Monday, December 22, 2008

WHO THE US-WARD ARE

We will inquire who the "us-ward" are to whom the Lord is said to be long-suffering. They are undoubtedly the persons to whom Peter writes his epistles, including himself. Let us turn, then, to the first epistle, and see to whom he wrote: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia;" and he then gives them the honored appellation of "Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father."

In the second chapter of this epistle, he calls them "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light."

It is worthy of remark, that the pronouns us and we, so often used by the apostles, in their epistles, are no other than the Lord's chosen people, to whom the precious truths contained in those epistles belong. As a confirmation of this fact, let me refer you to the following texts, in which these two terms, us and we, are often used: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."

(Ephesians 1:3-5)

"But let us who are of the day be sober, for God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Thessalonians 5:8-9)

"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 Timothy 1:9)

You see, my friends, from these passages, and many more that might be produced, that the "us-ward" in our text are the objects of God's everlasting, electing love; and that their election is not founded upon any foreseen worth or worthiness in the creature, as the procuring cause of it, will be seen from the characters unto whom the Lord has been long-suffering.

By John Kershaw

THE HOPE OF ARMINIANISM

The hope of Arminianism seems to me to differ much from the hope of the gospel, because it allows that Christ died for all men. But Christ declares that the gates which lead to destruction receive the greatest number, (Matthew 7:13). Therefore, if the former be true, some are in hell for whom Christ died; in which case there must have been a deficiency in the price the Surety paid, or else it reflects on his wisdom, and supposes him outwitted by the serpent, who, through his subtlety, has got legions in his possession, which were the Savior's own by purchase. It does not reflect on his wisdom only, but on his power also, who could not hold them that were committed unto him; because the gates of hell have prevailed, and many are plucked out of his hand, (John, 10:28).

It seems likewise to reflect cruelly on the justice of God, who drew his sword, and sheathed it in the great Shepherd, (Zechariah 8:7); and spared him not in the least, nor abated one mite of the debt, (Romans 8:32). And it is plain that Justice promised, by the blood of his covenant, to send "forth the prisoners out of the pit in which there was no water," (Zechariah. 9:11); and further, to be "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," (1 John 1:9).


But alas! this is all overthrown if Arminianism be true.

If Arminian hope be fixed on a surety that hath not paid, or cannot pay the debt; or, if it be fixed on a mutable Savior, having no laws to encourage it but such as demand a debt twice; first of the surety, and then of the debtor; first sending them out of the prison of sin on the surety's account, or, in their own words, making them sons of God by grace to-day, and after all this letting them fall away, and locking them up in hell to all eternity, until they can pay the utmost mite of what was paid long ago; what establishment is there for hope?


I answer, a hope founded on such doctrines is just as stable as a feather in a whirlwind.

By William Huntington

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH"

By William Gadsby

Preached in Manchester, England

February 9th, 1840

________________________________________________

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward; not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
(2 Peter 3:9)

To add to, or diminish from, the Word of God is a crime, though much employed in the frivolities of the world; and the office of a minister is a very responsible one. He is God's steward, and he must one day give up his stewardship; and if he seeks to please men, he is not a true servant of God; nay, it is insulting God. Some say God is not willing that any creature should perish, but every one should come to repentance; but in our text we are told it is this "us-ward" for whom he is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. "Then," say you, "if it is only to this us-ward, why preach the gospel?"

Because God has ordained the preaching of the gospel for the gathering in of his people.

If it were to all men, would he not send his Word into all men?

When God designs to save his people, he sends his gospel into them; as he did into the Philippian jailor. He sent ministers unto him in the prison. Zaccheus, who must climb a tree; and God brought him down and abode with him.

And where were some of you when God met with you?

You had no inclination to hear his Word, but he brought you forth out of nature's darkness into his marvellous light.

And what is the sense of the text?

God's long-suffering with, and promise to, his people, the us-ward, not willing that any of his people should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In the last days scoffers shall come, and shall say, "Where is the promise of Christ's coming, without sin in the world? One generation passeth away, and another, and there is no appearance of his coming; how is it?"

It is his long-suffering to us-ward; therefore, beloved, account his long-suffering salvation.

When he shall fold up the skies as in a scroll, and wind up the business, all his people shall be brought in; and I would ask if God is not willing that any man should perish, is he not able to give him repentance?

For repentance is the gift of God; and is he incapacitated to do what he wished

Or will his designs be frustrated by such frail creatures as you and I?

He says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens together, and ye would not." (Matthew 23:37)

Here we find that Christ refers to the Scribes, and Pharisees, and heads of the people, the Sanhedrim. He worked many miracles before them, but they did not believe on him; he would have gathered thy children, "but ye would not;" not "they would not." And again: "When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall die," "but if the wicked turneth from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall live." (Ezekiel 18:26-27) This is according to the Jewish nation; not the preaching of the gospel, but the law.

For what saith the law?

Do and live; leave undone and die. Therefore there is no salvation by the law, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." (Romans 3:19)

That it might be by grace, not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Salvation is entirely of free, unmerited, discriminating grace. But this it could not be if it depended on any thing the creature does.

What is intended by the promise, "The Lord is not slack?" etc.


And why this apparent delay and long-suffering?

God declared in the beginning concerning the temple, that it should be destroyed, and that one stone should not be left upon another. But the Jews laughed it to scorn; they could not believe it; but it came to pass at last. His long-suffering bore with their manners until its accomplishment, and the execution thereof was awful in the extreme. Never was known such an appalling devastation. There was a great famine; and so great was their distress that men butchered each other for food to support their dying frames, and women tore their own children from their bosoms for the same purpose. Never was known in the history of time such a day of misery. And what made the scene more appalling, the destruction happened on a festival day, wherein all that were met together in the temple perished; but all the children of God escaped, out of the way; not one of them perished.

What an awful sight to them; that the departed spirits should in a moment's warning quit this world and enter hell, and then in agonizing torments behold the just God whom they had despised and mocked. May God enable you to confide in his promise, and trust him for his grace, that when the time comes for its accomplishment you may be found ready. We have the promise of Christ's second coming. The apostle Paul had a blessed view of this, as recorded in Hebrews 9:27-28: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die; but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin; and Hebrews 7:26: "he will be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." At his first coming, his visage was marred, and there was neither form nor comeliness in him, that we should desire him; but he bore the sins of many; (Isaiah 53:2,12) he hath appeared once to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26) God hath laid upon him the iniquity of his us-ward.


If God had not done it, we never should; for our sins are so numerous we should have forgotten many; and there are many that we should not have thought were sins; they are so amiable and pleasant to our nature that we should not look upon them as sins; and from our first breath in infancy, to our last, though it be to old age, there is not a moment of our existence that we live without sin, except when we are bathing in the blood of the Lamb.

"Thy garden is the place,
Where pride cannot intrude;
For should it dare to enter there
'Twould soon be drown'd in blood."

Yes, Gethsemane is the place where our sins were put away; our sins of omission and sins of commission were all gathered together and put upon Christ. He bore them, and hath nailed them to his cross.

He finished the work which his Father gave him to do; (John 17:4) "he ascended to his God and our God;" "to his Father and our Father, (John 20:17) and ever liveth to make intercession for us." (Hebrews 7:25)


He is not slack concerning his promise, but will come at the appointed time. Before him shall be gathered all nations, and every man shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body.

His apparent delays do not prove that he is slack concerning his promise, but rather his long-suffering; for if it were not for his long-suffering, would you not all be damned?

For unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish; (Luke 13:3) and, therefore, is it not of his long-suffering that he brings us to repent, and cleanseth us from dead works, by washing us in the washing of regeneration, that we may have pardon through his blood?

Did not God promise Abraham that he should possess the land of Canaan, and that in his seed should all the nations be blessed? (Genesis 12:3)

And was not the promise apparently delayed?

But it was his long-suffering.
And though Abraham and Sarah his wife became old, yet did not God perform his promise at the appointed time?

