Deuteronomy chapter 5:
v.11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
v.12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
v.13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
v.14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
v.15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
v.16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
v.17 Thou shalt not kill.
v.18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
v.19 Neither shalt thou steal.
v.20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
v.21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
v.22 These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
The Fourth Commandment
Question 115: Which is the fourth commandment?
Answer: The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Question 116: What is required in the fourth commandment?
Answer: The fourth commandment requires of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath, and in the New Testament called the Lord’s day.
Question 117: How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?
Answer: The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to betaken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.
Question 118: Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
Answer: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.
Question 119: What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
Answer: The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.
Question 120: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it;Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.
(1) The Interdependence of Holy Baptism and the Holy Supper
In the past few years, a couple of people approached the editor of the Beacon Lights with the idea of reprinting Abraham Kuyper’s book The Implications of Public Confession. The staff quickly agreed to reprint the book and search was made to determine what copyrights still existed on the book. Through the help of a few friends, it was determined that the copyrights on the book had expired, which meant that the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies was free to reprint the book. As far as can be determined, the sixth edition in 1934 was the last printing of the book. The Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies is therefore happy to provide this excellent work for reading and study by our churches and by our young people.
The main reason for reprinting this excellent work is to provide our young people who will make or who have made public confession of faith with reading and study material on the implications of making public confession in our churches. By reading and studying this book, our young people will be made more aware of the responsibilities that become theirs upon confession of their faith. By the encouraging words of Abraham Kuyper, those who make confession of faith will appreciate even more the Reformed faith to which they have confessed agreement.
As Abraham Kuyper says, “Now she [your church] is willing to admit you to the holy supper, to let you take your place at the Lord’s table with the other members, provided that you are willing to confess that their confessions is yours.” Also, “Bring that confession to the congregation of believers, and begin to fight one identical warfare with them. They too have nothing of which to boast in themselves…God is all the praise and honor.”
THE INTERDEPENCE OF HOLY BAPTISM AND THE HOLY SUPPER
“Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” Ezekiel 16:6
Baptism is not complete without its complement, the holy supper. When an infant is born into the world, the nurse who is in attendance washes it, because it is born unclean. It needs bathing, but that is not all it needs. It also needs food. Hence, it is most likely that the same maid who washed it will also bear the infant to its mother’s breast. And an atmosphere of peace and contentment pervades the nursery room only after the child is feeding at its mother’s bosom. In fact, we would not hesitate to censure the attitude of a nurse who supposed she had absolved herself of responsibility by bathing the child, and cared not at all whether or not it was given an opportunity to be nursed. Such conduct on her part, we feel, would be sufficient reason to dismiss her.
This figure illustrates the significant relationship that obtains between the sacrament of baptism and that of the holy supper. We may not suppose that baptism alone is sufficient; we may not desire the sacrament of purification and neglect that of nourishment. To desire baptism and to ignore the holy supper is to rob each of its significance.
It becomes us to remember that we were once like the child the Holy Spirit depicts to us in Ezekiel 16, the child of whom we read in verses 4–6: “As for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.”
This passage tells us that we were conceived in sin and born in iniquity, that because we were born of unclean parents, we also were unclean. It tells us that before our baptism we need spiritual cleansing within, that we needed to be purged by the blood of Christ. Baptism was the external symbol of that purification of the soul by the holy Lamb of God. It is what the holy apostle confirmed by the words: “Once ye were unclean, but now ye are sanctified, now ye are justified, now ye are washed.”
Our church also confesses that such is the significance of baptism. In article 35 of the Belgic Confession we read: “Now those who are regenerated have in them a twofold life: the one corporal and temporal, which they have from the first birth and is common to all men; the other spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth…and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God’s elect.” Article 34 states: “Therefore he has commanded all those who are his to be baptized with pure water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, thereby signifying to us that as water washeth away the filth of the body when poured upon it…so doth the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God.”
