Duty Faith
Part II



A word of instruction to the spiritually awakened

We are told that faith unto salvation is the natural man's duty 'by express command.' And if we ask where such a command is to be found, we are answered, 'The Jailor, for instance, was commanded to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that he might be saved,' Acts xvi 31. And this one text 'is selected as alone sufficient proof.' And as this text is selected to answer for all, we may, I suppose, safely conclude that this is considered as much to the point in proof as any one text in the whole scriptures, and that nothing in all the scriptures can be found more to the point in proof than this text; and thus stands the best proof that faith unto salvation is the natural man's duty.

But in putting this proof, and so this duty, to the test, allow me to say, that the apostle's words to the jailor are not all in any shape in the place, nor nature, nor order, of either a command, and exhortation, or an invitation, but of instruction, in a plain, pertinent, gospel-truth answer to an earnest enquiry made. The jailor spoke first, and the answer was simply according to the question proposed; and this even you, Mr. Editor of the Primitive Church Magazine, call 'an express command.' This is very strange, because neither Paul, nor Silas said anything of the words of our text to the jailor over-night, when he 'thrust them into the inner prison,' nor while he was busy in making 'their feet fast in the stocks;' though they were not too sad to speak, for at midnight 'Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God.' And there being 'a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, all the doors were opened, and their bands were loosed;' but the words of our text were not uttered to one single soul of the prisoners, though they heard when Paul and Silas' sang praises unto God.' And when the awaking jailor drew his sword and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled, 'Paul cried with a loud voice,' and so he was in good earnest for the man's life, 'do thyself no harm, for we are all here;, and even then he uttered not one word of our text, although it was so fair and solemn an opportunity, if any such thing as our text had laid in the shape of a command, in either Paul's mind or commission from God to the ungodly, natural and unbelieving world. Then the) jailor 'called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas;' and even at this solemn and advantageous crisis, not one word of our text is uttered. And the jailor 'brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' He was now the Lord's convict in soul fetters of guilt and terror, the commandment of the law of God's holiness had come into his conscience, sin was 'revived,' and death's sentence had entered into his heart, by the life and light of God's quickening and apprehending convictions; and agonizing under alarm, guilt, despair, and death eternal woefully apprehended, he cries out as for his very life, yea, the life of his soul, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And as the great and gracious gospel truth, for the life and comfort of all such quickened, convinced, and crying souls is, 'He that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved;' so the apostle answered, as by heaven's high favour and wisdom commissioned, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,'

And this answer you call an express command!!' If a poor, weary, penniless and benighted traveler had lost his road, and he met a gentleman and said to him, 'Sir, which way must I take to go to such a place? for I am in distress to find it;' and the gentleman for answer, simply, but in positive terms, declared to the distressed the true and sure road to the place, would any man, in the name of common sense, and much less in the name of God, the judge of all the earth, call such an answer an 'express command?' I think every one who reacts this question must answer, 'Most surely not.' If a servant boy of yours were to ask you which way he could kill himself the quickest if he were so disposed, and you, answering a fool according to his folly, were to reply, 'Blow your brains out with a pistol,' and the boy were to go and do it, would you like to be considered to have commanded the boy to kill himself, by an, express command,' because you answered his according to his question? I think you would not. And yet this is how you can take and handle the sacred word of God, for the support of the natural man's duty to believe unto eternal salvation, which cannot be otherwise maintained.

And as this is one of your strongest forts 'in proof and support of the point, there need not a clearer demonstration that the point is erroneous, senseless, and hostile to all truth, than its requirement of such an abuse and misuse of the sacred word of God for its support. I do not want to say that this is your willful perversion of the scripture; and yet I can hardly think it an oversight, and ignorantly done, when all things are considered. If a minister who has simply had the commission of God, and qualification of the Holy Ghost only, to preach, teach, and explain the scriptures, were to take our text to be a command, the error would be none the less, but the blunder might be somewhat more accounted for; but for a minister who, beside the commission and qualifications of God, to preach, teach, and explain the scriptures, has been to a ministermodelling school, to embellish and finish up, and to add the superadvantages of such a God-helping establishment; yea, I say, for a minister like this, to make such an egregious misapplication of words, as to set down our text for an 'express command,' is altogether unaccountable, unbearable, and abominable! Or is this of itself a peculiar art, taught at such schools? However, I hope this pointed remark or two will be a caution to others, to look well on all sides of a text, so as to come at the proper place, order, and relation 'in which it stands, and the occasion of its being spoken, and who are spoken to, Jews or Gentiles, the dead in sin, or the alive by quickening grace, that the true sense and mind of the spirit may be ascertained, remembering always, that no part of the true system of divine things can stand well upon a false sense on the sacred scriptures, and that no false system can stand well upon a true sense on the sacred scriptures, and that no man can understand nor hold the beauty and harmony of the sacred word, with a false sense put upon some parts thereof.


Instruction to spiritually alive souls

The apostle Peter's words to the Jews, saying, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,' Acts 11 38, are also set down by you in the 14th article of your proposed doctrinal plan for the Strict Communion Baptist Association, as an authority for the natural man's duty to believe unto salvation. And as these words stand in the very same order, and the speech is immediately of the very same nature as that to the jailor I suppose you equally consider this text likewise to be an express command;' and truly this is quite as much a command as that. But these words are neither an express command, exhortation, or invitation; but a gospel reply to the living and heaven-wrought penitent cry and agonizing importunity of the vitally 'pricked in their heart,' verse 37.

From occasions stated in this chapter, Peter stood up and preached Christ, and charged the Jews with the sin of having 'crucified' him, whom God had 'raised up' end made both 'Lord and Christ.' This was plain gospel ministry-like work, with an honest appeal. 'And when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?' This pricking in the heart was God's gracious quickening, vital conviction, and the seeds of divine life sown of God in the heart beginning to germinate, and which put them altogether into a new state of soul being, as different to what they ever were in before as life is to death, as humbling and heart-dissolving convictions are to obduracy, and as the light of God in the conscience is to the darkness of Satan's undisturbed dominion over the soul; and now brought to repentance, under divinely wrought convictions, and hedged in with guilt, like all other truly and savingly convinced sinners, not knowing God's gracious and merciful *intentions with them, unable to bear themselves, and not knowing what to do, cried out, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' And with suited words of truth and grace, Peter answered them according to their request. And what can the unbelieving world in their unbelieving state have to do with this? And what can this answer to the cry of the grace-living have to do with the sin-dead? Let the whole world be so quickened and convinced as so to cry, and we would gladly answer the whole world in like manner. And have you ever been so pricked in your heart, and so hedged in as to be obliged so to cry, and find no relief but by mercy's voice, in the truth and grace of the gospel? Because to me, from experience, it appears unaccountable, that any man who has, and especially a minister and teacher of others, should so muddle the law of divine claims and penal obligations, and the gospel of the grace of God; the dead in sins, and the quickened by the power and grace of God, all up so together; as though the first two were but one and the same ministry, and the latter two were but one and the same character; the pricked in their heart differing so little from the world that lieth dead in wickedness, as to admit no proper distinction.

And herein lies a great and awful error, in teaching the vital, saving and spiritual conviction work of God in the heart, but as an emotion of nature; and considering the state of the world at large to be so altered, by the mere coming and existence of the gospel ministry, as for all men to be responsible to do, be, have and know, all what the pricked in the heart are crying after of a saved state; and the gracious gospel answer to their cry, to be a new obligatory command of God to the world! Surely your own experience, if you have any, must teach you better than all this, while men of no experience, who work all by the speculations of the head, may well make such refined blunders in spiritual things, as their heart cannot teach their mouth, nor add learning to their lips, Prow xvi 23. Peter's words, saying, 'Every one of you,' will not afford you the least authority to carry out our text beyond the 'pricked in their heart,' because he, to strengthen and confirm his encouragements to these, says, 'For the promise is unto you, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call,' as these were now called, verse 39-41.


Applying texts to unbelievers which were written to the church

Heb 11 3, saying 'How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation,' you have also set down in the lath article of your proposed doctrinal plan above referred to, as an authority for the duty of all men to believe unto salvation where the gospel comes. These words were spoken to the church of believing Jews, and to the believing church only they belong. Nothing was more strictly forbidden among the Jews of old, than the mixing and confounding of persons and things that properly differ; but the very contrary to this, appears to be the very soul of the duty faith and universal invitation system, and a standing maxim among duty faith men, as indispensable for the support of their rotten might be, ought to be, should be, generalizing scheme, carnally introduced on to God's absolute and undeniably discriminate premises of mercy on whom he will have mercy, to eternal life. If the cautionary, admonitory, and exhortatory portions of the epistles to the churches are to be applied to the world, why not all the promises, blessings, and privileges directly stated in the epistles, as ensured to the churches by grace in Christ Jesus? For as there is no note or sign of digression from the one and the same people addressed, as the church of the living God, in those different portions in the epistles, the very same people, as to godly character and state, to whom the one belongs, the whole must do, and to none other. And it is an ungodly abuse of the sacred word, and a violent rending asunder what God hath joined together, to take those parts of the epistles that belong to the conduct and conversation department of the grace called living, and believing churches of Christ, and apply them to the world; unless the whole can be taken to the world altogether, as belonging to them in their present state, just as they are dead in sin. Books, tracts, and sermons abound in the present day, with the above misuse, gross abuse, and awful violation of the sacred word. To apply this or any such text to the world, therefore, is to say that the churches consist only of self-made, self-willed saints, such as all men ought to be, and that the vital grace and power of God have but a secondary hand in the matter of living saintship; namely, that all men should make themselves saints, and then the Lord would make them happy as such, as he has those who have kindly made themselves so!

In our texts are persons, subject and caution to be observed. And first, the persons: 'For we which have believed do enter into rest,' Heb iv 3. 'For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end,' iii 14. 'But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul,' x 39. 'We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat that serve the tabernacle,' xiii 10. 'For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come,' verse 14. From these portions, are we to conclude that the we in our text means the world? I think not.

Second, the subject, salvation. By this is meant the new testament ministration of the gospel of Christ, together with the important solemnities associated in it by the highest authority to the church of the living God, a 1,2; 11 1,2. That the ministry that God gave to the seed of Abraham, as a separate people from the heathen, by the hand of Moses, was solemn and important; but this by his SON to his elect church, is much more so; and also to the Jews as a nation, in a national way, as we shall in some other place observe, if opportunity will admit.

Third, the caution, 'how shall we escape,' &c. Paul himself was one included, and did he fear that he should fall from grace and perish at last, but for his own carefulness? Or to suit this text to the purposes of duty faith, did he hereby put himself upon a level in state with the unbelieving world? Certainly not, by the evidence of all his epistles. But there were many things to fear with a godly fear, and to be cautious of with a godly caution, and that at the chastening hand of God too, arising from the snares of evil many ways, and from a lukewarm, heartless neglect of the things of his honour, and of christian peace and order in the gospel, see Rev ii, iii; and with such neglect of principles and practice, the Hebrews were not to expect to escape the like rebukes and chastenings. And as the  postle wrote also to the Corinthian church 1 Cor x, observing that as God visited the sins of Israel, who were his church, in a figure as a body, so would he visit the follies of his true and living church with his rod, saying, 'Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come,' verse 11.

And so he writes to this Hebrew church, saying, 'I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation,' Heb xiii 22. 'See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven, xii 25. There were those who had professed to receive the faith of the gospel of Christ, in love and in newness of life, 'who had turned back from their profession, and treated the name of Christ with contempt, and his blood as that of a criminal only, and so (as an unholy thing,' Heb x 29, with much subtlety and lofty pretension; and whom the heaviest judgments of God awaited, more than as though they had never professed the christian name, 2 Peter 1120-22. And against the snares and wicked cunning of these, the apostle cautions this church, saying, 'Cast not away, therefore, your confidence,' x 35; 'Let us hold fast the profession of our faith, without wavering,' x 23. 'Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines,' xiii 9. And as the apostle Peter saith, 'Ye therefore, beloved seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also be led away with the error of the wicked, and fall from your steadfastness,' 2 Peter ill 17. This is evidently the truth and intent of our text, while it has no more to do with the notion of the duty of natural men to believe unto salvation, than it has to do with the duty of saints to become angels, and of devils to become saints; and if you cannot get better support than the three texts we have just noticed, for your duty faith unto salvation, it is a horrid rotten concern altogether, and you must look out some new ground on which to make your own assertion good, that 'Duty faith is taught in the word of God.'


'But now commandeth all men everywhere to repent,' Acts xvii 30. This text has been considered a most clear and full authority for the duty of all men to repent and believe unto salvation. But this 'all men everywhere' we have sufficiently explained elsewhere, showing that this text cannot be taken to mean individual universality of all men, without doing violence to other texts, such as those of 'all flesh,' nor without direct opposition to the conduct of God's power now for these eighteen hundred years. But a people of all nations and tongues, and of all sorts are intended, the same as they charged Paul with teaching, saying, 'This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere,' Acts xxi 28, and which could not be all men individually everywhere, for no man could do so much as that. And beside, Paul was forbidden to go to some places and people where he was minded to go with the gospel, Acts xvi 6,7; and yet the very same phrase is used for Paul's teaching as is used in our text for God's commanding; and which is of the same meaning in which Ananias must be understood in saying to Paul, 'The God of our fathers both chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth, for thou shalt be his witness to all men of what thou best seen and heard,' Acts I 14,15. And so only is it, that 'All men shall fear and declare the work of God, for they shall wisely consider of his doing,' Psalm lxiv 9.