And though Abraham took a bond-woman to his bosom, yet it did not in any wise further the execution of God's promise, but rather was the very means of causing discord in the family. And so with us; for anything that we may do will not hasten the promise of God. "And Abraham, by faith, sojourned in the land of promise, not knowing whither he went."

"But the Lord was not slack concerning his promise; but is long-suffering to us-ward."


Did he not promise that Joseph should be above his brethren?

And though he experienced many changes on his way for this purpose to bring him, yet all things work together for its accomplishment. The Lord was not slack concerning his promise; but his long suffering bore with their matters.

He bore with the manners of the children of Israel forty years; but at length brought them to the land of promise. All things shall work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his eternal purpose. honours crown his brow!

"He is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness," but will perform his promises in his own time and in his own way.

May the Lord bless you and me with patience to wait his time; for his mercy's sake.

Amen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

FREE-GRACE FROM A FREE-WILL PULPIT

By John Kershaw

On one occasion I was invited to preach at Keighley during the holidays in Whit-week. A friend was to meet me with a horse, on the road between Keighley and Halifax. One of my friends lending me a horse for two days, the man had the pleasure of riding back on the horse he brought for me. Before I left my bedroom in the morning, according to my usual practice, I kneeled down to thank the Lord for his manifold mercies, and beseeching him that his presence and blessing might be with me through the day. I told him that he knew that I was going to a place I had never been to before, and besought him to give me a text to speak from, that he would make a blessing to the people whom he in his providence might bring together; when the Lord laid upon my mind Romans 8:30: "Whom he did predestinate," etc. From the power and savor that attended the words, I felt this was to be my text, and thanked the Lord for it, beseeching him to be with me in preaching, and bless it to the souls of the people. As the man and I were riding together, he said, "You will have to preach this afternoon at three o' clock in a large Wesleyan chapel, and you will have many people to hear you,--Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. They are coming for miles round." On hearing this I at once thought of my predestinarian text and the Wesleyan chapel. Flesh and blood, carnal reason, and the devil began to work powerfully on my mind. As we rode along I labored to get another text, that I could preach the truth from, without coming so decidedly against the system of free-will. But no text could I get. O how wretched and miserable did I feel, until the Lord brought to my mind what had passed between him and me in the morning, when I told him that he knew where I had to preach, and who I should have to hear, and that he gave me the text in answer to prayer. I was ashamed of myself that I should endeavor to give way. Many portions of the word of God flowed into my mind, such as: "If I seek to please men, I should not be the servant of Christ," (Galatians 1:10) with more of the same import. Before we entered the town, my mind was delivered from these fleshly feelings and the fear of man, and a valor sprang up in my soul "the truth of God upon the face of the earth." (Jeremiah 9:3)

When the time came, there was a great gathering of people. Before reading my text, I addressed them as follows: "It is the practice of some men, when called to preach where they have never been before, to inquire what the sentiments of the people are, and labor to accommodate their sermon to the palates and views of the people. This is not obeying the command of the Lord in separating between the precious and the vile, the chaff and the wheat, faithfully dispensing the word of the Lord, fearing no frowns and courting no smiles. When I look around me at this congregation, it strikes my mind that were I disposed to act the above part, I should fail in attempting to please all, for I have no doubt I have persons before me of various opinions; so that while I was seeking to please some, I should offend others. My desire is to seek to please the Lord, and preach the preaching he has bidden me. I therefore call your attention to Romans 8:30: 'Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.' This precious portion of God's word the old Puritan divines called the golden chain. Speaking of the first link, predestination, the second link effectual calling, the third justification, and the fourth glorification. When I came to the last link, vindicating the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints unto eternal glory, proving it from many portions of the word of the Lord which are the joy and rejoicing of my soul, the last two verses of Toplady's hymn, which begins:

"A debtor to mercy alone,"
came with power to my mind, and I repeated them with great pleasure:

"The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below nor above,
Can make him his purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from his love."

"My name from the palms of his hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impress'd on his heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven."

While so doing, I observed a gentleman in black, who sat in the gallery, hastily take his hat and go away. The impression of my mind was that he could not endure sound doctrine, and would hear no more of it; but to my surprise he came up the aisle to the foot of the pulpit stairs, and there he stood till I had finished my sermon; and then I gave out that blessed hymn of Dr. Watt's:

"Firm as the earth thy gospel stands."


When they began to sing, the gentleman came into the pulpit and sat down, putting his hand on my knee, and saying, "Sir, I hope you will have no objection against me rising to vindicate our own doctrine." I replied, "Sir, you are full of wrath and irritation. Be cool, and think what you are about." He said, "How can I forbear being irritated, hearing a man in our own chapel laboring to pull down what we are constantly establishing. I must, and will, when they have done singing, rise and defend our principles, in opposition to the doctrine you have been advancing." As he was thus speaking, I was listening to the precious hymn they were singing, which was a confirmation of the doctrine I had been preaching. As soon as I heard them begin the following words:

"In the dear bosom of his love
They must for ever rest,"

I took my standing in the pulpit to be ready to conclude with prayer. After which I addressed the people as follows: "A gentleman, who is now in the pulpit with me, from what he has been saying to me whilst you have been singing, is determined to rise and oppose the doctrines of free and sovereign grace which you have been hearing, and vindicate the doctrine of man's free will; but as I have already more of that in my fleshly carnal nature than I like, I shall not stop to hear him, and I would advise all you who are sick of self, and love a free-grace salvation, to go home with what you have got, and let the free-will man and his friends have it to themselves." As soon as I left the pulpit, he rose in a rage to pour contempt upon what I had said, and vindicate his own principles. I have seen many congregations disperse, but never saw such confusion as I did on this occasion.


As I had several miles to ride over a large common, I got some refreshment and left. As I rode past the chapel, there were crowds engaged in disputation, and the events of that day are not yet forgotten, as will appear from the following: More than twenty years after, I met with three men from Keighley, who had come to hear me at Bradford. One of them asked me if I had forgotten preaching at Keighley, when the Wesleyan minister stood up to oppose me. I told him I had not. He said, "I well remember both your sermon and the remarks you made;" and to my surprise he repeated, almost verbatim, what I have recorded, saying it was so impressed upon his mind, and so appropriate to the circumstances, that he had often related it to his friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MEN'S OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS - THEIR GRAND IDOL


"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God."
(Romans 10:3)

Provident and well-wishing pilots, observing the rocks on which many ignorant and heedless passengers have split and sunk, and where they themselves have escaped but narrowly, use to set up sea-marks as cautions or warnings to such as shall come after, that by other men's harms they may learn to be wary. It is the apostle's very practice in this place; in the former part of this epistle; and especially in chap. 9, he mightily contends for the free grace of God unto peace, life, and salvation, without works: "The children being yet unborn, having done neither good nor evil, but that the purpose of God might stand according to election, not of works, but of grace; it was said, Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated: he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens:" I say, this is the main doctrine that he preacheth, from the beginning of the epistle, to the closure of chap 9.

Then he comes upon the Jews with an argument to their reproach: "The Gentiles that followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness, when they themselves that did follow after righteousness could not attain it:" (Rom. 9:30,31) and he gives the reason why they that pressed so hard after it could not attain it; "Because they sought it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law." Why, what hurt was there in that, will some say? The apostle answereth, that hereby "they stumbled at that stumblingblock, as it is written; I lay in Sion a stumblingstone, and a rock of offence:" (Rom. 9:33) This it seems was the rock of offence; they would have their righteousness set up to do them good, and this they sought as it were by the works of the law.

But some men might think that the apostle had a bitterness of spirit, or some malice against his own brethren, and that this was but the fruit of it; therefore in the beginning of this chapter, he clears himself from any such base ends in his ministry: for his part he wishes with all his heart, it may be well with them, My heart's desire, and prayer for Israel is, that they may be saved nay, so far as he may speak well of them, and the most he can say, he will; and he will not conceal any thing: in verse 2, he confesses, nay he bears witness to it, that "they had a zeal of God;" but yet he must not dissemble, he must deal friendly, though ever so plainly; though they had a zeal of God, "Yet it was not according to knowledge."

