and preach the gospel, as Christ and his apostles did, wherever a door is open for that purpose, openly addressing our preaching to everyone within the sound of our voice, the gospel which we preach discriminates between the living and the dead. It is a savor of life unto life, to those who are quickened by the Holy Ghost, and a savor of death unto death, to them that perish. It is “to the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” And if our preaching is not a savor of death unto death to the ungodly, and a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks, and if it be not a savor of life to the quickened, and if it be not to them that are called, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, then it is not apostolic preaching. Who ever knew a true minister of Christ to refuse to preach the gospel to any but saints? We cannot search the hearts or try the reins of those to whom we preach; but the word which we preach makes the discrimination; for it is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. {Heb.4:12,13} The gospel which we preach is good tidings to the meek; but if any part of our audience are not meek, it is not gospel, or good tidings to them. All who have an ear to hear, are more than welcome to hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. But if any have not hearing ears, the preachers cannot supply them; for the hearing ear and understanding heart are of the Lord. The Son of God alone has power to cause the dead to hear his voice and live; for the words which he speaks to them, they are spirit, and they are life. Therefore his sheep hear his voice, and he knows them, and they follow him; for he gives to them eternal life, and they shall never perish. He, and he alone, has power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. All this we preach to every creature; but we do not give the children’s bread to any but the children, nor do we give what belongs to the dogs to the children. But let us examine the parable of the marriage of the king’s son. {Mt.22:1-14} Unto whom, and for what purpose was it spoken by our Lord, and why spoken in parable? The context will show that it was addressed to the Jews, including the Pharisees, who were so much enraged on hearing it, that they went and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. {See verse 15} As whatsoever God speaks is certain to secure the object for which it is spoken. {Is.55:11} What was accomplished by this parable shows conclusively for what purpose it was spoken. And the reason why he spake to all but his saints in parables is given in his own words to his disciples in Luke 8:10. “And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?” Alluding to the parable of a sower, “and he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” We must reject Christ’s own explanation of his reason for using parables, or admit that this parable was spoken expressly to discriminate between his disciples to whom was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and all others from whom that gift was withheld, and by the inscrutable purpose of God all but the disciples, in seeing should not see, and hearing should not understand. Instead of his parables being used to elucidate, illustrate, and make the mysteries of the kingdom of God clear and plain to the understanding of the ungodly, they were designed to make them the more obscure, that they might be a stumbling block to the Jews, and folly to the Greeks. “Therefore Jesus rejoiced in spirit, when he said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.” Neither this nor any other parable, correctly understood, will sustain the position taken, that the address of the ministers of Christ should be indiscriminate. The same gospel preaching which elucidates the mysteries to the saints on whom the heavenly gift is bestowed, involves them in parabolic obscurity to all but such. Still the question may return, what does the parable mean? We have already shown that it was intended like all the parables to baffle the wisdom of the Scribes, Pharisees and work mongers of that and of all subsequent ages, and bring down their lofty imagination, humble the pride of man, and cause that none should glory, only in the Lord. It was nevertheless full of wholesome instruction to those to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom. The kingdom of God, which in this parable or similitude is compared to a king who made a marriage for his son, embraces Christ and his people in both the legal and then prospective dispensations. The marriage of the king’s son represents the public espousal, and marriage of Christ and his bride, the church, which was then about to be consummated, according to prophecy. The oxen and fatlings, representing all the sacrifices under the law, had been killed, and the Bridegroom had come to redeem his bride from under the law, that she might be identified with him in his resurrection from the dead. The marriage festivities, or feast, was now about to be spread, in the opening of the gospel dispensation. The Jews, as a nation or people, had been notified and bidden to the marriage by the prophets, and they had professed to be anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom and announcement of the feast. “The law and the prophets were until John.” John the Baptist had announced the advent of Christ as the Bridegroom, saying, “He that hath the bride, is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth because of the Bridegroom’s voice; thus my joy is fulfilled.” John’s mission was to make ready a people prepared of the Lord. Seventy servants had been sent to announce to the commonwealth of Israel that the feast was prepared; but they were not ready to leave Judaism, nor had they any disposition to embrace Christianity. These servants had been forbidden to go with this proclamation to any but those Jews which had been bidden by the prophets. “Go ye not in the way of the Gentiles,” nor into any city, even of the Samaritans were they not to enter, but to go exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “But they made light of it.” He came to his own, and his own received him not. He grew up among them as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form, nor comeliness; and when they saw him there was no beauty or attraction for them to desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; “he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” {Is.53:1-3} Again other servants, the apostles, were sent out, with the same charge to go only to the Jews which were bidden; but they made no serious matter of it; and they slew the servants. This was literally true of the disciples and apostles which were sent with this message to the Jews; they not only rejected their message, but put the messengers to death. All this preceded the wrath which was brought upon the Jewish nation, when nationally they were destroyed, and Jerusalem and other cities were terribly destroyed. Then said the king to his servants, or ministers; the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden, the carnal Israelites, were not worthy. The law could make nothing perfect. Their legal self-righteousness was but filthy rags, and would not answer for a wedding garment. They with all their filthy rags, or legal works, were now utterly rejected, and the decree of the king is published, that none of them which were bidden, or to whom the prophets had been sent, should taste of the supper, the gospel feast. And now the servants are sent forth to the Gentiles, who had not been bidden to the feast as were the Jews. Comparing the version of Luke 16 of this same parable with that of Matthew, we perceive that when those who were ‘whole’ had declined the feast, the servants were instructed to gather from the streets and lanes of Jerusalem, or Israel, “the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind;” quite a different description of guests; yet the very description to whom the gospel is good tidings; and of this description there were gathered by the apostles from the secluded lanes and streets of Israel all the original constituent members of the gospel organization. And the apostles reported to their Lord, saying, “It is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.” Poor, helpless, halt and blind sinners who felt their poverty, and had no works or merits of their own to plead, were gathered to the gospel feast; but those of that character called from the Jews did not exhaust the provisions of grace, and the gospel proclamation is by divine command extended to the high-way and hedges of the Gentile world. “Go ye,” the ministers of the everlasting gospel, who had received a “Go ye” from their King, “and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage.” Certainly not as many of the self-righteous work-mongers, but as many as they should find of the character already gathered into the marriage, of the poor, lame, broken hearted, helpless and guilt-stricken; bid them welcome, in the name of the King to the marriage. But none others should partake of the feast, as we see how he fared who came in not having on the wedding garment. The broad phylacteries of self-righteous Pharisees would not do; the guest must be clothed with garments of salvation, as sinners saved by grace alone, and covered with the robe of Christ’s own righteousness, that is the wedding dress; and a profession of religion without it will avail nothing. All who come in without God’s grace will be thrust out without his favor. Again, permit us to ask, What is there in this parable that can be justly construed to favor an indiscriminate address of the gospel ministry to all mankind? The work of the gospel ministry is very clearly and fully stated in the words of our risen Saviour to the apostles immediately before he ascended to heaven. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” This is a most vitally important introduction to their commission. If there are any sinners who have power to resist his will, or to secure their own salvation, or to prevent their own salvation, then all power in earth is not in him. If ministers have power to save souls, to quicken dead sinners, or to prevent their quickening and salvation, then there is power besides what is vested in him. Or if Theological Schools have power to prepare men for the gospel ministry, or Mission Boards have power to commission men to preach, then that power is not exclusively found in him. The fact is not only in itself important, but it is also important that all who are called by him to the work should know it; for it is upon this very ‘therefore’ that they are commanded to go. Go ye therefore, or from this consideration. It does not allow the alternative to them to tarry at home, and send somebody else. “Go ye therefore.” And what? “Teach all nations.” He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, having all power in both worlds, has a right to send them over every state, territory, and division of the universe; and no king, potentate or ruler of the earth has any legitimate right to forbid, or throw impediments in their way. All nations. The command of Christ is no longer restricted to the Jews; now the middle wall of partition is taken down, and the messengers of Christ are commanded to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. For God has a people in every tribe and nation, and his gospel shall search and find them out, and call them out; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That is as was understood and practiced by the apostles, baptizing all who gladly receive the word, and who believe with all their heart on the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus by baptism adding them manifestively to the apostles, and to the apostolic church. “Teaching them.” They need instruction, and Christ has by his supreme authority authorized this manner of instruction, by and through the diversified gifts which he has received for and given to them. But what are they to teach them? Not the arts and sciences of this world; for in the knowledge of them the ministers of Christ are generally quite limited themselves. But the orders of the King are very plain and definite. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” No new lessons that Jesus has not commanded the apostles. No progression beyond the commands of Christ. Nothing that he has commanded may be omitted. Nothing that he has not commanded may be added. If any man shall add to the words of the book of this prophecy, or instruction, God shall add to him the plagues written in this book; and if any man shall take from the words of his instructions, he shall be expelled from the church of God, the communion of the saints, and from the privileges of the Holy City, New Jerusalem. But, “Blessed and happy are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs.” We have been the more particular in showing what the gospel is, by whom, and to whom Christ has commanded it be preached, that but all who read may see that very much of what passes currently for gospel at our day, is but the teaching for doctrines the commandments and institutions of men, instead of the all things whatsoever Christ commanded his apostles to teach. In conclusion of this extended article we wish to add a few words in regard to the object and utility of the gospel ministry. The apostle, who is commanded to teach us, defines it thus: “Feed the flock of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.” Jesus commanded Peter, saying, “Feed my sheep,” and “feed my lambs.” None but the flock of God can feed upon the gospel; none but they can live on every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The beloved disciple and inspired apostle John says, “ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” {I Jn.4:4-6} Finally, as the sun in the heavens can only be seen in its own light, so the light and glory of the everlasting gospel can only be discerned in its own divine radiance. Until God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in our hearts, we cannot comprehend the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. Gilbert Beebe {Editorial: Signs of the Times, 1869}