But baptism is not a be-all and end-all. It is true that a newly-born babe must first of all be bathed. But it must also be given food. So too the sacrament of purification needs the sacrament of nourishment as its fulfillment. Note that the Confession continues in article 35 as follows: “We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ did ordain and institute the sacrament of the holy supper to nourish and support those whom he hath already regenerated, and incorporated into his family, which is his church.” Further in article 35: “God hath given us, for the support of the bodily and earthly life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto…But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life which believers have, he hath sent a living bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life of believers when they eat him.”
Baptism therefore is merely a preliminary sacrament. It represents only the opening of the door by which we pass to the holy supper and to the mystical communion with our Lord. This truth subtracts nothing from the importance and the indispensability of baptism. Whoever is not baptized is an outsider. By desiring to be baptized he asks for admittance; by means of the sacrament of baptism he knocks at the door. By it he enters, that is, he becomes segregated from those who stand without, in order to enjoy the fellowship of those who are within. And that fellowship and communion becomes complete when, together with the assembled guests, he partakes of the holy supper.
But he who has been baptized, who has knocked at and been admitted to the banquet hall, who thereupon restrains himself from sitting at the table with the others, resembles a stranger who upon his own instigation is invited to enjoy association with a festive company, and who forthwith insults his host by standing, distant and aloof, at the door. The intruder who without an invitation and without appropriate dress forces his way into the company must be thrown out. He is an intruder. But the baptized person is not that. By desiring baptism he appropriately asks for admittance. By his baptism the door is opened, his formal clothes are extended to him, and by it he is invited to share the activities as an approved guest. Naturally he severely injures social propriety if he remains distant and aloof after these favors have been bestowed upon him. His conduct differs from that of the intruder, but it is not less culpable. Even so, it is a terrible sin to ignore the holy supper after one has been baptized.
He who undertakes to wade through the holy streams of baptism may have no other purpose in mind in doing so than to enjoy a festive fellowship with the Lord of the house upon the other shore. He knows that that Lord awaits his guests.
He who is born merely of water and of spirit is given but a distant glimpse of the kingdom. He may never be satisfied with that, but must be up and away, nor rest until he is seated at the marriage feast of the Lamb.
Any Jew who becomes converted to his Messiah immediately appreciates the fact that an intimate relationship exists between these two sacraments. Observe him, if you will. He is converted Jew. The Jews’ baptism was neglected when they were children. Now that they have repented and turned to God at a mature age, they choose to postpone the time of their baptism to a moment that will make it convenient for them to partake of the holy supper immediately afterwards.
The same custom prevailed in the earliest Christian churches. Those who were converted from Judaism and paganism were baptized one day, and were present at the holy supper the next. At that time no one ever thought of baptism apart from the holy supper. By asking for baptism these Christians simply were asking, “Permit me to partake of the holy supper.”
We do not cross the Red Sea in order to fix camp permanently upon the farther shore; we must be on our way through the wilderness; our destination is the holy land. Having crossed the Jordan, we do not stop at its banks, but press on to Jerusalem. We may not be content with having forded the waters of baptism, but we must pursue our way until we see extended to us the rare wines that are pressed from the grapes of Eshcol.
It is the custom of infant baptism that has tended to fix lines of demarcation between these two sacraments. But such lines of distinction are inappropriate there. Naturally an infant is not qualified to partake of the Lord’s supper. A child is morally too irresponsible to appropriate the blessings of his baptism to himself by a public confession. It is because of the circumstance that the perfectly appropriate and necessary custom of infant baptism is a sacrament independent from that of the holy supper.
An infant is impressionable and is therefore fit to receive baptism. But it is not yet qualified to receive the sacrament of nourishment. We must remember that the sacrament of the holy supper requires that only he may partake of it who has made his confession and his deeds a matter of personally appreciated responsibility. Hence it is inevitable that some years must elapse between these two sacraments in the life of every individual—as many years as are required to make his confession and his approach to the Lord’s table a morally responsible action. The intervening time may not be longer than that, and it may not be shorter. The number of years required for each individual to be qualified for his personal confession was determined by God at the time of that person’s creation. The intervening years therefore represent a fixed interim. Those who abide by it walk in the ways of God, and those who do not, depart from them. Those who curtail or add to that interim are guilty of sin.