And because he had taxed them with ignorance, here in the text; he discovers what this ignorance of theirs was; and what the fearful and desperate fruits of it were; that whereof they were ignorant, was "God's righteousness, being ignorant of the righteousness of God;" the fruit of it is twofold, both very bitter, the one immediately issuing from the other.

First, This ignorance of God's righteousness put them upon a fearful mistake: "They go about, (upon this,) to establish their own righteousness."

Secondly, And that mistake put them upon another as bad as that, if not worse; therefore they submitted not to the righteousness of God.

The proposition the words afford us, is briefly this, (for we will sum up the whole verse into one head) namely; "That ignorance of God's righteousness puts men upon these two dangerous mischiefs, an establishing of their own righteousness, and submitting themselves to the righteousness of God."

Men will establish their own righteousness; they will not submit to the righteousness of God, while they are ignorant of it. Beloved, they were not so easily misled, as we are apt to follow them, having gone before us; we are like sheep leaping without looking, if any leap before us; it hath been the rock of offence, a stumblingstone from the beginning to this day, and will be to the end of the world; there will be an establishing of our own righteousness, without submitting to the righteousness of God, while there is an ignorance of this righteousness.

Now, that we may take warning, and so escape the danger that they have felt the smart of already, it will be requisite we take into consideration.

First, What this righteousness of theirs and ours is, that they did, and we are apt to go about to establish.

Secondly, What it is to go about to establish this our righteousness.

Thirdly, What this righteousness of God is that they did not submit unto.

Fourthly, What it is, not to submit unto this righteousness of God.

Fifthly, What this ignorance is, from whence both these fearful evils issue, the establishing of our own righteousness, and not submitting to the righteousness of God.

And, Lastly, What the issue in the end will prove. of these, or as many of these as the time will permit in their order.

To begin with the first, What is that righteousness of theirs and ours, that the apostle complains of, that being established, is a rock of offence?

I am not ignorant, that the eyes of stone persons are only, or most, upon a righteousness of man's own devising and contriving; such a righteousness as never came into God's thoughts; a righteousness according to the precepts and traditions of men; such a righteousness as our Saviour, in Matt. 15:9, taxeth the Pharisees withal, who "Taught for doctrines the traditions of men;" and by their own traditions, as much as in them lay, made void the commandments of God: this kind of righteousness in our time proceeds from the presumption of men, that dare put any thing of their own, without warrant and commission from God, into the worship and service of God; charging things upon men as duties of religion, that God binds not men unto: for my own part, I am dear of the mind, that this kind of righteousness is far from the righteousness of God, the apostle here speaks of; and that it is the highest presumption that a man can possibly take upon himself, to set himself so in the place of God, as not only, not to command from him, but also to command without and against him: law-givers hole themselves then most disparaged and contemned, when any inferior will take upon him to make laws without them, or against them. It will lie heavy when it shall once come to an account, not only upon the actors, but also upon those that may be the redressers, if this kind of righteousness established by some be not brought down, and laid in the dust.

But, under favour, I conceive that the apostle aims at a more sublime righteousness, than the righteousness in the precepts of men; he speaks of such a righteousness, which some it may be are too forward to establish, who yet abhor to establish the other, we have now spoken of: the righteousness the apostle complains of being established, is not the righteousness of man's making, but of God's own making, a righteousness according to his own will; I mean a righteousness consisting in obedience to the things that God himself hath commanded unto men; a righteousness which is a walking in all the commandments of God, though it be in a way of blamelessness; this very righteousness, I say, is that, which being established, proves a stumbling-stone, and rock of offence to all that shall establish it.

This may seem harsh, beloved, at first, but I shall make it clear to you from the apostle's own interpretation of himself, who best knew his own mind: that this is the righteousness he here speaks of, mark but the words immediately following the text, chap. 10:4, "For, (saith he,) Christ; is the end of the law righteousness to every one that believeth;" to what purpose doth he bring this passage, that Christ is the end of the law; but that by these words he might confute their vanity, who think to establish their own righteousness in the fulfilling of the law? As if he should say, you think by your keeping the law, by your righteousness you perform,you can attain to the end of it, that so you may obtain the grace and goodness of the Lord; but it is in vain, it is not you that can reach the end of the law; neither doth God aim at it that you should reach it, but he hath constituted and ordained Christ to be the end of it. Therefore the righteousness of God must be the righteousness of Christ; the righteousness that God aims at is perfect, a righteousness that reaches to the very end of the law; your righteousness can never reach to the end of it; it is Christ's alone that doth it.

And yet again, in verse 5, the apostle clears more fully what be, means by our righteousness, for there he begins to make the distinction between our righteousness, and the righteousness of God, explaining what they both are: Moses, saith he, describing the righteousness of the law, saith thus, (that which he calls our own righteousness, in verse 4, from Moses, he calls the righteousness of the law, in verse 5,) "He that doth those things shall even live in them:" and if you will look into Levit. xviii. 5, you shall there see what the righteousness of the law is, which the apostle speaks of in this place: and if you observe but the margin of your bible, you shall find this very text, in verse 5, is wisely referred to that of Leviticus, "You shall keep my statutes, and do my judgments; which if a man do, he shall even live in them." See, the apostle makes use of the very phrase, "he that doth them shall live through them, and in them." It is the righteousness of the law, saith he; it is the keeping of God's statutes, and doing of God's judgments, saith Moses. By this, you may see what righteousness it is, that the Lord by the apostle speaks of; a righteousness that consists in doing the statutes and judgments of the Lord.

And if you will but consider Luke 18:11,12, the condition of the pharisee, Christ speaks of, who went up into the temple to pray as the publican did; in him you shall see, I say, and easily perceive, what the righteousness was, that they went about to establish; for there the pharisee justifies himself in respect of many particular branches of the law: "I thank thee, (saith he) I am not as other men are, an extortioner, unjust, an adulterer, nor as this publican: I fast twice in the week, I pay tithes of all that I possess. Mark it well, I pray, see what it is that he pleads for, as that which must prevail with God for good to him; it is his own righteousness; and what is that? It is a righteousness according to the law; it is a righteousness of piety, of justice; "I fast twice in the week, I am no extortioner, nor unjust person, nor adulterer," &c. Now hear Christ's answer concerning this pharisee; you shall see what he thinks of this righteousness he speaks of; "The publican went away rather justified than he;" and the reason is, because he did go in the strength of this righteousness of his, to speed with God; his expectation was from this: it was not a righteousness of his own devising and contriving; but a righteousness according to God's law.

If you look further into Phil. 3, you shall find, the apostle speaks fully to the case in hand, instancing in himself, in Verse 5-7, where he gives an account of his estate, in which he was before the time of his conversion. First, he saith, he had a zeal for God, and that put him on so hot, that be persecuted the church of God, merely out of ignorance; for, saith he of himself, "I did it ignorantly:" and "concerning the righteousness of the law (saith he) I was blameless;" mark that passage well; as all this was before conversion; afterwards he tells us, this was in the time of his ignorance, wherein he made full account that this righteousness of his was his gain; but, saith he, "what was gain to me, I accounted less; yea, and I suffer the loss of all things, that I may be found in Christ, not having mine own righteousness, which is by the law." By all these passages, I say, put together, wherein the apostle so fully expounds himself, it plainly appears, that the righteousness of the law, the establishing whereof; he here taxeth, as a dangerous mistake, and a fruit of ignorance, is that, wherein men walk according to God's own law blamelessly.

I am not ignorant, beloved, how this assertion goeth under the foul blur of Antinomianism, that blameless walking according to the law, being established, is a fruit of ignorance, and a cause of men's not "submitting to the righteousness of God." And no marvel it goes for such now; for, in the apostle's time it was accounted so; nay, it was objected against the apostle himself as direct Antinomianism: and, therefore, he was enforced to vindicate himself thus," Do we make void the law, (saith he) through faith? God forbid!" he takes away the objection they put to him, upon his establishing of God's righteousness, and his overthrowing our righteousness. It was objected, that hereby he went about to make void the law; and, therefore, it is no marvel it holds still as an objection, that the maintaining of this principle is the overthrowing of the law. But, beloved, I must say to you, as the apostle did in the same case, "God forbid! yea, we establish the law," that is to say; in its right place. It takes men off from performing duties to corrupt ends, and from the bad use they are apt to make of them; namely, idolizing their own righteousness. And, therefore, he doth not condemn the use of the law, and our righteousness, simply: that which he speaks against here is the establishing of our righteousness. Our own righteousness is good in its kind, and for its own proper uses; but then it proves a fruit of sin, ignorance, and a dangerous stumbling-block, and an idol, when we go about to establish it.

