Simul Justus et Peccator

[PLEASE NOTE: Much of the following material has been mined from various places including the Christian Publication Resource Foundation, without referencing the actual source. Therefore, the following excerpts are provided simply because they are helpful for understanding the related issues.]

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To one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is reckoned as righteousness. –Romans 4:5

How is the Christian to see himself in this world?

“Simul Justus et Peccator” “At the same time righteous and a sinner”. Justification is forensic. In Christ, we are declared, counted, or reckoned to be righteous when God imputes the righteousness of Christ (an “alien righteousness”) to our account. Christ’s righteousness ascribed to the redeemed individual without their personal merit. We are declared righteous in Christ, it is imputed to us — it is counted as ours … not infused in us. We are counted righteous in God’s eyes because of Christ. But this does not make us righteous in ourselves. That will only happen at our glorification when Christ transforms these bodies to be sealed in righteousness. Justifying righteousness is something which always resides in the Person of Christ alone. The imputation of this “alien” righteousness is the only means by which man can be acceptable to God. As long as the Christian lives, he is guilty in himself, but “in Christ” he is righteous and accounted precious.

The Council of Trent itself reveals that Rome considered Luther’s Simul Justus et Peccator to be a most serious threat to the traditional teaching of the Catholic church. The Roman Church contended that “justification” means making a man righteous in his own person. The Catholic reasons, “How can God pronounce a man to be righteous in His sight unless he is actually righteous?” He therefore thinks that a man must be born again and transformed before he can have right standing with God. In this system of thought, a man can have no real assurance of justification, for he can never be sure whether the Holy Spirit has made him righteous enough to be accepted of God.

Righteousness through Christ is called an “alien” righteousness because it did not generate from us. It is not our righteousness; it is his. It is an alien righteousness because it came from without, and now it is in a foreign land. It does not belong here; it is an alien righteousness. In Latin, we call it Simul Justus et Peccator: simul, simultaneously; justus, just; et, and; peccator, sinful. That is me – simultaneously righteous and sinful. That is my contribution to salvation — my sin! At the same time that I am a sinner, God sees me as righteous because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is the message of outreach — it is the message of salvation.

Righteousness comes in two ways: Coram Deo (righteousness before God) or Coram Hominibus (before man). Instead of a development in righteousness based in the person, or an infusion of merit from the saints, a person is judged righteous before God because of the works of Christ. But, absent the perspective of God and the righteousness of Christ, based on one’s own merit—a Christian still looks like a sinner. The declaration involves God imputing to the believer’s “balance sheet” or account the alien righteousness of Christ. The believer is not declared righteous by virtue of his own merit, but on the basis of the merit of Christ. When united to Him, it is justification which becomes the foundation upon which the believer can stand with confidence Coram Dei. The believer has no cause to fear in the presence of God because of His acquittal. The believer has only and always to look to the finished work of Christ on the Cross and hear God’s declaration, “You are accepted.” Because of justification the believer does not fear God’s rejection because of the sin still present in his/her life. God does not look at the sin in our life except through the work of Christ. This tension is resolved in the Incarnate Christ, crucified and now risen for the life of the world.

Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life is union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with him is faith. The sinner comes to him, rests in him, trusts in him, is one with him, abides with him; and this is life because it never ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter.

The Judge of all the earth declares us “not guilty” when we believe because Christ was pronounced “guilty” for us on the cross. We are not first made righteous, then declared righteous; we are declared to be righteous by grace through faith in Christ, then made righteous! When we believe, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us ‘as if’ it was our own. However, it is HIS righteousness, that is why Paul says in Romans 1:17 that there is a righteousness that has been revealed from God, a righteousness not of our own, but a righteousness revealed from God and freely given to those who do not work, but to those who believe. In light of the goodness and graciousness of God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, we should daily repent of our own self-righteousness (our works), The words imply a declaration and pronouncement from the divine court of the believer’s right standing with God. “Justification” in itself does not mean a change in the man, but a declaration of how he appears in God’s sight.

Through faith we run to Christ and hold fast to Him, who satisfied the law on our behalf (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:10-13). In this way, we are accounted righteous in the sight of God through faith alone, without doing the works of the law. We are Simul Justus et Peccator.

Luther recognized that even in a state of regeneration the believer still lives in the world and still in fact does commit acts of sin. There is no attempt to redefine sin to make it anything less than what it is. Rather there is a stark recognition of the dialectic of the Christian’s acceptance before God and the fact that he still sins. Luther’s phrase to describe this condition was that the state of the Christian between regeneration and ultimate glorification is Simul Justus et Peccator, at once just (or justified) and sinner. This is not a condition that will ever be transcended in this life. Rather, the believer must always rely on the finished work of Christ for his/her acceptance before God.

