The Nature and Calling of Free Grace

Written by J.C. Philpot

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it.

My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fulness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it?

I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners. I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb and vain as a drunkard’s mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry, “What shall I do to be saved?” then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own works in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-Man?

You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved your soul can be saved by grace alone.

And why not YOU be saved? What countless trophies has grace already at the Redeemer’s feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord!

Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of His Dear Son! How grace arrested him at Damascus’ gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer’s feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecutor of the church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what a deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labors distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years.

How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savor he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the blood shedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the church through His blood and love.

But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer’s crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were those Ephesians to whom Paul wrote that wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolaters, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter-most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had fallen from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians; ! men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime. How rich, how marvelous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19), and magicians, full of curious arts and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets!

Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us?

Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the Fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilization be taken off the corpse, and here it lies in all its hideous ghastliness.

Human nature is still what it ever was dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Savior, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the gospel the same to everyone that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them, the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them, and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Joseph Charles Philpot (1802 – 1869) was known as “The Seceder”. He resigned from the Church of England in 1835 and became a Strict & Particular Baptist. While with the Church of England he was a Fellow of Worchester College, Oxford. After becoming a Strict and Particular Baptist he became the Editor of the Gospel Standard magazine and served in that capacity for twenty years.

Educated at Oxford University, he was elected a fellow of Worcester College, and appeared to have a brilliant scholastic career before him. But he was brought into solemn concern spiritually and the Lord led him into the ministry. He first preached in the Established Church at Stadhampton (Oxfordshire). In 1835, however, he was constrained, for the truth’s sake, to sever his connection with the Church of England and to resign his curacy and his fellowship. The letter to the provost stating his reasons was published and went into several editions.

The same year, he was baptized by John Warburton at Allington (Wilts). The rest of his life was spent ministering among the Strict Baptists. For 26 years, he held a joint pastorate at Stamford (Lines) and Oakham (Rutland). In addition for over twenty years, he was editor of “The Gospel Standard”, where many of his sermons first appeared.


Not Faith, But Faith’s Object: Christ

Taken and adapted from, “Everlasting Righteousness”
Written by, Horatius Bonar


Our justification is the direct result of our believing the gospel…

…our knowledge of our own justification comes from believing God’s promise of justification to everyone who believes these glad tidings. For there is not only the divine testimony, but there is the promise annexed to it, assuring eternal life to every one who receives that testimony. There is first, then, a believed Gospel, and then there is a believed promise. The latter is the “appropriation,” as it is called; which, after all, is nothing but the acceptance of the promise which is everywhere coupled with the gospel message. The believed gospel saves; but it is the believed promise that assures us of this salvation.

Yet, after all, faith is not our righteousness. It is accounted to us in order to (eis) righteousness (Rom 4:5), but not as righteousness; for in that case it would be a work like any other doing of man, and as such would be incompatible with the righteousness of the Son of God; the “righteousness which is by faith.” Faith connects us with the righteousness, and is therefore totally distinct from it. To confound the one with the other is to subvert the whole gospel of the grace of God. Our act of faith must ever be a separate thing from that which we believe.

God reckons the believing man as having done all righteousness, though he has not done any, and though his faith is not righteousness. In this sense it is that faith is counted to us for, or in order to, righteousness,–and that we are “justified by faith.” Faith does not justify as a work, or as a moral act, or a piece of goodness, nor as a gift of the Spirit, but simply because it is the bond between us and the Substitute; a very slender bond in one sense, but strong as iron in another. The work of Christ for us is the object of faith; the Spirit’s work in us is that which produces this faith: it is out of the former, not of the latter, that our peace and justification come. Without the touch of the rod the water would not have gushed forth; yet it was the rock, and not the rod, that contained the water.

The bringer of the sacrifice into the tabernacle was to lay his hand upon the head of the sheep or the bullock, otherwise the offering would not have been accepted for him.

But the laying on of his hand was not the same as the victim on which it was laid. The serpent-bitten Israelite was to look at the uplifted serpent of brass in order to be healed. But his looking was not the brazen serpent. We may say it was his looking that healed him, just as the Lord said, “Thy faith hath saved thee”; but this is figurative language. It was not his act of looking that healed him, but the object to which he looked. So faith is not our righteousness: it merely knits us to the righteous One, and makes us partakers of His righteousness. By a natural figure of speech, faith is often magnified into something great; whereas it is really nothing but our consenting to be saved by another: its supposed magnitude is derived from the greatness of the object which it grasps, the excellence of the righteousness which it accepts. Its preciousness is not its own, but the preciousness of Him to whom it links us.

Faith is not our physician; it only brings us to the Physician. It is not even our medicine; it only administers the medicine, divinely prepared by Him who “healeth all our diseases.” In all our believing, let us remember God’s word to Israel: “I am Jehovah, that healeth thee” (Exodus 14:26). Our faith is but our touching Jesus; and what is even this, in reality, but His touching us?

Faith is not our savior.

It was not faith that was born at Bethlehem and died on Golgotha for us. It was not faith that loved us, and gave itself for us; that bore our sins in its own body on the tree; that died and rose again for our sins. Faith is one thing, the Savior is another. Faith is one thing, and the cross is another. Let us not confound them, nor ascribe to a poor, imperfect act of man, that which belongs exclusively to the Son of the Living God.

Faith is not perfection.

Yet only by perfection can we be saved; either our own or another’s. That which is imperfect cannot justify, and an imperfect faith could not in any sense be a righteousness. If it is to justify, it must be perfect. It must be like “the Lamb, without blemish and without spot.” An imperfect faith may connect us with the perfection of another; but it cannot of itself do aught for us, either in protecting us from wrath or securing the divine acquittal. All faith here is imperfect; and our security is this, that it matters not how poor or weak our faith may be: if it touches the perfect One, all is well. The touch draws out the virtue that is in Him, and we are saved. The slightest imperfection in our faith, if faith were our righteousness, would be fatal to every hope. But the imperfection of our faith, however great, if faith be but the approximation or contact between us and the fullness of the Substitute, is no hindrance to our participation of His righteousness. God has asked and provided a perfect righteousness; He nowhere asks nor expects a perfect faith. An earthenware pitcher can convey water to a traveler’s thirsty lips as well as one of gold; nay, a broken vessel, even if there be but “a shard to take water from the pit” (Isaiah 30:14), will suffice. So a feeble, very feeble faith, will connect us with the righteousness of the Son of God; the faith, perhaps, that can only cry, “Lord, I believe; help mine unbelief.”