Did Paul's ministerial commission contain the doctrine of duty faith?

'But now commandeth all men every-where to repent.' If this were an obligatory duty devolving command on all men, or even on any natural man to repent and believe unto eternal life, it must have been Paul's solemn duty to have preached, explained, and enforced the same on all occasions; as he was entrusted with the full commission to preach all that our text intends, saying, 'Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all men 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,' Eph iii 8,9; 'That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles,' Rom xv 16; 'Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me, if I preach not the gospel,' 1 Car ix 16; '1 have shamed you all things,' Acts xx 35; 'I kept back nothing that was profitable,' verse 20; 'for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God,' verse 27. And yet with all this, the apostle in no one instance, on any one occasion that can any-where be found, nor even in this very chapter wherein our text stands with the fairest opportunities, see verses 2,3,16,17,22, and to the end of the chapter, ever declared or enforced anything in the shape, nature, or name of an obligatory, duty-devolving command from God, on natural men to repent and believe unto eternal life; for if the eternal life of our souls depended on our finding such a word in his addresses to the Gentiles, such a word could not be found. And as the apostle of God to us Gentiles preached no such thing, how is it that there are now so many in our day, the sentimental countenance of whose preaching is scarcely anything else? Their preaching must be from another spirit, and not as Paul's was, 'with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,' 1 Pet 1 12, and 'as the Spirit gave him utterance,' Acts ii 4; Eph vi 19. Surely those preachers can never have been chosen of God to know his will, to bear the voice of his mouth, and to be his witness, as Paul was. There are many of those who profess to hold sentiments of plain scripture truths, 'but do not think it proper to preach them;' and we will admit this conclusion is not of the devil, nor of antichrist, but is right, and as things should be, when it can be proved that Paul held any one truth of revelation, and of the gospel commission, that he 'kept back,' and did not think as proper for him to preach as for God to reveal it. Let us observe,

The gospel commission

First. That by our text is intended the gospel commission altogether, which God hath given, and commandeth to all nations, tongues, and people, by whom he will, as in Matt xxviii19,20; Mark xvi 15,16; and by which he commandeth the preaching of repentance and remission of sins to all nations and tongues of people everywhere, according to Luke xxiv 46-48; and as the apostles and Paul himself did preach, as to the necessity of repentance, on the fact that all have sinned against the one only living and true God, by whom we all live, move, and have our being; and because of the sinfulness of sin by the righteousness of God's law, and on the sure approach of a judgment day before God, the judge of all, and our Lord Jesus Christ, whom, as a declarative evidence to this solemn fact of a future judgment, he hath raised from the dead; and as God's revealed way of personal remission of sins, and as the only personal state of character in which any sinner shall obtain remission of sins; and as that state of character in which the soul, though the chief of sinners, shall not come into condemnation, but be saved by the name, grace, blood, and righteousness of Christ, as the Lord of life and glory to all such; and from which the gospel is called, 'Preaching of repentance and remission of sins in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,' Luke xxiv 47, 'to take out a people for his name,' Acts xv 14, and 'to gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,' Matt xxiv 31.

The gospel a new dispensation to the Gentiles

Second. That our text is of the nature and design of mercy's friendly light and intelligence to the Gentiles, and nothing penal, is evident from its being placed in direct contrast to 'the times of their ignorance which God winked at.' For God's winking at the times of the Gentiles' ignorance does not mean that he was indifferent to their sins, uncleanness, and idolatry; but judicially passed by them in righteous but awful silence, according to Rom 1 21-25; adding, 'For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections,' verse 26. And as that was in righteous judgment only, even so, this commanding in our text is of grace and mercy only; and but for grace and mercy designs, no such commanding would ever have been, nor have been heard of in the Lord's name to the Gentiles. And according to this, the apostle spoke to the Jews concerning the gospel commission to the Gentiles, saying, 'Lo, we turn to the Gentiles; for so hath God commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth,' Acts xiii 47. And according to this character of the gospel commission, Christ is declared to be 'a light to lighten the Gentiles.' And the apostle, to shew his authority for this ministry to the Gentiles, and why it was now come to them more than in former times, says, that God now commandeth it.

God's irresistible commands

Third. The very sound or name of a command appears to me to be taken by many people, as incapable of any other meaning than that of devolving some sort of obligation on the commanded, and the same to be fulfilled as a matter of duty. We will most readily admit that whatever is man's duty by divine command, the Lord both commissioned his ministers in his name, and even made it their solemn duty to enforce upon men to do as their duty to God. But it is nowhere to be found that the apostles and first ministers of God, who had the 'first fruits of the Spirit,' and who are patterns and examples to us, have ever commanded any man with the command of our text, as his duty unto eternal life. And as the apostles have never done so, we certainly have no authority to do so, nor to conclude that this is a duty-devolving command at all, nor anything of the kind. There is a commandment that is life everlasting, and besides and beyond the mere commission and ministry of the gospel, our text is in the nature, order, and character of that command, and the very voice of life is in that command, and the commanded accordingly live, Zen. xvi 6; and so that command is but the voice of life, from God who giveth life by his command, wherein the duty of any subject is actively impossible; as, 'Lazarus, come forth! and he that was dead came forth,' John xi 43,44. 'Young man, I say unto thee, arise! and he that was dead sat up,' Luke vii 14. 'Maid, arise! and her spirit came again, ' Luke viii 53,55. 'The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live,' John v 25. 'Thy dead shall live, with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, in the regions of darkness and of death; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs; thy dead men raised to life are for comeliness and multitude as the morning dew-drops on the leaf of herbs; , and the earth shall cast out, yield up and surrender the dead, Isaiah xxvi 19, to God's command of his blessing of life for evermore, Psalm cxxxiii 3.

And this command of life, and of the dead unto life, is also the voice of power, whereby the thing commanded is produced. 'And he cast out the spirits with his word,' Matt viii 16. 'By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,' Psalm xxxiii 6. 'For he spoke, and it was; he commanded, and it stood fast,' verse 9. 'The worlds were framed by the word of God,' Heb xi 3. 'Upholding all things by the word of his power,' Heb 1 3. 'By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing in the water and out of the water; which by the same word are kept in store,' 2 Pet ill 5. And as the creation, upholding, and keeping of every particle of the world of nature, is by God's word in the voice of his power, even so is the creation, upholding, and keeping every particle of the salvation world of his grace, by the commanding voice of his power.

And to the truth of this, in regard to the gospel times and subject of our text, the spirit of prophecy, by several figures of speech, evidently bears testimony, as in Psalm xxix saying, 'The voice of the Lord is upon many waters,' verse 3, upon many nations, tongues, and people every where. Isaiah xxxii 16,17,20. 'The voice of the Lord is powerful,' verse 4, commanding to effect all the good pleasure and purposes of his will. 'The voice of the Lord is full of majesty,' verse 4; commanding, but not to be commanded; ruling, but not to be ruled; sovereign, and not to be compromised; 'for the God of glory thundereth, verse 3. 'The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars,' verse 5; the dignity, distinction, and pride of the Jews, as a people and nation. Isaiah v 5-7, 'And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree,' of Babylon, antichrist, all the lofty and religious proud; 'have exalted the low tree,' of the humble poor, and needy in spirit, who sigh and cry for the mercy, help and salvation of the Lord; 'have dried up the green tree,' of the self-righteous pharisee notion of the Jews as a kingdom; 'and have made the dry tree to flourish,' of Gentile sinners every where, by the truth, grace and power intended by our text. 'I the Lord have spoken, and have done,' Ez. xvii 24. 'The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire,' verse 7; the judgments of his hand, between the wrathful toward his enemies, and the chastening toward his saints; his ministers, in their different gifts, appointments and measures of usefulness; the voice of the Lord divideth as by flames of fire, the chosen and redeemed from the world, and the precious from the vile, Psalm xcvii 3,4; Heb 1 7; jet xv 19; 1 Kings xviii 38,39. 'The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness,' verse 8: the wilderness of the Gentiles, as fruit is shaken from the tree in the time of gathering, Is xvii 6,7. 'And all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at my presence,' Ez. xxxviii 20. 'Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am the Lord,' verse 25. 'And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come,' Hag ii 7; of all nations a people shall desire him that shall come, Zech viii 21-23; Isaiah Ill 10. 'The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve,' verse 9. This animal is not so much of the house as of the field, Cant 117; is loving and lovely, Prow v 19; and the voice of the Lord making the hinds to calve, is his love and lovely work of calling and regeneration grace, in a fruitful fulfillment of the truth of our text in the Gentile fields, Isaiah xlii 19,20; and according to Psalm cx, saying, 'In the beauties of holiness,' from the shapeless deformities and uncleanness of heathenism and the dominion of sin and an 'From the womb of the morning,' the gospel morning succeeding the heathen night of darkness and ignorance, 'thou hast the dew of thy youth,' thy new-born people in succession about thee, for beauty and multitudes as the dew-drops of the morning, verse 3; and 'as the bud of the field,' Ez. xvi 7. 'So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,' Isaiah Iv 11.

Now wherein both the truth and fulfillment of the above scriptures appeared, but in the gospel commission and the effectual working power of God therein, according to Peter's testimony, Acts xv 7,8,9,11; and so showing the gracious matter, and true meaning and intent of our text to be as above set forth.

The power of God exercised in the continued ingathering of his elect

Fourth The manner in which our text reads is not without its meaning ; for if it read, hath now commanded, it would then stand in the round form of a settled precept, and would certainly then appear intended to devolve an obligation; but it does not read so, but 'now commandeth.' The words stand in the passing progressive order, which intimates the matter intended to be begun, going on, and not yet finished, and which does not belong to the nature of a settled preceptive demand, while it well expresses the Lord's commanding the ministry of the gospel of repentance and remission of sins to the Gentiles, and his saving power put forth therein among them, in the authority of his sovereign will, as well as in the riches of his grace. And our text will always stand in the passing progressive order, until the Lord hath fulfilled all his gracious designs, and gathered in his chosen of all nations and tongues everywhere; but then, in the truth and joy of their salvation, will the united millions out of all nations of men under heaven, shout to the great triune Jehovah's praise, be hath commanded all men everywhere to repent: 'Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles!' Rom ix 24. And to this sense of our text agree, in unjarring concurrence, the prophecies; the characters and work o f Christ; his exaltation to give repentance and remission of sins; the work of the Holy Ghost; the nature and character of the gospel dispensation; the testimony Paul gives of his commission from the Lord to the Gentiles, Acts xxvi 15-18; his confession that he held the treasure of the gospel charge but in an earthen vessel of weakness, and that all the excellency of power, giving increase or effect, is of God only; the declared nature and character of the change wrought in the saints; the testimony borne in every epistle to the churches, of what they were, and who it is that both made them all what they are; and the experience of all who truly know what personal repentance into eternal life really is; while not a word in the apostle's addresses to the Gentiles can be found, which fairly suggests the shade of a question to the contrary. And as to the use of the word commandeth in our text, this appears to me most happy, and by no means a difficulty; because the Lord neither begs any man into the ministry of his gospel, nor by that ministry begs any man to repentance; but by will and power commands both; and 'The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes,' Psalm xix 8; and 'He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God,' and none else, 2 Cor v 5.


An exposing of self-righteous false confidence

'And ye will not come unto me that ye might have life,' John v 40. Most duty faith men have considered this text to be a good authority for duty faith, universal invitations, and to show that there is eternal life for all in the fulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, only they will not come and have it. Those men never make half so free with those words of our Lord saying, 'No man can come to me, except the Father, which both sent me, draw him,' ch vi 44. 'Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father,' verse 65; and as the apostle saith, 'No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Spirit;' and without this, there is no coming to him as such, Heb xi 6. And so, to put a construction upon our text contrary to these passages, must be false and not of the truth; because our Lord, without any contradiction to his own meaning in our text, very plainly showed who had come, who would come, who do come, and who shall come, and who only he looked for to come, saying, 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,' John vi 37; adding, 'Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me,' verse 54. Our Lord did not in our text beg, entreat, beseech, nor command any man to come to him; nor say that they ought to come, or should come, or that it was their duty to come and have eternal life; nor did he say will you come? nor that it was his soul's desire that they should come, nor that he should have come into the world in any thing in vain, and would be disappointed and grieved if they did not come and have eternal life; but he said, 'Ye will not come unto me.' And let us observe,

First. That this was but a charging their own folly, presumption, and self-contradiction home upon them, according to their self-deceiving false confidence. For that in their then present state they looked for, and with great confidence expected, and thought most certainly, eternal life was theirs, or whose should it be? while they were at the same time opposed to, and fighting against, the only way and truth of eternal life, in their persecution of Christ, John v 16. He said to them, 'Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me,' verse 39; as though he had said, 'If ye would have life, ye must come to me for it, and as ye will not come to me, ye cannot have eternal life, as it is in no other way, nor anywhere else to be had. If your confidence was good, you would come to me; but as your confidence is bad, you oppose that which is good, and cannot bear the truth; as is, always the case with false confidence. You profess to be very righteously concerned to have and secure to yourselves eternal life, and yet with all this ye will not come to me; I am not in your concern, and therefore your concern about eternal life is all false, is not of God, nor of the truth, but ye are confidently deceiving yourselves and one another, or you would come to me; 'For every one that had heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me' as you would, if you had as really so heard and learned of him, as you profess to be taught, claim to be wise, to be right, and to have eternal life.' Thus, their religion, their great zeal, their righteousness and their confidence was all turned upon them as false by this evidence, that Christ and his truth were opposed and not received thereby. And from this we may solemnly ask, what does our religion embrace, or what exclude? seeing it is possible to be as righteously zealous and confident as those Jews, and yet be as awfully wrong! The very spirit and intent of this text is, therefore, a direct attack made upon self-righteous false confidence, instead of anything of a warrant for duty faith or universal invitations.