Note the helpful definition given by the Westminster Confession

“Those whom, God effectually calls he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God” – WCF Ch 11

Our “iniquities are forgiven,” “sins are covered,” “the Lord does not reckon sin against us.” Romans 4:5-8

We fully affirm the following with John Knox, Scots Confession 15

“We confess and acknowledge that the law of God is most just, equal, holy, and perfect, commanding those things which, when perfectly done, can give life and bring man to eternal felicity; but our nature is so corrupt, weak, and imperfect, that we are never able perfectly to fulfill the works of the law. Even after we are reborn, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth of God is not in us. It is therefore essential for us to lay hold on Christ Jesus, in his righteousness and his atonement, since he is the end and consummation of the Law and since it is by him that we are set at liberty so that the curse of God may not fall upon us, even though we do not fulfill the Law in all points. For as God the Father beholds us in the body of his Son Christ Jesus, he accepts our imperfect obedience as if it were perfect, and covers our works, which are defiled with many stains, with the righteousness of his Son. We do not mean that we are so set at liberty that we owe no obedience to the Law–for we have already acknowledged its place–but we affirm that no man on earth, with the sole exception of Christ Jesus, has given, gives, or shall give in action that obedience to the Law which the Law requires. When we have done all things, we must fall down and unfeignedly confess that we are unprofitable servants. Therefore, whoever boasts of the merits of his own works or puts his trust in works of supererogation, boasts of what does not exist, and puts his trust in damnable idolatry.”

The Death of Faithful

Christian and Faithful in Vanity Fair

Written by John Bunyan
Taken and adapted from the “Young People’s Pilgrim’s Progress” 
Rewritten and modernized by, S. J. Reid, D.D., 

NOW Envy stood forth and said…

“My lord, this man, in spite of his name, is one of the vilest men in our country. He has no regard for prince or people, law or custom, but does all he can to fill other men with his disloyal notions, which he calls faith and holiness. And I myself heard him say that Christian faith and the customs of our town Vanity were opposed to one another, and would always be, by which saying, my lord, he not only condemns these customs, but us also who observe them.”

Next came Superstition, who said, “My lord, I do not know much about this man, nor do I want to know him. But this I do know, that he is a very bad man, for when I had a talk with him the other day in this town he said that our religion was such that it could by no means please God, which saying, my lord, simply means that we worship in vain, are yet in our sins, and shall at last be punished. This is all I have to say.”

Pickthank then came forward and said, “My lord, I have known this fellow for a long time, and have heard him say things he ought not to have said. He mocked our noble prince, Beelzebub, and spoke with great contempt Of his friends, whose names are Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, the Lord Desire of Vain Glory, my old Lord Lechery, Sir Having Greedy, with all the rest of our noble friends. Besides, he has not been afraid to speak ill of you, my lord, who are now his judge, calling you an ungodly and bad man.”
When Pickthank had finished, the judge said to Faithful, “Thou runagate, heretic and traitor, have you heard what these honest gentlemen have said against you Faithful: “May I say a few words in my defense Judge? Sir, sir, you deserve to live no longer, but to be slain at once. But that all men may see how gentle we are towards you, let us hear what you, vile runagate, have to say. ”

Faithful: I say, then, in answer to Mr. Envy, that I never said anything but this: That what rules, or laws, or customs, or people, were flat against the Word of God, are opposed to the Christian faith. If I said what was wrong, convince me of my error and I will take it back. In reply to Mr. Superstition, let me say that in the worship of God there is required a divine faith. There can be no divine faith unless it is divinely revealed by the will of God. What is brought into the worship of God that was not divinely revealed is a human faith, and that faith will not profit to eternal life.

And as for Mr. Pickthank, I say that the prince of this town, with all his attendants, as already named, are more fit for hell than for this town and country and so may the Lord have mercy on me.” Then the judge said to the jury Gentlemen of the jury, you see this man, about whom so great an uproar has been made in this town. You have heard what these worthy gentlemen have said against him. You have heard his reply. It is now for you to hang him or save his life. But I think I must first instruct you in our laws. There was an act made in the days of Pharaoh the Great, a servant of our prince, against those of a different religion . In order that they might not increase too fast and become too strong for him, all their young children were thrown into the river. ‘There was another act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, that all who did not fall down and worship his golden image should be thrown into a fiery furnace.  There was also an act made in the days of Darius, that if any called on any other god but him, they should be cast into the lions’ den. Now the prisoner at the bar has broken these laws, not only in thought, but also in word and deed.