Posted October 21, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Duty Faith: The celebrated sentiment to which many in public character are so partial; namely, that of exhorting the subjects of Grace to act faith on Christ, and the promises in him, I pronounce in the Spirit of the Gospel to be heterodox and fallacious, and an insult to the wisdom of Christ, who has said, “without me you can do nothing.” Faith is a gift from the ascended Savior, it is conveyed into the redeemed soul by the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration, consequently being a supernatural blessing can only act and move under supernatural influence. – The true Object of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not discoverable by the light of nature; but is made known to men, only by the supernatural light of Divine Revelation. {Is.64:4, Mt.16:17, I Cor.2:9,14, 3:11, Eph.1:17, 3:8,9,10, Tit.1:3, I Pet.1:10-12} This acknowledgment is clearly proved by these texts; but let the reader closely examine them, and see how deep and glorious a mystery the Gospel is, and then judge, if the Gospel Revelation be so far above the sphere of all created beings, as these Scriptures represent it, how should it be thought that the special Grace published in the Gospel should be required of men? It is here pointed out, as it is the work of God alone to reveal Christ, and as a thing which was not known to men, nor even the angels, from the foundation of the world; how then should the Divine blessings which proceed from this unfathomable Mystery and sublime Glory, which utterly dazzles all created eyes, be the duty of men; yea, of men under the power of a carnal mind! How can the Righteousness of God be by faith, without the Law, {Rom.3:20-22,} and yet the very same faith be a duty of the Law? For the Apostle concludes that argument thus, “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law;” {vs.28;} that is, being justified before God, by the blood of Christ, {5:9,} he receives the evidence and application of Justification in his conscience through faith in that blood. –Wherefore, if this precious faith be a creature’s duty, it is his duty to be, what God never made him. To enjoy, what God never bestowed upon him; and to behold a glory which God never discovered to him. For if it be required of the creature as his performance, then a natural man is required to make himself a spiritual man; a servant is bound to make himself a son; an earthy creature is obliged to make himself a heavenly being; a creature whom God fixed in the center of natural enjoyments is required to translate himself into the kingdom of Grace and Glory; and a creature in whom God never planted anything, or a higher quality than mere nature, nor ever gave him a capacity to understand or receive any blessing of a superior kind is commanded to fill himself with the fullness of God. – All the duties that God ever required or creatures performed were matter of pure gratitude for favors already received. God never required a duty from any creature as a condition of favor to be given afterward; but the blessing is first given, and then the duty required as a grateful return; and wherever there is a reward promised in Scripture to the performance of any duty, it never extends any further than the continuance of some benefit which God had freely given before; and which would be forfeited by ingratitude; for no blessing was ever enjoyed by any creature, but as a free gift from God. Whenever men perform services in expectation to merit, procure favors or obtain rewards from God, those services cease to be duties and become insults; for that is to treat Jehovah as he were an Idol, and needed something from them. Yea, to speak strictly and properly, Christ merited his Church from under the hand of Divine Justice; for as he paid the debt, their freedom was due; but he did not merit any blessing from God, either for his own or his people’s enjoyment by paying their debt, or bearing their sin; he delivered them from condemnation, but every blessing which they enjoy, in time or in eternity is the free gift of God. Christ, and all the blessings dwelling in him, is the gift of the Father; and it is impossible, in the nature of things, that any being should merit anything from God. John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Law and Gospel Distinctions: The Gospel is a message of glad tidings to the sons of men; and is directly opposed to the Law, as a Covenant. For the Law requires obedience from us; the Gospel publishes blessings to us; the Law proclaims justice, the Gospel mercy; the Law pronounces condemnation to the sinner, the Gospel peace and pardon. Yet, they do not in any wise contradict one another, but fully maintain and establish each other’s honor and authority. For as the holy Law righteously pronounces a curse upon all sinners, binding them over to eternal condemnation for the least offense; so the Gospel declares God to be gracious and merciful, and points out the way in which this Grace and Mercy proceeds, in the hand of the Mighty One, Christ Jesus; by whom everlasting Salvation comes to the sinner without the least encroachment upon the perfection of the Law. It represents these things in a most clear demonstrate light; showing how the Law is established by Grace, and how Grace is magnified by the Law; in that the blessed God, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, in the depths of the unsearchable riches of his love towards perishing sinners have been pleased to raise unto his people a Savior, even his own Son, Emmanuel, who is God manifest in the flesh, and in whom dwells all fullness of Divine Perfection; and into whose hands God the Father hath committed the government of every creature that hath a being; for him hath God the Father sealed, sanctified and sent into the world to save his people from their sins, which he must so perform, as that the Lord shall be well pleased for his Righteousness sake, for he will magnify the Law and make it honorable; and the Mediator is represented in his Surety Engagements for his people, his actual performance of his Father’s will, his penal sufferings for sin, the plenary satisfaction made to the demands of the Law, his Advocateship before the throne, the eternal redemption obtained for us, and the everlasting Righteousness brought in by God’s Holy One. With the fullness of Grace which is treasured in Christ for his Church; and his faithfulness to maintain and perfect his work for us and in us, to the end. Also the Spirit of holiness is represented in his gracious operations, in that he hath spoken by all the prophets, which showed before of the coming of the just One; and by all the Apostles who preached peace by the blood of Christ’s cross; who opens the hearts of God’s elect to receive the word of his Grace, seals instruction to their souls, communicates to them the love of God and establishes them in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; so that, the Salvation prepared by God the Father, and wrought by God the Son, becomes the strong consolation of his people by the influential operation of God the Holy Ghost. Hence the Gospel is a full flow of Divine Grace; a free proclamation of life, peace, pardon and everlasting Salvation, without any mixture of bondage, threatenings or conditions required on the creature’s part; for it sets forth Christ as the New Covenant of his people, answering all the conditions of the legal Covenant. Perfect obedience he performed in his life; perfect satisfaction for sin he made in his death; perfect holiness he communicates by his Spirit, from his own fullness to the souls of his people. Thus the rich blessings of the Gospel completely answer all the demands of the Law; for as the Law gives nothing, but requires all; so the Gospel requires nothing, but gives all. John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Holiness of God: The holiness of God is too stupendous to be described. The thought thereof leads to such awful conceptions of his most glorious tremendous Majesty that our hearts faint, our tongues fail, and all the powers of our souls are dislocated or absorbed in the transcendent glories, beauties, perfections and infinite heights, depths, lengths and breadths of Divine Rectitude and Incorruptible Purity. Nor can words express it or describe what the essential holiness of God is; for if we would attempt to give a definition thereof, with the greatest variety of eloquent expressions, we must {at last} be obliged to tell you, it is Absolute Holiness, as the glorious beings before the throne repeat the same thing, crying “holy, holy, holy.” But to lisp out our scanty conceptions as well as we can, we call it, the incomparable Dignity, the incorruptible Pureness, the immutable Excellency, the inexhaustible Riches, the unfading Glory, the infinite Greatness and inestimable Perfection of his Nature and Divine Attributes; that is, it is God himself; it is the incomprehensible God; it is the inconceivable Jehovah; it is the Eternal I AM; it is the uncreated Essence; the Holy ONE; who is infinitely above every creature, and absolutely separate from all impurity, deficiency or imperfection whatsoever; and is utterly incapable of debasement, mixture, or declination from the summit of absolute, infinite, and eternal perfection. John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Sanctification in Christ Alone: Holiness of consecration is the distinguishing work of God in choosing, pointing out and sanctifying to Himself whomsoever he will, as his own special property, or to any other peculiar use. So it is said to Israel, “the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people;” and, “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, 26:18} More particularly, “I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel.” {Num.3:13} Again, God said, “thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine…for they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel. {Num.8:14-16} The Levites, God separated to the holy service; and from among them he sanctified Aaron and his sons to the office of the priest; from among the priests, God sanctified Jeremiah and others to be prophets. Likewise, he chose Saul, David, Jehu &c. to be kings. This was a holiness of appointment; whereby those persons were pitched upon and selected to those high stations or sacred employments. In the same manner the Sabbath is holy; not by nature or communication, but by appointment. But these were all typical of the special consecration of Christ and his Church; wherein God hath chosen and sanctified to Himself his beloved Son, his peculiar delight, and all his elect in Him to be kings and priests unto God. God consecrated or sanctified his people in Christ from eternity; in that he chose them in him, that they should be holy; gave them to his Son, and their names were written in his Book of Life before the foundation of the world; {Eph.1:4, Rev.13:8;} in which holy appointment God gave to them and secured for them in Christ the holiness of special Grace by spiritual communication. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” {II Tim.1:9} {All blessings proceed from the Father by whom they are given to Christ, in whom they center, and by him, and in his behalf they proceed to his Church, which he hath purchased with his own blood.} So that God’s elect were everlastingly holy in his sight, beheld in the perfection of God’s Holy One. God loved them with an everlasting love, and his delights were with them before the foundation of any of his works. {This unchangeable love of God the Father to Christ and his Church, election of Christ, and his Church in him; Sonship of Christ, and his Church in union with him; the indissoluble union between the mystical vine and the branches; and the infinite fullness residing in Christ for the eternal supply of all his members, must in some respects be more extensive than Salvation, inasmuch as it is the fountain from whence Salvation springs.