Second. That on principles of truth in general, our Lord by our text very plainly declares, that if it were left to the natural will in of man, not one soul of Adam's fallen race would obtain eternal life; and that of all the ways the self-righteous will of man would devise, the way to Christ, and the only true way of eternal life by him, would never be found, sought, nor desired; and that so, not one soul of the race of mankind would be found an inhabitant of heaven at last, though every one Might be as righteous in his own way as Paul was, till omnipotent grace killed his self-righteousness and created his soul anew in Christ Jesus.

Third. That in the lost state of man, the will is lost, and that while the will is lost the man is lost; and that a willing state is by the power and grace of God only; 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,' Psalm cx 3; and that when the will is saved, the soul is saved. And let all poor doubting, trembling souls think of this and take courage, for it is God that worketh in them to will, as much as it is God that worketh in the strongest saints to do, Phil 11 13; and that so it is, that 'whosoever will,' shall in due time 'take of the water of life freely,' Rev xxii 17.

Fourth. That sovereign, discriminate, free, and determinate grace, 'according to the purpose of election,' does no violence to the will of any man, for those whom the Lord will gather, and who 'shall come and see his glory,' the Lord makes willing to come; and those whom the Lord will not gather, cause to come, and save to life eternal, they are of themselves all quite willing to stay where they are, opposed to everything that belongs to coming to Christ.

Fifth. Our text most clearly shews, that fallen man, in his fallen nature state, is too much a lump of death, without an ear to hear, without will, understanding, or affection, for any thing that savingly pertains to godliness, to be any way savingly affected, altered, or bettered in his condition by the mere ministry of the gospel, though it be preached by the ablest ministers or by an angel from heaven, or by one rose from the dead, Luke xvi 13, or by our Lord himself, as his ministry to the Jews fully proves, and as every minister of the gospel has a practical proof of, and as the apostle confessed, that effectually, 'Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.' And as the many believing through the apostles' preaching is wholly ascribed to the hand of the Lord being with them, Acts xi 2 1; and to the Lord's giving 'testimony to the word of his grace,' Acts xiv 3; and with our text, and with these facts before our eyes, how awfully wicked, proud, ignorant, false and senseless, it does appear in men who can stand up and say, that 'the Lord has committed the salvation of the world to his church and his ministers,' and that 'ministers are accountable for the souls by whom they are surrounded.' If the Lord were to take those men upon the awful responsibility they so presumptuously and hypocritically assume, for myself, I must cry, Great Jehovah, save my poor feeble soul from their condemnation!


A specific message to a local church, not to a dead world

'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,' Rev ill 20. Few texts have had more falsehoods lavished out upon them thus than this has; for there are many who will stand up and say, that by this text is meant, that Christ by his ministers, his word, his gospel, his institutions of truth, his general providence, and by many particular events and circumstances, stands knocking at the door of every man's heart for salvation entrance. And Dr. S ... s once stood up in the pulpit at Bethel Chapel, Somers Town, and from this text said, that 'Jesus Christ set upon his throne, as it were, with his eyes suffused in tears, because sinners will not open to him, and come to him.' What potent thing must those preachers think man really to be? and what sort of weakling must those men take the Almighty Lord of the whole earth to be? I cannot for myself account for such an abuse of the sacred text, truth, and common sense, in the Lord's name, except that such men never did know the truth by the Holy Spirit, and that God has given them up as to their own sweetest taste of a lying spirit.

The words of our text are used by the Lord in his address to the Laodicean church, and to the minister of that church, verse 14; and to the church only they belong; for they no more belong to the world at large, than the world at large is the church of Christ under the very circumstances this church, from the 14th verse to the end of the chapter, is described to be in. Nor do these words belong 'or apply even to the church or churches of Christ, but under the circumstances and in the state this church is described to have been in; and therefore no such words are used in the respective addresses to the other churches, although their several states are described and their faults pointed out; because none of the other churches were in the state this was in; as being 'neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm,' in regard to the revealed truth, order, and ordinances of the Lord; while they were, on the other hand, religiously proud in a vain and false confidence, abounding in everything but the spirit, life, truth, order, and activity of true godliness, saying, 'I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing;' while, as to spirituality and all that pertained to the true figure, life and character of a church of Christ, they were 'wretched, poor, blind and naked,' and did not know it, verse 17; and of course did not believe it, but would count that man their enemy who would venture to tell them it was so with them. And they were like a people with their doors shut, and going to bed, very easy and quiet, as though there was every thing to glory in, with nothing to lament, and nothing to reprove. And to rouse them and convince them of the truth of their condition, the Lord charged them with being in the above state; threatening also to spew them out of his mouth,' that is, unchurch them as a body, and take the truth and ordinances of his mouth from them, saying, 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent,' verse 19; adding, 'Behold I stand at the door and knock;' with, 'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith,' not unto the world, but 'unto the churches,' verse 22; ' and if any man hear my voice, and open the door,' as not altogether in the state of the body, 'I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.' I will not bring the same afflictions, and rebukes, and chastenings upon him, that I will upon the body in the above state. 'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith into the churches.'

The above religious pride and vain-glory, as rich, and increased in goods of almost every professional kind, together with the absence of the truth, and the true spirit of the gospel of the grace of God, appears to me to be the state of the professing church in this land in the present day, to an awful degree; and though I may be counted an enemy for saying it. 'This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation,' Ezek xix 14. 'But God himself is Judge,' 'and the day shall declare it,' 1 Cor ill 13.


'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth to eternal life,' John vi 27. This text has been considered as undeniable authority for universal invitations of all men to labour for eternal life, and also that it is their duty to do so. This text can never, any more than any other, be an authority for what it does not mean, and for what the speaker did not intend it. And that this text was never spoken with such an intention, I hope, for the sweet harmony of divine truth, to be able to shew, upon undeniable and even on fairly unquestionable grounds. These words were spoken to those Jews who were at this time seekers of Jesus, both by sea and by land; and such was their zeal, that neither distance, dry land, nor sea, could stop them, verse 24. But they sought him merely because 'they did eat of the loaves, and were filled,' verse 11,12,26; and as they were now only wanting to do the like again, to 'serve not the Lord, but their own belly,' Rom xvi 18; and so they would have made him their bread king, their belly being their God, Phil ill 19; and Christ was, with all their zeal and running after him, to be only a sort of high priest of this, their devotion, to the old lust of their flesh, Psalm lxxviii 18,30. And in the words of our text, our Lord rebuked their low and base carnality, in so running after him, in a manner altogether contrary to every thing that belonged to his character as the Messiah of their own prophets, whom they professed to believe, and also as the promised Saviour of the chosen of God; and he rebuked them in the first, while he explained and pointed out to them the latter, with its greater importance; shewing them all through the chapter, what his true character, work and authority really is, and what is indeed the true bread, meat and drink; but which doctrine of truth they could not bear, verse 60; whereas, had he preached the doctrine of duty for eternal life, we know, as they were in sentiment all for works, they would have received that doctrine, though they would never do the duty, because that is human nature's own darling divinity, and what the carnal world will and do receive, and duty faith and universal invitations just go to serve this taste; and our present contention is, whether there be any authority from God to serve that fruitless, ungodly taste, which in its very root, nature, being, and dwelling place, as in the flesh only, is opposed to the truth of the grace of God. Let us observe,

An answering of false professors according to their profession and conduct

First, how the Jews themselves understood and received our text. It appears clearly evident to me, that they understood and received it not as an invitation, an exhortation, or as a command of them to do some other work which they had not done; but as a rebuke and sweeping declaration of their being every way and altogether wrong as a people, both in all their profession of the religion of Abraham which they claimed, and in that sense to be his children, viii 39, and as under the Abrahamic covenant, according to which they claimed to be the children of God, verse 41; and also in their now running after Christ as they did, according to the connection of our text, while they did not really receive him as the Messiah of their own prophets, whom they professed to believe. For they replied, 'What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?' verse 28. They were all for works, and for pleasing God by works; and they fully understood our Lord to say, and as meaning to say, that none of their works were pleasing to God; and which seemed to take them with such surprise, that their answer appears plainly to be of the following tone: 'If we have not pleased God, and having done so many things, and so strictly too, and do even now, and yet we do not the works or things that please God; what is there left undone, and what shall we do that we might work the works of God?' And our Lord, taking them on their own ground, replied, 'This is the work of God, ' what only is pleasing to God, 'that ye believe on him whom he hath sent,' verse 29. And therefore the spirit and intent of our text was, a laying the axe at the root of their wrong principles, motives, and actions, *in regard to God, and our Lord as the Messiah, and a clearly pointing out what was right, in direct opposition to every thing of their present profession and their zeal. And however little they understood of the latter, it is evident they quite understood the former to be the spirit of the text. And while this text was also to them as Jews, on their own peculiar national covenant and professional premises there is nothing in the spirit or intention of it, as a warrant or example for universal invitations or exhortations of all men to labour for, or believe *in our Lord Jesus Christ as a duty for eternal life. Man's wrongs are his own, and are chargeable upon him, and truth is explainable to every rational creature, and that should be our aim to do as teachers; but God's gift of eternal life, 'in every department of it, is heaven's height above all creature duty, Isaiah Iv 8,9.

A duty faith exposition inconsistent with apostolic teaching

Second. If this text had any thing in it of the spirit or intention of universal invitation of all men to the things of eternal salvation, it would have been a plain authority for the apostles to all people of the Gentiles. But we have already most plainly shewn, and again affirm, and challenge all the powers of duty faith to prove the contrary, that the apostles never once did, in any one instance to the unbelieving Gentiles, use any thing of a universal invitation of all men, to the things of eternal salvation as the natural man's duty; and so they could never understand our Lord to mean or intend any such thing; because if they had, they, doubtless, would have taken it for their authority, and done accordingly, and their example would have been a conclusive law to us; but as they did no such thing in any one case, so we have no such law in their example to do so, nor so to take our text.

A duty faith exposition of the verse conflicts with the context

Third. If by our text our Lord had really meant any thing in the spirit of a universal invitation of the unbelieving world unto eternal salvation, would he not, without self contradiction, have uniformly maintained that, countenance through the whole, as the true spirit and intent of his ministry? To be self-consistent, would he not have done so? Methinks you must say - Yes, of course he would. But that he has not done this, but has altogether contradicted and denied this to be the true spirit and intent of his ministry, is most clearly evident. Because in this very selfsame discourse, our Lord declared:(1) A positive shall come of 'all the Father giveth him,' verse 37. (2) A positive cannot come, but as drawn by the Father, verse 44. (3) And he has positively declared, that for any one to come to him at all, is by the special gift only of God the Father, verse 65. So that if we say that our Lord spoke the words of our text in any way conveying, and meaning to convey, the sentiment of universal invitations and exhortations to eternal salvation, we are instantly driven into the awful but unavoidable labyrinth of charging him with direct self-contradiction in sound and sense, in the one and selfsame discourse to the same people.

It is said, 'The Jews then murmured at him,' verse 41; and if our Lord had so spoken in our text, as to convey to them any thing in the shape and nature of a universal invitation, which for all themselves they would have liked, and then, in the same discourse, to say the above direct opposite things; they might then well murmur, to hear such yea and nay - to hear themselves so tantalized and trifled with - to hear themselves told to do for themselves, as the only way of pleasing God, what they are directly told that no man of himself can possibly do - to hear that declared to be general as a universal invitation, which is directly declared to be as particular only, as the will and operative power of God alone shall determine. But he, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, would never so violate all the divinely given and settled laws of common sense in the rational world, as to set up that for a divine truth which is made up of such direct self contradictions. Truth does not require this, and such is not of the truth; for if such could be truth, what can be falsehood? Self contradiction in the parts of any whole is a division against itself in that whole, be the subject what it may; and our Lord himself has very plainly Shawn, that no house, city, kingdom, system or subject, so divided against itself can stand, but hath as end, Matt xii 25; Mark ill 24-27; and that no man can serve two such directly opposed masters at the same time, Luke xvi 13. Truth is, therefore, no such two opposed - truth is not so divided against itself by such contradictions truth is a heavenly harmonious whole - truth is of God, and is his will revealed, and the truth of God endureth for ever; being as impossible to be divided against itself by self-contradiction, as the all-wise eternal God of heaven and earth and of truth is, without possible contradiction, in himself.

A duty faith exposition inconsistent with all the Lord's ministry

Nor hath our Lord in John vi only, denied and condemned all possible truth and consistency in every notion of universal invitations and exhortations to eternal life, but in other places also; as

1) In his thanksgiving address to the Father; saying 'I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because 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,' Matt. xi 25,26. Is it, or can it be possible, that all universally are to be invited to come of themselves and see what God himself hath bid from many, and even from the wise and prudent? Duty faith divinity says yes, but most assuredly the truth and gospel of the grace of God says no; for moral deism is more self consistent than it is to say, that God invites and makes it the duty of all to see what he himself hath so hid, that many shall not see. Law requirements and man's inability being no argument here, because man was originally equal to all the law requires, and lost his ability by sin only.