The number of those intervening years is not the same for all. Some are qualified for the public confession at sixteen, others are twenty-three years of age, but all reach a morally responsible age sometime during this interval of seven years. Hence, it is the duty of each to respect these boundaries.
Irrespective, however, of whether the holy supper be divided from baptism by sixteen years or by twenty-three, the close relationship between the two remains the same. Throughout those years baptism sounds the plea: Seek the Lord’s holy supper.Continue Home Page
This extract taken from, James Durham, A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments The Lord having in the foregoing commands us how to walk with others in reference to their honour, life, chastity, and estate: Now, because men and human societies are generally concerned in the observing of truth and ingenuity, he comes to this command to direct us how to be tender of this, that by us our neighbour be not wronged in that respect, but that on the contrary, all means may be used to preserve truth for his good, to prevent what may load [reproach] his name, and remove what lies on it. The scope of it is the preservation of verity and ingenuity amongst men (Gal. 3:9). Lie not to one another; Eph. 4:25, 15 speak every man the truth, etc. and speak the truth in love; because if otherwise spoken, it is contrary to the scope of this command, which is the preservation of our neighbour’s name from a principle of love. The sin, forbidden here is expressed by false witness bearing, which is especially before judges, because that is the most palpable gross way of venting and untruth, under which (s in other commands) all the lesser are forbidden. Although there are many sorts of sins in words, whereby we wrong others, yet we think that are not all to be reduced to this command, for injurious and angry words belong to the sixth command, and filthy words to the seventh; but we take in here such words as are contrary to truth, and fall especially under lying or wronging of our neighbour’s name. Now truth being an equality or conformity of men’s words to the thing they speak, as it is indeed, and in itself; and lying being opposite there to; we may consider it two ways: 1. In reference to a man’s mind, that is, that he speak as he thinks in his heart (as it is Psa. 15:2), this is the first rule whereby lying is discerned, if our speech is not answerable to the inward conception which it pretends to express, and this is that which they call, formale mendacium, or a formal lie, which is an expressing of a thing otherwise than we think it to be, with a purpose to deceive. Then 2. There must be a conformity in this conception to the thing itself, and so men must be careful to have their thoughts of things suitable to the things themselves, that they may the more falsely express them, and thus when there is a disconformity between men’s words and the thing they seem to express, it is that which they call materiale mendacium, or a material lie, and a breach of this command that requires truth in men’s words, both as to matter and manner. That we may sum up this command (which is bound) into some few particulars, we may consider it first, as it is broken. 1. In the heart. 2. In the gesture. 3. In right. 4. In word. First, in heart a man my fail, 1. By suspecting others unjustly: this is called evil surmising (1 Tim. 6:4), or as it is in the original; evil suspicion; which is when men are suspected of some evil without ground, as Potiphar suspected Joseph, or it is jealousy, when this suspicion is mixed with fear of prejudice to some interest we love, so Herod was jealous when Christ was born, and the neighbouring kings when Jerusalem was a-building. There is, I grant, a right suspicion, such as Solomon had of Adonijah, and wherein Gedaliah failed in not crediting Johannan’s information about Ishmael’s conspiracy against his life.
By rash judging and unjust concluding concerning a man’s state, as Job’s friends did; or his actions, as Eli did of Hannah, saying that she was drunk, because of the moving of her lips; or his end. As the Corinthians did of Paul, when he took wages, they said it was covetousness, and when he took it not, they said it was want of love (see Rom. 14:4; 2 Cor. 12:4, etc.).
By hasty judging, too soon passing sentence in our mind from some seeming evidence of that which is only in the heart, and not in the outward practice, this is but to judge before the time, and hastily (Matt. 7:1).
There is light judging, laying the weight of conclusions upon arguments or midses [means] that will not bear it, as Job’s friends did, and as the Barbarians suspected Paul to be a murderer, when they saw the viper on his hand (Acts 25:4). Thus the King Ahaseurus trusted Haman’s calummy of the Jews too soon.