} “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” {Jer.31:3} But a Holy God cannot delight in anything that is unholy; for though God loves his chosen in Christ, and loves them while in their sins, {otherwise they would never be saved from their sins,} God does not, nor ever did, nor ever can love sinners. As sinners he may pity them, but cannot love them as such. He loves them only as they are sanctified in Christ. {Eph.1:4-6} Christ also sanctified himself, or devoted himself to be a sacrifice for his people, that they might be sanctified in him; or, “that he might sanctify the people with his own blood;” “he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;” “for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” For by his atoning blood sin is blotted out and purged away; all wrath, curse and condemnation is removed, and a way is opened to the Throne of Grace; and now in Christ Jesus, “they that were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Thus, they whose sins {in justice} held them at the utmost distance are brought to stand in a holy nearness to their Heavenly Father; and when this holy blood of the Holy Lamb of God is by the holy Gospel, through the power of the Spirit of holiness manifested in the conscience, it purges it from guilt and pollution, giving the soul a holy boldness in the presence of God, sanctifying the affections to delight in God, strengthening the heart to trust in the Righteousness of Christ, and graciously inclining the soul to wait for and obediently to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” {Heb.9:14} But the sanctification of atonement and consecration, or a spotless presentation of the elect unto God in the offering up of Christ for them is prior to the application and sanctifying influence of this blood upon the conscience. Likewise the Holy Ghost consecrates the children of God by the word of Grace, calling them out of the world, separating them from all other people, and distinguishing them by his special anointings, as sons of God and heirs of glory. {Deut.14:2, II Cor.6:14-18} They are sealed with the signet of their Father’s kingdom, being made kings and priests to their God; therefore they dwell alone, and are no more reckoned among the nations. But this branch of consecration, or special separation, is accomplished by the communication of spiritual Grace, whereby all the powers of the mind are sanctified unto God. John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Suretyship of Christ: The Savior by whom this deliverance is accomplished by God alone without the concurrence of any creature, for the depth of the misery, none can reach, but the everlasting arms; and the perfection of the redemption, none can touch, but the infinite Jehovah. The foundation was laid in the eternal councils of God the Father, the work was complete in his unchangeable purposes, and secured in the stipulations of the Everlasting Covenant before the world began. {Note: Blessings of Spiritual Grace and Heavenly Glory were never lost, nor restored, but secured unalienable in Emmanuel, and conferred upon God’s elect in the time appointed of the Father, according to the Fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, “but now is made manifest to his saints.” Col.1:26. The eternal kingdom was prepared for God’s elect before the foundation of the world; and it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared; for it is secured in Christ, to them who are heirs thereof by virtue of their indissoluble union to him, and not through their relation to Adam; nor had it ever the least dependence upon any created power, or upon the good or evil of any creature. For the plan was fixed in Him in whose hands it could not miscarry; for it pleased the Father that in Christ should all fullness dwell. In his all sufficiency, he is prepared for all events; and in his immutability, he is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.} The work was laid upon Christ in his Surety engagements before the foundation of the world; by him the Great Propitiatory, atonement was made, sin was taken away, and everlasting Righteousness brought in, when he appeared on the earth. By him the great High Priest who appears now in the presence of God for his Church; pleading for them, the virtue of his own blood; their cause is honorably maintained and their persons accepted before the throne of God. – It is true, Jesus Christ, having entered into Covenant stipulations and Surety engagements for his people; did, by a perfect atoning sacrifice make satisfaction to the Law. For as he was become our Sponsor, and our sin was imputed to him, the Law now deemed him as the real offender, or guilty person; demanded his life, and took it. For the sheep went astray; the shepherd made their case his own, and put himself in their place; therefore the same Law which required their lives, justly required his; which being a life of such excellent dignity and preciousness, it made such ample satisfaction to the demands of the holy Law; that in Righteousness he might take it again and his sheep be set free; but the Law knew no variation in its demand, but required the very same thing from the Surety, as from the principal; nor did it except any other satisfaction, but what it first insisted on; namely, the life of the offender. When all the wrath of God had been poured upon him, and his whole soul and body had suffered all the anguish due to sin, and the Law had taken its full vengeance on him, it found no more to feed upon. He sustained all the darts of indignation by his eternal power; and absorbed all the poison of the cup of God’s fury against sin by his infinite holiness. Therefore having made an end of sin, he brought in everlasting Righteousness. Who was “delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” {Dan.9:24, Rom.4:25} John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Preaching the Gospel of Christ: Our work is not to preach moral duties, legal requirements and human performances; in fact, to preach anything as the matter of Salvation, or to encourage any soul to hope for relief from anything; “save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” is to deceive souls and dishonor God by attempting to frustrate his Grace; “for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.” It is not consistent with the ministry of the New Testament to admonish and exhort persons to work spiritual operations in themselves, as faith, repentance, love, holiness etc., for these blessings proceed alone from the Grace of God in Christ; and if we suggest that they are the works of the creature, by calling and commanding persons to their performance, and with the next breath declare, that they are gifts of Grace, we shall appear like a trumpet that gives an uncertain sound; as if the word of Christ was yea and nay; for though it is the work of every minister of the Gospel to direct, invite and encourage every brokenhearted, heavy laden, mourning, thirsting soul to look to the riches of the Grace of Christ for life and salvation, according to the light, strength and earnest desire which he finds impressed upon his soul by the essential work of the Spirit; yet, to command, exhort and warn persons to come to Christ, to believe in Christ and to close with Christ, with such an air as to insinuate that it is a performance required of them or a condition of their acceptance with God; and so to enforce it with the dangers and dreadful consequences in case of neglect, &c., this is not to direct them to Christ, but to send them to themselves to seek a Savior; and the very words, come to Christ, receive Christ, embrace Christ, believe in Christ, close with Christ, make Christ welcome, get an interest in Christ, &c., when spoken in that light are a mere jargon of senseless words; and in effect, are as much as to say, go from Christ to yourselves, trust not in Christ but in yourselves, seek not to Christ but to your own hearts to perform the work in you. Such exhortations may buoy up a haughty soul full of himself, who never knew what it was to be under the searchings of the penetrating word of God, {which is like unto fire or a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces;} but has his carnal life yet whole in him. It may stimulate his pride to imagine that he can, and will and does perform these things for himself; and when he has fermented his mind into some passionate agitations he thinks that the work is done; but they can never be of any use to a trembling contrite heart who is crying out, “woe is me, for I am undone; God be merciful to me a sinner!” The only effect such preaching can have upon these souls is to fill them with deeper horror and distress; to wound, distract and drive them to depression, as many a poor soul hath felt and has had reason to say of such preachers, “miserable comforters are ye all!” For no greater impossibility can be attempted under heaven than to believe in Christ for life and salvation, before faith be wrought by the Holy Spirit, or to come to Christ, except we be drawn by the Father. Nor is it included in our commission in setting forth the unsearchable riches of God in Christ 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; and were we to neglect our proper work, and spend our time in admonishing sinners to reform their lives, to mend their ways, to practice virtue and religion, to regulate their conversation, to tread in the paths of piety, to spend their time in serving God, to imitate good people in all their godly actions, &c., this would not have the least tendency to convince, but rather to seduce them, by causing them to imagine that their Salvation depended on a moral reformation; for these things may be done {in the sense the world takes them} without a spark of spiritual Grace; and when persons hear them insisted on as the main branch of the Minister’s work; and when they comply with the admonitions and practice the duties recommended to them {which is an easy thing for a carnal man to do} they naturally substitute them in the room of the Salvation of God. But our work is to strike at the root; to open the purity and perfection, extent and intent, perpetuity and severity of God’s holy Law, exposing the corruption of nature, the plague of the heart and the moral infection of sin, with the wrath, curse, vengeance and damnation due thereto; the ruined, miserable, helpless and hopeless condition of every sinner; also the depravity and imperfection, the emptiness and vanity, the perverseness and hypocrisy that cleaves to all the natural virtues, moral actions and religious performances that can proceed from a fallen nature; and the impossibility of Salvation to any soul, any other way than by the Son of God alone, whose Righteousness is imputed by the Father for Justification, and whose vivifying grace is applied by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. For anything short of this is only scraping the outside of the sepulture, while the rotten carcass is within. So the apostles of Christ when they preached to a promiscuous multitude of dead sinners did not spend their time in that which the world calls practical preaching, while the persons were utter strangers to that power which can excite to practical walking; but they preached Christ, the Salvation of God; and when it pleased the Lord the Spirit to open the hearts of those sinners to receive the word, then and not before, they instructed them in the practice of all things whatsoever Christ had commanded them. So every Gospel Minister ought to keep this distinction perpetually in his eye; to sinners, he is to use all means to engage their attention, and to preach Salvation to them through Jesus Christ and him crucified, waiting upon God to send a blessing, to make the word effectual; and where it has been made effectual to the soul, he is to use all means for further instruction and edification. John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Gospel Offers & Invitations: Offers of Salvation and Overtures of Mercy are the weak or wicked inventions of unsound teachers. To bring Christ to market is an indication that the teacher stands in need of being taught. It is the highest degree of ignorance to suppose that God has given his Christ, and that Salvation is to be offered at random by finite creatures. But, say they, “he is offered in the Gospel.” The men who are blessed with spiritual sight cannot find anything of the kind in all the Scriptures, but the offering ministers imagine they see it almost in every page. It is no part of a minister’s commission to tantalize poor sinners by telling them that Christ is offered to them in the Gospel, when it is obvious from Christ’s own words, that he neither prayed, nor died for the non-elect world. But with respect to his own children, he is God’s free donation to them, the sight of which made Paul say, “thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Posted October 26, 2013