Faith is not satisfaction to God.

In no sense and in no aspect can faith be said to satisfy God, or to satisfy the law. Yet if it is to be our righteousness, it must satisfy. Being imperfect, it cannot satisfy; being human, it cannot satisfy, even though it were perfect. That which satisfies must be capable of bearing our guilt; and that which bears our guilt must be not only perfect, but divine. It is a sin-bearer that we need, and our faith cannot be a sin-bearer. Faith can expiate no guilt; can accomplish no propitiation; can pay no penalty; can wash away no stain; can provide no righteousness. It brings us to the cross, where there is expiation, and propitiation, and payment, and cleansing, and righteousness; but in itself it has no merit and no virtue.

Faith is not Christ, nor the cross of Christ.

Faith is not the blood, nor the sacrifice; it is not the altar, nor the laver, nor the mercy-seat, nor the incense. It does not work, but accepts a work done ages ago; it does not wash, but leads us to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. It does not create; it merely links us to that new thing which was created when the “everlasting righteousness” was brought in (Dan 9:24).

And as faith goes on, so it continues…

…always the beggar’s outstretched hand, never the rich man’s gold; always the cable, never the anchor; the knocker, not the door, or the palace, or the table; the handmaid, not the mistress; the lattice which lets in the light, not the sun.

Without worthiness in itself, it knits us to the infinite worthiness of Him in whom the Father delights; and so knitting us, presents us perfect in the perfection of another. Though it is not the foundation laid in Zion, it brings us to that foundation, and keeps us there, “grounded and settled” (Col 1:23), that we may not be moved away from the hope of the gospel. Though it is not “the gospel,” the “glad tidings,” it receives these good news as God’s eternal verities, and bids the soul rejoice in them; though it is not the burnt-offering, it stands still and gazes on the ascending flame, which assures us that the wrath which should have consumed the sinner has fallen upon the Substitute.

Though faith is not “the righteousness,” it is the tie between it and us.

It realizes our present standing before God in the excellency of His own Son; and it tells us that our eternal standing, in the ages to come, is in the same excellency, and depends on the perpetuity of that righteousness which can never change. For never shall we put off that Christ whom we put on when we believed (Rom 12:14; Gal 3:27). This divine raiment is “to everlasting.” It waxes not old, it cannot be rent, and its beauty fadeth not away.

Nor does faith lead us away from that cross to which at first it led us. Some in our day speak as if we soon got beyond the cross, and might leave it behind; that the cross having done all it could do for us when first we came under its shadow, we may quit it and go forward; that to remain always at the cross is to be babes, not men.

But what is the cross?

It is not the mere wooden pole, or some imitation of it, such as Romanists use. These we may safely leave behind us. We need not pitch our tent upon the literal Golgotha, or in Joseph’s garden. But the great truth which the cross embodies we can no more part with than we can part with life eternal. In this sense, to turn our back upon the cross is to turn our back upon Christ crucified,-to give up our connection with the Lamb that was slain. The truth is, that all that Christ did and suffered, from the manger to the tomb, forms one glorious whole, no part of which shall ever become needless or obsolete; no part of which can ever leave without forsaking the whole. I am always at the manger, and yet I know that mere incarnation cannot save; always at Gethsemane, and yet I believe that its agony was not the finished work; always at the cross, with my face toward it, and my eye on the crucified One, and yet I am persuaded that the sacrifice there was completed once for all; always looking into the grave, though I rejoice that it is empty, and that “He is not here, but is risen”; always resting (with the angel) on the stone that was rolled away, and handling the grave-clothes, and realizing a risen Christ, nay, an ascended and interceding Lord; yet on no pretext whatever leaving any part of my Lord’s life or death behind me, but unceasingly keeping up my connection with Him, as born, living, dying, buried, and rising again, and drawing out from each part some new blessing every day and hour.

Man, in his natural spirit of self-justifying legalism, has tried to get away from the cross of Christ and its perfection, or to erect another cross instead, or to set up a screen of ornaments between himself and it, or to alter its true meaning into something more congenial to his tastes, or to transfer the virtue of it to some act or performance or feeling of its own. Thus the simplicity of the cross is nullified, and its saving power is denied.

For the cross saves completely, or not at all.

Our faith does not divide the work of salvation between itself and the cross. It is the acknowledgment that the cross alone saves, and that it saves alone. Faith adds nothing to the cross, nor to its healing virtue. It owns the fullness, and sufficiency, and suitableness of the work done there, and bids the toiling spirit cease from its labors and enter into rest. Faith does not come to Calvary to do anything. It comes to see the glorious spectacle of all things done, and to accept this completion without a misgiving as to its efficacy. It listens to the “It is finished!” of the Sin-bearer, and says, “Amen.” Where faith begins, there labor ends, –labor, I mean, “for” life and pardon. Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth so long rejected, that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that good will to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

Faith is the acknowledgment of the entire absence of all goodness in us, and the recognition of the cross as the substitute for all the want on our part.

Faith saves, because it owns the complete salvation of another, and not because it contributes anything to that salvation. There is no dividing or sharing the work between our own belief and Him in whom we believe. The whole work is His, not ours, from the first to last. Faith does not believe in itself, but in the Son of God. Like the beggar, it receives everything, but gives nothing. It consents to be a debtor for ever to the free love of God. Its resting-place is the foundation laid in Zion. It rejoices in another, not in itself. Its song is, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy He saved us.”

Christ crucified is to be the burden of our preaching, and the substance of our belief, from first to last. At no time in the saint’s life does he cease to need the cross; though at times he may feel that his special need, in spiritual perplexity or the exigency of conflict with evil, may be the incarnation, or the agony in the garden, or the resurrection, or the hope of the promised advent, to be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe.

But the question is not, “What truths are we to believe?” but, What truths are we to believe FOR JUSTIFICATION?

That Christ is to come again in glory and in majesty, as Judge and King, is an article of the Christian faith, the disbelief of which would almost lead us to doubt the Christianity of him who disbelieves it. Yet we are not in any sense justified by the second advent of our Lord, but solely by His first. We believe in His ascension, yet our justification is not connected with it. So we believe His resurrection, yet we are not justified by faith in it, but by faith in His death, –that death which made Him at once our propitiation and our righteousness.

“He was raised again on account of our having been justified” (Rom 4:25) is the clear statement of the word. The resurrection was the visible pledge of a justification already accomplished.