Then the jury went into another room.

Their names were: Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light and Mr. Implacable. Among them elves they concluded to say that Faithful was guilty. Mr. Blind-man, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic.” Mr. No-good “Away with such a fellow from the earth.” Mr. Malice “Aye, for I hate the very looks of him.” Mr. Love-lust: “I could never endure him.” Mr. Live-loose: “Nor I, for he would ever condemn my way.” Mr. Heady “Hang him Hang him Mr. High-min d “A sorry scrub.” Mr. Enmity “My heart riseth against him.” Mr. Liar: “He is a rogue and a liar.” Mr. Cruelty “Hanging is too good for him.” Mr. Hate-light: “Let us dispatch him out-of-the-way.” Mr. Implacable “If I had all the world given to me I could not like him. Let us bring him in guilty of death.” And so they did, and he was taken from the place where he was to the place whence he came and put to a cruel death. They whipped him and beat him, and cut hi m with knives, and stoned him with stones, and, last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake.

Thus, Faithful died.

Now there stood behind the crowd a chariot and a span of horses waiting for Faithful. As soon as he passed away he was taken into it, and was carried up through the clouds, with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial City.

But as for Christian, he had a rest, and was put back into prison, where he stayed for a time. But he who rules all things so brought it about that at last Christian escaped them, and went on his way.

Understanding the Three Persons of the Trinity

Taken and adapted from, Theologia Christiana, Book 2 Ch. 9, 1696.
Written by Benedict Pictet
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“…now observe that the scripture expressly mentions three persons to whom the divine nature is ascribed, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Of these three the scripture speaks unitedly in various places; for not to mention the baptism of Christ, in which the Father revealed himself by the voice that was heard; the Son, who was the subject of the divine oracle, was seen; and the Holy Ghost descended in the shape of a dove; the following passages are well know: “Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 38:19.) “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of all.” (2 Cor. 13:14.) See also John 14:16; 1 Cor. 12:3; Gal. 4:6. So also in Rev. 1:4, 5, John seeks grace “from him which is, and which was, and which is to come,” namely, from the Holy Ghost, (so-called on account of his manifold gifts, and with an allusion also to the seven churches of Asia,) and “from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, &c.” And not only in the New Testament is there mention made of these three unitedly, but in the Old Testament also. “I will mention the loving-kindness of the Lord, &c., for he said, Surely they are my people,” (this is said of the Father.) The Angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them,  (this concerning the Son.) But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit, (this concerning the Spirit.) (Isaiah 43:7-10.) “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me (the Son), because the Lord hath anointed me (by his Spirit) to preach the gospel to the poor.” (Isaiah 61:1.) Nor must we omit those passages in which the plurality of persons appears to be pointed out, such as “Let us make man in our image.” “Behold the man is become as one of us.” “Go to, let us go down, and confound their language.” (Gen. 11:7.)

Concerning these three persons we must remark, that they are distinct from each other, as is evident from the passages already quoted, and many others; thus Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand.” Here the Lord who speaks is distinguished from the Lord who is spoken to. So also John 15:26, “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Here the Comforter, or Spirit, is plainly distinct from the Father and the Son. Against, they are so distinguished, that some things are said of the Father which cannot be said of the Son, and some things of the Son which are no wise said of the Spirit. The Father is said to have begotten the Son but the Son is no wise said to send the Father. The Spirit is said to proceed from the Father, and to be sent by the Son; but no where is the Father said to proceed from, nor the Son to be sent by, the Spirit. Yet are these persons distinct in such a manner, that they are not three Gods but one God; for the scripture everywhere proves, and reason confirms, the unity of the Godhead.

There are, therefore, three persons in one divine essence; and this is clearly established by the passage in 1 John 5:7, which is brought forward and quoted by Cyprian, although not read in many copies. A far greater number of reasons can be alleged why this passage should have been inserted by the orthodox. It was more to the advantage of heretics to suppress this passage, than to that of the orthodox to add it, because, if it were genuine, the heresy of the former would be entirely overthrown; if spurious the orthodox creed was in no danger, being clearly established from other passages of scripture. The connection also of the text confirms our opinion; for unless this verse be admitted, there seems no reason why John should say, “There are three that bear witness in earth,” not having before said any thing of “three witnesses in heaven.” Nor can it be objected that these words in earth, were also added afterwards, for the contrary appears from verse 9, where mention is made both of the divine and human testimony, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.”