2) Our Lord's speaking in parables, and not plain to some, because to them it was not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, while to others he did speak plain, because to them it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, Matt xiii 10, 11, is a full and clear denial to all consistency in the idea of universal invitations; because they equalize the whole on the ground of duty for the kingdom of heaven, whereas, here is a decided discrimination made for the kingdom of heaven, and that by divine gift only.

3) Our Lord's declaration, that 'whosoever blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come,' Matt xii 31,32, is a full declaration, that there is no truth in the idea of universal invitations; for as there are some characters whom our Lord says shall never be forgiven, he has most certainly never authorized them to be invited. And as they are among the dead in sin, and are not to be invited, and no man can distinguish one from another, that is evidence clear enough that we have no business to invite any of the dead in sin, but preach the truth, and explain their state, and leave the rest in the hand of God.

4) That our Lord prayed for all those who shall believe through the word of truth, and would not pray for the world universally, John xvii 9,20. That to sit with him in his kingdom is not even his to give, but to them for whom it is prepared of the Father, Matt xx 23. That no man is anything for the kingdom of God, unless born of the Spirit, John ill 5. That Christ laid down his life for his sheep only, and that there are some that are not his sheep, John x 15,16,26. That all the vessels of mercy are of God afore prepared unto glory, while there are vessels of wrath, Rom ix 21-23, and that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy, verse 16. The total absence of divine truth and authority from universal invitations is hereby fully declared; and that they are not only perversions of the truth of God, the inventions of that sort of pious benevolence toward fellow man, which is exceedingly pleasing to man, but which runs counter to, and despises the sovereignty of the divine will, in the independent dispensation of the blessings of eternal life, as an act of grace, only because he will be gracious.

Fourth. 'Which the Son of Man shall give unto you.' Unto you Jews, as well as unto the Gentiles; and to as many, 'as touching election, are beloved for the fathers' sakes,' Rom xi 2 8, 'even to as many as the Lord our God shall call,' Acts 1139; in the same sense as in verse 5 1, saying, 'And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world:' to a people out of the whole world, but not to the whole world of people, for so he would not pray for the world. Upon these grounds, therefore, we conclude, that our Lord never spake the words of our text in the spirit and meaning of a universal invitation or exhortation, or with any intention thereby to give authority for any thing of the kind; the harmony of scripture being divine evidence.

'REPENT YE, THEREFORE, AND BE CONVERTED, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT' Different kinds of repentance. The many exhortations of the Jews to national repentance in the new testament

'Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord,' Acts iii 19. This text has been considered a clear evidence enough for universal invitations and exhortations of all men to repent unto eternal life. But to me this text has never appeared to be an exhortation to repentance unto the eternal life, even of the people addressed; for that while the word repent, with its correspondent repentance, is used in the word of God with various meanings, differing, but not contradicting, I see no reason or divine authority for fixing a certain meaning upon these words, which the apostles never, In no one instance, carried out in their addresses to the unconverted Gentiles; a meaning which would pointedly contradict the plainest and most self-evident meaning of other and fundamental parts of the sacred word of God. On the different meanings with which the word repent is evidently used in the word of God, we will notice two:

Repentance unto life

First, what for clearness of distinction sake, we will call regeneration repentance, which is that vital and renewing penitence that is produced by the new creating power and grace of God in the vessels of mercy, Eph 11 10; Tit ill 4,5; and is that repentance that Christ, in the mediatory order and power of grace, came into the world to call sinners to, Matt ix 13, is now exalted to give with the remission of sins to the Israel of God, Acts v 3 1, and is what the gospel is sent to proclaim in his name, Luke xxiv 47, and which the goodness of God by the word commands and leads the called of God according to his purpose to, Rom 11 4, and which, as a divine grant only, the apostles emphatically call repentance unto life, Acts xi 18; because to it is entailed eternal remission of sins, and in it is developed God's gift of eternal life to the soul. I have never been able to learn, upon any corroborative authority in the word of God, that this is the repentance intended by the apostle in our text; although, to serve their turn, duty faith men would have it to be so.

Repentance on account of particular sins In the church, in the world, and particularly, as the text, in the Jewish nation

The second is, reformation repentance, which is circumstantial, and but natural according to the state and order of circumstances; whether it be:

First. In the churches of Christ, as in Rev ii, iii. Those seven epistles were to the seven churches, and to them they belonged, and not to the world; for the things approved thereby were in the churches; the blessings pronounced thereby were upon the churches; the faults and corruptions in principles, order, and conduct, marked and condemned thereby, were in the churches; the threatenings thereby were upon the churches; and the repentance demanded was accordingly of the churches only. And this repentance was for them to cast out the corruptions, in principles, order, and conduct, which had crept in among them, and for them to return to those principles, and to that order and conduct, from whence they had practically fallen and departed, Rev ii 5. The same as the apostle James, in writing to the 'twelve tribes scattered abroad,' James I 1, or to all those of the twelve tribes who professed the faith of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he wrote to none other, all the way through his epistle complained most heavily of the ungodly abuses of all good order, practice, and principles, which had crept in among those Hebrew professors of the faith, as into the churches above; and he laboured to produce a reformation among them, and for them to cast out the vile corruptions from among them, as becometh them, as professors of the holy, lovely, and kind faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the same as Paul had to complain, in a measure, of the Corinthian church, and so writing to them, 'They sorrowed to repentance, being made sorry after a godly manner,' 2 Cor. vii 9. And as job stood corrected, repented, and renounced the practically wrong course he had adopted, and so reformed, he being a God-fearing man before, Job xl 4,5.

Or, second, in the world, individually or collectively, under extreme cases of wickedness and immorality, for the averting of immediately deserved and to be expected judgments from the hand of the Lord, as the moral governor of the world; as in the case of Simon the sorcerer, who offered to buy the Holy Ghost with money; and to whom Peter said, 'Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee,' Acts viii 22. As in the case of the Ninevites, who repented of their violence, and cried mightily unto God. As Peter exhorted Simon, with reformation, repentance and natural prayer, to do as the case was. 'And God repented of the evil that he said he would do unto them, and he did it not;' and this was their temporal forgiveness, according to the nature of their repentance and prayer, Jonah ill 7,8,10. And as in the case of Ahab, 'Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days,' 1 Kings xxi 29. This was but a natural humbling, and a temporal salvation from immediate judgment And as Daniel said to the king, 'Let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility,' Dan iv 27. And as Lot said unto the men of Sodom, 'I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly,' Gen xix 7.

Or, third, whether in regard to the Jews, on their own peculiar ground, of privileges, laws, and constitution as a nation, that Christ should come of them, of the time of his coming, his having come, and the time being fulfilled to change their times and customs, according to the scriptures; the whole of which they either awfully abused, or spurned from them altogether. As to privileges, natural and moral advantages, as a people and nation, I need not say they were a peculiar people in those respects, above all people on the earth, Rom 11 1,2; ix 4,5. But practically they were extremely wicked, even in wickedness to be, with self-righteousness too, 'contrary to all men,' as the apostles found them, go wherever they might, 1 Thess. 11 15. And they had departed more from the laws of their land, the laws of their temple, Matt xxi 13, and from the God of their fathers, than any nation of the heathen had from the laws of their nation, their temples, and their gods, Jer. 11 11-13. Their own traditions, by which they set the word, laws, and statutes, of the Lord aside, are said to have been as many as would make twelve folio volumes (see Wright's Life of Christ). And when the time was fulfilled, according to their own prophets, whom it was their duty to credit as God's ministers to them on their national constitution, and whom, as such, they professed to receive, for God to change their times and customs, and the order of things, by the coming of Christ the Messiah, whom they professed to look for according to their prophets, they opposed him by every sort of insult and violence, although to the very eyes, ears, and common sense of nature, he demonstrated the truth of his Messiahship, by deeds infinitely surpassing all the power and wisdom of mere creatureship, and of all nature's common laws. And the more he gave this proof, the more they hated him, and pursued him, with murderous hands, to his blood on the tree; and on this awful matter of cry for vengeance on their heads, Peter enlarged in his address to the people in this chapter.

Was there ever a people whose wickedness was more extreme? Was there ever a nation by wickedness more exposed to, and who might expect the sudden judgments of God, in the order of his moral government, upon the ground, not of their spiritual, but rational and national accountability, which they had every way so awfully violated? And was there ever a nation who, to avert the impending judgments of God, more needed to be exhorted to a moral repentance of their state unto a moral reformation, and from their constitution as a nation and people, to a moral reception of the Messiah, the gospel dispensation, and that new order of things their prophets had all along foretold, and the time for which being now come? Indeed, I think not.

And if other natural men and people, according to the above several cases, could be morally addressed on their awful condition in their extreme wickedness, and be exhorted to moral repentance unto reformation, and they did so repent unto reformation, and were so temporally forgiven in the averting of the threatening judgments of God, without their ever being exhorted to perform of themselves what is in God's power and gift only for eternal salvation, and without their ever being eternally saved at all that we know of, - Is it impossible? Is it unreasonable?


Or is it any way contrary to the current testimony of the word of God, that the Jews, whose wicked condition was awful to an extreme above all people, should be exhorted to the like reformation repentance, for the like benefit under the moral government of God, without being exhorted to do that for eternal salvation, which is wholly of the power, grace, and gift of God only? I think it not impossible; and that they were so morally exhortable, and were so exhorted as a nation and people, and that such really and properly is the repentance, the conversion, and the blotting out of sins meant and intended by the exhortation in our text, so following the statement of their awful sin of murderously putting Christ to death, and to the moral end that they might be the preserved, and escaping from the sorest judgments in the times hastening. when one should be taken and the other left,' Luke xvii 34-36; times of refreshing to them that escaped.

And this is the meaning, and such is the repentance exhorted to, independent of the things of eternal salvation, in the following passages, saying - 'Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,' Matt ill 2; 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,' iv 17; 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel,' Mark 11 15; 'And they went out,' among the Jews only, Matt x 5, 'and preached that men should repent,' Mark vi 12, 'and believe the gospel to be true, and of God, as they admitted the law that came by Moses was true, and of God.' And our Lord rebuked and passed his woes upon those cities of the Jews where his mighty works were done, for their not so believing and repenting, Matt xi 20-23.

And that nothing more is intended than this moral repentance unto reformation, and the moral reception of Christ as the Messiah, and the gospel as a ministry and dispensation of God, is evident by our Lord's speaking of it collectively, as of whole cities; whereas, the repentance and gathering unto eternal life is individual. 'And ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye hosts of Israel,' Isaiah xxvii 12; 'And I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and bring you to Zion,' Jer.iii 14. And if we say that our Lord meant the repentance that is unto eternal salvation, we must add, what an eternal pity it is, that the works of Christ were not done in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, for 'they would have repented long ago,' and gone for ever to heaven! But no, our Lord means no such thing; for that by such repentance as is intended here, Sodom, as temporally saved, 'would have remained until this day,' Matt xi 23.

This moral repentance unto reformation, therefore, has, in the moral government of God, been a temporal salvation, as in the cases of Nineveh and Ahab, and would have been so of the Jewish nation, and was so of such as did repent unto reformation in their lives and manners, and which our Lord calls being 'forgiven in this world,' as perfectly distinct from that forgiveness that is for sin, or for the world to come, Matt xii 32; while moral quietude in this life will not be punished in the world to come as turbulent immorality will; for 'less tolerable' is more punishment, and 'worse and worse' in character, has the heavier judgment, 2 Tim iii 13.

And while natural repentance unto moral reformation has been a temporal salvation from impending judgments, as in the cases above named, so hardened and extreme immorality has evidently, in the order of the moral government of God, called down provoked and sudden judgments, as in the cases of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts v 10; the Egyptians, Sodom, Saul, and Jezebel: and as the Lord threatened Judah, saying, 'For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the judgments thereof, because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked; but I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem,' Amos 114,5; as it did befall Jerusalem, and especially so, the most violent persecutors of our Lord (See Buck's Theological Dictionary, article, 'Judgments of God').

And to produce this moral reformation and natural change in them and their conduct, whereby they might escape those judgments according to the conduct of the moral government of God in all ages, was the design and meaning of the exhortation to repentance in all those texts above set down, evidently so from this fact, that there is not a text in the apostles' writing and speaking, between our text and the end of revelation, wherein a different meaning hereon is in any shape or form carried out or authorized.