“The power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10) does not refer to atonement, or pardon, or reconciliation; but to our being renewed in the spirit of our minds, to our being “begotten again unto a living hope, by the resurrection from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3). That which is internal, such as our quickening, our strengthening, our renewing, may be connected with resurrection and resurrection power; but that which is external, such as God’s pardoning, and justifying, and accepting, must be connected with the cross alone.

The doctrine of our being justified by an infused resurrection-righteousness, or, as it is called, justification in a risen Christ, (1) is a clear subversion of the Surety’s work when “He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,” or when “He washed us from our sins in His own blood,” or when He gave us the robes “washed white in the blood of the Lamb.”

It is the blood that justifies (Rom 5:9).

It is the blood that pacifies the conscience, purging it from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14). It is the blood that emboldens us to enter through the veil into the holiest, and go up to the sprinkled mercy-seat. It is the blood that we are to drink for the quenching of our thirst (John 6:55). It is the blood by which we have peace with God (Col 1:20). It is the blood through which we have redemption (Eph 1:7), and by which we are brought nigh (Eph 2:13), by which we are sanctified (Heb 13:12). It is the blood which is the seal of the everlasting covenant (Heb 13:20). It is the blood which cleanses (1 John 1:7), which gives us victory (Rev 12:11), and with which we have communion in the Supper of the Lord (1 Cor 10:16). It is the blood which is the purchase-money or ransom of the church of God (Acts 20:28).

The blood and the resurrection are very different things; for the blood is death, and the resurrection is life.

It is remarkable that in the book of Leviticus there is no reference to resurrection in any of the sacrifices. It is death throughout. All that is needed for a sinner’s pardon, and justification, and cleansing, and peace, is there fully set forth in symbol, –and that symbol is death upon the altar. Justification by any kind of infused or inherent righteousness is wholly inconsistent with the services of the tabernacle, most of all justification by an infused, resurrection-righteousness.

The sacrifices are God’s symbolical exposition of the way of a sinner’s approach and acceptance; and in none of these does resurrection hold any place. If justification be in a risen Christ, then assuredly that way was not revealed to Israel; and the manifold offerings so minutely detailed, did not answer the question: How may man be just with God? nor give to the worshippers of old one hint as to the way by which God was to justify the ungodly.

“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27)…

…is a well-known and blessed truth; but Christ IN US, our justification, is a ruinous error, leading man away from a crucified Christ-a Christ crucified FOR US. Christ for us is one truth; Christ in us is quite another. The mingling of these two together, or the transposition of them, is the nullifying of the one finished work of the Substitute. Let it be granted that Christ in us is the source of holiness and fruitfulness (John 15:4); but let it never be overlooked that first of all there be Christ FOR US, as our propitiation, our justification, our righteousness. The risen Christ in us, our justification, is a modern theory which subverts the cross. Washing, pardoning, reconciling, justifying, all come from the one work of the cross, not from resurrection. The dying Christ completed the work for us from which all the above benefits flow. The risen Christ but sealed and applied what, three days before, He had done once for all.

It is somewhat remarkable that in the Lord’s Supper (as in the passover) there is no reference to resurrection. The broken body and the shed blood are the Alpha and Omega of that ordinance. In it we have communion (not with Christ as risen and glorified, but) with the body of Christ and the blood of Christ (1 Cor 10:16), that is, Christ upon the cross. “This do in remembrance of me.” “As oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.” If, after we have been at the cross, we are to pass on and leave it behind us, as no longer needed, seeing we are justified by the risen Christ in us, let those who hold that deadly error say why all reference to resurrection should be excluded from the great feast; and why the death of the Lord should be the one object presented to us at the table.

“Life in a risen Christ” is another way of expressing the same error. If by this were only meant that resurrection has been made the channel or instrument through which the life and justification are secured for us on and by the cross, –as when the apostle speaks of our being begotten again unto a lively hope by the “resurrection of Christ from the dead,” or when we are said to be “risen with Christ,” –one would not object to the phraseology. But when we find it used as expressive of dissociation of these benefits from the cross, and derivation of them from resurrection solely, then do we condemn it as untrue and antiscriptural. For concerning this “life” let us hear the words of the Lord: “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:53-56).

This assuredly is not the doctrine of “life in a risen Christ,” or “a risen Christ in us, our justification and life.” I do not enter on the exposition of these verses. I simply cite them. They bear witness to the cross. They point to the broken body and shed blood as our daily and hourly food, our life-long feast, from which there comes into us the life which the Son of man, by His death, has obtained for us. That flesh is life-imparting, that blood is life-imparting; and this not once, but for evermore. It is not incarnation on the one hand, nor is it resurrection on the other, on which we are thus to feed, and out of which this life comes forth; it is that which lies between these two, –death, –the sacrificial death of the Son of God. It is not the personality nor the life-history of the Christ of God which is the special quickener and nourishment of our souls, but the blood-shedding. Not that we are to separate the former from the latter, but still it is on the latter that we are specially to feed, and this all the days of our lives.

“Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed for us.”

Hence we rest, protected by the paschal blood, and feeding on the paschal Iamb, with its unleavened bread and bitter herbs, from day-to-day. “Let us keep the feast” (1 Cor 5:8). Wherever we are, let us keep it. For we carry our passover with us, always ready, always fresh. With girded loins and staff in hand, as wayfarers, we move along, through the rough or the smooth of the wilderness, our face toward the land of promise.

That paschal lamb is CHRIST CRUCIFIED. As such He is our protection, our pardon, our righteousness, our food, our strength, our peace. Fellowship with Him upon the cross is the secret of a blessed and holy life.

We feed on that which has passed through the fire; on that which has come from the altar. No other food can quicken or sustain the spiritual life of a believing man. The unbroken body will not suffice; nor will the risen or glorified body avail. The broken body and shed blood of the Son of God form the viands on which we feast; and it is under the shadow of the cross that we sit down to partake of these, and find refreshment for our daily journey, strength for our hourly warfare. His flesh is meat indeed; His blood is drink indeed.

(1) Mr. Irving, Dr. Newman, and the followers of Mr. Darby, are the modern upholders of this new form of an old heresy. Formerly it was simply justification by an infused righteousness, now it is by an infused righteousness derived from Christ’s resurrection. See Dr. Newman’s sermon, Christ’s Resurrection the Source of Justification.

Of all Christian graces, faith is the most important…

Taken from, “JUSTIFIED!”
Written by J.C. Ryle

simple…Of all it is the simplest in reality.