{Writings of John Johnson}

Duty Faith: Only this would I learn of you, {experienced believers in Christ,} do you receive the Spirit of love and holiness by the preaching of the faith of duties, law requirements, obligations, commands, acts, works, performances, &c., enforced with threatenings and denunciations of wrath; or by the Gospel of the Grace of God proclaiming everlasting Salvation by the blood of Christ, and faith as a Divine blessing flowing from the Fountain of life, to the filling of the soul with all the fullness of God? I’m very sensible, that whatever fermentations of passion may be raised by crying up the duty of faith, the necessity of believing, and the damning sin of not believing, calling upon persons to come to Christ, close in with the tenders of mercy, accept the offers of grace and embrace the opportunity, and the sin and danger of neglecting, &c., but can those souls who experience the faith of the operation of God declare that it was by this kind of doctrine that they were called out of darkness into the light of life; or by the word of Grace, distilling like dew and dropping like rain upon their souls, in a simple declaration of the fullness of Grace and Salvation in Christ? I do ask, whether God was ever pleased to bless his word of Grace to a soul from the mouths of those ministers who frequently mix and confound the Gospel with the Law? Can such souls whom God hath brought into true Gospel liberty declare that they received this blessing by a doctrine which gendereth unto bondage? Is it not more naturally produced by the pure streams of Gospel Grace flowing through the blood of Christ by the power of the Spirit of life to the soul? I therefore ask, what is the benefit of preaching faith as a moral duty to unregenerate souls who cannot possibly perform it? Where is the usefulness of preaching it to the regenerate, where God by sovereign Grace has wrought it already? And what is the advantage of laying this task upon souls weary and heavy laden, thirsting for grace, and crying out, “Lord, help thou mine unbelief?” Furthermore, how does ‘duty faith’ answer to your past and present experience? Can you declare, that this is the way, whereby you were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the light of the kingdom of God? Or, can you declare, that moral duty is the actual way whereby you draw water out of the wells of Salvation? That it is the stamp, whereby you bear the image of the Son of God; that it is the moving engine, whereby you walk with God and glorify your heavenly Father? When you first received the blessing of faith in the Son of God, was it wrought in your souls by a commanding Law, laying upon you as an obligation, urging it as a duty, pressing and exhorting you thereunto and admonishing you to perform it or neglect it at your own peril? Or, was it by the glad tidings of the Gospel of the Grace of God, opening to you the bowels of the love of Christ, the preciousness of his blood, the unsearchable riches of his Grace, his perfect Righteousness, his plenteous Redemption, his ever prevailing Intercession and the free streams of Life and Salvation that proceed from his immense Fullness? For I am persuaded that whosoever is blessed with a lively faith in Christ Jesus and enabled to savingly believe, can tell by what means this was wrought. I do not say, that everyone can point out the day in which it was begun; or tell, that it was by reading such a particular portion of Scripture, or hearing such a sermon, by such a conference or such a particular meditation, &.; but every one that is brought out of darkness to behold the glory of God’s Salvation in Christ must know by what light his eyes were opened; whether it was by a discovery of those things which God required in his Law; or by a spiritual manifestation of those things which he freely gives in the Gospel of Christ. When you first enjoyed the work of faith with power and did believe spiritually in Christ, was it performed by your activity, as an act or work done by yourselves; or was it by a communication of spiritual life unto, a Divine operation upon and an effectual display of Grace in your souls? For your understandings must be enlightened to behold, your affections melted and attracted to desire, and your heart strengthened to embrace and trust in Christ Jesus; to cleave to him as your life, portion, salvation and everlasting righteousness; to enjoy peace in your conscience through his precious blood, and comfort in your souls through his intercession; your souls must receive a principle of true Gospel sanctification, be wrought into sincere repentance from sin, and made to delight in the Gospel of Christ, with a cheerful readiness to deny yourselves, to take up your cross for Christ’s sake and to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. Now, where you blessed with these things, and your hearts wrought into this position by the works of the Law; or was it by the eternal streams of God’s love, overcoming all enmity and unbelief in your souls, and ravishing your hearts into a sweet surrender of all your powers, into the bosom of Christ and to the will of God? When under any trials and temptations, do you find your faith increased, your hearts enlarged, and your souls comforted by your acts and performances, or by the special in-flowings of Grace from Christ, communicated by the great Comforter? When you have been under the siftings of Satan, has your faith been preserved from failing by your own duties, performances and compliance with legal requirements; or through a view of Christ in his Intercession, praying for you, that your faith fail not? When under the buffetings of Satan, pierced with thorns in your flesh, to the wounding of your souls; do you find your heart sustained, and the power of Christ resting upon you, by hearing of the obligations to believe and the duty of trusting in God, of the sin of unbelief, and the dreadful end that awaits it; or by the gracious word of Christ, “my Grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness?” When you find declinations and witherings in your soul, as in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, do you find quickenings and revivings by your duties and works; or by special enlargements and communications of Grace, streaming into your hearts from the Father, through Christ, by the Holy Ghost? When your minds are beset with carnality, lukewarmness and backwardness in the ways of God, do you find yourselves driven into a spiritual frame by commands and threatenings, and exhortations to act faith; or drawn by cords of love, through the vivifying influence of the love of God to delight in the paths of holiness? Correspondingly; which way do you {sinners who are convinced of their sin and misery} expect to obtain peace in your souls? Or, what comfort do you find from the preaching of duty faith? Do you expect to find liberty in your souls from wrath and condemnation, and to enjoy a sense of peace and pardon, through the Mediation, Suretyship, redeeming Blood, justifying Righteousness, prevailing Intercession and saving Grace of Christ alone; or through Christ upon condition, or in consequence of your performing the duty of believing? And if the latter, what peace can you expect from such a salvation which must depend precariously on the performances of a lapsed worm? For however great Salvation itself is, to you at must be as uncertain as the performance of the condition on which its efficacy depends. Are you thoroughly convinced of your own vileness, misery and helpless condition? Then, whether do you find more peace and comfort, in hearing faith urged as a duty, and the want of it aggravated as a damning sin; that God has told you how to obtain this faith, and therefore you are worthy to perish for your unbelief; that you not believing is the clearest and most accountable cause of your damnation, &c., or by hearing Christ preached in his all sufficiency, as a Covenant Surety and a crucified Redeemer; a merciful High Priest and a compassionate Savior; a righteous Advocate and a powerful Intercessor; a fountain of living water, a well of salvation, a river of peace; the foundation, author and finisher of faith? I say, which of these doctrines is best adapted to your case? For though a person may believe the report or assent to the truths of the Gospel as they stand in the letter, who still is righteous in his own conceit, and never was truly touched with a sense of sin; yet, it is impossible in the nature of things that any soul should believe unto a sensible assurance of his standing in Christ until his eyes are opened to see himself lost; and the dispute is not about a practical adherence to the word of Grace, but about that faith which is inseparable from Salvation. When faith is urged as a duty and pressed upon you with threats of damnation; do you find yourselves instructed, encouraged and strengthened, or some way affected thereby, so as it gives you hopes of obtaining the blessing? Or, do not the gracious words of the anointed of God, rather give life to your hopes? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” {Lk.4:18} My beloved brethren, since we are all chosen in the only begotten Son of God; adopted in the glory man Christ Jesus, who is the delight of God and Head of the Church; redeemed with the precious blood of the Lamb; born again of the Spirit of holiness; have all access by one Spirit, through Christ, unto the Father; are all following the same Captain of our Salvation, and fighting against the same adversaries; being heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, of the same glory; let us therefore be united in the faith of Christ, believing on his name and loving one another; and inasmuch as the glory of God and our own consolation is so much concerned in our practical walking with God, in faith and love; let us press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I need not be afraid of being mistaken, or my words mis-constructed as tending to legality by those who have been blessed and enriched with the streams of Divine Grace. For they are better instructed than to imagine that they can perform anything as a condition of salvation and eternal life; and they are more seasoned with the principles of holiness than to disregard the holy commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every command of God is conscientiously to be observed; every ordinance of Christ to be closely attended to by the believer; not to obtain life, acceptance or salvation thereby; but to show forth our gratitude, to manifest a holy principle and to prove the truth of God’s love shed abroad, and the Law of God written in our hearts, as well as to seek his face, behold more of his glory, receive more of Christ’s image and show forth his praise. The Apostle says, “these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God;” for it is the will of God, that all who believe spiritually should believe practically, and this can never be turned into a task, unless our minds grow carnal. And this is the thing, wherein I think our author is reprovable; if I am to suppose him a believer; for had his forty years daily search of the Holy Scriptures been attended with a close inquiry after the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make himself and others see, “what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ;” it is my judgment that he would not have confounded the perfection of the earthly Adam with the fullness of the Lord from heaven; the life promised by the Law with that which is exhibited in the Gospel; the Grace of God with the duty of man; and the faith of the operation of God with practical believing, &c., for, we obey the commandments of God, to believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, when we embrace the Gospel Revelation in the purity and glory thereof; when we ascribe all the glory, from first to last, to the eternal springs of Grace in God the Father; to the Grace fullness and mediatorial performances of the Son; and to the Divine operation of the Holy Ghost. When we advance Christ Jesus in all his offices and relations; glories and perfections, so as in every branch of salvation, grace and glory, we magnify him as the Alpha and Omega; and when our eyes are fixed on Him alone as the Object of our love, the Object of our praise, the Object of our confidence and the Object of our hope, for everything to be done for us and everything to be done in us, and everything to be enjoyed by us, in time and to eternity. John Johnson {Faith of God’s Elect, 1754}

Posted October 27, 2013

{Selection of the Week}