The breach of this command in the heart may be when suspicion of our neighbour’s failing is kept up, and means not used to be satisfied about it, contrary to that, Matt. 18:15, If thy brother offend thee, etc; and when we seek not to be satisfied, but rest on presumptions, when they seem probable.
Secondly, in gesture this command may be broken, by nodding, winking, or such like (and even sometimes by silence) when these import in our accustomed way some tacit sinister insinuation, especially when either they are purposed for that end, or when others are known to mistake because of them, and we suffer them to continue under this mistake. Thirdly, by writing this command may be broken (as Ezra 5:6; Neh. 6:5). Where calumniating libels are written, and sent by their enemies against the Jews and Nehemiah; in which respect many fail in these days. Fourthly, but words are most properly the seat wherein this sin is subjected, whether they be only or merely words, or also put in writing, because in these our conformity or disconformity to truth does most appear.
Lies are commonly divided into three sorts, according to their ends: (1) There is mendacium perniciosun, a malicious or pernicious lie, when it is hurtful to another, and so designed, as were the lies those that bare false witness against Christ and of Ziba against Mephibosheth. (2) There is officiosum mendacium, or an officious lie, when it is for a good end, such was the midwives’ lie (Ex. 1:9), thus denying of a thing to be, even when the granting of it would infer hurt and damage to another, is contrary to truth, and we ought not to do evil that good may come of it, and it overturns the end for which speaking was appointed, when we declare a thing otherways than we know or think it to be. And as no man can lie for himself for his own safety, so can he not for another’s; thus to lie even for God is a fault, and accounted to be talking deceitfully and wickedly for him, when to keep off what we account dishonourable to him, we will assert that he may, or may not do such a thing, when yet the contrary is true (Job 13:4, 7). (3) There is jocosum mendacium, when it is for sport to make others laugh and be merry, which being sinful in itself can be no matter of lawful sport to make others laugh. (4) We may add one more, and that is mendacium temerarium, when men lie and have no end before them, but through inadvertency and customary looseness, speak otherways than the thing is, this is called the way of lying (Psa. 119:29), and is certainly sinful; as when they told David when Amnon was killed, that all the king’s sons were killed, being too hasty in concluding before they had tried.
Consider lies or untruths, either in things doctrinal, or in matters of fact. In things doctrinal so false teachers and their followers are guilty, who teach and believe lies, so such teachers are said (1 Tim. 4:2), to speak lies, and so when they foretell vain events, this is a high degree of lewd lying on the Lord, to say he means or says another thing than ever he thought, or than ever came into his heart, and to pretend a commission from him when he gives no such commission. In matters of fact, men a guilty when things are said to be done when they are not done, or otherways done than they are done indeed.
We may consider this sin in men’s practice, either in reference to God, so hypocrisy and unanswerableness to our profession is lying (Psa. 78:36; Isa. 29:13), or we may consider it as between man and man, which is more properly the scope here. Again, we may consider the wronging of am man three ways. (1) By false reports, speaking what is indeed untrue. (2) By vain reports, which tend to his shame; so Deut. 5:20, this command is repeated in these words. Thou shalt not take up any witness (as it is in the original) against thy neighbour. (3) When the reports are malicious, whether they be true or false, and intended for that end that our neighbour may lose his good name. Further, consider it in reference to the person guilty, either as he is, (1) the raiser or carrier of a tale, true or false, yet tending to the prejudice of his neighbour; thus he is the maker of a lie. Or (2) as he is a hearer or receiver of tales (Prov. 17:4); thus he is to lying as a resetter [receiver of stolen goods] is to theft. And would not men hear tales, few would carry them; whereas when men will harken to lies, especially great men, all their servants ordinarily become wicked tale-bearers and whisperers. Or (3) as he is the sufferer (albeit he be not the venter) of a lying tale to pass on his neighbour (so he loves a lie, as it is, Rev.22:8) or but faintly purges him of it, but lets it either lie on him, or possibly takes it up and repeats it again, which is condemned, Psa. 15:3, where a man that takes up an evil report of his neighbour, even when others possibly have laid it down, is looked upon as a person who shall never dwell with God. Thus one invented a lie, another vented and outs it, and a third resets it, like coiners, spreaders and resetters of false money; for, that one said such a thing, will not warrant our repeating it again.