I come, therefore, to the second thing, which is to clear this truth more fully, namely, What it is to establish this righteousness; or what establishing the apostle drives at in this place?

For the clearing of which, the antithesis, or the opposition, that he sets, will give you a great deal of light to understand his meaning and purpose here, by "going about to establish their own righteousness, and not submitting to the righteousness of God." He speaks here, therefore, of such an establishing of our righteousness, according to the law, as to bring it into the room, and stead, or place of God's righteousness. It is such an establishing of it, as that for it we cannot, nor will not admit, that the righteousness of God should do its office. So far forth, then, as any righteousness of ours encroaches upon the privileges and prerogatives of the righteousness of God, so that that cannot do its own work, or at least must be circumscribed in doing it, by this, so far is there an establishing of our own righteousness, which is a fruit of ignorance, and is a stumbling-block, and a rock of offence.

It will be worth the while, therefore, to consider, When our righteousness is said truly to be established in the room and stead of the righteousness of God. This will be cleared by the consideration of the main scope and drift of men, in the performing of the righteousness which they establish. When men put that upon their own righteousness, which should have been put upon God's only; when men make that the sanctuary and refuge that God's righteousness only should be, then is it set up as a grand idol, and established in the room and place of God's righteousness. To clear the case to you, by some particular instances: it is a thing of great importance, as at all times, so now at this time of eminent danger, the sword being over our heads, and over the whole nation (the Lord having revealed to the spirits of men, by his truth, that in case of eminent danger, there should be a great deal of zeal to God); that the people of God should be put mightily on, to deal with God in this present extremity and necessity; but, I am afraid, many have a zeal of God, in this very case, but yet, not according to knowledge; for that too many (ignorantly and zealously, I confess, yet, 1 say, too many), in this zeal to God, for their own safety and security, too ,much establish their own righteousness: and, I fear, if there be a miscarriage after so many fasting-days, and so much praying and seeking God, that the fruits will be the establishing of our own righteousness, in the room and place of the righteousness of God. As, for example, when sin abounds, whether personally or generally, what is the way to get off, or get out of such transgression? appeal to your own spirits, you that are spiritual; is not this your end, you propound? To fast, and pray, and mourn it out; this that which must bring you a discharge of your sins; this is that which must bring you tidings that God will be pacified towards you, that God will turn away his anger from you; if you do but fast spiritually, mourn bitterly, pray zealously with strength of spirit, this is that that shall overcome God.

I ask, or I beseech you rather ask your own spirits (I mean still, you that are spiritual), Do not your hearts run out continually this way? Do they, or do they not? What, then mean all the complaints of yours upon the defects of your fastings, your humiliation, self-denial, and the subduing of your corruptions? That this is that which pulls down the wrath of God upon us; is not this common among us, as long as men do not mend, there is no hope that God will? And, if every man would mend one, this is the way to redress the evil of the times? Beloved, let me deal plainly and freely with you; they that put deliverance from sin and wrath, upon the spiritual performances of that righteousness, which the law, commands them, they put that righteousness in the room and place of the righteousness of God; they make it as great an idol as can be; for they make it to be that which God's righteousness only is. I speak not against the doing of any righteousness according to the will of God revealed. Let that mouth be for ever stopped, that shall be opened to blame the law that is holy, just, and good; or shall be the means to discourse people from walking in the commandments of God blameless.

All that I speak is this, That it will prove a rock of offence in the end, if it be not turned from; namely, That we should expect that our own righteousness should bring down a gracious answer from God to our spirits; that when we have done our work, in effect, that must prove our mediator and messenger from God; and, as that will speak, so will we have peace, or remain in bitterness of spirit. What can the righteousness of God himself do more than this, to have power with God, to prevail over God for good to us?

Beloved, although some, peradventure, may magnify performances done in a spiritual way with attributes and titles even of God's own peculiar; I mean with attributes of omnipotency and invincibleness; certainly there is no omnipotency but God himself, and the righteousness that is God's own; the best righteousness that ever any man could act, or perform in all his life, is not able to divert the least effect of sins, or wrath, or procure or obtain the least smile of favour from God. You know, that "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity;" (Hab. 1:13) you know, that iniquity is that which separates between God and a people; now what is the perfectest righteousness which the best man upon earth performs? Is it not full of unrighteousness and iniquity? "All our righteousnesses (saith the prophet Isaiah) are but as filthy rags;" (Isa. 64:6) and, saith the apostle, "I account all as dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness." (Phil. 3:8,9) Is there dung and filth in the best of man's righteousness; and can this righteousness have power with God, and prevail over him?

Look upon Christ himself, when he did bear the sins of many, upon his own person; he himself was deserted and forsaken of God, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Is Christ forsaken, when the sins of men are upon him, and shall men's persons be accepted and received in respect of such an act of theirs that carries sinfulness in the face of it? Nay, that carries an universal leprosy in the nature of it? Suppose your righteousness were a fulfilling of the whole law of God, if you fail but in one point, that very failing in one point, makes you guilty of the breach of all the rest; and, when men stand guilty before God, shall they plead that which is full of guilt, to procure favour, mercy, or grace from him? No, no, the sacrifice of God, which is accepted of him, must be a male lamb, and" a lamb without blemish;" till, therefore, you can purge your righteousness, and separate all iniquity from it, know that all your righteousness in its own nature doth but separate you from God; so far is it from prevailing with him.

Surely, will some say, the righteousness that is performed according to the will of God, pleases him, and moves and melts him, and prevails with him to do this and that good to his people.

I answer, Too many people in the world too much stint the will of God, so much spoken of when they speak of a righteousness according to it, or a righteousness to do it; what is it? It is true indeed, righteousness done according to the will of God, infinitely prevails with God; but shew me the man that can perform it, a mere man without Christ? Shew me a man that ever did, or ever can do this, acting righteousness according to the will of God? "Of myself," saith Paul, "I can do nothing:" "without me," saith Christ, "ye can do nothing;" nay, the apostle goes further, "How to perform that which is good, I find not," Rom. 7:18 whilst men conceive that the will of God consists only in the materials of righteousness; peradventure they may think theirs is according to it; but alas the materials of righteousness, are but the least part of the will of God wherewith he is pleased: now to do an act partly with the will of God, and partly against it, is this to do an act according to it? To do something that God calls for at your hands in some things, and to walk directly contrary to him in others; is this to do his will? Suppose for the matter, the righteousness you do, be according to the will of God, that you do the thing that he calls for of you; as for instance, you fast, and pray, and the like; do you do these things according to the will of God, because the outward act is done? the will of God extends to the manner of doing, to the disposition of the person that is to do, as well as to the matter: as in Isaiah i, were not "New moons, and sabbaths, and solemn assembles," God's own ordinances? And was not the performance of them materially according to the will of God? Yet, nevertheless, God loathed this service of righteousness; he was weary of it, he could not bear it; there was sinfulness mixed with it; "Your hands are full of blood," saith the Lord,; therefore, tough the things were materially according to his will, yet his soul abhorred them, being done amiss.