Three-Oneness of God: That God is ONE appears manifest from every page of God's revelation; but I shall here content myself with quoting some of the those texts in which He has more positively taught that He is to be acknowledged and worshipped as one and only as one God. The 1st command in the Decalogue is in point. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" Ex. 20:3. Thus Moses on another occasion: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" Deut.6:4. Hear God also by the prophet saying, "Is there a god besides me? yea there is no god, I know not any" Isa.44:8. Again, Isa.45:22, "For I am God and there is none else." In Isa.46:9, He says: "For I am God and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me." When we pass to the New Testament, we find Jesus teaching the same thing as taught by Moses, with His declaration prefixed that it is the first of all the commandments, "And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord" Mark 12:29. Paul's testimony is, I Cor.8:6 - "But to us there is but one God, &c." Here, in conclusion of my proofs on the point of God's unity, I would remark that although the doctrine of God's existing as three is, as I shall show, fully revealed in the Scriptures, yet there is nothing like the positive declarations which we find on this point, found on the other. Surely, as the Master says; the first of all the commandments is this; so it is carried out through the law, the prophets and the New Testament. And certainly it cannot be without a special design. What then are we to learn from it but this, that the point of the first importance in the doctrine of God is His unity? Hence the system which implies directly or indirectly God's existing as three beings or gods, or parts of God, is a greater departure from the scriptural doctrine of God than is that which obscures or denies His essential existence as Three in One. That God exists in plurality, and that His plurality is limited to three, I will now show from several texts of Scripture. 1st.   That He has revealed Himself in plurality. The first name by which God declared Himself (as in Gen. 1:1, "In the beginning God created, &c.") is in the original plural, Elohim, but in this, as in most instances, it is connected with a verb singular, though there are exceptions to this, thus showing that this plurality exists in unity. In ver.26 of this same chapter, God says, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" and in verse 27, it is said, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, &c." Thus we have God again presented to view both in plurality and in unity. In Gen. 3:22, "The Lord God said, Behold man is become as one of us." In Gen. 11:7, God says: "Go to let us go down and there confound their language." Isaiah says: "Also I heard the voice of the Lord God saying whom shall I send and who shall go for us" (Isa.6:8). Unity and plurality again united. In Dan.4:17, we read: This matter is by decree of the Watchers and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones. These Watchers cannot be angels, for it is not for them to decree concerning the affairs of kings and men. Christ, in the figure of Wisdom, says, "By me kings reign," &c. Prov.8: 15. Hear Daniel also further in that same verse, "To the intent that the living may know, that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men."  2nd.   I will now show this plurality to be declared in the Scriptures to be Three. In Isaiah, chapter 48, we hear Him who in verse 12 and 13 says, "I am He, I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand hath also laid the foundations of the earth," &c., in verse 16, saying, "Come ye near to me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from-the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me." Who can this be that declareth all these things of Himself, but He whom He declares Himself to be, in verse 17, The Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel - the Lord thy God. And yet this glorious One says, "Now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me." Here then are Three clearly brought to view acting distinct parts in accomplishing the work of redemption. The Lord God, as Father, and His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, as uniting in sending the Redeemer; and the Lord thy Redeemer, as being sent, and who in equality with the Father declares, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth, &c. Passing on to the New Testament, at the baptism of Jesus, the Saviour, we have the same Three presented to view as sustaining their respective stations in the great plan of redemption. We see Him, who was made of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem, &c.; and who was therefore the LORD THY REDEEMER, being baptized; and the Spirit, whose office it is to testify of Christ (John 15:26) So designating, by a visible appearance, Jesus, as the Messiah, that John could unhesitatingly bear witness of Him as being the Son of God. (See John 1:33,34.) "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him." And also the Father was manifest as approving of the work the Son was engaging in, "And, lo, a voice from heaven saying, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" Mt.3: 16 & 17. Again the Three are declared as equal in authority, and equally objects of the believer's trust, in the instituted form of baptism: Baptizing them in the name - not names - of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Mt.28: 19. They are also revealed as being equally the object of worship, and the source of blessing; in the form of blessing II Cor. 13:14. ("The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.") Again the Three are declared as sustaining their several stations in the plan of salvation, in Eph.2: 18 ("For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."); in effect, in II Thes.2: 13 ("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."); and fully in I Pet. 1:2 "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." And in the text which has been so often referred to in this controversy, I John 5:7. Three are declared by distinct names, and as bearing testimony in heaven, not that they bear one testimony; but there are Three that bear record, it is therefore a threefold testimony, though the Three are declared to be ONE. There are many other texts in which each of the Three is declared by one or other of His peculiar names, and as sustaining His peculiar relation and performing His peculiar part in the plan of salvation; and there are other texts also in which the Three are presented to view at once, each at the same time sustaining a distinct relation as in John 14:26 - "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, &c.," says Christ to His disciples. So that the Three must be something more than merely three names or three manifestations which He has made of Himself. God must be so Three that He can be distinctly manifested as Father, Son and Spirit, in the peculiar relations and stations of each, in the plan of salvation, at the same time. See also John 15:26, where the order is somewhat reversed. I now pass to show from the Scriptures, that whilst, as has been shown, God has so revealed Himself as three, as that He is manifested as sustaining three distinct relations, &c., at the same time, that on the other hand, He is so revealed to be One, that when spoken of as God, even in reference to the distinct relations He sustains as three, He speaks and is spoken of as absolutely God, as the one Lord God, as He whose name alone is Jehovah. I here declare, and who will make me a liar on this point, that God is no where spoken of in the Scriptures in a way to justify expressions like this, God in the first person, God in the second person, &c., or God in the person of the Father, God in the person of the Son, &c., or that which such expressions imply, namely: God in the first order or relation, and God in the second order or relation, &c. Expressions calculated to present God to view thus in different grades, are evidently the offsprings of an overheated zeal to support a system. And as God said to Job, so it may be said to such zealots: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel with words without knowledge?" I shall on this head confine myself to proofs to show that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, each in His distinct relation, is declared absolutely and equally as God, the one God, &c. Referring to the text before quoted, I Cor.8:6, Paul says: "But to us there is but one God, the Father." - The Father then as distinct from the Lord Jesus Christ, is absolutely the one God. (See the whole text.) But Thomas addressed Christ as His Lord and his God, and no doubt Thomas had then true faith in exercise. John 20:28. And Paul says of Christ: "Who is over all God blessed forever. Amen" (Rom.9:5). If Christ is overall God blessed, then He must be the Most High God. And therefore the only God. When we look into the Old Testament, we find many instances in which God is declared by one or another of His names, as, God Almighty, LORD or Jehovah, &c., &c., in which it might be presumption in us to undertake to decide whether it is as the Father, as the Son, or as the Holy Spirit, He is therein declared. It is evidently enough for us, in such cases, to know that it is God, our God, the God of the Scriptures who is revealed as therein speaking or acting. In other instances by a reference to the clearer light of the New Testament, we may clearly discover, whether as Father, or as Son, or as Holy Ghost, it is that God speaks, or is declared. Thus we know from the New Testament that Christ is the Lord that hath shown us light, for He came a light into the world, &c., and this is the true light, &c. We are told, Ps. 118:27, that, "God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light." God then is Christ. And so John bears testimony, John 1:1-4. We know from the New Testament that Christ Jesus is the only Saviour, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" Acts 4:12. We know also that we have redemption through His blood, (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14) and therefore that He is the Redeemer of Israel. And the disciples were not deceived when they trusted that Jesus of Nazareth had been He which should have redeemed Israel Luke 24:19-23. But on turning to Isa. 47:4, we read: "As for our Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth, in the original) is His name, the Holy One of Israel." Hence the name Jehovah Sabaoth, or Lord of Host is here clearly given to the Redeemer as such. He "whose name alone is JEHOVAH is the Most High over all the earth" Ps. 83:18. Is not then Christ in His distinct relation as Redeemer, the Most High and He whose name alone is Jehovah, and therefore distinctly the one Lord God? As to the name, Holy One of Israel, it as peculiarly belongs to Christ as the Messiah, as does the name Redeemer, and so I understand it wherever found. All the holiness of national Israel and of their multiplied rites, &c., was centered in Christ, as He was shadowed forth in them. And all the holiness of spiritual Israel is found in Him, as made unto them sanctification, holiness, &c. I Cor. 1:30. That the Father also in His distinct relation, as calling Christ, upholding Him, giving Him for a covenant of the people, &c., is He whose name alone is Jehovah, I will now show from one text. After declaring Himself as He that created the heavens, &c., and then saying to Him whose office it is to be a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners, I the Lord (Jehovah) have called thee, &c. He then goes on to say, "I am the Lord (Jehovah) that is my name and my glory will I not give to another nor my praise to graven images" Isa.42:5-8. Now looking to Isaiah chapter 43, we shall see that He who addresses Israel and says thou art mine, I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, and repeatedly in the same connection declares Himself their Saviour, their Holy One, their King, &c. (see verses 3-14, 15) as confidently and absolutely declares, as did the Father in the preceding chapter, that He is Jehovah. He says verse 3: "I am the Lord thy God," and in verse 11: "I am the Lord and besides me there is no Saviour." In both of these instances, instead of Lord it is in the original Jehovah. And in verse 12, he says to His Israel, "Therefore ye are my witnesses saith the Lord that I am God." And will not His people with Thomas bear witness that He is the Lord their God? And can any doubt from these Scriptures, as thus compared, that the Father and the Son whilst distinct, as manifested in their separate relations in the economy of salvation, are each absolutely the one Jehovah, the one self-existent, independent God in all His divine attributes? It will be discovered by those who examine the Scriptures, that I have selected but few among the many proofs in point. As to the Holy Ghost's being in His distinct relation absolutely God, we have also proofs in point. Thus by comparing II Pet. 1:21, with II Tim.3: 16; and Acts, chapter 5, verse 3 with verse 4, we shall find that He who in the one instance in each verse is said to be the Holy Ghost is in the parallel text declared absolutely to be God. Christ informs us, John 6:63, that it is the Spirit that quickeneth, yet Paul tells the Ephesian brethren, that, "God who is rich in mercy, &c. hath quickened us together with Christ" Eph.2:4,5. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established, we are told. Hence the above establish the fact that the Holy Ghost is God, the One God. I would suggest for the consideration of brethren, whether, from the declaration of Peter, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of men, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Pet. 1:21), we are not authorized to understand, when the prophets speak of God speaking to them, that the Holy Ghost, in His distinct office is intended? Thus when Isaiah says, "the Lord spake to me with a strong hand and instructed me," are we not to understand that the Holy Ghost was He who thus spake to him with a strong hand, or in him, as he speaks to the saints in these ways and instructs them? For, I presume, God spake not audibly to the prophets. And whether, among many other texts, we are not to understand, in the text Amos 6:8, which is rather a remarkable one, the Lord, the God of Hosts, which saith, The Lord God hath sworn by Himself, is the Holy Ghost in His distinct office? What, then, is the sum of this Scripture testimony, concerning God as being one and three? It is, as I receive it, this: 1st.   That the Lord our God is ONE Lord. ONE JEHOVAH – that besides Him we are to have no other as the object of our worship and trust. 2nd.   That this one Jehovah, exists as THREE, and so exists as THREE, that in all His divine majesty and perfections, He as the Father remains the invisible God, high seated on His throne, rolling on His eternal purpose, maintaining the honors of His throne, demanding and accepting satisfaction for His transgressed law, &c. At the same time the Son, as appointed heir of all things, be made a High Priest, offers Himself in sacrifice, and having purged away the sins of His people, enters into glory as their Intercessor and Forerunner. And, also at the same time, as the Holy Ghost be a distinct Witness, through the Apostles and in the hearts of God's children, of the completion and perfection of the work of Christ and of the acceptance of His offering and intercession for His people by the Father. And 3rd.   That whilst He is thus three, these three are so absolutely ONE, that each is the one Jehovah, acting in His distinct relation, in all the fullness of the Godhead; so that whether it is the Father, predestinating, and loving; the Son, redeeming, interceding and governing, or the Holy Ghost, quickening, comforting and guiding, whatever part or point of the believer's salvation we contemplate, we are constrained to say it is God's act, and God's perfection is in it. {Note: The difference of my views on this subject, from those of other Trinitarians, is that I hold that as these three witnesses are declared to be three, and one absolutely, so we ought to receive the declaration, without putting any limitations or qualifications of our own to it; whilst the others contend that the three must be understood as meaning three persons, and the one as meaning one God. Their authority for this addition I feel bound to dispute, seeing the Holy Ghost has not so declared it. They may talk about there being three subsistences in one divine essence, and say that this essence is God and these substances are Persons; and yet I may venture the assertion, that they know no more about it than I do; because nothing can be known of God, beyond what He has been pleased to declare of Himself. He has declared Himself as Father, Word and Holy Ghost, three, and that whilst He is thus three, He is absolutely one, this declaration let us receive, and with it, as made, let us be satisfied. - Why will not our brethren be satisfied with the revelation which God has made of Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three, distinguished by different names and relations, &c., and yet each in His distinct relation being God manifested in all His divine attributes, the same one glorious Being, and divine Person. – Again, the position which we occupy, and the ground on which we stand, is, that what God has revealed of Himself in the Scriptures, we are safe in receiving as truth; what He has not revealed, it is presumption in mortals, and would be in angels, to attempt to inquire into; that God has revealed himself as three, as the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and that these three are one; that they are so three, that there are points of distinction by which they are severally declared in the Scripture; and so one, that to us there is but one God. Hence, when either of the three is spoken of as God, we understand it to be that one God in all his fullness of attributes and glory. Hence our conclusion is, that if God exists absolutely independent of any one, or of any act by which he is brought into existence, then each of the three must alike so exist as God; and as we find it not declared in the Scriptures that God exists as three distinct persons, or that one of these persons was begotten of the other, and that the third is breathed into existence, we reject the whole, as fabulous. I have here summed up, in as definite and clear words as I can, my belief of God, as existing in Trinity, for I do believe in a Trinity, but not in tri-personality.} Should I be asked what I mean by God's existing as three; I answer, my meaning is that He as absolutely, eternally, and essentially exists as three, as He exists as God. I feel authorized so to understand it, first: from this consideration, God has manifested Himself in the Scriptures as three and I cannot conceive that in making a revelation of Himself, He would declare Himself as existing as three and one unless He so existed; so I must believe He eternally existed, as essentially three, as one. Secondly: I am confirmed in this, by His declaring Himself to be, I AM THAT I AM, not I Am, what I eternally was not. How He exists as ONE, or how He exists as three, He has not told me. I can no more comprehend how He eternally exists of Himself, that I can how He exists as three or as three and one. It is enough for me to know that He so exists, and therefore that every part of salvation is His work, and bears His mark of perfection. But I will add that I can no more believe that God, in order to exist as three, was under the necessity of begetting and breathing Himself into existence as such, that I can, that He begat or breathed His essence into being. Again, should I be asked: Are the Three, three persons? I answer, not in a proper sense and I think to use a word in an indefinite and improper sense, tends to confuse and darken counsel. An undefined term can be of no use; it may do hurt. I am authorized to speak of the Father as a person, not only because He is God, but also because as God, the Scriptures speak of His person, in Heb. 1:3, the Son is said to be the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person. But I understand the term person here not to have reference to the Father in His distinct relation as such in the Godhead, as the attachment to a system has led some to represent it; but to Him as the invisible God, it being evidently a parallel passage with Col. 1:15, where Christ is said to be the image of the invisible God. I am also authorized to speak of the Son as a person, because He is God, and also because He stands in personal relation to His church as Her Husband, Head and King. And in speaking of Him as a person, I am led to contemplate Him as having some things peculiar embraced in His person, which do not belong to the Father or Holy Spirit as such. For He is revealed as God and man, and having in Him that life which is the light of men, all in one person. In like manner the Holy Ghost is declared to be God and as exercising the attributes of a person as in I Cor. 12:11 - "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will." That is, I am authorized to speak of each, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, individually as manifested, and as acting, as God and therefore as a person. But I am thereby no more warranted to say they are three persons than I am to say they are three Gods. That I may not, however, appear to make a greater difference than what really exists, between what I understand to be the scriptural view of the subject, and the system of men. I will add further; that what many mean by the terms three persons, namely: that the relations and distinctions, which the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost sustain each toward the other, are of a personal nature, I believe to be a scriptural idea, revealed by the use of the personal pronouns distinctly applied to each, and in other scriptural declarations. And for this I contend in opposition to the notion that the Three are only three offices or manifestations of God. And when persons, in using these terms, are careful to explain that they do not use them in the full import of the terms I do not feel so much opposition to their using them, though for reasons before assigned, I do not use them. But when, without any reserve or explanation persons say absolutely that there are three persons in the Godhead, or say there are three proper and distinct persons, my mind revolts at it as absurd in itself, and as calculated to beguile the inexperienced into a notion of three gods or something like it. And when men assume to prescribe to us that we must conform to them in the use of these terms, or be denounced as heretics, I certainly shall resist it, as being, so far as it goes, the very spirit of popery; the terms not being sanctioned by Scripture authority. I now appeal to my brethren, Does not the revelation which infinite Wisdom and Love has given us of God in the Scriptures, possess in and of itself a godlike glory, beauty, simplicity, and adaptation to our cases, which the explanations and sophistry of the schools with their undefined, but consecrated forms of expression only tend to mar and confuse? Such as their explaining God's existence as three, by their first, second, and third persons, one begetting, another begotten, and the third breathed forth, and the Godhead of the Son as begotten, thus, that He is very God of very God, begotten - not created, begotten, unbegotten, &c. Whoever may undertake to study the system of men on this subject, with the idea of comprehending the being of God within a human system, will find such study producing a very different feeling from a suitable reverence of the greatness of God, they will find it to be a leaning to their own understandings, and producing disappointed feelings at the incapacity of their reasoning powers to grasp and arrange the subject without confusion, and a consequent bitterness of feeling toward those who discover the weakness of their system and reject it. On the other hand, when we go as little children to the Scriptures to receive the revelation which God has been pleased to give of Himself, and to receive it just as He has given it, we are filled with reverence and awe at the greatness, the glorious majesty, and incomprehensibility of Him whom the Son has declared; and are humble before Him under a sense of how little we know or can know of God. Should reason under these circumstances attempt to approach the subject, she is confounded at once, driven back abashed, and gives place to faith whose province alone it is to apprehend the revelation of God. And she, as she takes hold of this subject, is still knowing that it is the being of God she is embracing in her arms, the great I AM THAT I AM. Yet faith apprehends all in the revelation that we need to know to inspire us with fear, reverence and love of God; with unreserved and childlike trust and confidence in Him, and with boldness of approach to Him, and pleading with Him in all our straits. This revelation corresponds with our experience. Our experience taught us nothing of first, second and third persons in God, of eternal generation of a begotten or breathed forth God; nor of the pre-existent soul of Christ, &c. But when our hearts were opened to understand the law, we felt that it was the law of God our Creator which we had transgressed, that against Him and Him only we had sinned. When the plan of salvation was revealed to our souls, it appeared all of God; God, in the riches of His love I and in His wisdom and power to save, was manifested to us; and with confidence we trusted in His salvation. In our after experience, when a promise has been peculiarly applied to our case, or a Scripture has been opened by the Holy Ghost to our understanding, we have been ready to say with Isaiah: "The Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me" Isa.8:11. Samuel Trott {Signs of the Times, July 1840}

Biographical Sketch of Samuel Trott