'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not,' Matt xxiii 37. If that which is not of the truth be falsehood, and that which is not after the mind of the Spirit, the meaning and intent of the speaker, be not of the truth on a text, I should think there have been as many falsehoods told in the name of the Lord (but I should hope ignorantly) on this text by making it out to be an everlasting gospel text, in regard to eternal salvation by grace in Christ, and in saying that Christ would have saved and gathered the Jews unto eternal life, and all other sinners too *in like manner where the gospel has come, who are now lost, but that they would not be saved, and that Christ consequently could not save them, as any deceiver ever told falsehoods to deceive on any subject under the whole heavens. Burkitt says on this text, 'There is no longing like unto God's longing for a people's salvation: 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee. When shall it once be?' How very different is this to the truth which saith, 'What his soul desireth, even that he doeth,' Job xxiii 13. 'His arm shall rule for him,' Isaiah xl 10. 'He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?' Dan iv 35, saying, 'I will work, and who shall let it?' Isa xliii 13. When a witness contradicts himself, he is considered to know nothing in truth of the case in hand, and that he is a perjured wretch, who deserves to be transported for interfering as a witness in a matter he properly knows nothing of. And a very little time since, a public meeting was held at Dr A R's chapel, and it was said to be 'a time of humiliation, for that doubtless there were many lost who might have been saved if the church had done their duty.' I feel at a loss to know what sort of inefficacious corner such men really assign to the God of all grace in regard to the salvation of sinners. Is not salvation God's own property? and to whom hath he at any time committed the outlay, further than to 'declare the testimony?' 1 Cor. 11 1.

Follow those very humiliation men a little way, and when they come to our text, you would hear them as piously declare, 'That the Lord would save many who are not saved, because they will not believe and be saved, 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem!' And so at one time human duty performed, might have saved the lost, and at another time, even God himself cannot save the lost that he would save, because they will not believe and be saved. There is no part of the truth of God in either of those points; and how men can stand up and say such things in the Lord's name I cannot tell, except it is that they know not the scriptures nor the power of God. On our text let us consider,

A word to the Jewish rulers

First, that in the words of our text, our Lord speaks to one class of people concerning another, even to the heads, rulers, and teachers, concerning the general inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 'How often would I have gathered your children, and ye would not.' And did ever one class of people hinder the eternal God from saving another class by his grace with an everlasting salvation? 'Who would set the Mars and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together,' Isa xxvii 4. And where the eternal salvation of souls by the grace of God is the subject in hand, it is no where to be found, that God hath ever consulted one party of men about the salvation of another; 'For who hath known the mind of the Lord, and who hath been his counsellor?' Rom xi 34. The Lord hath neither lost nor cast away any of his people whom he did foreknow, and so all Israel shall be saved,' verse 26. Our Lord never said, either in our text or elsewhere, I would have taken you to heaven, but you would not go; nor, I would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but you would not be saved; nor, I would have given you eternal life, but I could not get you to have it; nor in our text, I would have gathered you: but how often, by the prophets, from various corruptions of your covenant economy, and so from various foes, invaders, and calamities at different periods, and now at last by myself, as a city and nation, from storms of judgment and from the devouring eagle, the Romans, according to the conditions of your covenant, Ex xx, xxi, xxii, xxxiii, xxiv 7,8, saying, 'Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever,' Jer. xxv 5; xvill 7,8, would I have gathered your children, under the wings of protection, and ye would not. Jesus as a Jewish man and prophet

Second, that our Lord is not speaking 'in our text on the subject of eternal salvation at all, nor *in the language of the 'mighty to save,' nor on the subject, ground or premises of his gift of eternal life; but in the simple speech and language of a minister of the word of that truth that regarded their constituted state as a nation and people, himself being of the seed of Abraham; and in which sense as a man and minister, 'he came unto his own, and his own received him not,' John 1 11; and in which sense also, as a man, he wept over Jerusalem, Luke xix 41, hungered, thirsted, and was weary as a man; and which was no denial to his personal dignity, as 'the Lord from heaven,' nor to the almighty power and fulness of saving grace in him by the everlasting covenant, whereby 'it pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should dwell; ' but it was in due order of perfect accordance with the Jewish economy, first to be observed by him in his relation to them by the covenant of circumcision; and also as a proof that his manhood was the very same as the manhood of other men, Heb 11 14, sin only excepted, Heb iv 15: even as his servant Paul had his private feelings as a man, for 'his kinsmen according to the flesh,' Rom ix 3, and his official and public feelings as an apostle of the Lord, Acts xx 24.

The Abrahamic covenant

The Jews had held their land on the tenure of the covenant made with Abraham for them, Gen xiii 15,16; xv 16; and with their fathers when the Lord brought them up out of Egypt as above noticed; but which covenant they broke, and continued to break in every perverse way. And as a farmer forfeits his good farm and his good livelihood thereon, by breaking every item of his lease, even so the Jews forfeited their night to the land of Canaan, by breaking every item of that conditional covenant, or lease, upon the tenure of which the right of possession was given them, and upon the observance of which only, their night of possession was to be secured to them. But forfeited first by the ten tribes, in a way of grievous idolatry, they were driven out of the land and scattered abroad, according to the - conditions of the covenant, Deut xi 16,17,27,28, after holding it seven hundred and thirty years, 2 Kings xvii 22,23. Judah not having then so awfully departed from the covenant of the land, continued in it about a hundred and nineteen years longer; 'Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, - Turn ye from  your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets,' verse 13. But 'Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they had made,' verse 19. 'And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house which I said, my name shall be there,' 2 Kings xxiii 27. And the Lord's ways being equal, Ez. xviii 29, he drove them out of the land into captivity for seventy years, and then brought them again and reinstated them in the land, on the tenure of the very same covenant, with all its terms and conditions of possession exactly the same.

And the very same commands of the same kind of obedience as a nation, the same warnings and cautions against their departure from the covenant lease of their possession of the land, and the very same rebukes and threatenings on their corruptions in departing from the covenant, and the very same exhortations to the same repentance, reformation, and returning to their covenant, were as perfectly applicable to them to the very end of their polity as a nation and people, as in the early days of the prophets; without any interference whatever with another covenant, or new obligations. But, in spite of all the warnings, cautions, threatenings, and exhortations, of the prophets of their foretime, Judah departed from the covenant and increased their corruptions, until the coming of the greatest of all their prophets, of whom they were warned; saying to Moses, '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. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him,' Deut xviii 18,19. And when this greatest of all prophets came, he took his position as a minister and prophet, upon the very ground and premises of all the prophets, in regard to them as a nation, and their state in regard to their covenant of the land; and warned, cautioned, threatened, and exhorted them, on their covenant ground, and 'in the language of the very same economy, for their good as a nation, as all the prophets had done; and clothed his instructions, reproofs, warnings, threatenings, and exhortations to repent, reform, and return to an agreement with the lease of their land, and covenant economy of their life and being as a nation, with the significant solemnities, not of the power of internal eternally saving grace, which did not belong to this economy; but of miracles and signs, that in truth he was 'the Son,' and that great Prophet. And they continuing in their hardened degeneracy from the word and statutes of their covenant, and rejecting with hostility his exhortatory ministry thereto, and to their following him in external regeneration of times, customs, and dispensation, according to the word of their own prophets concerning such a new order of things, and which they themselves used to speak of as the new times, when the consolation of Israel should come, but which they now resisted; he said unto them, 'If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace,' as a nation and people; 'but now they are hid from thine eyes,' Luke xix 42-44. 'Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,' Matt xxiii 38. What house is this? Because, if this text were an eternal salvation text, this house must be heaven, now left void and desolate of them who might have inhabited it! But nay, the text is national, and the house is their city and land, and the right of possession which they had forfeited, by violating every item of their lease or covenant of it, and their ejectment was accordingly thus determined and declared by the Lord of the soil.

Not an eternal salvation text

Third. That this is not an eternal salvation text is further evident, (1) Because it is not individual as eternal salvation is; but collective, as of the whole city and nation at once. (2) Because if this text, and such like to the Jews, were eternal salvation texts, then 'their unbelief would make the faith of God to them of none effect;' but to which conclusion the apostle exclaims, 'God forbid;, and therefore this text and such like, most certainly can have no such meaning, unless the apostle's judgment and conclusion were wrong, Rom ill 3,4. (3) Because, if our text, and such like to the Jews, were eternal salvation texts, their marked unbelief and nonrepentance as a body, must be of a nature correspondent  thereto, and then their stumbling by their unbelief, must be to their eternal fall: but to which conclusion, also, the apostle exclaims, 'God forbid,' Rom xi 11. And no such meaning can be intended in our text and the like; for the Jews have yet the time of their fulness to come, and to be received as life from the dead, verse 12,15; and which can never be true of the once lost and cast away from God's eternal salvation. (4) Because, as eternal salvation is by the Lord's gift of eternal life, and is above all damage, as 'they shall never perish;' so the awful sentence of a once cast away state of soul from the Lord and his eternal salvation, has no remedy for ever; but the sentence of rejection here passed, is from the mouth of the Lord but periodical only, 'until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,' Luke xxi 24; and then to be graciously superseded by the everlasting life blessings of eternal salvation, but in another form, and by another covenant, Rom xi 15,25-27; as our Lord plainly declares at the end of our chapter, and following our text, saying, 'Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' And will the finally lost hereafter so see him, so delight him, so love his appearing, and so worshipfully bless him? We know they will not. And as the rejection is therefore but temporal as a nation, the gathering under the protection named would have been no more; the lines of these two points being perfectly parallel, according to the nature of both, and the above scriptures.

Re-statement of the covenants

Fourth, to make our text and many more like it plain and clear to every reader, as to the real premises they occupy, and which is the only way of coming at the truth intended by what is said, it should always be borne in mind with special regard, that there are three covenant economies which God hath set up, set forth, and declared in the sacred scriptures; as we hinted at our onset of these remarks, and which we will now notice a little further. And in the order in which I would notice them, I would call the first:

The Eden covenant of nature: which God made with Adam, and all human nature in him. This covenant was but natural, as it is written, 'The first man Adam was made a living soul, howbeit that was not first that was spiritual, but that which was natural. The first man is of the earth, earthy. as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy,' l Cor xv 45-48. The character of Adam as natural, and not spiritual, and his posterity so likewise in him, declares such to be the nature of this economy, and by which, accordingly, as its entire and distinct extent, he had earthy Eden for his possession, on condition of his obedience. And all the power and property of the obedience hereby required was perfectly in man's own self; so that do and live, by nature's own inherent property only, or disobey and die, was the exclusive nature, order and extent of this economy. And as from its altogether separate and distinct nature and design, no help by any inwrought power of saving grace in Christ Jesus could possibly come within this economy, as any accordant part of it, even so, nothing toward the salvation of the lost can possibly come out of this economy in any way whatever; for by the law is the knowledge of sin, and death for sin, and nothing otherwise. So that if faith in our Lord Jesus Christ were of the law, and a duty of the law, it could then have nothing to do with the sinner's justification to life, because it would be but a deed of the law, and 'by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified; either causal, or evidential.

The second covenant economy is the covenant of the land of Canaan, which the Lord, concerning that land, made with Abraham for his natural seed. 'Israel after the flesh,' 1 Cor x 18; 'the natural branches of the olive tree,' by natural birth and an external adoption to all the external favours of that covenant 'which the Lord made with their fathers in the day when he took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;' and which was but a repetition, explanation, and confirmation of the covenant made with Abraham, Heb Vill 9. This covenant was written on tables of stone Only, and not on the heart, Ex xxxiv 28, and therefore it was but external and natural in its requirements of personal state or of obedience, and external only in its favours. The personal state was not required to be a new creature in Christ Jesus, nor was the obedience required of that nature; nor were the favours spiritual blessings unto eternal life. Because according to this covenant, 'they had ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary,' Heb ix 1, 'which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of the reformation,' verse 10. Now although this covenant 'was a figure for the time then present,' verse 9, and 'a shadow of good things to come,' to the elect heirs of salvation, as a help to their faith in the great reality, yet it was not the very image of the things,' chap x 1; and so it was in itself to them as a people and nation, of external and national favours only, on condition of their own free will natural and moral obedience: supernatural grace by the power of the Holy Ghost being no part of this covenant, and spiritual obedience to eternal life being no part of its requirements of them as a nation.

This covenant economy was perfectly complete, uniform, and entire of itself, after its own kind, and for its own designs; and of which the Lord speaks accordingly, saying, 'And now, 0 inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard; what could I have done more for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?' Isa v 3,4. Why brought it forth idolatry, self-inventions of lies, and running after the customs of the heathen, instead of keeping to the statutes and judgments of the Lord, according to the covenant of their land? If poor mistaken dust and ashes will lift its wormy head and say from this text, that 'God hath done all that he could to save sinners by his grace in Christ Jesus, and that without effect on many souls, for that they would not be saved, and that he is disappointed of their salvation,' I envy not the ignorance, self-righteousness, nor the presumption of such; while they must hold themselves prepared to answer the question, 'Is there any thing to hard for me, saith the Lord?' Jer xxxii 27.

The Lord is not speaking here in the language of his omnipotent grace in Christ Jesus, but in the language and order of this covenant economy of external favour only; the very same as our Lord speaks in our text, saying, 'How often would I have gathered your children, and ye would not;' and the very same as it is said of our Lord on the very same covenant promises, 'And he could there do no mighty work; and he marvelled at their unbelief,' Mark vi 5,6. Their obligations were but natural and of free-will, and these were the Lord's claims on them by this covenant economy, and their disobedience and rebellion was a robbing of God, Mal ill 8. Their obedience was their life in the land, and their disobedience was their death or expulsion from it by this covenant; and Moses set these as life and death before them, for them to choose; and by their Amen, Deut xxvii, they professed to choose the path of obedience and live in the land, xxx 15,19,20; but from the days of their fathers they went away from the Lord's ordinances of this covenant and kept them not, Mal ill 7. And therefore the Lord said of them and their land, under the figure of his vineyard, 'I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briars and thorns; and I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it,' Isa v 6. The very same thing which our Lord also declared in figure, when he spoke to the fruitless 'fig tree,' saying, 'Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away,' Matt xxi 19; according to the words, 'Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.'