This mystery of three in one, is called the mystery of the Trinity, a word not expressly written in the scriptures, but wisely invented, and advantageously used, for the purpose of exposing the shifts and subterfuges of crafty heretics, just as other words have been invented and used, such as … (of the same essence), … (essence), … (subsistence), &c. Concerning this mystery we must inquire soberly, and speak modestly, since the human mind cannot conceive, nor mortal tongue express, the greatness of it; and, therefore, we can have nothing to do with the unbridled audacity of the vain and speculating schoolmen, who, by their plausible and dangerous subtleties, have given room for the introduction of various heresies.

We may examine things revealed, but not rashly pry into secret things, lest as Prosper remarks, we should be convicted of unlawful curiosity in the latter, and of blamable negligence in the former. Distinguished men, both in this and former ages, have attempted to render this mystery plain by many examples. I admire their ingenuity, united as it is with an ardent desire for the promotion of Christian truth; while I read what they have written, my mind is captivated both by their ingenuity and by their eloquence are removed and the mind is brought down to a little closer consideration of the subject, all that they have advanced is, in a great measure, forgotten. But although this mystery is incomprehensible to mortals, it must be rejected by us for it is not strange that finite beings, such as we are, should not perfectly comprehend the nature of an infinite Being. It is enough to have proved from the scriptures these two points, that there is one God, and that the Godhead is ascribed to three persons, distinct from each other. The latter we have begun to prove, and shall prove still further. But to assist our understanding on this subject, we may observe that the divine essence is infinite; also, that we do not comprehend how this essence is common to three persons, for this reason, — because we judge of the divine essence as we do of a finite essence, which cannot subsist in more than one. Further, that the divine essence subsisting in a plurality of persons, arises from the Infinite nature of Deity, but that these persons are no more than three, is only known from revelation. Gregory Nazianzen excellently remarks on this subject, I cannot attempt to think of one, but I am instantly surrounded with the splendor of three; I cannot attempt to distribute the three, but I am instantly carried back to the idea of one. These three, in whom the divine essence subsists, are called persons, which is the term we shall make use of; we confess, indeed, that it is not so appropriate, but for want of other terms, we are compelled to adopt this, in common with the whole Christian church.”

 

The Unmitigated Sovereignty of God

Taken and adapted from, “The Sole Consideration, That God is God, Sufficient to Still All Objections to His Sovereignty”, included in, “The Works of Jonathan Edwards”, Volume 2, 1736.

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“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand”  Proverbs 19:11 

In that he is God, he will be sovereign…
                                                                   …and will act as such.

He sits on the throne of his sovereignty, and his kingdom ruleth over all. He will be exalted in his sovereign power and dominion, as he himself declares; Ps 46:10. “I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” He will have all men to know, that he is most high over all the earth. He doth according to his will in the armies of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand.—There is no such thing as frustrating, or baffling, or undermining his designs; for he is great in counsel, and wonderful in working. His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord; whatsoever God doth, it shall be for ever; nothing shall be put to it, nor any thing taken from it. He will work, and who shall let it? He is able to dash in pieces the enemy. If men join hand in hand against him, to hinder or oppose his designs, he breaks the bow, he cuts the spear in sunder, he burneth the chariot in the fire.—He kills and he makes alive, he brings down and raises up just as he pleases. Isa. 45:6, 7. “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else: I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.”

Great men, and rich men, and wise men cannot hinder God from doing his pleasure. He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, he accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor. There are many devices in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord that shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations.—When he gives quietness, who can make trouble? When he hides his face, who can behold him? He breaketh down, and it cannot be built up again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening; when he purposeth, who shall disannul it? And when his hand is stretched out, who shall turn it back?—So there is no hindering God from being sovereign, and acting as such. “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” “He hath the keys of hell and of death: he openeth, and no man shutteth: he shutteth, and no man openeth.” This may show us the folly of opposing ourselves against the sovereign dispensations of God; and how much more wisely they act who quietly and sweetly submit to his sovereign will.

–Sourced from the “Dead Puritan Society”

Go on, with your Commandments…

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…I will go on with the promises.

Make the law your rule of walk, and I will pray God to perform His promise in me; for God hath said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.”

Thus you go on by the law, and I by the gospel.

Do perform your duty, and I will plead my privileges. Act thou as an industrious servant, and by God’s grace, I will act an affectionate son.
 
