« PreviousContinue »
Assuredly not; we cannot come to the Saviour, except the Father draw us, and no man can come to the Father, but by the Saviour.
The spirit takes of
The election then obtains this saving faith. the things of Jesus, and showeth it to the elect. To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom; but to the multitude spake he in parables. Let there be light, said God the Lord, and there was light. I open, saith the Lord, and no man can shut; I shut, and no man can open.
The spirit in the word of God, speaks of the salvation of God; which salvation was begun, carried on, and finished by the Redeemer. But again, the same word speaks of our salvation, which is consequent upon our believing what the word and spirit declares, respecting the salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ. The first, is the thing believed, and is that peace which is preached to those who are nigh, and to those who are afar off; the second, is that knowledge which fills the heart of the believer with peace and joy in believing. Both, however, is the work of God; the one accomplished in, and by Jesus Christ; the other, begun and carried on in the heart by the spirit of God, and completed when we are admitted into the divine presence, where faith is lost in sight, and hope in full fruition.
Behold, saith the Lord, all souls are mine. But all which the Father hath, he hath given to the Son; indeed all things were made for him, as well as by him, and he is the heir of all things. The heathen is his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth his possession. Thus, the whole human nature is the property of God. It is true, the individuals of this nature, have sold themselves for nought. But they are redeemed; the price, the ransom price is paid for them. True, they have made a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell; but, the right of disposal not being in themselves, their covenant with death shall be broken, their agreement with hell shall not stand. The Saviour of the world will lead captivity, captive. In the first and most glorious sense, he hath already accomplished this divine purpose, when he ascended up on high leading captivity, captive, and receiving gifts for men ; yea, even for the rebellious, that God might dwell among them.
Yet the greater part of Emmanuel's inheritance, of his purchased possession do not, in this their day, know the things that make for their peace. The things that make for their peace, are hid from
their eyes. God hath blinded them, hath given them up to strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, that they all may be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. Had they believed the truth, they would have had pleasure in righteousness, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Christ Jesus unto all; but ignorant of this righteousness, ignorant that it is theirs by the gift of God, who so loved the world as to give them his Son, declaring the name by which this Son should be called, should be the Lord our righteousness; ignorant of these things, which most indubitably make for their peace, numbers go about to establish a righteousness of their own, while others, despairing of ever obtaining righteousness of any description, with hearts filled with enmity against God, as desperate debtors, run with greediness the career of destruction. Hence it is, saith the Lord, that my people die for lack of knowledge, and that they will not come unto him for life. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider. God's people then are of two descriptions: believers and unbelievers; wise and foolish; obedient and disobedient; happy and miserable.
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto ten virgins; five of them were wise, and five of them were foolish. The kingdom of heaven was not likened to five wise virgins only: These virgins were distinguished the one from the other by no one thing, but the oil in their vessels with their lamps, that is, light; a lamp without oil is of little value. They who had oil went in, and had peace and joy; they who had not, sought in vain for the place of entrance, they were compelled to tarry without, in that state and kingdom into which they were born, and to which they had continued in subjection, in which, of course, is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Hence the apostles were sent to turn as many as were chosen, to be witnesses for God in this our day, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. These chosen, live by faith upon the Son of God. They are the first fruits unto God; they follow the Saviour in the resurrection; they are acquainted with the Father and the Son; they know that God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.
As witnesses for God, they proclaim every where, that he sent his Son into the world to be the Saviour of the world; and that he may indeed accomplish the purpose for which he came, they declare, that he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. That he gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. They, therefore, pray for the salvation of all men; and they are well persuaded, that thus to do is well pleasing and acceptable unto that divine Being, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, who hath commanded them thus to supplicate, and being assured of the will of God, they pray in faith, nothing doubting; they know, that the Almighty performeth all his pleasure; they know, that whatsoever they ask according to his will, they shall receive; they well know, that he who is faithful hath promised, who also will do it. They, therefore, look forward in faith, to the period when the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea; when the face of the covering shall be taken from all people, and the veil from all nations; when the wolf and lamb shall lay down together; when the servants, the angels of God, shall be commissioned to go forth and weed his inheritance, gathering up all those tares which sprang from the seed sown by the adversary, the grand enemy of God and man; gathering up those tares and binding them in bundles to be burned. They know, that the Saviour was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and that he will assuredly do that for which he was manifested, destroying those works, both root and branch; that he will remove the cause, by taking away the deceiver of the nations and casting him out; that he will both bind the strong man armed, and spoil his goods. They now indeed see the nations turned into hell, with all the people that forget God; but they look forward to the period, when death and hell shall deliver up the dead which are in them, and death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. They know, that their Redeemer hath the keys of hell and of death, and that he is already more than conqueror over death, and him who had, but who hath not now the power of death, that is, the devil.