Suppose men go further than simply doing things according to the will of God materially; they do not only the things, but do them spiritually, with enlargedness of heart and affection; you fast, and you fast with bitterness of spirit, you eat bitter herbs in fasting; you mourn, and you mourn bitterly for your transgressions; you pray, and pray zealously; in the heat and fervour of your spirits: now if all this be not done in faith, it is abominable; "without faith, it is impossible to please God; he that comes to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him:" (Heb. 11:6) he that hath performed a duty, and expects from that performance, an answer according to his mind, he doth not do it in faith; for "we must do all we do in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," saith the apostle; and "when we have done all, must say, we are unprofitable servants;" and it must be Christ alone that must prevail with the Father for us: all our righteousness will prevail nothing at all with God, nor move him a jot, except it be to pull down wrath: there is not one act of righteousness that a person doth but when that is finished, there is more transgression belonging to him, than before he had performed it: and there is no composition, there is no buying out of evil by good doings; the doing of good doth not make a recompence for what sin doth; we pay but our debts in doing good; so that as there is a new righteousness performed, there is still a new reckoning added to the former; by acting of righteousness, you make up a greater number of sins, (Rom. 14:23) than before; so that it is only Christ from whom we must have the expectation of success, in whatsoever thing we desire.

In a word, let a man's righteousness be never so exact; yet that is not according to the will of God, which hath not God's ends, which he proposeth in the doing of righteousness: you shall find the general rule of Christ and his apostles, to be this, that what we do, we must not only do it in the name of Christ, but also to the Lord, and for the Lord: "Being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, let us serve him in holiness and righteousness;" it is not, let us serve ourselves in holiness and righteousness, but let us serve him; "You are bought with a price, therefore," saith the apostle, "glorify God in your bodies and spirits, for they are God's;" (1 Cor. 6:20) he doth not say, being bought with a price, let us,now seek our own good, as if we were still our own men; as if we had now liberty to trade for our own selves; you are "not your own," and therefore not your own, because you are "bought with a price;" therefore "glorify God in your bodies and spirits." It is most certainly true, that God having provided through Christ all things appertaining to life and godliness for his people; thereby calls them off from all self-ends, and bye-respects in his services, to have only respect to him in them; he hath done all that may be done for yourselves.

But some may say, peradventure, this is a way to overthrow all righteousness at once: what, all that ever a man doth, though he doth ever so spiritually, though ever so exactly, to no purpose, and in vain? Doth a man get nothing by all the righteousness he performs? Then we had as good sit still, and do nothing at all, will some say.

I answer, this is carnal reasoning indeed; look but into the ground of this argument, and it will discover nothing but the selfishness of the person that makes it: I dare be bold to say, that that man will do no righteousness, but simply for his own sake; who, if he should know beforehand, that his righteousness will get him nothing, would therefore sit still, and do nothing; I dare be bold to say, he had as good sit still indeed, and do nothing: he serves himself, not God, and though he performs righteousness ever so exactly, if he serves himself, God will never reckon that he serves him: when self is eyed, we can never serve God; when our commodity and advantage be not in the thing, we will sit still.

But, beloved, though the righteousness we are to perform be superfluous and vain, in respect of any power it hath with God; to move him to do us good, yet it is not altogether superfluous; it is most true, that all the righteousness of man cannot prevail with God to do us good; there is but one mover of God, the man Christ Jesus, who is the only and sole mediator. If you will have your own righteousness to be your mediator with God, to speak to God for you, to prevail with God for you; what is this, but to put it in the room and place of Christ's? What is the mediation of Christ else, but for him to come between God and man, and be the day's-man to lay his hand upon both, and at once to reconcile them? and shall your righteousness be the day's-man, and lay hands upon God and man; then farewell Christ and his mediatorship; for this is the peculiar office of Christ, to be man's mediator, and advocate with the Father, to prevail with him for any good for us; so far, therefore, as any person locks after his own righteousness, to bring glad tidings from God to him, so far a man establisheth it in the room and place of the righteousness of God; which proceeds from the ignorance of that righteousness, and will in the bud prove a stumblingblock to men, and a rock of offence to them.

All this while I desire not to be mistaken: some, it may be, will desire to know then to what use this righteousness of ours serves, seeing it is not of power to prevail with God. "My goodness extends not unto thee," saith David; not to God, but it may to men; "my righteousness extends to the saints of the earth, and to such as excel in virtue." (Ps. 6:3) Our righteousness is appointed for excellent uses, if we could be contented with those God hath ordained it unto.

First, It serves as a real way to manifest our thankfulness to God, for what we have already received of him: in Psalm ciii. David is excellent, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name:" Why, what is the matter; David? "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies:" (Ps. 103:3,4) mark it well, I pray, a!l that is within us must be praise, and nothing but praise; and the ground is this, God pardons our sins~ heals our infirmities, and supplies all our wants; in consideration of this, all that is within us should continually express his praise.

Again, secondly, There is this usefulness in it, namely, that we may serve our generation; and the apostle gives this charge, that, "men study to obtain good works," because, saith he, "these things are profitable unto men;" as we may therefore do good to men, so according to our ability, and talent received, we must employ ourselves to the utmost for that end and purpose. The heathens could say, "They were not made for themselves, but for others:" therefore there is this usefulness in our righteousness, that others may receive benefit by it: "Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven;" that men may be drawn on to glorify God, we must shine before men in a godly conversation.

Thirdly, It is useful, as it is rite ordinance of God, wherein the Lord hath appointed us to meet with him, and wherein he will make good those things which before he hath promised. And this is the very end and ground of our fasting, praying, and mourning in our exigencies, and extremities: not that these duties do at all prevail with God, or at all move him; for, it God that moves even these services, and all the spiritualness in us in them; and therefore he moves them in us, because when we are moved by his Spirit, and according to his will come forth to meet him where he appoints, there he will pour out himself in grace and love, according to his promise, not according to our performances. Thus, I say, this great objection may be answered easily, why we fast, and pray, and mourn in adversity, if they do us no good? I say, though they, do us no good, yet we fast and pray, in that the Lord saith, come to me, meet me in this and that ordinance, and I wilt come with my hands full; then, and there, I will pour out that which mine own freeness hath engaged me to do for you: is it not injustice not to meet him then? We confess our sins to him, but what is the ground of forgiveness? not our confession of sins, not our fastings, prayers, mourning, and tears; but "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (Isa. 43:25)

I will draw towards the conclusion. In a word, whoever he be that is selfish in his own righteousness, and goes about to establish it in the room of God's, labouring to procure some good unto himself thereby, and makes that righteousness do that for him, that God's righteousness should do, so making an idol of it;

First, He plays the most dishonest part with God that can be. Do you profess yourselves to be the servants of God? If you be, what dishonesty is there in you, that you professing to serve him, do, notwithstanding, by secret and by stealth, serve yourselves? If an apprentice should hide himself all day long, to earn and gain money the himself, might not his master justly tax him for a dishonest fellow? Why doth the master keep him, and find him, but that all he doth, he should do for him, and not for himself? Are you at God's finding, or are you at your own? Miserable are you, that are at your own: are you at God's finding then, and not at your own? What is it you seek for, and would get by the righteousness you seek so eagerly after? The truth is, there is nothing to be gotten that you have not already; if you have Christ, all things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Are you one of Christ's? A man need not work for that which is his own already; why then do you work for that which is yours already? Are you in Christ, or are you not? Do you work to get into Christ? Alas! how long might men work out of Christ, and work themselves into hell at last? What can a man get of God by all his righteousness and works, if he hath not Christ to get it for him? Therefore all things are yours, because you are Christ's, or else you shall have nothing at all God gives nothing of gift, and of his dear love, but as men are in Christ, and for his sake; therefore you do but labour in vain, if you labour for that which is yet to be produced.

But to do good to others; "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren:" let these be the ends of your services; work because good is already made sure to you, and not to make it sure: when a father settles an inheritance upon his son, he makes the deed so, that the son shall not work for the father's means; because the father hath passed over all that he hath to his son, he serves out of love, for what he hath already received, not for what is hoped for.

And as there is a dishonesty in self-seeking; so, secondly, there is a foul blur cast upon God. Beloved, if you should see a servant go about the streets complaining thus, Sir, help me to a little work, I must starve except I can work for myself: what would you think of this man's master? Surely, you will say, he is a hard master, that his servant must starve, except he seek for himself, and purvey for himself: you that say in your hearts, you are undone, you must perish, you are lost, except your prayers and humbling of yourselves can get some supply; is not this a working for yourselves? Is not this plain saying, there is no trusting to God, and that we must work for ourselves, or else we shall perish.