We may consider wrongs done to our neighbour by words, as unjust and without ground, and so a lie is a calumny; as was that of Ziba, made of his master Mephibosheth; this is in Latin calumnia. Or when there is ground, yet when they are spoken to his prejudice, this is convitium, if especially in this they suffer for the truth’s sake; or if after repentance, former faults be cast up to a person, as if one should have called Paul a blasphemer still, even after his conversion and repentance; of this was Shimei guilty by railing on David.
Both these sorts of lies are either spoken or received, and not afterward rejected, as David too hastily received that false report made of Mephibosheth by his servant Ziba, and thinking it not unlikely, because the reporter made it seem to be so, did therefore conclude it was truth, and did not reject it afterwards; or when at first received, yet after upon better information it is rejected.
Again, this wronging of our neighbour by words is either of him when absent, and is backbiting, which often is done under pretence of much respect (that the report may stick the faster0, in such words as these. He is one I wish well, and should be loath to have him evil reported of, but this is too evident, this is the truth etc; this is susurrare, to whisper. Or it is of him when present, so it is a reproach and indignity, or upbraiding.
Again, this backbiting and reproaching is either direct, so that men may easily know we bait such persons, or it is indirect, granting somewhat to his commendation, and using such prefaces as in show bear our much love, but are purposely designed to make the wound given by the tongue the deeper; such persons are as butter in their words, but as sharp swords in their hearts. This is that dissembling love which David complains of.
Sometimes this reproaching and slandering of our neighbour is out of spleen against him, and is malicious; sometimes out of envy to raise and exalt one’s self on the ruins of another (this is grassari in famam proximi); sometimes it is not of design, thereby to insinuate upon them whom we speak unto, as to signify our freedom unto them, to praise them, or praise them, by crying down another, that is to serve the itching humor of such who love the praise of others, when it may be we know more faults of those we speak to, yet never open our mouth to them of one of these, nor are we free with them anent [about] them if the things are true.
We may break this command by speaking truth, (1) For an evil end, as Doeg did (Psa. 52:2). (2) By telling something that is truth out of revenge. (3) When it is done without discretion, so it shames more than edifies. Christ’s word is (Matt. 18:15). Tell him his fault betwixt thee and him alone; and we on the contrary make it anupcast to him; this is certainly is not right. (4) When it is minced, and all not told; which if told might alleviate; or construed and wrested to a wrong end, as did the witnesses who deponed (deposed) against Christ.
We may break this command, and fail in the extremity of speaking too much good of, or to, our neighbour, as well as by speaking evil of him, if the good be not true, and here comes in, (1) excessive and rash praising and commending of one,  beyond what is due,  beyond what we do to others of as much worth; this is respect of persons;  beyond what discretion allows, as when it may be hurtful to awaken envy in others, or pride in them who are thus praised. (2) Praising inordinately, that is before a man’s self, or to gain his affection, and that possibly more than when he is absent and hears not; much more is it to be blamed when spoken groundlessly. This is flattery, a most evil, which is exceedingly hurtful and prejudicial to human societies, yet exceeding delightful to be flattered. (3) We fail in this extremity, when our neighbour is justified or defended, or excused by us in more or less, when it should not be.
Under this sin forbidden in the command, comes in all beguiling speeches, whether it be by equivocation, when the thing is doubtfully and ambiguously expressed; or by mental reservation, a trick whereby the grossest lies may be justified, and which is plainly of all truth in speaking, when the sentence is but half expressed; as suppose one should ask a Romish priest. Art thou a priest? And he should answer, I am no priest; reserving this in mind, I am no priest of Baal; for by giving or expressing the answer so, an untruth and cheat is left upon the asker, and the answer so conceived does not quadrat [square] with the question as it ought to do, if a man would evite (avoid) lying.
This falsehood may be considered with reference to things we speak of, as buying and selling, when we call a thing better or worse that it is indeed, or then we think it to be. Ah! how much lying is there every day this way with many.