It is matter of heart-felt consolation to the believer, to know that those who do not see the grace of God in truth, who ever preach another gospel. dissimilar to the gospel preached by the apostles, which is not yea and amen, but yea and nay; God will and he will
not; you can and you cannot. I say, it is matter of consolation to the faithful witness for God, that these persecutors, these perverters of men's souls, who are indeed building on the foundation, because other foundation can no man lay, but who are building thereon wood, hay, and stubble, that in the great day of the Lord. which shall be revealed by fire, in order to try every man's work of what sort it is, their works shall be burnt, but they themselves saved in that day, though it be so as by fire.
It is now, indeed, with much pain that they see the God of this world, blinding the minds of the children of men, lest the light of the knowledge of the glorious gospel should shine into their hearts. But living by faith, they look forward with joy unspeakable and full of glory, to the blessed period, when he that letteth shall be taken out of the way. They now see, and it is with much indignation, this man of sin sitting in the temple of God, showing himself to the deluded children of men as God, and opposing himself to all that is called God, or worshipped. But they look forward with inexpressible satisfaction to the day of the Lord, when he shall be made manifest, when that wicked shall be revealed, which the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming.
They witness with sympathetic sorrow, the misery attendant upon unbelief; but they rejoice to hear the spirit, through the instrumentality of the Apostle Paul, affirm, that God hath included them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all; and triumphing in this God-honouring anticipation, they exclaim, O, the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
The witnesses of God look forward to a day of divine power, and they hear the Redeemer say, My people shall be willing in the day of my power. In this day of divine power, they expect to see all flesh collected and cheerfully attending on divine worship, from one period to another; they expect to see all flesh, while thus engaged, looking with abhorrence on the carcases of the men who transgressed, which carcases shall then be an abhorring to all flesh, and their worm, the worm of the carcases, shall not die; and their fire, the fire of the carcases, shall not be quenched; and they, that is the carcases, shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
What is a carcase? It is a mass of corruption. Paul groaned, being burdened with this carcase, crying out, O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death? Paul then looked, and every believer now looks on this carcase with ab
horrence, and so will all mankind, when all mankind shall be taught of God; and being taught by this unerring Spirit, they shall all know him from the least of them unto the greatest.
I could pursue this subject with ineffable delight; it is a subject upon which all God's holy prophets, ever since the world began, have been taught to dwell. We all look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; where all old things shall be done away, when all tears shall be wiped away, when there shall be no more pain or death; when death, the second death, as the last enemy, shall be swallowed up of victory, and the former things shall be remembered no more.
It is, I humbly conceive, only in this point of view, that the Oracles of God can be found to consist; and it is for want of carefully attending to sacred testimonies, that professed advocates for divine revelation are often found its greatest adversaries.
The unbelieving world, listening to doctrines and traditions of men, said to be drawn from, and established by testimonies found in sacred writ, start at the manifest contradictions which so notoriously abound, and pronounce decidedly, that such crude inconsistencies cannot be the offspring of God.
In compliance with your request, I have freely unbosomed myself, and frankly owned, that I believe in my heart every word of God, and that I may be enabled to comply with your every request; I have not delayed my answer. Thus in a hasty manner, without taking time to arrange my ideas, I have thrown on paper the first thoughts which offered, just as they have arisen to my pen. It is on the conclusion of such a letter, to such a friend, that I do most sincerely regret not having it in my power to converse with, instead of writing to you. But, have I not said this before? No matter; you will, no doubt, wish to ask many things, which, in this way you cannot easily ask; besides, I am no writer; I am not accustomed to this mode of collecting or conveying my ideas; nothing but very strong affection for my friends, or a grateful sense of their very strong affection for me, could ever bring me to put pen to paper. I have given you then, by writing at all, proof positive, that the same amity which glows in your bosom, swells my own heart; and in writing to you thus frankly, I have given indubitable evidence, both of affection and confidence.
Having briefly touched upon the texts of scripture brought forward in your letter, and upon those doctrines, in the belief of which,