This covenant, therefore, was not in itself a covenant of eternal salvation, being but 'a shadow,' made 'nothing perfect;' its sacrifices could 'never take away sin,' it was the 'ready to vanish away,' and was made up of those 'things which are shaken, and do not remain,' Heb xii 27 28. And consequently the removing it, and the people out of their privileges in the land for breaking it, was not a casting away any of God's people whom he did foreknow, from eternal salvation by another covenant, Rom xi 1,2.

The third covenant economy is of unconditional grace in Christ Jesus as its living head, and of internal power to the production of personal and vital godliness by the renewing of the Holy Ghost unto eternal life. According to this covenant, all the fulness, power, and property required, for the repentance unto life, faith, obedience, and the eternal life of all the interested by divine choice, of all nations, people and tongues under heaven is in Christ, and is in the sovereign dispensation of God alone, in the name and person of our Lord Jesus Christ as mediator and surety of this better covenant of sure mercies, by better promises, 'According to the eternal purpose which he purposed  in Christ Jesus our Lord,' Eph iii 11. And all human conditions are as totally and entirely excluded for ever from this covenant economy, as the land of Canaan covenant was wholly and absolutely conditional only, was of external persuasion only to obedience, and was of external favour and privileges only; internal grace by the renewing power of the Holy Ghost forming no part of that covenant with them as a nation.

According to this covenant economy, (1) Christ, as head, is a quickening Spirit and quickeneth whom he will, John v 21; the spiritual Adam, the heavenly, the Lord from heaven, 1 Cor xv 4548, 'Lord of all,' 'Head over all,' 'Mighty to save,' 'The Almighty;' and we will call this the heavenly covenant, from the character of its Head, and because it is wholly and alone instituted for heaven and eternal life. (2) According to this covenant economy, all the subjects of it are children, and all the children are 'born of God,' and are of God alone 'made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;' all the people of God's eternal praise being formed for the same by himself only, Col 1 12; Isa xliii 6,7,21. (3) This everlasting new covenant economy is called God's 'new thing,' Isa xliii 19-2 1, in which, 'behold, I make all things new,' Rev xxi 5, as that of 'a new heart,' 'a new creature in Christ Jesus,' 'a new and living way.' And according to which, 'all things are of him, and through him, and to him;' of his will, through his power, and to his glory, Rom xi 36; as the good pleasure of his will is the first cause of all, the counsel of his will is the rule by which he works all, and the praise of his glory is the end to which he will infallibly bring all the things of this covenant, Eph 15,6,11; with the whole church of his 'chosen, called, and faithful,' singing and shouting aloud for joy, 'salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God; Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,' Rev xvii 14; xix 1,6.

The covenants have separate natures and must be kept distinct

Fifth, the fact that the above three covenant economies are recorded and set forth in the word of God, I suppose no Bible reader will for one moment pretend to dispute; but it is their perfectly distinct and separate nature and constitution, and the fact that the Lord himself and his servants by his commission through the sacred scriptures, do on the respective premises of these covenants, use a mode of language and expression peculiar to that covenant upon the premises of which the discourse, address, or words are delivered; that as these covenants can never be made to be all one and the same thing in their nature and constitution, so the language of the one, can never in form be applied to the other; and that the things of these covenants are as different in their nature as the covenants themselves are different; which demands our particular attention, observation and care. Because all these held apart according to their nature, and in their own respective place, according to their constitution and design, the harmony of truth is duly and rightfully maintained; but to confound them, is confusion, untruth and contradiction, imposed on the word, works, and revealed character of the almighty God of truth, wisdom and order. And to shew the solemn truth of this remark, we will compare the language of these covenants.

Cain being angry, he reflected on the equity of God's government, and by the Eden covenant the Lord said, 'If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?' Gen iv 5,7, while by the heavenly covenant it is, 'He hath made us accepted in the beloved,' Eph 1 6; 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done,' Titus ill 5; 'That being Justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life,' v 7. But we will shew the difference between the things said by the order of the Canaan covenant, and those said by the order of the heavenly covenant of eternal salvation. It is said by the Canaan, 'I will drive them out of my house, I will love them no more,' Hos. ix 15; by the heavenly, 'I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely,' Hos. xiv 4; by the Canaan, 'Call his name Loammi; for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God,' Hos. 1 6,9; by the heavenly, 'And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God,' v 10,11. By the Canaan, 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,' Hosea iv 6: by the heavenly, 'My people shall know my name,' Isa Ill 6, '1 will give them an heart to know me,' Jer. xxiv 7; 'For they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,' chap xxxi 34; 'and my people shall never be ashamed,' Joel 11 26-27. By the Canaan, 'Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me,' Prov. 128; by the heavenly, 'They shall call on my name, and I will hear them, I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God,' Beech xiii 9; 'Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved,' Joel ii 32; 'For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened,' Matt vii 8. By the Canaan, 'The soul that sinneth shall die,' Ezek xviii 4; by the heavenly, 'I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish,' John x 28; 'For this my son was dead, and is alive again; was lost, and is found,' Luke Rev 24; 'Your life is hid with Christ in God,' Col ill 3. By the Canaan, 'Why will ye die?' Ezek. xviii 31; by the heavenly, 'Ye are not your own,' 1 Cor vi 19; 'The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,' John x 11; 'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death,' Rom Viii 2; '1 am come that they might have life,' John x 10; 'Fear not; behold, I live for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death, ''Because I live, ye shall live also,' Rev 1 18; John xiv 19.

By the Canaan covenant the Lord says, 'When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall die; and when the wicked man turneth from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive,' Ezek xviii 26,27; by the heavenly, 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works,' Rom iv 6; 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit,' Rom viii 1; 'Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord,' Isa liv 17; '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,' 2 Tim 19; 'Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation,' 1 Pet i 5; 'Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus?' Rom viii 31-39; 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,' Heb ix 12. By the Canaan, 'Wash ye, make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes,' Isa 1 16; by the heavenly, 'If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,' John xiii. 8: 'From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you,' Ezek xxxvi 25; 'The blood of Jesus Christ his dear Son cleanseth us from all sin,' 1 John 1 7; 'His name shall be called JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins,' Matt 1 21; 'In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve,' Jer. i 20. By the Canaan, 'Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,' Jer. iv 4; by the heavenly, we are 'circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,' Col ii 11. By the Canaan, 'Cast away from you all your transgressions,' Ezek xviii 3 1; by the heavenly, 'He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,' Heb if 26. By the Canaan, 'They shall even bear their iniquity,' Ezek xliv 10; by the heavenly, 'His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,' 1 Pet 1124. By the Canaan, 'Then I said, I have laboured in vain and spent my strength for nought,' Isa xlix 4; by the heavenly, 'He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied,' Isa liii 11.

By the Canaan covenant, the law was written on stones.- by the heavenly, the law is written on the heart, Heb viii 10; 2 Cor. iii 3. By the Canaan, 'Ye will not;' by the heavenly, 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,' Ps cx 3. By the Canaan, 'Ye will not come unto me,'John v 40; by the heavenly, 'I will draw all men unto me,'John xii 32. By the Canaan, 'How often would I have gathered your children;' by the heavenly, 'I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory,' Isa lxvi 18. By the Canaan, 'Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways and live?' Ezek xviii 23; by the heavenly, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,' Rom ix 11,15,18; Luke iv 26,27. By the Canaan, 'Make you a new heart and a new spirit, Ezek xviii 3 1; by the heavenly, 'A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will put my Spirit within you,' Ezek xxxvi 26,27.

An Eden heart is of pure upright nature, as God first made man; a Canaan heart is one in moral accordance with the conditional covenant of the land; and a heavenly heart is by new birth and new creatureship in Christ Jesus, the spiritual workmanship of God by grace only, Eph 11 10. An Eden heart was only fit for Eden, by the law of nature; a Canaan heart, required by that covenant, was fit only for the possession of that land, and was neither fit for Eden by the law of nature, nor for heaven by grace; and a heavenly heart is not fit for Eden by the requirements of the law of nature, but for heaven by the grace and mediationship of our Lord Jesus Christ. These things are properly distinct, and if truth be our enquiry, our concern will be to know their proper nature, place, order, and design; and to understand how 'He hath made every things beautiful in his time,' Eccles ill 11; that truth is harmonious without a jar, and that no such thing is known in the revealed will of God, as spiritual duties devolving on natural men, by the sovereign favour, free grace, and eternal salvation of God by the mediationship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus taking truth in its proper place, order and design, according to the covenant premises upon which the same is spoken through the sacred word, perhaps it will be asked, since the greater part of the old testament scriptures was spoken to the Jews, upon the premises of the covenant of the land of Canaan, and that covenant is now for ever passed away, are those scriptures by the will of God, now of no further use? My answer to this is, that the Jews, as separated from A nations by a particular covenant, and having their all as a nation by that covenant, were an emblem of the true elect, saved and called church of God out of all nations; and that so likewise the scriptures literally spoken to them on their particular covenant premises and not to the heathen world, are spiritually applicable, not to the world as dead in sin, but to the living, spiritual, and everlasting covenant church, the true 'Mount Zion,' Heb xii 22-24; and that herein was the truth of the vision of God, 'As it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel,' Ezek 116; x 10; and that so they are taken and interwoven by the apostles in their epistles to the churches and believing individuals, as so really belonging to them, saying, 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,' 2 Tim iii 16,17.


'For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other of life unto life,' 2 Cor. 11 15,16. This text has often been explained to say, that the ministration of the gospel of salvation and of the grace of God is turned into a ministry of destruction and divine wrath on them that are lost, because they will not believe and be saved. But the gospel devolves no such new obligations and penalties, nor makes any such proposals to the will of man, nor is such the meaning of the text, by any proof to be found in the mind of the Spirit through the sacred word. Christ in person, name, work, and fullness, is a sweet savour of acceptable smell and taste unto God the Father, Eph v 2; and the truth of Christ is unto God a sweet savour; and the ministers of the gospel of Christ are also, by sincerity, simplicity, faithfulness and honesty, in the truth they preach, unto God a sweet savour of Christ; and which he makes manifest by the arm of his power; and this, too, in them that perish as well as in them that are saved. And being thus unto God a savour of Christ in both, the apostle says, 'To the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of life unto life,'

The gospel is a descriptive and declarative light on the character and state of men, saying to the wicked, 'It shall go III with them;' describing likewise the personal state and features of character of the wicked; and on the other hand, saying to the righteous, 'It shall go well with them;' describing also the personal state and features of character of the righteous; and which the apostle calls, 'commending ourselves to every man's conscience as in the sight of God,' 2 Cor. iv 2; shewing up things and characters simply and honestly as they really are by the truth of God; whereby the ungodly are shewn up in true character to be in an ungodly lost state, and the children of God are shewn up in true character to be in a godly saved state; that the one be not deceived, and the other be duly comforted and encouraged. As in like manner that a case might occur in a judicatory court, when two characters shall be brought before the judge, and the one has his innocence, not made, but proved and declared; and the other has his guilt, not made, but proved and declared; and to the one the judge is a savour of life unto life, but to the other a savour of death unto death, by a declarative test of character by the light of the law, Deut xxvi. And so a real true and honest gospel minister of Christ is either a savour of death unto death or of life unto life, by a test of every man's state and character by the light of the holy word and truth of God; and which appears most plainly to me to be the apostle's only meaning in our text. But we hear nothing here of the Lord's having committed the salvation of souls into the apostle's hands, nor any thing of the apostle's awful responsibility for the souls of them that are lost, according to the pious cant, idle and senseless talk, of some duty faith men in our days; but, on the contrary, of 'Thanks unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,' though all that heard were not saved; 'for we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God,' by mixing all up together as one and the same, things that essentially differ in nature and design, by misapplying it to character and case, and by making it to contradict itself, and so to say what the Lord never thought or meant; 'but as of sincerity, but as of '\God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ,' 2 Cor. ii 17.


'And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil,' John ill 19. We should have thought this text and its connections to be too plain to involve any difficulty, and to be such a plain statement of mere facts, on the hardened, sinful, condemned, and yet self-righteous state of man under the law by nature, and of the truth of which being simply, yet fully made manifest by the light of Christ, truth and holiness, that a misapplication would be scarcely possible to be made of the subject. But this text and its connections have, however, not escaped being twisted about to duty faith purposes; and to say that men are condemned to eternal death for their not receiving the mercy and favour of God in Christ Jesus to eternal life; as though God, in his great love, proposed eternal life to their believing, and then changed his love into wrath, and eternally damns them, for their not believingly receiving the eternal blessings of his everlasting love in Christ Jesus; making man's believing the cause of God's mercy to salvation, and man's not believing to salvation the cause of condemnation!