I should come to consider the other particulars in this text; but time not permitting, We will wind up all in one word of application.

We now stand before the Lord, and, among other mercies, we expect this great mercy, salvation; not only salvation in heaven, but salvation from the sword: it is not, it must not be your good doings that must procure it; or your repentance, that must bring it: you must not rest upon your performances to get it; do all that God calls for when you are in his way; in this respect be doing; but as for your help look up unto the hills from whence it cometh; your help stands in the name of the Lord, that made heaven and earth; and, therefore, in the expectation of help; all your business must he in this, "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."

By Tobias Crisp

Sunday, October 26, 2008

AN EVERLASTING TASK FOR ARMINIANS

By William Gadsby

A Letter to Rev. Edward Smyth

Note: The cause of the appearance of this work was a controversy which took place between Mr. Smyth, of St. Luke's Church, and Mr. Roby, then minister of the Independent Chapel, Grosvenor Street, Manchester. Mr. Smyth wrote a work entitled, "Paul against Calvin," to which Mr. Roby replied, and this work was issued as a further task for Mr. Smyth. The only answer that Mr. S. wrote was, that "as MR. G. had compared himself to a country rustic, he [Mr. S.] would pass him by as a good dog would in a farm-yard." Mr. Smyth-

Sir: Learning you are again preparing, or rather gathering together, another volume of scraps, which you intend to publish to the world in vindication of free-will, and to hold up to contempt the doctrine of electing grace, after having a thousand thoughts revolving in my mind upon the propriety or impropriety of interfering in the business, seeing you have, in many respects, been so ably handled already, I at last resolved to drop you a few lines, to which I request your very candid attention; for I assure you, as far as I know my own heart, I have nothing in view but the glory of the eternal God and the welfare of Zion.

And, first, you are hereby desired, as early as possible, to inform those characters whom your extraordinary piety induces you to hold up to public view as murderers, upon what ground the salvation of a poor sinner depends; whether it depends wholly and entirely upon the free grace of Jehovah, or whether it rests wholly and entirely upon man's free-will, or whether it be a joint concern, depending partly upon God's free grace, and partly upon man's free-will?


Should you be disposed to give the preference to the first of these, you will have the goodness to reconcile that to your Arminian creed, and for the better clearing of the way, you will be very particular in stating upon what branch of the free grace of God salvation does absolutely depend; and lest you should mistake what I mean, I will just state a few things, unto which I hope you will conscientiously attend. And in the first place, does the salvation of a sinner depend upon the everlasting love or mercy of Jehovah, or is it not possible for a sinner to be interested in that mercy, which is from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:17) and after all perish everlastingly?

And if so, does it not evidently appear that salvation does not depend upon the mercy of God?

But secondly, does salvation depend upon redeeming grace, and may the characters redeemed unto God by the precious blood of Christ (Revelation 5:9), depend upon the efficacy of the redemption of Christ for salvation, seeing they are thereby redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), and out of the pit where there is no water (Zechariah 9:11), or may not a sinner be interested in the redemption of Christ, and be damned at last?

And if so, does it not appear that salvation does not depend upon the redemption of Christ?

Thirdly, does salvation depend upon quickening, regenerating, or renewing grace?

As it is written, "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Ephesians 2:1)

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5)

Or may not a sinner be quickened, regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost, and after all be banished from the presence of the Lord into the burning lake of never-ending perdition?

And if so, does it not appear that this grace is not sufficient to save a sinner?

Fourthly, does salvation depend upon justifying grace?

"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24)

"And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39)

Or may not a sinner be justified by grace from all things, and after all be brought into condemnation, and have his everlasting portion with unbelievers in the torments of hell?

If so, does it not appear that justifying grace will not save a sinner?

Fifthly, does salvation depend upon sanctifying grace?

As it is written, "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Or may not a sinner be sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God, and be lost at last?

If so, does it not appear that sanctifying grace will not save a sinner?

Sixthly, does salvation depend upon the grace of adoption?


"According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." (Ephesians 1:4-5)

Or may not a sinner receive the adoption of sons, be an heir of God through Christ, (Galatians 4:5-7), and fall short of Heaven at last?

If so, does it not appear that salvation does not depend upon the grace of adoption?

Now if salvation does not depend upon any of these, separately considered, will you have the goodness to inform us whether it depends upon the whole of them, jointly considered, as one infinite treasure of immortal grace; or may not a sinner be interested in the whole of them, and after all perish in his iniquity?

That is, may not a sinner be interested in the unchanging mercy of God, and in the redemption by Christ, and in the quickening, regenerating and renewing influences of the Holy Ghost; and may he not be justified from all things, and be washed and sanctified by the Spirit of God; and may he not be a son and an heir of God; I say, may not a sinner be interested in the whole of this grace today, and tomorrow die in his sins?

And if so, how can salvation be of grace?

But in order to give you room for your strength, and allow you every fair opportunity of proving salvation to be all of God's free grace, and yet the creed for which you contend be of God, I will ask in the seventh place, does salvation depend on the unspeakable gift of grace, viz., Christ Jesus?

For "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

And if salvation depends on the unspeakable gift of grace, you will be particular in informing us what part of this gift it is that it depends. Does it depend upon the work of Christ, or upon the characters He bears, or the offices He fills, or the fullness that in Him dwells, or the union and relationship that subsists between Him and His church; does salvation depend upon these things jointly or separately, or may not a sinner be interested in the whole of this grace, and be lost at last?

But to make the matter as straight as possible, I would ask, may not a sinner be interested in the work of Christ, that is, in his active and passive obedience on earth, and his intercession in Heaven; and may he not build upon Christ as a foundation; shelter in Him as a hiding-place from the wind; rest upon Him as a resting-place; bathe in Him as the fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness; enter into the sheepfold by Him, as the door and strait gate; trust in Him as the Lord, his rock and fortress, and deliverer, and strength, and buckler, and as the horn of his salvation, and his high tower (Psalm 18:2); may he not receive Him as his Prophet, Priest and King; as the Captain of his salvation, his Day's-man, his Surety, Advocate and Mediator; may not a sinner live upon Him as the bread of Heaven, the water of life, and the wine of the kingdom; may he not be interested in Him as the everlasting Father, and the elder Brother, yea, a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother; may he not be united to Him as a loving Husband and a living Head; may not his life be hid with Christ in God, and he be life of His life, body of His body, bone of His bones, and flesh of His flesh; in a word, may not a sinner receive Christ as the Lord his righteousness and strength, his portion, and his all in all; be blessed with repentance unto life, and have Christ in him the Hope of glory; "be born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Peter 1:23); be blessed with the fruits of the Spirit, as "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23) ; and after all be brought into condemnation?

And if a poor sinner can be interested in the whole of this grace, and be lost at last, do, sir, for the Lord and truth's sake, and for the sake of poor, perishing sinners, inform us upon what salvation does absolutely depend.

I presume it is impossible to propose to you, or to any other person, a subject of great importance, and therefore I hope you will use all diligence to make the matter clear and straight; and if, upon due inspection and cool deliberation, you conclude that no sinner can be interested in the whole of this grace, and be damned at last, you will then, without the least reserve, inform us what part of it a sinner may be interested in, and yet be lost, and what part he cannot be interested in, and miss Heaven, that we may be able to form some just views of our real state, and be no longer left at an uncertainty about the grounds upon which salvation absolutely depends. Should you be disposed to give the preference to man's free will, and inform us that salvation depends upon the will of man, you will inform us how such a sentiment agrees with the word of God. But if, after all, you cannot feel any regard for me, yet for the truth's sake, and for the sake of poor, perishing sinners, you will inform us how such a sentiment agrees with the following passages of Holy Writ: The first passage that I will recommend to your attention upon this part of the subject is John 1:13: "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."


The second is in Romans 9:
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."

The third is Ephesians 2:8-9:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."

The fourth is 2 Timothy 1:9:
"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."

The fifth is James 1:18:
"Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."