Under this sin forbidden in this command are comprehended, (1) Railing. (2) Whispering. (3) Tail-bearing (spoken of before). (4) The Tattling of busybodies, that know not how to insinuate themselves with others, or pass time with them but by some ill tale of another. (5). Prevarication, which is the sin of persons who are inconstant, whose words go not all alike, saying and unsaying; saying now this way, and then another way, of the same thing, their words clashing together, and they not consisting with themselves.
Consider falsehood or false witness-bearing, as it infers breach of promise, which is forbidden (Psa. 15:4), when one performs not what he promises, or promises that which he intends not to perform, which is deceit and falsehood.
As we may sin in speaking evil against others, so we may in respect of ourselves many ways: (1) When we give occasion to others to speak evil of us (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Cor. 6:3). (2) When we are not careful to entertain and maintain a good name, and by suitable ways to wipe what may mar the same. It is generally observed, that while men have a good name, they are desirous and careful to keep it; and when they have lost it, they grow careless of it. We ought not to be prodigal of our names more than our lives and estates, for the loss of them incapacitates us much to edify others. (3) When we vainly boast of ourselves, and set forth our own praise; that is, as if a man should eat too much honey (Prov. 25:7). (4) When we will not confess a fault, but either deny, excuse, or extenuate it; this Joshua exhorts Achan to eschew. (5) When we say that things are worse with us than indeed they are, and deny, it may be even in reference to our spiritual condition, somewhat of God’s goodness to us, and so lie against the Holy Ghost. (6) When we are too ready to entertain good reports of ourselves, and to be flattered, there is (if anything) an open door to this in us; and as the heathen Seneca said, Blanditiae cum excluduntur placent, so it may be ordinarily seen that men will seemingly reject what they delight should be insisted in; there is in us much self-love, that we think some way, that men in commending us do what is their duty. Therefore, we often think them good folk because they do so, and men that do not commend us we respect them not, or but little, or at least less than we do others, because we think they are behind in a duty by not doing so; and which is very sad, and much to be lamented, few things do lead us to love or hate, commend or discommend (and that as we think not without ground) more than this, that men do love and commend, or not love and commend us.
We also may by withholding a testimony to the truth, and by not clearing of another, when it is in our power to do it, be guilty of this sin. But especially is forbidden public lying and wronging of another judicially, either in his person, name, or estate, and that:
(1) By judge, when he passes sentence, either rashly, before he hears the matter, and searches it out, which Job disclaims, asserting the contrary of himself (Job 29:16), or ignorantly, or perversely for corrupt ends, as being bribed to it, or otherwise. (2) By the recorder, writing grievous things (Isa. 10:1), or making a clause in a decree, sentence, or writ, more favourable to one, and more prejudicial to another than was intended. (3) By the witnesses, who either conceal truth, or express it ambiguously, or refuse to testify, or assert what is not true. (4) By the advocate, by undertaking to defend or pursue what righteously he cannot; or by hiding from his client that which he knows will prejudge his cause; or by denying it when he asked about it; or not bringing the best defenses he has. And as to the first point here about advocates, it is to be regretted (as a great divine in the neighbour church has most pathetically, according to his manner, lately done) as a sad matter, that any known unrighteous cause should have a professed Christian in the face of a Christian judicatory, to defend it; but incomparably more sad, that almost every unjust cause should find a patron; and that no contentious, malicious person should be more ready to do wrong, than some lawyers to defend him for a (dear bought) feel I speak not here of innocent mistakes in cases of great difficulty; nor yet of excusing a cause bad in the main from unjust aggravations; but (says that great man) when money will hire men to plead for injustice, and use their wits to defend the righteous, and to spoil his cause, and vex him with delays for the advantage of their unrighteous clients. I would not have the conscience of such for all their gains, nor their account to make for all the world. God is the great patron of innocence, and the pleader of every righteous cause; and he that will be so bold as to plead against him, had need of a large fee to save him harmless. (5) By the accuser or pursuer, when unjustly he seeks what does not belong unto him, or charges another