Most certainly our Lord had no such meaning, unless the apostle Paul was awfully and altogether wrong in saying, 'For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all,' Rom xi 32. These words are a pointed denial to every thing of such meaning on our Lord's words in our text and the connection; and a full proof the apostle never so understood his Lord and Master, either here or elsewhere. And to put any such construction upon our Lord's words, in- our text or its connection, I am sure we might just as well say from the apostle's words, that unbelief is the cause of God's mercy; 'for God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.' But the apostle's sole and only meaning, is to set forth the perfectly free, sovereign, and unconditional favor of God alike to both Jews and Gentiles, and that their native unbelief is made really to prove, illustrate, and set off the truth of the same; in the same way as he implies, that 'our unrighteousness commends and righteousness of God,' Rom ill 5; and the same as God commended his love, in that while we were not considered as alive by faith, but as dead in sin and unbelief, 'Christ died for us,' Rom v 8. The apostle also very clearly shews, that the mercy of God is the cause of faith, and not faith the cause of God's mercy; and that faith of itself is none other than a bestowment of God's mercy on the heirs of life: as on them a sign, and to them and in them, the witness of God, that they are, as in scripture character, the children of his love, promise, and so of his salvation, Rom axe 30-32.

'He that believeth not is condemned already,' verse 18; and he is so by the law as a transgressor; but his not believing unto salvation does not make him so, but proves and declares him to be so, and he is as a sinner just where he would be if there were no Saviour of any; 'because he hath not believed in the name of

The only begotten Son of God.' This because intends neither moving nor procuring cause, but evidential of the unbeliever's state. The sentence of condemnation is by the law passed upon every sinner, and Christ Jesus is the only name given under heaven whereby there is salvation from that condemnation: and as by the word and will of God, faith in Christ is the face, countenance, and representative sign of the soul's whole and real state, and of interest in Christ unto salvation from all the condemnation of the law; even so, unbelief in Christ is the face, countenance, and representative sign of the soul's whole and real state, as under sin, without Christ, and under the condemnation of the law; the wrath of God, by the sentence of the law, still' abiding on him,' verse 36, he having no deliverance by Christ, of the truth of which his unbelief is a proof, sign, and representation, by the light, truth, and testimony of the word of God. And the root of this unbelief is discovered, and the truth of this condemnation state is further shewn and made manifest, by a man's 'loving darkness rather than light,' but this love of darkness and the condemnation entailed upon it, is not created, but proved and confirmed as to fact, by the light that is but proved and confirmed as to fact, by the light that is come; the light being not the cause, but the test and proof of true character. And this is true, whether it be of the child of light, who cometh to the light for an honest manifestation and proof of his true and real state; or of the child of darkness, who hates the light because he loves darkness, and hates the detection of his loved evil deeds, by the light of truth and holiness.

And this may be illustrated by the figure of a family man, who, taking a light in his hand, and going round to see how all things are in the house as a last thing at night, and going into the room where his several little boys are in bed, all wakeful, he holds up the light, and while with pleasure he reads in their little sparkling eyes his own dear children, they, with enlivened pleasure, read in his eyes and countenance their loving parent, and all is well there. But hearing some noise, he proceeds to another part of the house, enters a room, and there finds some thieves busy at their work of knavery; and at first the thieves try to put out the light, but failing in that attempt, they scamper out at the window or elsewhere, to escape the light, loving darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. Now the light in the man's hand makes neither children nor thieves, but shews up both in true character. And this appears to me to be our Lord's entire meaning, the same as the apostle's 'savor of life unto life, and of death unto death,' as we have observed on that text.

If, from the mere face of our text, it be yet contended, that our Lord really means that man's not believing unto eternal salvation is the cause of his eternal condemnation by the light of truth and grace that is come into the world by Christ Jesus, then other texts ought, and have a right, on the mere face of them, to be taken in the same way; and then it must be admitted, and cannot be self consistently denied, that our Lord's coming, speaking, and doing what he did, really made men to be sinners! Saying, 'If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin,' John xv 22. 'If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin,' verse 24. So making out our holy Lord Christ himself, in Corning, speaking, and working as he did, to be the cause of the sin, and sinful state, for which unbelieving men are condemned! This is awful in the very sound of it, and yet it is but a direct and fair conclusion on the two latter-cited texts; if the duty of natural men to believe unto eternal salvation and their not believing to eternal salvation the cause of their eternal condemnation, be determined the doctrine and meaning of our Lord *in our text and its connection.

But if we take all the above texts, as they do really and properly mean, and are intended to mean, the test, proof, and disclosure of men and things in their true character, as in the sight of God, then the whole are plain in truth and holiness, according to the word of the Lord saying, 'Judgment will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hall shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place,' Isaiah xxiii 17. 'And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles,' Zeph i 12. 'Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor,' Matt ill 12. 'And the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is,' 1 Car iii 13. 'Every plant, which my heavenly Father both not planted, shall be rooted up,' Matt xv 13.


Our Lord's sermon on the mount, recorded in Matt v, vi vii, does not afford the least shade of example or authority by one single word for universal invitations or of duty faith, for the dead in sin of themselves to believe unto eternal life, nor to have the things and blessings of eternal life, nor to do the spiritual acts of the quickened and born again into newness of life by the Holy Spirit; although many things therein have been and are so taken and misapplied. These three chapters were all delivered in one discourse, and the whole was properly an ordinational and ministerial sermon, delivered by our Lord to his apostles and ministerial disciples, and was peculiarly for them, although the people heard and were astonished at his doctrine, chap vii 28.

'And seeing the multitudes he went up into a mountain; and when he was set his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth and taught them, chap v 1,2; and 'he taught them as one having authority,' chap vii 29. And he declared them to be in the faith though little, chap vi 30, - that God was their Father, who would give them the good things they asked, chap vii 11, that they were the salt of the earth, and were to be careful by a godly sober life and conduct, and by faithfulness, firmness, and honesty in the truth, to preserve the savant of their public ministry from any just suspicion or reproach, chap v 13, - that they were the light of the world, and were to be careful, Tabour, and aim so to let their light shine, as the ministers of truth, true godliness, and of the living and true God, that men seeing their good works, might glorify God their Father which is in heaven, verse 14-16.

These things could not possibly in truth apply to the multitudes, but to the believing and ministerial disciples of our Lord; and the whole sermon was to them, in solemn charge of their ministry and ministerial life. For there is not the least shadow of a variation of the address through the whole sermon, as to any different class of people from the apostles; and it is to them also as the children of God all the way through, varying only from the plural to the singular, and from the singular to the plural personal pronoun: and in the whole sermon God is sixteen times called their Father; in chap v three times, in chap vi  twelve times, and in chap vii once: and which is a mode of expression our Lord never once on any occasion used to the unbelieving, or indefinitely to his believing disciples. And he taught them to distinguish characters as to who were the blest, and who should outstand every storm and flood to eternal life; and so by reflection to shew the character and lot of the contrary, - he taught them to distinguish between the law that came of old time by Moses, and the gospel of his commission, - how to pray as well as to preach, - to have their eye always single in the truth as to principle and motive, - not to seek the praise and applause of men, but the favour and approbation of God in all they did, - to aim to set that example in all the departments of their lives that should be worthy of imitation, - to be very cautious against a spirit of self-righteousness in regard to a mote in a brother's eye, - to beware of false prophets, or public men, who would come to them in sheep's clothing for their sanction, and by them to be considered the ministers of God, - to Judge of every tree by its fruit, - and for themselves always to enter in at the strait gate, and to strive to do so, Luke xiii 24, in all their ministrations of the truth and public labours; whatever errors or popular opinions they might have to oppose, and however offensively, narrow, bigoted, and strait, they may be considered in so doing. And he encouraged them not to fear wants, foes, or persecutions, saying, 'Ye are of more value than the fowls of the air, whom your heavenly Father does not fail to feed, and consequently, will be sure much more to feed and take care of you;' and that, 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.'

If every professed minister of the gospel had this most instructive, solemn, and ever-blessed charge, vitally laid on his heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, a vast number, from various ways would preach very differently to what they do now; the light of truth would be clear from their lips, and the salt of their ministry would have some little savour; and had it been always so beside much else, we should hear nothing of its being the duty of the natural man to believe unto eternal

salvation, and to possess himself of that faith that is alone the free grace gift of God and fruit of the Spirit; nor should we hear anything of universal invitations or exhortations to eternal life; even as now, not one word of the kind is any-where to be found, from our Lord's, or from his apostles' address to the world dead in sin.


Many thing in the parables of our Lord, and especially in the parable of the Marriage of the King's Son, Matt xxii, have been considered quite to the point, in favour of duty faith and universal invitations, and are of course so taken up and handled. But passing by the fact, that parables have always some general design, and are never intended to mean every thing that the distinct words borrowed to make up the figure, would literally imply, we win look and turn our attention to verse 11- 13, which contain the general design of this parable, and which must at once exclude all warrant for such sentiments, as having no possible place whatever in our Lord's intention by the parable, or by any of the terms used to express it.

'And when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment; and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the King to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (1) Here is the wedding garment named; and which is 'the best robe,' not wrought by the needy, but brought forth and put upon him, by gift and gracious command, Luke xv 22. It is the righteousness that is imputed without works, and which makes the blessed man, Rom iv 8. It is the garment of salvation, with which the Lord himself clothes his church, and makes her greatly to rejoice in him, Isa lxi 10. It is the righteousness of God, Rom ill 21,22, which the Saviour brought in, Dan ix 24, and in which alone Paul most earnestly desired to be found, Phil iii 9. (2) That no man is welcome to this gospel feast of the new testament kingdom of our Lord, without this wedding garment on. (3) That it is a presumptuous self-righteous offence to the king, for any one to expect to come acceptable to this feast, either as proper for the church below, or for heaven above at last, without this wedding garment of imputed righteousness. (4) That, consequently, we can have no warrant from the King to invite any, but those to whom we can in the King's own name guarantee the certainty of this wedding garment of imputed righteousness; and which we can do as sure as the Lord liveth and is true, to all the characters that are everywhere named and described for us, in connection with the gospel grace and eternal salvation invitations of the holy word; but most decidedly to none others. (5) That we, therefore, can have no warrant for universal invitations, because we cannot guarantee a universal imputation of righteousness; and without this righteousness we can guarantee no acceptance with the Lord by any one word of his mouth. (6) Because the gospel ministry has no such awful malignity in it, as to invite any man into a condition wherein, adding presumptuous offence to all his former sins, he is ordered to be bound hand and foot, taken away, and in wrath cast out, with, 'How camest thou in hither?'

And the King saith unto him, 'Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? (1) Here is a man that had not a wedding garment; he had not one on in the former verse, and here he had not got one at all to put on it seems; not one in his faith as a point of belief; not one in his hope of justification to life; not one in his way of expecting to stand complete and without blame before the Lord in the last great day. And according to the general design of this parable, this man was, first, the Pharisees of the Jewish nation, whose selfrighteousness was thus shown up in true character and condemned. And, next, this man in figure is every professor of religion who has not got the Lord's imputed righteousness as the only garment of his hope of acceptance before God in his kingdom. (2) 'How camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?' since there is no way revealed, declared, or meant in the sacred word of eternal truth, of a soul's acceptance into eternal life but in the Lord's own imputed righteousness; and so not in the fleshly any way of man's own pious fancy, but in this the Lord's own one, and only one peculiar way of grace, and of Christ all in all. (3) The man without the wedding garment is called 'Friend.' This was, first, in a way of usual common courtesy, and so was suited to the parable. But next and beyond this, true godliness is a matter of real, vital, and soul friendship between the Lord and his blest and saved people; for salvation is the love of God in works and blessings of grace declared, and true and vital godliness is love in such way divinely begotten in the soul and brought forth *into life toward the Lord; for we love him only because he so first loved us. And, consequently, the professor of religion is a professor of such friendship toward the Lord, and so the more awful the hypocrisy when it is discovered to be after the flesh only, and not in the Spirit, truth, and righteousness of the Lord. (4) 'And he was speechless.' Hark, the awful silence! for this is not without its weighty meaning. He could give no answer whatever on the authority of anything in the Lord's own word, nor by any way in the Lord's own name; and all else is no speech at all before the Lord. And our Lord declared the man speechless; so that nothing in heaven nor on earth can find or furnish a speech for the man before the Lord, who has not the wedding garment. But if in the counsels of the Lord, or in the word of the Lord, or in the ministry of angels, or in the ministry of John the Baptist, or in the ministry of our Lord, or in the ministry of the apostles, or in the authorized ministry of any of the Lord's gospel ministers, any authority was divinely given for universal invitations, that would be a speech for such a man, and he might then say, 'I came because I was told to come;' but our Lord declares there is no such speech in truth for such a man.

Universal invitations are therefore of men, and not of God; but such as they are, as by many used and contended for, we may suppose them to form a speech after their own kind; and which may be justly considered to be in the following order; 'in answer to 'How calmest thou in hither?' 'I came because I was invited to come, and should not have come if I had not been invited; but Mr.... came and said that he was thy servant, and had direct commission from thee to invite all to come, and that it was my duty to come, that I ought to come, should come, and must come; or I should be doubly punished in hell, if not exclusively damned for not coming if I did not come after so invited; and I arose and came accordingly.' But, 'not having a wedding garment!' 'True, Lord, I have not; and am equally ignorant of -what it is; for with universal invitations I have scarcely heard of any such a thing, and never heard of it plain enough to know what was meant by it; and I was never once fully told its indispensable importance for the soul's life; only that I should and ought to believe and come. For the said Mr ..... never preached one fiftieth part so much of imputed righteousness and of the soul's most solemn need of it, as in which only possibly to stand before the Lord and live, as he did of universal invitations, with should come, and ought to come, and the eminent piety of coming. And the said Mr... never did profess to say, that the imputation of righteousness was universal; and as without that it could never go with universal invitations; and so universal invitations have always had to go without it; and so invited without the wedding garment, I came without it, and here I am in my profession without it, as I have been taught and guided; and as far as I am wrong in my profession, I have  been deceived by Mr... who ought to be ashamed of himself if he knew better; and if he did not know better, he ought to be ashamed of himself for professing to be a teacher and guide of others, when he himself did not know the way.' 'Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully,' Jer. xlviii 10.