Of all it is the most difficult to make men understand in practice. The mistakes into which men fall about it are endless. Some who have no faith never doubt for a moment that they are believers. Others, who have faith, can never be persuaded that they are believers at all. But nearly every mistake about faith may be traced up to the old root of natural pride. Men will persist in sticking to the idea that they are to pay something of their own in order to be saved. As to a faith which consists in receiving only, and paying nothing at all, it seems as if they could not understand it.

Saving faith is the hand of the soul. The sinner is like a drowning man at the point of sinking. He sees the Lord Jesus Christ holding out help to him. He grasps it and is saved. This is faith.

Saving faith is the eye of the soul. The sinner is like the Israelite bitten by the fiery serpent in the wilderness, and at the point of death. The Lord Jesus Christ is offered to him as the brazen serpent, set up for his cure. He looks and is healed. This is faith.

Saving faith is the mouth of the soul. The sinner is starving for want of food, and sick of a sore disease. The Lord Jesus Christ is set before him as the bread of life, and the universal medicine. He receives it, and is made well and strong. This is faith.

Saving faith is the foot of the soul. The sinner is pursued by a deadly enemy, and is in fear of being overtaken. The Lord Jesus Christ is put before him as a strong tower, a hiding place, and a refuge. He runs into it and is safe. This is faith.

If you love life, cling fast hold to the doctrine of justification by faith.

If you love inward peace, let your views of faith be very simple. Honour every part of the Christian religion. Contend to the death for the necessity of holiness. Use diligently and reverently every appointed means of grace; but do not give to these things the office of justifying your soul in the slightest degree. If you would have peace, remember that faith alone justifies, and that not as a meritorious work, but as the act that joins the soul to Christ. Believe me, the crown and glory of the Gospel is “justification by faith without the deeds of the law.”

No doctrine can be imagined so beautifully simple as justification by faith.

It is not a dark mysterious truth, intelligible to none but the great, the rich, and the learned. It places eternal life within the reach of the most unlearned, and the poorest in the land. It must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined so glorifying to God.

It honours all His attributes, justice, mercy, and holiness. It gives the whole credit of the sinner’s salvation to the Saviour He has appointed. It honours the Son, and so honours the Father that sent Him. It gives man no partnership in his redemption, but makes salvation to be wholly of the Lord. It must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined so calculated to put man in his right place.

It shows him his own sinfulness, and weakness, and inability to save his soul by his own works. It leaves him without excuse if he is not saved at last. It offers to him peace and pardon without money and without price. It must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined so comforting to a brokenhearted and penitent sinner. It brings to such an one glad tidings. It shows him that there is hope even for him. It tells him though he is a great sinner, there is ready for him a great Saviour; and though he cannot justify himself, God can and will justify him for the sake of Christ. It must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined so satisfying to a true Christian. It supplies him with a solid ground of comfort—the finished work of Christ. If anything was left for the Christian to do, where would his comfort be? He would never know that he had done enough, and was really safe. But the doctrine that Christ undertakes all, and that we have only to believe and receive peace, meets every fear. It must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined so sanctifying. It draws men by the strongest of all cords, the cord of love. It makes them feel they are debtors, and in gratitude bound to love much, when much has been forgiven. Preaching up works never produces such fruit as preaching them down. Exalting man’s goodness and merits never makes men so holy as exalting Christ. The fiercest lunatics at Paris became gentle, mild, and obedient, when Abby Pinel gave them liberty and hope. The free grace of Christ will produce far greater effects on men’s lives than the sternest commands of law. Surely the doctrine must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined so strengthening to the hands of a minister. It enables him to come to the vilest of men and say, “There is a door of hope even for you.” It enables him to feel, “While life lasts there are no incurable cases among the souls under my charge.” Many a minister by the use of this doctrine can say of souls, “I found them in the state of nature. I beheld them pass into the state of grace. I watched them moving into the state of glory.” Truly this doctrine must be of God.

No doctrine can be imagined that wears so well. It suits men when they first begin, like the Philippian jailer, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?” It suits them when they fight in the forefront of the battle. Like the apostle Paul, they say, “The life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” It suits them when they die, as it did Stephen when he cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Yes: many an one has opposed the doctrine fiercely while he lived, and yet on his deathbed has gladly embraced justification by faith, and departed saying that “he trusted in nothing but Christ.” It must be of God.

Have you this faith?

Do you know anything of simple childlike confidence in Jesus? Do you know what it is to rest your soul’s hopes wholly on Christ? Oh, remember that where there is no faith, there is no interest in Christ; where there is no interest in Christ, there is no justification; where there is no justification, there can be no peace with God; where there is no peace with God, there is no heaven! And what then? There remains nothing but hell.

From Her Infirmity Came Great Strength… The Story of God’s “Rock Star”

The poet, Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), became an “invalid” in her early thirties, but what later flowed from her heart and pen was mighty and was used by God.

singer-lThe true story of Charlotte Elliott, however, begins long before her conversion…

You see, Miss Elliott as she was known, was carefree, a popular artist and a writer of humorous verse. She was both beautiful and talented. Everyone loved to hear her sing. Being energetic and coming from a well to do home, Charlotte Elliott was part of the scene. She was in demand. Today, we would call her a rock star.  But as it was, Charlotte Elliott was the center of attention in her world and she loved it.

Then disaster struck…

In her early thirties, Charlotte Elliott went from being an artistic carefree spirit to a woman who was in constant pain. . . A severe illness had left her a permanent invalid, and it was said afterwards that “Ill health always beset her.” Besides the general trying influence on the spirit, her sickness often caused the peculiar pain of depression, the pain of a seemingly useless life. You can imagine, that her debilitating condition must have been especially galling considering that the large circle round her was full of unresting motion, which they were using for serviceableness for God.  Such was the time of trial for Charlotte Elliott; the year was 1834, and she was now 45 years old and living in Westfield Lodge, Brighton.

But as God often does, God came to Charlotte Elliott, and called her back to him…

Miss Elliott’s father had become a godly man and a silk merchant, at whose house the servants of Christ were often entertained. Her brother, the Rev. H.V. Elliott, had not long before conceived the plan of St. Mary’s Hall at Brighton, a school designed to give at nominal cost, a high education to the daughters of clergymen; a noble work which is to this day carried on with admirable ability and large success. So it was at this point, that in aid to St. Mary’s Hall there was to be held a bazaar and afterwards a dinner party.

As part of the party, Charlotte Elliott was to sing…

Westfield Lodge was all astir; every member of the large circle was occupied morning and night in preparation with the one exception of the ailing Charlotte — as full of eager interest as any of them, but physically fit for nothing. The night before the bazaar and the dinner party, she was kept wakeful by distressing thoughts of her apparent uselessness; and questioned the reality of anything spiritual and wondered whether it was anything better after all than an illusion of the emotions, an illusion ready to be sorrowfully dispelled.