Be thou obedient to the law, and I will pray for grace for obedience to the faith. Live thou in the fear of thy master, and I will endeavour to honour my heavenly Father…Make the law thy only rule of action, and act accordingly; and I will depend upon God to work in me both to will and to do of His own good pleasure; yea, to fulfill all the good pleasure of His will in me, and the work of faith with power…
 

Let the ministers of the letter bind the grievous burdens upon your shoulders that you cannot possibly bear…

…and I will cast my burdens on the Lord, who has promised to sustain me. Be thou careful to observe all the grievousness which they prescribe, and I will cast all my care upon Him that careth for me. Walk thou by sight, and I by faith; walk thou in the letter, and I in the Spirit. Look thou to the commandments, and I will look to Jesus….
 
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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: William Huntington, 1745-1813. Of Huntington’s description of his sweet blessed deliverance into gospel liberty, J. C. Philpot says: “We have read some of the finest productions of human eloquence, in both ancient and modern languages. William Romaine said, “that God raises up such men as John Bunyan and William Huntington but once in a century.” Dr. Henry Cole, translator of the Works of Luther and Calvin, after referring to Huntington as “that great and blessed servant of the Most High,” says, “I believe he bore and left in Britain the greatest and most glorious testimony to the power of God’s salvation that ever was borne or left therein.” A. J. Baxter, editor of the Gospel Advocate, wrote: “There are hundreds who will both speak and write with respect of such men of God as Owen, Bunyan, Romaine, Barridge and Newton, who would recoil at the mention of the name of Huntington. And why? Because his conduct was less consistent than they? No, but because, in depth, closeness, and discrimination of vital realities he excelled them all; and was therefore the least comprehended, 1 Cor. 2:15. (Thomas Wright in Life of Huntington.) (-T. Rutt in Foreword to Kingdom of Heaven Taken by Prayer, by William Huntington)

What ministers and churches were made of: Glimpses into early Welsh Calvinistic Methodism

Taken, adapted and condensed from “Welsh Calvinistic Methodism”
A Historical Sketch of the Presbyterian Church of Wales
Written by William Williams

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Howell Harris was in the habit of attending the parish church at Talgarth on Sabbath morning…

At the close of the service he usually went out and stood on a tombstone, or on the wall of the churchyard, to address the dispersing congregation. On one of those occasions there stood among his audience a young medical student from Carmarthen shire, who was at the time pursuing his studies at the neighboring town of Hay. The words to which he then listened were blessed to his conversion, and he eventually resolved to relinquish his medical studies and to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel.

This young man became one of the mightiest instruments of the revival. He afterwards became known as the Rev. William Williams of Pantycelyn, eminent as a minister of the gospel, but more eminent still as the sacred poet of Wales. Very often in those early days was the smoldering fire which had been kindled by the sermon fanned into a flame by a hymn of Williams’s which was sung at the close. It is not too much to say that his Welsh hymns have never been approached by the productions of any other writer in the language; and now that every denomination has its own hymn-book, the great majority in each selection, including that of the Establishment, are the hymns of William Williams. He also wrote some English hymns, several of which, such as “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,” and “O’er those gloomy hills of darkness,” are found in very many selections in that language. Mr. Williams took Deacon’s Orders in the Establishment in 1740, but his Church career was a short one. In his first church he gave so much offence that a representation was made to the Bishop, containing no less than nineteen charges against him. One of these was, that he did not use the Sign of the cross in baptism, and another, that he omitted some portions of the service; and another, that he did not confine his ministrations to the church, but went out to the highways and hedges and preached wherever he could get people to hear him. We have not been able to ascertain what were the other sixteen, but it is reasonable to infer that they looked in the same direction as the above three. When he came to the Bishop for his Orders, he was peremptorily refused, and he therefore withdrew from the Establishment and gave himself to work among the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.

A somewhat later onto the scene was that of the Rev. Peter Williams, a native of Llaugharne in the county of Carmarthen. He was from his early childhood of a serious turn of mind, and was educated for the ministry. While he was a student at Carmarthen College, the renowned George Whitfield came to preach to the town, and so full of prejudice was the tutor against the fanatical preacher,” that he gave strict orders that none of the students should go to hear him. Four young men ventured to disobey this injunction, and one of these was Peter Williams. The sermon so deeply affected him, that he lost all taste for his former amusements, and became so earnestly religious, that he was thenceforth regarded by his tutor and fellow- students as a Methodist.”  –“And their opinion,” he writes, “was sufficient to cover me with eternal disgrace.” He after wards took Orders in the Church, and served several churches for exceedingly brief periods— for his earnest ministry gave such universal dissatisfaction, that he likewise was obliged to withdraw, and fully identify himself with those despised people whose spirit he had already so largely imbibed. These two young men, W. Williams and P. Williams, though they came a few years later on the scene, are always associated the ones that preceded them as the reformers of Wales and the founders of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism.