There are many who now say, 'that they think it best to take the scriptures and preach from them as they find them.' If this was in the mind and spirit of truth, it would be all right; for although there might be a difficulty in coming at the precise meaning of some circumstantial passages, all fundamental truths would be clear as a sunbeam, the scriptures would be seen to be perfectly harmonious without a shadow of discord, and so uniform as a whole, as not to admit the appearance of selfcontradiction, jar, or what could not be righteously reconciled. But this is not what is meant; but the taking of the letter of scripture as it stands in mere sounds, without any of that special regard to the mind of the Spirit, on the proper distinctions of the law and of the gospel, of the different covenants, and the language used peculiar to their constitution and design; of characters, the living by quickening and regenerating grace, from the dead in sin; the called and believing churches of the saints in Christ, from the world at large which lieth in wickedness; which is always required, to read the scriptures with understanding. The scriptures can never with self-consistency, harmony, and without irreconcilable contradictions, be made to support any sentiments or religious principles contrary to what God really intends in and by his word; and when men take up and hold principles contrary to the mind of the Lord, they are always obliged to hold the scriptures in a way self-contradictory and self-irreconcilable, to support those sentiments; and which is as certain a sign of error, as when a sentiment is held for which there is not even the mere sound of one text to support it, but many directly opposed. By taking and preaching from the scriptures as they find them, as it is called, by catching at mere sounds, those men make even God to say and unsay, and the scriptures, most of all books under the heavens, to lack the common sense of self-consistency, and to abound with irreconcilable contradictions; for some of them have spoken out and said, that 'No man can reconcile the contents of the Bible;' that 'Christ taught no system;' that 'Truth is no system.' This must be all true of the scriptures, and of the gospel of Christ, or those men must be all this distance from the truth of the scriptures, and of the gospel of Christ.

The very thing that infidels have strove for ages to establish, is by such preachers tamely given up into their hands; namely, 'That the scriptures are such a Jargon of confusion, that they cannot be made to agree with themselves.' And as one in relation to the Bible said in public print but the other day, 'Why refer at all to a record that is made to say anything?' And from which, infidels boldly conclude, that as contradictions must involve falsehoods on the one side, or the other, further evidence is not required upon which to condemn the scriptures, as neither in whole nor in part the revelation of the wisdom of a God. And can this awful conclusion be wondered at, when preachers and professed friends and advocates of truth, to support their carnal notions, can tax the very sacred text of all revealed religion with such awful and irremediable discrepancies?

From this taking of the scriptures as they find them, it has been said, 'There are as may passages in the scriptures for free will, as there are for free grace;' although the inspired Paul has declared this to be impossible, Rom xi 6; Heb vi 17,18. This preaching from the scriptures as they find them, is a very fine plea for ignorance of the mind of the Spirit in the holy word, and an excuse from the labour of comparing 'spiritual things with spiritual,' the tedious necessity of a spiritual discernment, 1 Cor. 11 13,14, and from the toll of 'rightly dividing from the word of truth,' 2 Tim 11 15; and is very convenient for the preaching of one sort of gospel in the morning, and another in the after part of the day, and another in the weekly lecture, according to the people that attend; and a different gospel in different pulpits according to the sentiments of the people, and especially so if they are after money; what awful trickery this is with the souls of men, and trifling with the solemn word of God; surely that text can seldom strike them, 'Thou, God, seest me.' And this scheme of preaching from the scriptures as they find them, is a nice convenient wide open door for the inlet of carnal men into the ministry and for a carnal ministry altogether; for no speaking by the Holy Ghost as holy men of old did, no speaking as the Spirit giveth utterance, no preaching with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, is required in such a ministry; but (1) Self-righteousness, the universal sentiment of human nature, for the main subject, and as the chief feature of countenance to every subject. (2) The possession of sufficient natural ability to make a clever oration. (3) The studied art of neither preaching the doctrines of divine revelation nor yet openly denying them, of theatrically working upon the natural passions, and of pleasing the carnal; and this is all that is required to make 'An acceptable preacher' in such a ministry. And then follows 'like people like priest;' but at length comes the judgment of God on the matter, Hos. iv 9. For those who take and preach from the scriptures as they find them, I would look up and propose a few texts for them; they may it very convenient, take it kindly, and thank me for my trouble. And I would say:

Preach in the Morning, 'Many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus,' John xii 11. Afternoon, 'And no man receiveth his testimony,' John ill 32. Morning, 'The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,' 2 Cor. iv 4. Afternoon, 'If ye were blind ye should have no sin,' John ix 41. Morning, 'To open the blind eyes,' Isaiah xlii 7. Afternoon, 'That they which see might be made blind,' John ix 39. Morning, 'I will destroy my people,' Jer. xv 7. Afternoon, 'Therefore my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,' Jer. xxxi 14. Morning, 'And Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel,' Hos. x 6. Afternoon, 'And my people shall never be ashamed,' Joel ii  26,27. Morning, 'Hast thou not known? has thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?' Isaiah xl 28. Afternoon, 'I am weary to bear,' Isaiah 1 14. Morning, 'But he is in one mind, and who can turn him?' Job xxiii 13. Afternoon, 'Therefore he was turned to be their enemy,' Isa lxiii 10. Morning, 'I will love them no more,' Hos. ix 15. Afternoon , I will love them freely,' Hos. xiv 4. Morning, 'And so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,' Rom v 12. Afternoon, 'If I had not done among them the works that none other man did, they had not had sin,' John xv 24. Morning, 'But the doers of the law shall be justified.' Rom 11 13. Afternoon, 'Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight,' Rom ill 20. Morning, 'There is none that doeth good, no, not one,' Rom ill 12. Afternoon) 'And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just,' Luke xxiii 50. Morning, 'Who will have all men to be saved,' 1 Tim 11 4. Afternoon, 'I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes,' Matt xi 25. Morning, 'Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,' 2 Pet ill 9. Afternoon, 'Therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour,' Isa xxvii 11. Morning, 'I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel,' Hosea i 6 . Afternoon, 'For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting,' Ps c 5. Morning, 'But I will utterly take them away,' Hos. 16. Afternoon, 'And so all Israel shall be saved,' Rom xi 26.

Now if those who think it best to preach from the scriptures as they find them, will but take these texts in their mere letter and sound as they find them, irrespective of premises relation, and character, I will venture to say their ministry will not be chargeable with sameness, either in itself, or relatively, as to what the apostles preached. And will not the people be fed with knowledge and understanding too, so as to know just as much at twice seven years, end as at the beginning, of their right hand from their left, as to the great principles of revelation? and perhaps may then be told, 'They need not trouble themselves about doctrines, for that piety is every thing!'


As there is not one text from the lips of our Lord, or the pen of his apostles, that can be construed to mean any thing in favour of the duty of the natural man to believe unto eternal salvation or of universal invitations, without doing violence to the connection, and to the credit of the sacred speakers; perhaps it will be asked, where then did duty faith, and universal invitations come from? and how is it that so many good men, great writers, and most of those who are called the ancient Fathers, have in a greater or less degree held them? My answer to these questions is, that they came from the early corruptions of christianity; and of those many spirits that were not of God, that were even as early as the apostles' days gone out into the world, 1 John iv 1; working subtly, though to the apostles evidently, and which they called the mystery of iniquity, and the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, 2 Thess. 11 7,9. And the same continued so to 'work, until the pagan government of the Roman empire was first shaken, and then abolished, and so that which hindered was taken out of the way, verse 7; and then as opportunity suited, corruption advanced, and the countenance and character of christianity became almost universally changed from individual godliness in conscience by the Holy Ghost, into collective, provincial, and then national religion, by synodical decrees, councils, and then national enactments; these being of course considered binding, as divine, and of equal authority as the scriptures themselves, and the scriptures also were twisted, wrested, and corrupted into a seeming sanction of these things; and it was then considered accordingly, to be the duty of all to be christians as so prescribed. And so instead of personal, vital godliness in the soul, by the immediate regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, was substituted a religion of solemn mimicry of scripture spirituality, vitals, words, and ordinances; in mere external rites, forms and ceremonies. And all this as we have said, being determined by synodical decrees, councils and national enactments, and these being gravely considered binding, as divine laws, it was consequently considered the duty of all by law to be christians and to be invited, exhorted, and commanded, and at length even to be made to be christians and infants, and all; and the latter to be told they were so and should be so when they grew big enough; and that by such a dutiful submission to be christians as by such divine law prescribed, they should go to heaven; and this established at once the ought to be christians and the consequent ought of all, as such, to go to heaven. And this wild delusion of the duty of all, to be saints for heaven, inseparable from national church notions, has stuck fast to a greater or less degree to most even good men, in that connection, ever since; attaching an unwarrantable importance to the ancient Fathers as guides, who were most, if not all of them, so tainted with the above corruptions and delusions, that the rankist papist under the heavens can now quote them for their authority; as Dr Pusey of Oxford does.

From this fruitful source of early corruption, and in this way of commendation, the plausible, self-righteous, and flesh and blood pleasing errors of duty faith unto eternal salvation, and universal invitations of all of themselves to be, and to have, the personal state of character, and the special blessings of the saved and blest of the Lord, found their way falsely into the name of the religion of the true God, and our Lord Jesus Christ; and in that name, have now made their wide spread over the earth, into every denomination of religious professors; and which are now fostered and maintained, (1) By a concealment of the great and discriminating doctrines of revealed truth. (2) By the concealment of the all-important truth, that the soul of sinful man is nothing, and has nothing, whereby possibly to see, or enter the kingdom of God, unless born of the Spirit of God, and the fact also, that none but a new creature, the free grace workmanship of God only, is personally in Christ for eternal life. (3) By applying the scriptures in a way and manner to persons and things, evidently never intended; as that to the world that belongs only to the believing people and church of God, &c; as though the believing, and truly regenerated church and people of God, were only one part of the world, merely self-reformed, as the other part ought to be. (4) By a most corrupt mixing up of things as all one, which are so distinct in nature, design, and language, that they can never be made up into one, and the same thing, without direct self-contradiction; such as the law by Moses, and grace, and truth, by Jesus Christ, John 1 17 - The less glorious ministration of death and the more glorious ministration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. iii 7-11 - The inferior and the better, as the first and the second, the old and the new covenants, Heb via 6,7,13 - The better hope, which implies another that was not so good, Heb vii 19 - A more excellent ministry, which implies another that was not so excellent, Heb viii 6 - The two mounts, Heb xii 18,22-24 - The two allegorical women, the bond-woman and the free-woman, Gal iv 20, and to the end of the chapter - The circumcision made with hands, and the circumcision made without hands, Mph if 11, Col ii 11 - The law of works, and the law of faith, Rom iii 27. These things are as perfectly different and distinct in their nature, place, and design, as a shadow is from the substance, a demand is from a gift, and as a death warrant is from a royal warrant of free pardon. But bible distinctions of truth, strictly observed, would anew up duty faith, and universal invitations, in too ridiculous a figure to be endured; for those sentiments cannot properly be kept with any countenance upon their feet, only upon bible distinctions being confounded to self contradiction.

But some will say, we have great and learned authors, and the Fathers to support our side. But our Lord said to his disciples, 'Call no man your Father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven,' Matt xxiii 9. And so his word is to be first taken, in all ages. And others will say, if we err, we err in good company, for many good men have held duty faith, &c. And so the Jews might equally have said, they erred in good company, when they worshipped the calf that Aaron the high priest of God set up; but their wickedness was none the less, nor the calf less an idol, nor the God of Israel less denied thereby.

Concluding statement

We will now bring our remarks to a close, by observing, that I have not thus written to elicit any reply from you, nor to be considered as laying you under any personal obligation to reply; but to anew, as I said on the first page of these remarks, 'Why I spurn duty faith as the spawn of at least half the errors there are in the professing world.' But I have either written truth or falsehood, and if the latter, that will be easy to be proved, by the spirit of truth in the sacred text; and be it so done by some hand, until it be brought quite down to the ground, as flat as Dagon fell on his face, 1 Sam v 3.

If any sort of an earnest attempt be really made to prove me wrong, by the unjarring testimony of the word of God, the same shall have my most earnest attention; and if I am proved in error, in the main principles of these remarks, my most ready submission. But if no such attempt be made to prove me wrong, in the proof that duty faith, &c, herein opposed, is bible truth, by the mind of the Spirit, we shall conclude it is because by the word of God, these remarks on duty faith, cannot be refuted; and that silence is deemed most expedient, while duty faith, and universal invitations to eternal salvation, though totally unknown in the word and spirit of scripture truth, do take too well, and have too many admirers, and too many popular advantages among men, to be surrendered up for God's unpopular truth's sake; till the soul is necessitated thereto, by the power of the Holy Ghost. May the Lord himself attest, what these remarks really are in his sight, in the conscience of those, who with prayerful enquiry after truth, may read them, for his great name's sake. Amen.

Topics: Hyper-Calvinism Gospel Distinctives
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