During the dinner party, Charlotte sang her piece.  It was a pretty piece, gay and witty but it was said to be a bit worldly. As the gathering sat conversing and winding down, an elderly man, who was unknown to Charlotte (but who was none other than the great preacher and evangelist, Dr. Cesar Malan, of Geneva), approached her and asked if she knew herself to be really a Christian. She told him that she considered him rude and unkind, and that she also resented the question thus so pointedly put, and also petulantly answered that religion was a matter that she did not wish to discuss at all that evening.

Dr. Malan replied in his usual kind manner, that he would not pursue a subject which so displeased her, but would pray that she might give her heart to Christ, and employ her great talents with which He had gifted her to his holy and spiritual use.

It seems that the Holy Spirit used her abrupt and almost rude conduct towards God’s servant to show Charlotte what depths of pride and alienation from God were in her heart. Charlotte Elliott didn’t sleep at all that night.  And after several days of spiritual misery, Charlotte apologized to God’s servant for her unbecoming conduct, and confessed that his question had troubled her greatly. “I am miserable” she said, “I want to be saved. I want to come to Jesus; but I don’t know how”. “Why not come just as you are?” answered Malan. “You have only to come to Him just as you are.”  Little did Malan think that his simple reply would be repeated in song by the whole Christian world! Further conversation followed, and this good man was enabled to make perfectly clear to the once proud but now penitent young lady God’s simple way of salvation through Christ; that on the ground of His shed blood for us, all who from their heart believe are accepted of God. She gathered up in her soul the grand certainties, not of her emotions, but of her salvation: her Lord; His power: His promise. And taking pen and paper from the table she deliberately set down in writing for her own comfort the formulae of her faith … so in verse she restated to herself the Gospel of pardon, peace and heaven…. there, then, always, not at some past moment, but “even now” she was accepted in the Beloved, “Just as I am”. As the day wore on, her sister-in-law, Mrs. H.V. Elliott, came in to see her and bring news of the work. She read the hymn and asked (she well might) for a copy. So it first stole out from that quiet room into the world, where for many years it has been sowing and reaping, until a multitude which only God can number has been blessed through the message”.  Miss Charlotte came as a sinner to Christ, and remembering this event wrote the hymn that has made her name famous everywhere…”Just as I am

Just as I am – without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Meet this great Christian: Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871).  Charlotte Elliott was possessed of rare literary gifts and when in the year 1836 she assumed the editorship of the “Yearly Remembrancer”, she inserted in the first number, this now long-famous hymn — without her name. A commentator says of this hymn, “With its sweet counsel to troubled minds it found its way into magazines and other publications, and in devout persons’ scrap books; then into religious circles and chapel assemblies; and finally into the hymnals of the church universal”. Sometime after its publication, a lady, struck by its beauty and spiritual value, had it printed in leaflet form for circulation in cities and towns of the kingdom. Miss Elliott, in feeble health, was then in Torquay in Devonshire, under the care of an eminent physician. One day the doctor, who was an earnest Christian man, put one of these leaflets into his patient’s hands, saying that it had been helpful to him and felt sure she would like it. The surprise and pleasure was mutual when she recognized her own hymn and he discovered that she was the author.

As one hymnologist noted:  We know not which to admire most, the beauty of the composition, or the lovely modesty of its author, who for so many years forbore to divulge its origin.

Though weak and feeble in body, she possessed a strong imagination and a well-cultured and intellectual mind….. Her verse is characterized by tenderness of feeling, plaintive simplicity, deep devotion, and perfect rhythm. For those in sickness and sorrow, she has sung as few others have done.  — Dr John Julian 

The testimony of Miss Elliott’s brother, (the Rev. H.V. Elliott, editor of Psalms and Hymns, 1835) to the great results arising from this one hymn is very touching. He says, “In the course of a long ministry I hope I have been permitted to see some fruit for my labours; but I feel far more has been done by a single hymn of my sister’s”. It ranks with the finest hymns in the English language. Its success has given rise to many imitations.

Charlotte Elliott died in Brighton in 1871. She is buried, along with her brothers, in the churchyard at St Andrew’s Church, Hove.

The Last Gift…

Written by Stephen Higginson Tyng (1800 –1885)


Early in my ministry, I was once called to visit a dying lady…


13b Joshua Johnson (American artist, 1763–1824) Sarah Ogden GustinIt was in the city of Philadelphia, of an English family. She and her husband were in a boarding house there. I spent much time with her, knelt often in prayer with her, and with great delight.

Her husband was an Atheist, an English Atheist a cold-hearted English Atheist There is no such being beside him on the face of the globe. That was her husband. On the day in which that sweet Christian woman died she put her hand under the pillow and pulled out a little beautiful well-worn English Bible. She brought out that sweet little Bible, worn and thumbed and moistened with tears.

She called her husband, and he came; and she said, “Do you know this little book?” and he answered, “It is your Bible.” Replied she, “It is my Bible; it has been everything to me. It has converted, strengthened, cheered, and saved me. Now I am going to Him that gave it to me, and I shall want it no more; open your hands” –and she put it in between his hands and pressed his two hands together.

“My dear husband, do you know what I am doing?”  “Yes, dear; you are giving me your Bible.”  “No, darling, I am giving you your Bible, and God has sent me to give you this sweet book before I die. I put it in your hands; now put it in your bosom –will you keep it there? Will you read it for me?” “I will, my dear.”

I placed this dear lady, dead, in the tomb behind my church. But it was not perhaps more than three weeks afterward that big Englishman came to my study weeping profusely.  “0h, my friend,” said he, “my friend, I have found what she meant ” I have found what she meant!” “It is my Bible!  Oh, it is my Bible; every word in it was written for me. I read it over day by day; I read it over night by night; I bless God it is my Bible.  Will you take me into your church where she was?”  “With all my heart” -and that proud, worldly, hostile man, hating this blessed Bible, came, with no arguments, with no objection, with no difficulties suggested, with no questions to unravel, but binding it upon his heart of memory and love. It was God’s message of direct salvation to his soul. It was as if there were not another Bible in Philadelphia, and an angel from heaven had brought to him this very Bible.”

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Stephen Higginson Tyng (March 1, 1800 – September 3, 1885), was an Episcopal Church evangelical preacher in New York City. He recognized that a new urban ministry was needed in parts of the city with growing numbers of immigrants. He instituted social service programs as well as altering church interiors to make people feel more welcome.