The sixth is Philippians 1:6:
"Being confident of this very thing, that He Who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

The seventh is Acts 13:48:
"And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

See also the first six verses of the second chapter to the Ephesians. I could produce many more, but am inclined to think the above will be as many as you will be able to manage, and keep free-will upon its throne.

We also earnestly wish you to inform us whether the will of man became completely perverse by the introduction of sin, or whether it was only slightly injured, or whether it was injured at all; and if the former, what you and your brethren mean by free-agency and free-will; and if the latter, and salvation depends upon free-will, what do you mean by praying that God will have mercy upon all men, and save them with an everlasting salvation, and then tell the congregation that God has done all He can to save them, and the matter now rests with them, whether they will be saved or not?


Surely, such vain jangling can never be acceptable to God, however it may feed the carnal mind of man; for if God has done all He can, why pray to Him to do more?

And if He has not done all He can, why tell the people He has?

Strange as such contradictions may seem to a sensible mind, they are frequently produced in the course of one hour by an Arminian preacher. Now, sir, depend upon it, the credit of your favorite system depends much on these things being made to appear clear; nor can an experienced child of God be satisfied with a shuffling put off.

If you feel disposed to say that the salvation of a sinner, is a joint concern, depending partly upon God's free grace, and partly upon man's free-will, you will doubtless be careful to inform us, where such a salvation is recorded, and how it agrees with the following passages of Holy Write:


"I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior."
(Isaiah 43:11)

"Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men. whereby we must be saved."
(Acts 4:12)

"And if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work."
(Romans 11:6)

"Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance! behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity."
(Isaiah 40:13-17)

"It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in; that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity."
(Isaiah 40:22-23)

And again: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise"

(pray, sir, do not forget that) ;

"and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are. that no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Now from this account given of man by the eternal God, it evidently appears that all the nations of the earth are but as a drop of the bucket, or the small dust of the balance, as grasshoppers, having no might; nay, they are as nothing, and less than nothing, and vanity.


What flesh can bear it?

Well, be it as mortifying as it may to proud man, God informs us by the mouth of the psalmist that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity." (Psalm 39:5) And it evidently appears that if any of these particles of nothing.-, and less than nothing, and vanity, appear to shine brighter than the rest, there are but few of these saved. But God has chosen the foolish, the weak, the base, and the despised; and the end answered thereby is, that no flesh should glory in His presence; that, according as it is written, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

Now, sir, in case you should still feel yourself inclined to maintain that salvation is a joint concern, partly depending upon the free grace of God, and partly upon man's free will, your work in this business is judiciously to inform us what deficiency there is in the free grace of the eternal Jehovah, and in what sense He needs the aid and assistance of this drop of the bucket, this small dust of the balance, these wonderful grasshoppers, these particles of nothing, and less than nothing, and vanity, yea, these foolish, weak, base, and despised particles of less than nothing, who, at their best estate, are altogether vanity; I say, sir, your work is to inform us, and that with the greatest accuracy and clearness, wherein these worms can aid and assist the great Jehovah in their eternal salvation, and upon what part of their aid salvation depends. And having done this, you will then inform us whether it be just and righteous in God to demand all the glory, and not to admit any flesh to glory in His presence, but in the Lord, seeing that all the goings forth of the free grace of God will never save one sinner, if the sinner neglect to do his part. It is to be hoped that you will not pass these things over as trivial matters, for they are matters of the greatest importance; and surely it behooves every sinner that expects to go to Heaven to be well persuaded in his own mind upon what ground his salvation depends, lest he should be building upon a false foundation, and, after all his diligence and watchfulness, be found wrong at last.

Now, sir, as your conscience is so tender that you could not satisfy it till you had protested against the doctrine of unconditional election, you surely cannot die in peace without answering these important questions; important, I say, for I repeat it again, that nothing can be of greater importance than to know upon what ground salvation does absolutely depend; and if it will not be thought insulting your superior abilities and understanding, I will remark, that should you find yourself inadequate to the task, you are at full liberty to call in the assistance of any of your brethren, and truly they are many; for if the matter be but fully and clearly stated, it matters not to us whether the statement be the work of an individual, or the joint concern of a host; it is the truth itself we want to appear. You will perhaps wonder that I so frequently mention the pronoun us, as if this epistle was a joint concern; but if you will only read a small pamphlet called "A Dialogue between a Barber's Block and a Methodist Minister," your wonder will perhaps be at an end, for there you will see the same question proposed, namely, "What is it that saves a lost sinner?" in which pamphlet some of the above questions are asked.


Thus you see that I am not the only person who wishes to know upon what ground salvation absolutely depends; and as I have never heard of any of your brethren that have ventured to solve the important question, I thought if the question be put to Mr. Smyth, and the nature of it be clearly stated to him, who can tell but he will exercise his superior talents in giving a plain, unequivocal, decisive answer; and I think I may venture to say, that in this town I can find some hundreds of people who feel themselves interested in the subject, and who will be sure to conclude that if Mr. Smyth does not answer the above, the just reason will be because he cannot. And therefore, if neither regard for the truth of God, nor a concern for the welfare of souls, will induce you to answer this epistle, let your credit as a man of learning and talent have some weight with you, and never let it be said that country rustic, William Gadsby, has proposed questions to the Reverend Edward Smyth, formerly of Trinity College, Dublin, which he is not able to answer without exposing the fallacy of his own creed, and that, therefore, rather than do that, he will pass them by in cowardly silence.

I would not have solicited an answer, did not the subject appear to me to be a matter of the greatest moment. I am acquainted with characters who are in possession of an immortal soul, and consider themselves bound for an eternal world, and have had, or imagine they have had, some Soul-ravishing foretastes of immortal felicity, and are living in daily expectation that, "When the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, they have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," where they shall be forever free from sin (a monster that their better part abhors), yea, where they shall be free from all the insults of hell, the sorrows of the world, and every lurking care, fear and distress, and be forever with the Lord: where they shall see as they are seen, and know as they are known, and in one immortal song chant forth the high praises of the triune Jehovah forever and ever.


Oh how the soul longs to be with Christ, which is far, infinitely far better than to dwell below!

Indeed, sir, they are expecting the period to arrive very soon, when their immortal sight will be favored with a clear view of the majestic blaze of Jehovah's unsullied glory, when all their powers will be sweetly employed in realizing those immortal blessings which are in reserve for those who wait upon God.

But if, after all, they are only building such expectations upon a false foundation, how awful, how dreadfully awful will be the disappointment!

The very thought of being disappointed convulses the whole frame; and when such a thought prevails any length of time, it produces a tremor in the mind not to be expressed by tongue or pen. Therefore, to such souls no subject can be of greater importance than that now proposed for your consideration. We might expect to be princes and emperors, and be disappointed, but a disappointment of this nature is not worth a thought compared with the above; for all the riches, pleasures, honor and dignity which this world can afford are but poor, fleeting, perishing trash. A few years at most puts an end to the whole, and the beggar upon the dung-hill, and the king upon the throne, will become equally level with the dust. But to be disappointed in soul concerns, concerns of an eternal nature, is awful beyond description; therefore, if Mr. S., or any of his brethren, feel any regard for poor, perishing sinners, who are thirsting for God, even the living God, let them inform us, with the greatest accuracy, upon what salvation's does absolutely depend, that we may know upon what to ground our expectations.

Bear with me a moment, sir, for I have one thing more to propose, and then I have done for the present. If, after you have dispassionately discussed the above subject, you should still think yourself doing the work of an evangelist in holding up to contempt the doctrine of unconditional election, and still maintain that upon the ground of such a doctrine God is more barbarous than the worst of tyrants, nay, even as sanguinary and implacable as Appollyon himself, you will have the modesty to inform us what there is in sinners, and what they have done, that lays the eternal God under the obligation of providing for them a Savior.

Now, sir, either God is just in electing some according to the good pleasure of His will, leaving the rest without what you call a chance of being saved, or else man must have some just and righteous claim upon Him, whereby he has a right to demand salvation at His hands. Suppose upon this subject we propose a passage of Scripture for your consideration; and if we turn our thoughts to the third chapter to the Romans, we shall see that there were characters who slanderously reported the apostles, and affirmed that they said, "Let us do evil, that good may come," whose damnation, we are informed, is just.