They were all young men, and so were Whitfield and his colleagues, by whose instrumentality the Lord was, at the same time, carrying on a great work in England. The laborers in the Principality knew nothing of that which was done by their brethren on the other Side of the Severn, but by some means, reports of the former reached the ears of the latter, and in 1738 Howell Harris, to his great delight, received an encouraging letter from George Whitfield, and before the expiration of that year the two met for the first time at Cardiff in Glamorgan shire. When the Welsh brethren were making preliminary arrangements for their first “Association,” which in Wales means the same thing as a General Assembly in Scotland, it was resolved to invite the Rev. G. Whitfield to attend. He acceded to the invitation, and presided at the meetings of the Assembly. This first Association of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists was held at Watford, in the county of Glamorgan, in the year 1742. Besides the chairman, there were present Daniel Rowlands, Howell Harris, W. Williams, J. Powell, and other preachers and exhorters. They were met to devise means to bring the numerous converts which had been already made under some spiritual supervision, and to concert measures for the further extension of the great work; and it is worthy of remark, that all the leading Spirits of this important assembly were young men varying from twenty-one to twenty—nine years of age.

Of the tremendous power of their ministry it is difficult now to form an adequate conception. Howell Harris was a veritable Boanerges (Son of Thunder). We can judge from his portrait that he was a person with a most commanding presence. The owner of those flashing eyes and firmly set mouth was not a man to be trifled with. It was not seldom that thousands in his presence experienced had many of the same sensations as the assembly of Israel at the foot of Sinai. Often there were giants in iniquity, who had come for the express purpose of disturbing the services, made to quail before his fiery glance, or driven home trembling in every limb after listening for a few minutes to the thunder of his voice. A congregation of 2000 people have been known to stand for upwards of two hours in a drenching rain to hear him preach. It is said that during the first few years of his ministry there was scarcely one instance of his preaching without being the means of bringing a number under conviction. For some time he confined his ministry to his own neighborhood. He was afterwards invited to Visit other counties, and soon he extended his travels into North Wales, everywhere lifting his voice like a trumpet against the prevailing irreligion and sin, and apprising the crowds that assembled to hear him of their impending doom. Everywhere he found the people like those of old who dwelt in the land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, sitting in darkness and in the region and shadow of death; but it was a most unusual thing for him to leave a town, village, or hamlet without leaving behind him the nucleus of a religious community. His indomitable spirit triumphed over the rough usage to which he was exposed by his burning zeal for his Master’s glory and the salvation of immortal souls. And his sufferings were neither light nor few.

On several occasions, Howell Harris, like another apostle, was pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that he despaired even of life when in the hands of an infuriated mob; but after barely escaping alive, with torn raiment and a bruised and bleeding body, he would again fearlessly face the storm. He went to fairs, wakes, and revels to preach the gospel, thus invading the kingdom of darkness, and attacking sin on its own territories. The gentry regarded him as a disturber of the peace, and threatened him with legal proceedings. The clergy looked upon him as a false prophet, and however badly off they might be for sermons, were never at a loss for a text when he was in the neighborhood. The mob regarded him as a defenseless individual, whom they could have the inexpressible delight of belaboring with impunity to their hearts’ content – and they often did so without mercy. But it was useless to attempt by any such means to arrest him in his mighty career. Often while he was addressing an assembly in the open air did a magistrate appear on the scene, commanding the crowd to disperse, and enforcing his orders with the reading of the Riot Act. Harris would reply to the magnate by reading the sentence pronounced by the Judge of all upon his own guilty soul.

When the rabble hooted him, his voice was heard above their loudest howls, telling them of judgment to come. When dragged about and beaten by a mob maddened by drink, and by devils, he preached between the blows, and urged his savage assailants to hasten their escape from the stormy wind and tempest. Such is a faint picture of this extraordinary man. He believed and therefore spoke, and with such power and effect that many thousands in the Principality of Wales were turned to righteousness.