Born March 1, 1800, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Harvard University in 1817, Tyng had a strong conversion experience that led him to leave business to pursue the ministry. With Bishop Griswold as his advisor, Tyng studied theology, and ultimately, married the Bishop’s daughter, Anne. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by Jefferson College in 1832, and by Harvard in 1851.

Tyng was considered to be one of the most notable preachers of the time, and leader in the evangelical wing of the Episcopal Church. Tyng was the rector at Church of the Epiphany, Philadelphia, before relocating to New York City in 1845. He was pastor of St. George’s Episcopal Church for 33 years from 1845 through 1878. Initially St. George’s was affiliated with Trinity Church and located in Lower Manhattan at Beekman and Cliff Streets, near Wall Street. Tyng converted J.P. Morgan to the faith who in turn helped build a new church on East 16th Street and Rutherford Place, facing Stuyvesant Square in New York. Under Tyng, the new St. George served the rich and the poor together, with 2,000 children in its Sunday School, and funds raised and sent to four churches in Africa and a school in Moravi.

[ A NOTE TO MY READERS AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THESE STORIES:  Recently, I have written about Christians who before us have suffered great persecution and/or died in the cause of Christ.

I do not do this because I have less regard for theology than I once had, or that I now scorn the importance of those doctrines which were once given unto the saints.  Nor, do I wish to lessen those scriptures which are they that do testify of Christ. And even more importantly, I do not wish to glorify man; so there is no need to sensationalize or even to make significant the facts of their deaths or of their persecution. For in one sense, that is truly not what is important.   

Rather, I wish to make alive their faith, to make alive their living faith which was their living testimony unto Christ Jesus.  They were not all great Christians.  Many of those that I read and write about had significant flaws, some morally and some theologically… But all had found “The Christ.”  And they each had witnessed to, and testified of that living Christ which takes away the sins of the world.

Having done all, these Christians stood, and their stories still stand today, demonstrating to us and pointing to us their Lord, both with their teachings, but more importantly, with their lives. And therein lies the power… They were totally committed. 

As you look around yourself, do you see that type of commitment?  As you look deep within yourself, do you see yourself standing in their shoes?  Can you say, with grace, “If called, there go I?”  As you look around your church, can you sense, as a member, an increasing importance of who we are in Christ Jesus, or do you see an increasing importance of who we are in the world?  From your vantage point, which seems to be most important?

Never before has the Christian Church been assaulted on so many fronts.  Never before, has it faced so many enemies from without and enemies from within.  One shudders at the sound of all the axes being laid to the roots of our Christian heritage, and we ask ourselves, “When Christ comes will he find faith on the earth?”  To this question, I am deeply stirred with a sense of urgency.

Today, I call to you wherever you are, find your commitment, find your passion, find who you really are –in Christ!  Resolve in yourself right now, to make Him and his cause, the purpose for your highest commitment, and the reason for your deepest passion.  I can tell you, that you will never be sorry.

As apostates and apostasy continues in the church, I seek new ways of pointing others to Jesus. In this new project, to which at this time I am now committed, I will strive mightily to point to our blessed Savior through the fingers and lives of those Christians who have once lived and died for Christ, and whose voices and anthems, I believe, now blend with the others from the church triumphant, and with the angels and cherubim as they circle around the throne of the Living God; “To whom be glory forever.  Amen.”  –MWP]

Be Careful Little Hand What You Sign

In the reign of bloody Queen Mary…

Thomas_Cranmer…Archbishop Thomas Cranmer became obnoxious to her persecuting spirit. She was determined to bring him to the stake; so she employed emissaries to persuade him, by means of flattery and false promises, to have him first renounce his faith.

The good man, overcome, subscribed to the Church of Rome. His conscience smote him, however, and he returned to his former persuasion. When brought to the stake he stretched forth the hand that had made the unhappy signature, and held it in the flames till it was entirely consumed, frequently exclaiming, “That unworthy hand” after which he patiently suffered martyrdom.
After the accession of the Roman Catholic Mary, Cranmer was put on trial for treason and heresy. Imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from Church authorities, he made several recantations and apparently reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic Church. However, on the day of his execution, he withdrew his recantations, to die a heretic to Roman Catholics and a martyr for the principles of the English Reformation. Cranmer’s death was immortalized in John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and his legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.

Character excerpt from Wikipedia

[ A NOTE TO MY READERS AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THESE STORIES:  Recently, I have written about Christians who before us have suffered great persecution and/or died in the cause of Christ.
I do not do this because I have less regard for theology than I once had, or that I now scorn the importance of those doctrines which were once given unto the saints.  Nor, do I wish to lessen those scriptures which are they that do testify of Christ. And even more importantly, I do not wish to glorify man; so there is no need to sensationalize or even to make significant the facts of their deaths or of their persecution. For in one sense, that is truly not what is important.   
Rather, I wish to make alive their faith, to make alive their living faith which was their living testimony unto Christ Jesus.  They were not all great Christians.  Many of those that I read and write about had significant flaws, some morally and some theologically… But all had found “The Christ.”  And they each had witnessed to, and testified of that living Christ which takes away the sins of the world.
Having done all, these Christians stood, and their stories still stand today, demonstrating to us and pointing to us their Lord, both with their teachings, but more importantly, with their lives. And therein lies the power… They were totally committed. 
As you look around yourself, do you see that type of commitment?  As you look deep within yourself, do you see yourself standing in their shoes?  Can you say, with grace, “If called, there go I?”  As you look around your church, can you sense, as a member, an increasing importance of who we are in Christ Jesus, or do you see an increasing importance of who we are in the world?  From your vantage point, which seems to be most important?
Never before has the Christian Church been assaulted on so many fronts.  Never before, has it faced so many enemies from without and enemies from within.  One shudders at the sound of all the axes being laid to the roots of our Christian heritage, and we ask ourselves, “When Christ comes will he find faith on the earth?”  To this question, I am deeply stirred with a sense of urgency.
Today, I call to you wherever you are, find your commitment, find your passion, find who you really are –in Christ!  Resolve in yourself right now, to make Him and his cause, the purpose for your highest commitment, and the reason for your deepest passion.  I can tell you, that you will never be sorry.
As apostates and apostasy continues in the church, I seek new ways of pointing others to Jesus. In this new project, to which at this time I am now committed, I will strive mightily to point to our blessed Savior through the fingers and lives of those Christians who have once lived and died for Christ, and whose voices and anthems, I believe, now blend with the others from the church triumphant, and with the angels and cherubim as they circle around the throne of the Living God; “To whom be glory forever.  Amen.”  –MWP]

Thoughts on Grace, Covenant Relationship, and the Nature of Sin, Including the Unpardonable Sin

 Written by Samuel Rutherford.
Edited for thought and sense by Michael Pursley.

caananite-woman“But he answered, and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. And Jesus answered, and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt: and her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”—MATTHEW 15:26-28.