Samuel Trott {1784 to 1866} Samuel Trott was one of the leading Baptist frontier ministers; a firm Predestinarian, an Exalter of Christ Alone, and one who contended in earnest for that “faith once delivered unto the saints.” Along with Gilbert Beebe, he was one the most influential of that group of Particular Baptists which came to be known as “Old School.” Born in Walpole, New Hampshire, he first joined a Presbyterian Church and in his own words, became a “pretty strict formalist” and a “legalist.” In time he was brought {under the teaching of the Spirit} to a gospel perception of the finished work of Christ, and sought out those of like-minded faith, and was consequently baptized by Elder Parkinson of New York, on December 22nd., 1810. In 1816, we find him in Ohio where he taught school and preached. In 1820, he travelled as far west as the Licking Particular Baptist Association, where, after preaching in the home of Elder Ambrose Dudley, he baptized his son, Thomas P. Dudley. Still later, we find him in Virginia, where he served Frying Pan Baptist Church at the Fairfax County Court House. He was a contemporary of Elder Gilbert Beebe and a frequent contributor to the “Signs of the Times.” He also was an author of the Black Rock Address; {which was a manifesto of a meeting that took place in Black Rock, Maryland in May, 1832,} consisting of resolutions against “uniting with worldly societies,” and a declaration of non-fellowship with those who had done so. By “worldly societies” were meant Missionary, Sabbath-school, Bible, Tract, and Temperance Societies, &c., against which the brethren of the Black Rock Meeting protested, as being at that time practiced among the portion of the Baptist denomination which at that time were known as Fullerites. Hassell in his Church History, notes the following: “Numerous Scriptures forbid the intimate association of God’s people with the heathen or unbelievers {Ex.34:11-16; Deut.7:1-11; 22:9-11; Ezra 9; Neh.13:1-3, 23-31; Ps.26:4, 5; 44:20, 21; 106:35-48; 1 Cor.15:33; James 4:4; Jn.15:18, 19,} for the expressed reason that such associations are invariably corrupting to the people of God. Especially corrupting must be such alliances as are based upon money, which is represented in the Scriptures as the god of this world, and the love of which is a root of all evil {Matthew. 6:24; Luke 16:13; 1 Tim. 6:10.} From such money based societies let it be deeply impressed upon our minds that Peter, who had no silver or gold, and Paul, who had to work day and night for his daily bread, and even the Lord Jesus Christ, who had not where to lay His head, would have been debarred, unless some friend had paid their fee or a miracle had been wrought for that purpose. Can it be possible that such Egyptian or worldly alliances of the children of God, so repeatedly and pointedly forbidden in both the Old and the New Testament of Scriptures, are of the Lord and will be blessed of Him? Besides corrupting the people of God, these alliances demonstrate confidence in the flesh and a lack of faith in God; that is, a departure and alienation from God, and, to the extent they reach, and identification with unbelievers. God solemnly calls upon all His dear children who have been ensnared and carried down into Babylon— “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” {Rev.18:4.} Babylon was an idolatrous nation; and it is demonstrably certain that, if human language means anything, the language employed by a large number of high officials in these modern religious confederacies represents these human means and methods as the most important and indispensable requisite for the conversion and salvation of the world; that is, they represent these human institutions as gods, and thus, confederating with Babylon, professed Christians have become idolatrous too, just as the Scriptures abundantly warn us. Christ and His Apostles, let it be indelibly impressed upon our minds and hearts, instituted absolutely none of these forbidden, unhallowed and contaminating, idolatrous and ruinous Egyptian and Babylonian confederacies.” {Hassell: Church History, 1886} In reference to the BLACK ROCK ADDRESS itself, Hassell writes: “When the Fullerite heresies had been introduced among the Baptists, and produced great discord and turmoil, some of the old veterans of the cross met at Black Rock, Maryland, in 1832, and published a solemn protest against all the newly introduced innovations upon our former faith and order, and made the rejection of the new departure a test of fellowship. To distinguish those who retained the apostolic doctrine from those who departed from it, we consented to be known by a name which had been given us by our opponents, viz., Old School Baptists.” {Hassell: Church History, 1886} In 1832 Elder Samuel Trott became Pastor at Welsh Tract, and in his corresponding letter he says: “We receive Christ as our pattern, hence we do not walk in the observance of many things which have been introduced among the Baptists generally, and received as great importance in advancing the cause of religion, &c. We desire to keep in His footsteps, believing it to be the safest path. We rely on His wisdom and power to gather in His elect and extend the knowledge of His salvation.” We insert the following information from Hassell’s Church History regarding this assembly of believers. “The WELSH TRACT CHURCH, whose meeting-house is two miles from Newark, in New Castle County, Delaware, is the oldest Old School Baptist Church in the United States, and the only American Baptist Church that was regularly organized in Europe before emigrating to this country. It was constituted, in the spring of 1701, by sixteen Baptists in the counties of Pembroke and Caermarthen, in South Wales, with Thomas Griffith, one of their number, as their pastor. A “Church Emigrant,” they embarked at Milford Haven in June, 1701, and landed at Philadelphia September 8th, 1701. They first settled about Pennypack, near Philadelphia, where they continued about a year and a half, and where their membership increased to thirty-seven. Then they procured land in Northern Delaware from Messrs. Evans, Davis and Willis, who had purchased upwards of 30,000 acres of William Penn, called the “Welsh Tract,” and in 1703 they removed to that location, and built, near Iron Hill, a small meeting-house, which stood until 1746, and was then succeeded by the present substantial stone house of worship. In the yard around the house rest the bodies of many of the pastors and members who, during almost two centuries, have met and joined here in the service of God. The Welsh Tract Church was one of the five original churches that, in 1707, formed the Philadelphia Baptist Association (the oldest Baptist Association in America), and for many years it was the most influential member of that body. The Philadelphia Confession of Faith, published by this Association in 1742, was the old London Confession of 1689, with two other Articles, added principally through the influence of the Welsh Tract Church—Article 23, Of Singing of Psalms (in Public Worship), and Article 31, Of Laying on of Hands (on all Baptized Believers). Until 1732 the Church Book was kept in the Welsh language; and for about seventy years the pastors were of Welsh extraction. The pastors of Welsh Tract Church have been as follows; Thomas Griffith, Elisha Thomas, Enoch Morgan, Owen Thomas, David Davis, John Sutton, John Boggs, Gideon Farrell, Stephen M. Woolford, Samuel Trott, William K. Robinson, Thomas Barton (from 1839 to 1870, when he died, after having been sixty years in the ministry), G. W. Staton, William Grafton and Joseph L. Staton, the present pastor. The church owns a residence and tract of land, which the pastor occupies.” {Hassell: Church History, 1886} Strange, and truly contemptible is the fact that in this definitive History of the Old School/Primitive Baptists written by one of their own {Hassell: History of the Church of God, 1886} no mention {apart from his name, in conjunction with Associational Meetings, and churches for which he preached} is made of Elder Trott. One cannot but conjecture that perhaps his name was entirely blotted out by Sylvester Hassell, who revised the work prior to its first publication, after the death of his father Cushing Hassell {died 1880} to whom the book, for the most part, is attributed. The younger Hassell compromised some of the leading principles which distinguished the earlier Baptists, principles which Trott warmly advocated, and for which he was despised & hated.  Samuel Trott’s own personal testimony of God’s Grace in Christ was published in the Old School Baptist periodical the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, in 1851; from which we extract the following: Childhood: I was born in Walpole, New Hampshire, was one of three children my mother had. My sister died before my mother and my brother was burned up with the house in which he lived a year or two after, and my mother died when I was eight years old. My father who had been for several years riding as sheriff, and had thereby become involved, was about this time broken up as to property, and shortly after broke up housekeeping. From that early period in life, though my father lived several years after, I never knew the comforts of a parent's home, nor the solace of a brother or a sisters society. I had no near relatives on my father's side, and none that I knew; on my mother's side I had several, but circumstances around the above time caused me to become estranged from them. My father procured a kind and comfortable home for me, where I enjoyed all the advantages of a common school education, usual for boys in New England to have. I continued in this family until I was nearly fifteen, when I went as an apprentice to a trade. First Impressions & Presbyterianism: From my first religious exercise, I thought it important, I should, on the first opportunity join some church, as a part of my religious service to God, and as calculated more to establish me in my resolution to seek God. When I became located in Cooperstown I thought this opportunity was afforded me. There was however one difficulty in the way: the Presbyterians I had understood professed to believe in the doctrine of election, that I could not profess, my heart was bitter against it, so much so that as I was one night in my room reading the 8th and 9th chapter of Romans, I was so incensed against those chapters because of their containing so fully the doctrine of election and predestination, that I actually thought of cutting them out of my Bible and casting them into the fire. Nothing but a sense of its being God's Word prevented me. This difficulty however was soon removed, for shortly after, some persons were received into the church, and I had an opportunity of hearing the church covenant to which they were to assent, read, and found to my joy that election and predestination were not named therein. The next month I applied to the session, and was received into the church. In the spring a young Presbyterian came to study with Mr. Neal with a view to the ministry, who was better indoctrinated in the Presbyterian faith than I was. As he boarded and roomed with me he soon found out my opposition to election, and set about reforming me from my error. By his reasoning from the Scriptures, and by reading certain writers on the subject to which he referred me, I was convinced that election was a Scriptural doctrine, and became a strenuous advocate for it, that is as held generally by the Presbyterians in connection with general atonement, general offers, invitations &c. Having joined the Presbyterian church in March, I think, 1808, I was strict in observing the Sabbath, as I considered it, in reading a certain portion of Scripture daily, in prayer and in morality, was during that year a pretty strict formalist, and got along comfortably. Not that I thought I had attained a safe state, this was what I was labouring for, and I hoped that God had begun the work in me, and therefore that I should be able to persevere and attain to a safe state before I died. This as nigh as I can recollect was about my views. I from this time became about as laborious a legalist as was to be found among the Presbyterians. Instructions in Grace: In looking at some of the entries in my diary during this Summer, I should think that they had been penned by a tempted, doubting believer, were it not for the legality so apparent in them. I speak in them about my inability to do anything, that God must do all for me by His grace, and of my entire dependence on Christ for acceptance, &c., and yet there is a rotten legal self doing spirit running through the whole. My reading was of the more evangelical class of authors, as they are called, such as John Newton, and even Dr. Hawker's "Zion's Pilgrim" was a favorite book with me. I no doubt imbibed their mode of expression. I mention these things, to show how the natural mind may be molded into a gospel mode of thinking and