However, as powerful a Christian as Harris was, Rowlands was by far the greater preacher. Harris never made a sermon. He made it a point to abstain from formal premeditation, but spoke as he was moved and enabled at the time. Rowlands, on the contrary, carefully prepared, and his published sermons are full of matter, and of matter forcibly and eloquently arranged. He possessed extraordinary powers of mind, and was a speaker of unsurpassed eloquence; but after all, the secret of his tremendous power must be sought for in the depth and intensity of his own religious convictions. On Sabbath mornings he generally rose early, and as much as possible avoided conversation, even with his most intimate friends; but on some occasions, when his studies had been unsuccessful, it was difficult to get him out of his bed in time before the service. He was then “unwell, could not preach without any message from God to the people.” Sometimes his servant had to help him in a half -fainting condition from his house to the pulpit, but once there he was at home; and it has been observed that it was on such occasions he usually preached with the greatest power.

The people could see that he intensely felt all he said. Once in his prayer before sermon, while dwelling on the sufferings of the Savior for us, he seemed to have Him before his eye, and exclaimed, “Oh, those emptied veins Oh, that pallid countenance!” and then, overwhelmed by emotion, he fainted away. After a while he recovered, and mighty indeed was the sermon that followed. Howell Harris’s ministry for many years was wholly itinerant, but Rowlands, having a regular charge, confined his labors chiefly to Llangeitho, though he made occasional evangelistic tours to other districts, and from time to time visited every part of the Principality. But his ministry at Llangeitho alone exerted a mighty influence far and wide, for it soon began to attract hearers from the most distant parts of Wales. It was by no means an uncommon thing to see as many as thirty of the people of Bala, which is above Sixty miles distant from Llangeitho, among his congregation on Sabbath morning. Those people started early on Saturday morning, each taking with him the provision necessary for the journey. There were well – known halting- places on the road, —on the banks of streams, from which they could moisten their morsel, and there they sat and refreshed themselves. They travelled far into the night, got a few hours’ rest in such places as they could find, started again with the early dawn, and were right glad if they could reach Llangeitho in time for the morning service.

On their pilgrimage homewards they had something to talk of— the sermons to which they had listened on the preceding day; and often was the resting place by the brook was a veritable Bethel, and echoed the sounds of joy and praise. On one occasion forty-five people from Carnarvon went towards Llangeitho by sea as far as Aberystwyth, where they left the Ship, intending to return in the same manner. But by Monday the wind had Shifted, and they were obliged to walk the whole distance, which could not be much short of a hundred miles. On their journey homewards their large number created quite a sensation in the towns and Villages through which they passed. At Aberdovey they were recognized as “Methodists,” and hooted well as they passed. At Towyn, the population came out to meet them, and attempted to prevent them from passing through the place. At Barmouth, which they reached against night, in a pelting storm, some of them found accommodation in the town, while others were lodged in farm -houses farther on. One house in the town, at which they had been angrily refused, took fire, and was completely destroyed before the morning. Resuming their journey next day, they had to pass through Harlech, and here the people rose enmasse to stone them. Some were struck in their heads and badly wounded; and one man was so injured by a blow on his foot that he was lame for weeks. This incident will give an idea of the burning zeal of the early Calvinistic Methodists, and of the inveterate hatred with which they were regarded by the great mass of the people.

A large number of the early converts being men of some talent, felt it to be their duty to preach unto others that gospel which they had found so precious themselves. They were for the most part men of little education, who scarcely knew anything of any book in existence but the Welsh Bible; but they preached wherever they could find an opening, and were known and recognized, not as ministers, but as exhorters.” Numbers of these, from every part of Wales, congregated at Llangeitho on the monthly Sabbath. The effect of this periodical contact with the ministry of Rowlands was most beneficial to themselves, and by their means his ministry t old on the whole of the Principality. They caught the fire themselves, and, like Samson’s foxes, spread it throughout the length and breadth of the land.

It is not strange, therefore, that their labors produced great results. In 1742, six years from the beginning of the movement, we find that there were laboring in conjunction with the episcopally ordained clergy, who by this time had become ten in number, as many as forty exhorters. We have no more statistics of that date, but we find that by 1744, two years later, there had been formed, in South Wales alone, 140 “Societies,” which in process of time came to be designated as Churches.

As churches and districts became established, overseers were required to furnish a periodical report to the Association of the districts or subdistricts, as the case might be. The following is an example:

DEAR BRETHREN IN THE LORD, 

This is to inform you what a wide door has been opened unto me by the Almighty God in the Societies named underneath, and what successful progress the gospel makes among them. I verily believe that they excel every other part which is known to me in the Principality of Wales, in love to God and His gospel, in their carefulness to walk in accordance with its precepts, as well as in their unity with each other: not being persecuted or disturbed by any, excepting a little persecution that happened lately at Lampeter, in the county of Cardigan. While the members of the Society were together Singing psalms and praying to God, a Justice of the Peace, with his servants, came upon them to disturb them, and the man who was praying at the time was taken prisoner; but through the providence of God the persecution has somewhat moderated, and the prisoner has been set at liberty, but the Justices continue their threatening’s.