“And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”—MARK 7:30.


THE dispute between Christ and the woman goes on:

Christ brings a strong reason, (verse 26,) why he should not heal her daughter; because she, and all her nation, are not in a covenant with God, as are the Jews. But the church of God, are but dogs, and profane, and unworthy of Christ, which is the bread ordained for the children.

When Christ humbles, he may put us in remembrance of our nation, and national sins: “Look to the rock whence ye were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged,” (Isa. 51:1). “I alone called Abraham, he was an idolater,” (Hos. 9:10). I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; they should have been wild grapes rotting in the wilderness, had I not put them in my basket. “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abomination,” (Ezek. 16:2). How? Make them know the stock they came of, ‘And say, Thus saith the Lord unto Jerusalem, thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite,’ (verse 3). When the Jew was to offer the first fruits to the Lord; “And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and went down to Egypt to sojourn there,” (Deut. 26:5). Thus, the forgetting what we are by nature, adds to our guiltiness: “And in all thine abominations, and thy whoredoms, thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou was naked and bare, and was polluted in thy blood,” (Ezek. 16:22). So the Ephesians must be told how unfit they were by nature for Christ, being the very workhouse and shop of the devil, in which he wrought, (Eph. 2:1-3).

National sins have influence in their guilt and contagion on believers:

(1.) When they mourn not for them (National sins): God’s displeasure should be our sorrow.

(2.) When they (Christians) stand not in the gap (give intercessory prayer) to turn away wrath, (Ezek. 22:30).

There were godly men that departed from ill (wrong), (Isa. 59), but God’s quarrel was, that there was no intercessor, (verse 15). Who sorrows for the blood of malignants and rebels?—for their oaths, mocking, scoffing, massing? The sins of the land, idolatry, superstitious days, vain ceremonies, etc., have influence on a believer’s conscience in his approach to God.

But we are here to consider, that Christ does two great and contrary works at once:

(1.) He humbles the believing woman, in reproaching her as a profane dog, unworthy of the children’s bread, that she will may be more broken for believing; And

(2.) He tries and tempts her, to see if she can, by reproaches, be taken off from Christ.

A broken will is a broken heart, for will is the iron sinew in the heart.

Many think, the troubled conscience should not be further humbled. They say, ‘There is nothing for such a soul, but the honey and sweetness of consolations in the gospel.’ Nay, but often that which troubles them, is subtle and invisible pride; he’ll not believe for want of self-worthiness:—‘Oh! I dare not rest on Christ, nor apply the promises, because of my sinful unworthiness.’ Now, if this be humility, it is the proudest humility in the world; for the soul thus troubled, saith, ‘I am not good enough, nor rich enough for Christ and his fine gold.’ But though thou should try to buy Christ, the Father will not sell him. Christ is disposed to a sinner as a free gift, not as a wage or a hire. There is a difference between down-casting and saving humiliation. Down-casting may exceed measure, in the too much apprehension of the law-curses, and may be conjoined with much pride and self-love: but right and saving humiliation conjoined with faith, cannot overpass bounds; it arises often from the sense of grace rather than from the law; God gives grace to the humble, and he gives humility to the gracious, under the sense of rich grace, (1 Tim. 1:15; Eph. 3:8; Titus 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 1:9). Nothing humbles us more than an opinion of the power and excellency of grace. Grace known and apprehended in its worth, layeth down proud nature on the earth. Christ’s grace, was Christ’s account book to Paul; “But by the grace of God I am that I am,” (1 Cor. 15:9,10).

And Christ, under the notion of tempting and trying, offers this thought to the woman: That she was too daring and bold, being a dog, to presume to ask for the children’s bread.

Hence have we to consider, how far the conscience of sin ought to stand in our way toward Christ:

(1.) Conscience of sin is to humble any; that seeks to turn to Christ. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” spoken by Christ brought Paul down off his high horse, and laid his soul in the dust. “Now we know, that what things whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19.) It is a speech taken from a malefactor, arraigned and paneled upon his head. When the judge objects, ‘What say you? This and this treason is witnessed against you.’ Alas! the poor man stands speechless and dumb; his mouth is stopped, “That thou mayest remember thy old shame, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame.” (Ezek. 16:63.) Christ, then, hath the sinner’s neck under his axe. What justice and law may do, that Christ may do. The captive taken in war, may be killed by the laws of war, if he refuse to submit.

(2.) No sin is unpardonable treason, but the sin against the Holy Ghost, and final impenitence. The gospel is a treaty of peace between parties in war; none are excepted but these two.

(3.) But what then, if a soul come to this,—‘I have either sinned against the Holy Ghost, or certainly am on the borders of it, because Christ knocked long: and a year ago, or a long time from this, I remember of his farewell rap, when Christ knocking, took his last good night, with this word, ‘He that is filthy, let him be filthy still,’ and said, he would never come again. I grant an ill conscience can speak prophecy; (Exod. 10:28, 29). So Pharaoh did prophesy, and Cain also, (Gen. 4:13, 14). But [2.] I can yield, that there be some farewell knockings of Christ, after which, Christ is never seen or heard at the door of some men’s hearts. Paul speaketh so to the Jews, “But seeing you put the gospel from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46.) The like is Christ’s language to them: “Then said Jesus to them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come.” (John 8:21.)

I doubt if any can sin the sin against the Holy Ghost, and the sinner only, and no other complain of it; that sin breaketh out in prodigious acts of wickedness, as blood and persecution. Though if it were true, that you were upon the borders of hell, yet the gospel, though it except you from actual mercy, yet excepts you not from the duty of believing and coming to Christ; and though such think and imagine, that they believe Christ is able to save and redeem them, only they doubt of his will, yet the truth is, the doubt of unbelief is more of the power of mercy and infinite grace in Christ than of his will; and my reason is, “that whosoever believeth, hath set to his seal that God is true;” (John 3:33;) and “He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” (1 John 5:10.)

Now, it is not God’s testimony, nor any gospel truth, that such as sin against the Holy Ghost shall be pardoned.