Having given this statement of the matter, does the apostle then begin to admire his own goodness, and the goodness of the rest of the apostles and believers in Christ Jesus, and intimate that they were characters more worthy of Jehovah's complacency and delight than those whose damnation is just? No, not a single hint of the nature, but quite the reverse. Hence he asks, "What then? Are we better than they?" To which he replies, "No, in no wise." That is, if I understand him aright, we are in no sense whatever more deserving of the favor of God than they: for we are by nature no better than they, but were by nature children of wrath, even as others.

But what is the reason the apostle gives for such an assertion?

A very plain and a very obvious one indeed, namely, that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin; and then, to illustrate the point, he quotes a variety of passages from the Old Testament, which give a short description of the real state of man by nature; at it is written, "There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one; their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in all their ways, and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes."

This, sir, is a short description of fallen man, given by holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and from the same unerring authority we learn that "God made man upright, but men have sought out many inventions."


Fertile inventions indeed, if the above be a true description of them, and who dare deny it?

And pray, sir, for which of all these inventions is the eternal God obliged to provide salvation?

Or what virtue can there be in these things, jointly or separately considered, sufficient to merit the immortal favor of Jehovah, or to render Him an unjust tyrant in case He gives them their portion with fallen angels?

Does their virtue lie in their want of righteousness, and so because they are altogether unlike God He is necessitated to love and redeem them, or be unjust?

Or does the virtue lie in their dreadful ignorance or want of understanding, or because they seek not after God, "having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart?" (Ephesians 4:18)

Or does it lie in their having gone out of the way, and being altogether unprofitable, or because they do no good, seeing that they that are in the flesh cannot please God?

Or does the virtue lie in that dreadful stench of sin which they emit through their throat, which is an open sepulchre, or in the deceit which they use with their tongues?

Or is it in the poison of asps under their lips, which is a composition of every species of sin and rebellion?

Or is it in that mouth full of cursing and bitterness they possess?

Or does it lie in the swiftness of their feet to shed blood, or in the destruction and misery that are in their ways, or because they are strangers to the way of peace?

Or does the virtue lie in their having no fear of God before their eyes?

Now, sir, if there be no virtue in the whole of this, jointly or separately, that lays the eternal God under an obligation of extending His mercy toward, and bestowing His special favors upon them, He must be just in saving some, as the effect of His own purpose of grace, and leaving the rest to perish in their sins; I say, Jehovah must be just in so doing, unless His justice can be impeached upon some other foundation than what has already been stated.

But as I said in the beginning of this letter, that I have nothing in view but the glory of God and the welfare of Zion, so I say again, and can assure you that I do not wish to take any unjust advantage of you or your creed.

We will, therefore, for the sake of getting more fully to the real truth, suppose that some men by nature are not so vile as others, and we will suppose that those who believe in the doctrine of unconditional election are by far the worst, and that those who believe in the doctrine you profess are by far the best, and we put the question to each, Do you believe that the eternal God would have been just had He left you to perish in your sins?

What says the electionist to this question?

Me thinks I see every one who in heart believes the doctrine, from a feeling sense of its intrinsic glory, ready to say, without the least reserve, Just indeed!

I have been astonished, almost to an infinite degree, that He could be just in saving me. I am quite sure I have deserved His righteous indignation in thousands of instances, and had He seen fit to banish me from His presence, into that place where hope never cometh, I must have said, even then, it is what I justly deserve.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!

Adored be His eternal name, that He has brought my poor, guilty, ruined, hell-deserving soul to know that He has made Him to be sin though He knew no sin, and in the riches of His grace has made such a God-dishonoring wretch as I the righteousness of God in Him!

"Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! for the Lord hath done it."

When by a precious faith I am enabled to behold unworthy me among the sons of God, the purchase of the precious blood of Christ, I am lost in wonder, I sink to nothing before Him, and am compelled, sweetly compelled to cry from my very soul, "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto me, and not unto the world?" (John 14:22)

I am persuaded that it is not for works of righteousness which I have done, but according to His mercy He saved me, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. O my soul!

let all thy powers unite in praising the eternal God for so great a salvation. Great God!

Fill me with Thy blessed self; and may it ever be my highest ambition to be nothing, and to magnify Thine infinitely adorable name.

But hark! What do I hear?


Is it not the voice of Mr. S. calling such language "cant"?

O, fie, fie, blush for shame!

But whether you are capable of blushing or not, this is the language of a sinner saved by grace; and if you and your brethren were to call it by the detestable name of cant, ten-thousand times ten-thousand twice told, it would be their language still.

I admit it is language that hardly becomes a man who believes that God would be an unjust tyrant if He did not provide salvation for him; for what thanks can be to Jehovah for redeeming characters whom He in justice is bound to redeem?

He either must do it or impeach His justice; and then wherein can grace and mercy shine?

Indeed, sir, I am greatly mistaken if upon an inspection you are not induced to call the terms, grace, mercy and compassion of God, cant, too, or else give up that for which you plead.

If salvation be a just debt that God owes to His fallen creatures (and it must be, if He would be unjust in case He did not provide it), how can it be of grace and mercy?

If your mind be not overwhelmed with enmity, against the sovereignty of God, let these thoughts occupy it for a moment at least.

But we will now turn our thoughts to those characters whom we supposed might be considered the best sort of sinners, namely, the Arminians. [Those who credit their eternal salvation upon anything they can think, say, or do.]


Will Mr. S. inform us what claim these have upon the Almighty for an everlasting salvation?

Now, sir, we earnestly wish you to be very particular in telling us what they have in them, or what is done by them, that is so virtuous in its own nature as to oblige the eternal God to provide salvation for them, or else be a cruel, unjust tyrant. But in order to get at the truth, we will suppose that Mr. S. is not able to answer for all this body, seeing they are so amazingly numerous, and we will therefore bring the matter into a narrow compass, and he shall be desired to answer for himself only. Then the matter now rests here: If you feel yourself inadequate to answer for the whole, you are desired to come forward and truly declare, without any reserve, what you have done that lays the mighty God under an obligation of providing salvation for you, and wherein Jehovah will be an unjust tyrant if He does not give you a chance of being saved. We hope you will state upon what grounds you can appeal to the infinite God, and tell Him you have a right in justice to expect salvation at His hands, and that if He withholds it, and leaves you to perish in your sins, He, is no less than a capricious tyrant.

Should you feel yourself disposed to say that Jehovah ought to have prevented the fall of man, or provided a salvation that extends to all the fallen race, you will then, no doubt, inform us from what quarter such an obligation arises or how Jehovah came to be thus obliged, and whether He was not as much under the same obligation toward angels as men; and if He be just in leaving fallen angels to perish, without a possibility of being saved, upon what ground can His justice be impeached in leaving fallen man to the same condemnation?


If Satan were as much disposed to cavil with the sovereignty of God as Mr. S., and had the same opportunity of publishing his views to the world through the medium of the press, could he not represent the Almighty in as odious a light, for passing by fallen angels and redeeming fallen men (seeing they are all the creatures of God), as Mr. S. has done, upon the ground of unconditional election? Indeed, sir, to be consistent with yourself, it is high time your bowels began to yearn a little over fallen angels, and instead of calling Satan the destroyer, and arch-fiend, etc., represent him in the same favorable light as you do fallen man, and be a complete champion for universal charity at once.

O, sir, think and tremble. I have often thought that man excels Satan himself in rebellion against God; for though we read of him tempting Christ, and of him crying out, "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come to torment us before the time?" yet we hear nothing about his calling Him a capricious tyrant, because He has not given them a chance of being saved. No, this species of rebellion appears to be the sole prerogative of ruined man. I have no more to say at present, only again to solicit your candid attention to the things proposed, and to request that you will give us a plain, unequivocal, decisive answer. That the truth of God may run and be glorified, is the prayer of

Yours to serve in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,

-William Gadsby