Cayo Society contains 60 members, 27 of whom enjoy liberty, the others are under the law.
Talley Society contains 68 members, 24 of whom have obtained deliverance through Christ, the others are under the law. William John, exhorter; Thomas Griffith, steward.
Llangathen Society contains 14 members, 5 of whom are free in Christ, and the others under the law. Morris John, exhorter.
Llanfynydd Society contains 54 members, 23 of whom are free in Christ, and the others under the law. Morris John is exhorter here also.
Llansawel Society contains 47 members, 18 of whom are free in Christ, and the others under the law. Joseph John, exhorter, and John David, steward.
Cilycwm Society contains 26 members; 9 free, and the others under the law. John Thomas, exhorter, and Isaac David, steward.
Lampeter Society contains 28 members; 13 free, and the others under the law. “David Williams, an exhorter at Llanfynydd, has left me and gone to keep a school. Thomas John has not been settled in any place.

This from your fellow-traveler and unworthy brother in Christ,

JAMES WILLIAMS.

Sometimes these reports descended to even more minute details. Take the following examples:

Builth Society— Thomas James, overseer; Thomas Bowen, exhorter.

Thomas James, a full and abiding testimony.
Thomas Bowen, enjoying much liberty.
Evan Evans, having obtained a testimony, but weak in grace.
Sarah Williams justified, and coming out of the furnace.
Sarah Jones, a full testimony, but under heavy bondage.
Ann Baisdel, a sweet experience, but yet weak.
Mary Bowen, seeking the Lord Jesus in earnest.”

Etc., etc.

So it was at the time, and so it continued for many years afterwards.

Able men were willing and anxious to devote all their time and energies to the service of the cause, but the Societies were either unable or indisposed to give them the means of living, and they were therefore obliged to turn for subsistence to other sources. These good man, after itinerating for long periods of time, often for twenty-five years or more, would eventually settle down as Independent Ministers, but at the same time they would retained as long as they would live, their connection with the Calvinistic Methodists.

The Most Remarkable Event

Taken and adapted from, “THE MOST REMARKABLE EVENT”
Written by A.W. Pink

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 “Great is the mystery of godliness”
1 Timothy 3:16

Amazing beyond all finite conception is that transaction that was consummated at Golgotha!

There we behold the Prince of Life dying. There we gaze upon the Lord of Glory made a spectacle of unutterable shame. There we see the Holy One of God made sin for His people. There we witness the Author of all blessing made a curse for worms of the earth. It is the mystery of mysteries that He Who is none other than Immanuel, should stoop so low as to join the infinite majesty of Deity with the lowest degree of abasement that was possible to descend into. He could not have gone lower and be God. Well did the Puritan, Richard Sibbes say,

“God, to show His love to us, showed Himself God in this: that He could be God and go so low as to die.”

To what source then can we appeal for light, for understanding, for an explanation and interpretation of the Cross? Human reasoning is futile, speculation is profane, the opinions of men are worthless. Thus, we are absolutely shut up to what God has been pleased to make known to us in His Word…

The plan of redemption, the office of our Surety, and the satisfaction that He rendered to the claims of justice against us have no parallel in the relations of men to one another. We are carried above the sphere of the highest relations of created beings into the [majestic] counsels of the eternal and independent God.

Shall we bring our own line to measure them? We are in the presence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one in perfection, will, and purpose. If the righteousness of the Father demands a sacrifice, the love of the Father provides it. But the love of the Son runs parallel with that of the Father; and not only in the general undertaking, but also in every act of it we see the Son’s full and free consent. In the whole work, we see the love of the Father as clearly displayed as the love of the Son. And again, we see the Son’s love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity as clearly displayed as the Father’s, in that work of which it was impossible to tell whether the manifestation of love or righteousness is most amazing. In setting out upon the undertaking, we hear the Son say with loving delight, “Lo, I come to do Thy will.” –Hebrews 10:7, 9

As He contemplates its conclusion, we hear Him say, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” –John 10:17 They are one in the glorious manifestation of common perfections and in the joy of all the blessed results. The Son is glorified by all that is for the glory of the Father.

And while, in the consummation of this plan, the wisdom of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—shall be displayed, as it could not otherwise have been, to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Ruined man will be exalted in Christ to heights of glory and bliss otherwise unattainable.