expression, whilst we are ignorant of our helplessness, though I was being taught to feel the power of my corruptions, though ignorant of Christ. Conversion: {His conversion experience as related by himself was as follows:} Immediately upon this, {under great conviction of sin,} as I was there on my knees, the account of Abraham's offering his son Isaac as in Gen.22 was brought to my view. Isaac as bound and laid upon the altar, appeared as representing the case of the heirs of promise, and as fully representing my then case, as bound by the law and doomed by its condemnatory sentence to death; as Abraham knew nothing but to inflict the death blow, so the law knew nothing but to inflict the curse upon the sinner. My attention was then turned to Abraham's arm, being arrested by the angel's call to him, and the ram caught in the thicket by his horns being taken by him and sacrificed in the place of Isaac. This ram appeared to represent Christ as involved in the demands of the law, in the power of His Godhead, by virtue of His headship and union with His people, and therefore as made to suffer the penalty of the law in their stead. My views then were not as distinct on all these points as I have here {in The Signs} given them; but the substitution of Christ in the place of the condemned sinner was fully presented to view. And the atonement of Christ appeared so full and so exactly adapted to my helpless, guilty and condemned case, that surely, I said to myself, as I viewed it, God must have had me in view when He made this rich provision in His Son. I was therefore enabled confidently to rely on His atonement for pardon, and to plead it for my acceptance with God, and the sense of condemnation was gone…self was in a great measure lost sight of, and God in His glorious character and sovereignty occupied my view…I had never before felt such meltings of heart on account of sin, nor saw sin to be so vile as now; - not as contrasted with the demands of the law, but as contrasted with the goodness and mercy of God. Confirmation: {He goes on to relate some consolation received by the writings of William Huntington} As I went out of the study door, the thought occurred to me that I would go into my lodging room, and pray to the Lord to go with me and direct me. Whilst there thus engaged, my mind became somewhat composed, and the idea was suggested to me, that I had better go back into the study, and read a certain pamphlet which had been laid on Elder P's table a few days before. I went back and took up the book; which was the experience of a person in England written by himself in a letter to William Huntington, and was by him thus published. As I read it, I saw the path in which the Lord had led me delineated step by step. Like myself this man had been a professor for some years previous to his being brought into gospel liberty, had been a zealous legalist; had had his foundation suddenly all knocked from under him, as mine was, and afterwards, Christ had been revealed to him as the substitute of the sinner, and the end of the law for righteousness. As he described these exercises as a being killed by the law, and a being born again, born into gospel liberty, I was led to understand such to have been the nature of the exercises I passed through during the months of Sept. & Oct. 1810, as before described, that then it was, I was slain by the law, and then that I became a believer in Christ, and was born of God. The cloud that I had been so long under now in some measure broke; and I enjoyed a comfortable hope of being a new creature. From this I was led on to see what a galling yoke of bondage, the law and legal religion was; and how lovely and glorious was gospel liberty and gospel grace as contrasted with legal service. Call to the Ministry & Further Establishment in the Truth: Soon after my mind received satisfaction in reference to the ministry. I returned to the vicinity of Morristown, with the expectation of preaching for that church. But I went not with my mind impressed with a desire to convert souls. I went deeply impressed with the evil of that legal bondage which I knew by past experience was so prevalent in that region among the Presbyterians and others. I went therefore with the design of bearing my testimony against it, and to hold forth salvation as being of rich, free and sovereign grace reigning through the righteousness of Christ. I soon by that kind of preaching aroused a pretty severe opposition against me, both in and out of the church; I was charged freely with being an Antinomian, with bringing forward new things, and with creating divisions, &c. This drove me to search the Scriptures and to enquire more earnestly at the mouth of the Lord, and resulted in my becoming stronger in my views and in the defense of them. From that day to this, the most aid I have received from man in forming my religious views, has been through their opposition; thereby driving me from men to look to God and the Scriptures for my guidance. I have learned in my early experience, many ideas from men, but have had again in many instances to unlearn them. I know that it has been my desire to learn of God and not of man, and He I think taught me that desire, in my early experience. Notwithstanding the opposition raised against my preaching at Morristown, the church in the course of the summer called me to ordination. And I was ordained August 30, 1812, not as the pastor of that church, for that I declined, finding no Scriptural authority for it, but to the gospel ministry. {Signs of the Times 1851} From the Signs by Gilbert Beebe: ELDER SAMUEL TROTT - DIED AT AGE 83. Elder Samuel Trott has laid off his armor, received his passport, and gone, as we fully believe, to the bosom of his God and Savior. For several months his strength has been gradually declining; so much so as to prevent him from visiting the churches, as he has been confined to his house or immediate neighborhood ever since last May. At that time we met him at the Baltimore Association, where we heard him for the last time, preach a short but very impressive sermon from John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” His voice was feeble, and his physical power scarcely sufficient to support his debilitated frame. He remarked that that was in all probability the last time he should ever attempt to preach to us. But the ardor of his spirit arose to an irrepressible earnestness, in solemnly impressing upon the brethren the important doctrine of his text, that whatever amount of human wisdom, literary acquirements, or human talent a man may possess, or however sound in theory, none are competent to preach the gospel of Christ, who have not seen the kingdom; and none can possibly see that kingdom who are not born of the Spirit. His last solemn admonition to the saints on this important subject fell upon our ears, and sank deep in our hearts, as our dear aged father was summing up in a few words what had been the burden of his ministry for more than sixty years. His stand point, bordering on the verge of the eternal world, with the eye of faith uplifted to the glory of the upper skies, and wings expanded for his rapturous flight from earth, only waiting to pronounce the finishing sentences of the ministry which he had received of the Lord, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. If we mistake not that was the last time he in a formal manner attempted to preach. But as long as he continued in the flesh, he ceased not, as opportunity presented and his receding strength would allow, to speak of his Redeemer’s kingdom, and to talk of his power. We called on and spent a night with our dear brother in August last, in company of Elders Leachman and Durand, after the close of the Corresponding Meeting in Loudoun County, Va. In our last interview, as far as strength would permit, he reaffirmed the position he had so long held, and the testimony he had so long and faithfully born to the truth of prophecy, and of what he had understood to be its import. To us, his clear and lucid interpretation of those prophecies concerning the twelve hundred and sixty days of the papal beast, and the corresponding time of the two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, was wonderful. And that he should have published his views nearly forty years ago, and that he lived to see that his views were correct, in the literal humiliation of the pope, and extinction of his temporal, or secular power, just twelve hundred and sixty years after the inauguration of that power in the year 606, is evidence that he was endowed with more light upon these subjects than had ordinarily been enjoyed by his contemporaries. We have been personally acquainted with our dear departed brother about 45 years, and from our earliest acquaintance, have looked up to him as to a father, for counsel, and instruction, which he has been enabled to give. We have always found him ready to speak a seasonable word to us when occasion has required. Like David and Jonathan, we have loved each other; facing the same foes, bearing the same testimony, engaged in the same conflicts and participating in the same victories, suffering the same reproaches, encountering the same persecutions for the truth’s sake. Is it strange, now that he is taken from us, that we should exclaim, as did Elisha, when he saw Elijah taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot? “My father! My father! the chariot of Israel, and the horseman thereof.” More than an ordinary tribute to the memory of this dear servant of God is due from us, and a very large space in our columns should be devoted to a becoming notice of his departure. No other correspondent has contributed so liberally to our columns from the first number of our first volume, until prevented from writing, first by the late war, and since the war, for debility. Indeed it is doubtful if we could have succeeded in sustaining our publication had he withheld his support; and now that his pen shall no longer write for our edification, it is meet that we should record how greatly we have been aided by him, and how sadly the announcement of his departure has fallen on us. Brother Trott leaves a widow and one daughter, and has one surviving son residing in Texas. His first wife and all his children, except the one son and one daughter, had been called away before him. With our dear bereaved sister Trott, and the surviving daughter, who were with him to the last, we most sincerely sympathize in this, their deep affliction, and may their sore bereavement be sanctified to their good, and may they, with the absent son, be divinely sustained by the strong arm of the Lord. To the churches of our order, especially those who have enjoyed the labors of the departed, we would speak words of consolation. It is the Lord, and he is able to comfort you, in this and in all your sorrows. Look up to him and pray him to send forth faithful laborers into his harvest. To the readers of the “Signs of the Times”: we shall greatly miss that familiar signature and those deeply edifying epistles of love, which, for thirty-four years have afforded so much instruction and comfort. But our God hath raised up many other witnesses, and has assured us that he will not leave himself without witnesses. Long will you cherish the memory of our dear departed brother. To our brethren in the ministry: a valiant soldier has laid aside his armor; a veteran has received his passport to his mansion in the skies; our hearts are saddened, because the places that knew him once shall know him no more; but he is not dead, but sleepeth. His trials and conflicts are over, and all his tears are wiped forever away. A few more days of trial, temptation and conflict remains for us to fill up, and then, like him, shall we close our weary eyes on all the vanities of earth, and go to dwell forever with the Lord. {Signs of the Times 1866} Elder Robert C. Leachman, referring to Elder Trott’s ministry said that; “his ministry was not with him as; alas, it is with too many, a work of convenience or of secondary importance, but regarded as the great and leading business of his life. Through sunshine and storm he was faithful to his appointments, and seemed to be always laden with gospel treasures. No man seemed to feel more sensibly his dependence upon God, and none seemed to be more constantly furnished unto every good word and work. His preaching seemed to me like a voice from the grave, rebuking the foul spirit of fanaticism, and testifying that the boasted and boastful religion of the time amounts to nothing. His last moments were marked by no special demonstration. Yet his death was just such a one as I would wish to die; with no particular disease, his body not racked with pain, his mental powers in full exercise to the last expression he was able to give, he quietly fell asleep like an infant in its mother’s arms.”

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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