Yet these that sin against the Holy Ghost are condemned for unbelief, as all other unbelievers are. (John 3:18, 36.) If he that sins against the Holy Ghost, could believe the power of infinite mercy, he should also believe the will and inclination of infinite mercy, for the power of mercy is the very power of a merciful will. I shall not then be afraid that that soul is lost, which hath high and capacious apprehensions of the worth, value, dignity, and power of that dear ransom, and of infinite mercy. It is faith to believe this gospel truth, which is, “That Christ is able to save to the utmost all that come to him.” (Heb. 7:25.) If I believe soundly what free grace can do, I believe soundly what free grace will do. It is true, Christ can save many, whom he never will save; but the faith of the power of mercy, and of his will to save, is of a far other consideration. It must then be the prevailing of a temptation, not to dare to come to Christ, because I am a dog, and unworthy,

(1.) Because sin is no porter to watch the door of Christ’s house of free grace: mercy keeps the keys. Sin may object my evil deserving, but it cannot object Christ’s rich deserving.

(2.) That which makes me unworthy, and graceless, and unfit to be saved, may make Christ worthy, and gracious to save; my sin may be the object of Christ’s rich grace. Though sin makes me unworthy of Christ, yet it makes me a fit passive object for the physician Christ to work on, and makes not Christ unworthy to save.

If I feel sin, it then saith…

…Thou art the very person by name that Christ seeketh. Therefore is the sense of sin required as a condition in all that come to Christ, whether it be before conversion, or after conversion, when acts of faith are renewed.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600 – 30 March 1661) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.

The young lad of five years old had been playing with some friends around a well when he tragically fell into it. The other children ran to his parents for help. They came, expecting him to be dead, but he was found cold and wet, sitting on a nearby   hill. Puzzled over his escape, they asked him how he climbed out of the deep well. He answered that “a bonny white Man drew me forth and set me down.” No other explanation was ever given as to who or what  this rescuer was, but his deliverance of young Samuel Rutherford preserved for time one of the stalwarts of the Reformed and Presbyterian faith in Scotland and England.

Samuel Rutherford was born in 1600 in the village of Nesbit, Scotland, to a prosperous farmer and his wife. Because of this background, Samuel was able to receive a good education, one which culminated at the University of Edinburgh, where he attended from 1617 to 1621. His prowess in Latin enabled him to immediately enter the teaching profession there at the University.

But it was as a pastor that he showed the spiritual gifts which would influence many a Covenanting heart to grow spiritually in the things of the Lord. Going to Anwoth in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, in 1627, he began to show his caring approach for the spiritual needs of the people. It was said by the members of his congregation that “he was always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying.” To do all this, Pastor Rutherford rose up each day at 3 a.m. to engage in prayer and meditation.

His marriage at a young age brought both happiness and sorrow. His wife was often sick, once for thirteen months. She did eventually die, but not before bearing Samuel two children, though both of them followed their mother to death’s dark door.   He would marry again a “delightful” wife, but the personal sorrows continued, with only one of seven children surviving into adulthood. God clearly allowed these personal sorrows so as to make him a comforter of suffering saints.

These were perilous times in Scotland. Preaching against the errors of Arminianism did not please the Anglican clergy. On July 27, 1636, Rutherford was barred from ministering to his parish upon the threat of rebellion if he continued. Exiled to Aberdeen, Scotland, and sorrowing over not just his loss of family, but also of God’s family, this was a difficult time indeed. But God often allows a hard experience so as to make one of his children a comforter to others in similar circumstances. It was at this time that Rutherford wrote numerous letters to other Christians, letters which helped them bear up through incredibly difficult times. These letters were eventually published by The Banner of Truth Trust. He was to stay in Aberdeen for 18 months.

In 1638, there occurred a reversal in the political situation, during which Presbyterianism was restored in Scotland.  Samuel Rutherford was appointed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to a Professorship at St. Andrews University. He went there with the condition that he be allowed to preach at least once a week. His heart was in the pastorate. Five  years later, he went to London, England to participate as a Commissioner in the Westminster Assembly, where, along with the other four Scottish commissioners, he influenced that august gathering in a great way, even though he could not vote. [the Scottish commissioners were all of non-voting status in the Assembly.]  It was said of his four years there in London, that he was especially well-remembered by all for his work on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Rutherford’s magnum opus was titled Lex Rex. In this work he dealt with the subject of government and so effectively argued for limited government, that it was judged to be a direct attack on the divine right of kings.  When King Charles II read this book, he ordered it to be burned and a charge of high treason to be laid against Samuel Rutherford. Though summoned to appear before the king, Rutherford was at that time confined to bed with illness. He  turned down the summons, saying “I  must answer my first summons; and before your day arrives, I will be where few kings and great folks come.”  Samuel Rutherford died March 20:1661.

Rutherford was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he became Regent of Humanity (Professor of Latin) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire,Galloway, where it was said of him ‘he was always praying, always,preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying’, and from where he was banished to Aberdeen for nonconformity, ‘being very powerful on the side of the Reformed faith and of God living’, there in Aberdeen, ‘his writing desk’, was said to be, ‘perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom’. His patron in Galloway was John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure. On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638 he was made Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.

Rutherford was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647, and after his return to Scotland he became Rector of St. Mary’s College at St. Andrews in 1651. Rutherford was a staunch Protester during the controversy in the Scottish Presbyterian church between the Resolutioners and Protesters in the 1650s, and at the Restoration of Charles II his Lex Rex was burnt by the hand of the common hangman, and the “Drunken Parliament” deprived him of all his offices and voted that he not be permitted to die in the college.

His epitaph on his tombstone concluded ‘Acquainted with Immanuel’s song’. 

Rutherford’s has been described as ‘Prince of Letter writers’ and C. H. Spurgeon described in an 1891 review of Rutherford’s (posthumously published Letters (1664) ‘when we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men’.  Andrew Thomson, a Scottish minister, in a 19th-century biography observed ‘the letters flash upon the reader with original thoughts and abound in lofty feeling clothed in the radiant garb of imagination in which there is everything of poetry but the form. Individual sentences that supplied the germ-thought of some of the most beautiful spiritual in modern poetry’ continuing ‘a bundle of myrrh whose ointment and perfume would revive and gladden the hearts of many generations, each letter full of hope and yet of heartbreak, full of tender pathos of the here and the hereafter.’  Rutherford was also known for other spiritual and devotional works, such as Christ Dying and drawing Sinners to Himself, “The Trial and Triumph of Faith”.