with what he should not, or justly cannot. (6) By the defender when he denies what he knows, or minces it, etc. And by all of them, when business is delayed and protracted through their respective accession to it, as well as when justice is more manifestly wronged: this is the end of Jethro’s advice to Moses (Ex. 18:23), that the people return home, being quickly, and with all convenient diligence dispatched; which, to their great loss and prejudice many ways, the unnecessary lengthening of processes obstructs, and makes law and lawyers, appointed for the case and relief of the people, to be a grievous and vexatious burden to them; for which men in these stations and capacities will have much to answer to God, the righteous Judge of all the earth, when they shall be arraigned before his terrible tribunal, where there will be no need of leading witnesses to prove the guilt, since every man’s conscience will be in place of a thousand witnesses, neither will the nimblest wit, the [most] eloquent tongue, the finest and smoothest pen of the most able lawyer, judge, advocate, notary or litigant that shall be found guilty there, be able to fetch himself fair off. Oh! Then all the gig leaves of their fairest and most flourishing, but really frivolous pretenes, wherewith they palliate themselves, will be instantly blown away by the breath of the Judge’s mouth, and so be utterly unable to cover the shame of their nakedness in the manifold breaches of his command; then the greatest stretches of wit, and highest strains of eloquence made use of to the prejudice of truth and justice, will be found and pronounced to be poor, silly, and childish wiles, yea, very fooleries and babblings; after which they will not speak again, but laying their hands on their mouths, eternally keep silence. It will therefore be the wisdom and advantage of the guilty in time to take with it, and resolving to do so no more, to betake themselves, for the pardon of it, to that Advocate with the Father, even Jesus the Righteous, who thoroughly pleads, and without all peradventure or possibility of losing it, does always carry the cause he undertakes to plead. In sum, that which in his command in its positive part is leveled at as the scope thereof, is the preserving and promoting or truth, honest simplicity and ingenuity amongst men; a sincerity and cordially loving regard to the repute and good name of one another; and a sweet inward contentment, joyful satisfaction and complacency of heart therein; with a suitable love to, and care for, our own good name. Edited by Chris Coldwell Home Page
Kellswater RP Church welcomes their new Minister
Published: 13:40 Updated: 17:39 Friday 25 September 2009
KELLSWATER Reformed Presbyterian Church is a congregation with a long and proud history having been established way back in 1760.
They are now looking forward to an equally exciting future under their new Pastor, Rev. John Coates.
The 42-year-old was born on the Shore Road area of Belfast but considers Glengormley to be his hometown and is a past pupil of the secondary school there.
Looking back, John is deeply thankful for the influence of his Christian grandmother who faithfully read the scriptures to him when he was a child and taught him about his need to be saved.
Young John also attended Sunday school at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church. However, when he reached his teenage years, John wrongly decided that worldly things were more interesting. He particularly remembers God Word speaking into his conscience as a 15-year-old but put this to the back of his mind, foolishly promising, ‘ I’ll get saved some day.’
But it would be another 15 years before John would surrender his life to Christ His Saviour.
Taking up the story, Rev. Coates said: “By this stage I was married and had settled down a wee bit. A friend of ours invited me and my wife to go to a Pentecostal Church on the Shore Road. We went along and the Pastor preached the Gospel and we found ourselves repenting of our sins and in tears seeking the Lord”.
John continued: “I knew from that moment, having wasted 30 years of selfishly living for myself that I wanted to spend the rest of my life sharing the good news that Jesus saves.”
For the next eight years, John, Janet and their young daughter, Aimee found a spiritual home at Ballycriagy Congregational Church where the preaching ministry of Ballymena man, Rev. Tom Shaw, made a big impression on them. A spell in the Faith Mission in Co Laois ended when the Coates’ returned to Glengormley to become members of a congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in north Belfast. And there under the ministry of the Rev Robert Beckett John entered theological training as student for the E.P.C ministry at the Reformed Presbyterian College at Knockbracken.
However during his third year of study, John became convinced of some distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian church and made the difficult decision of completing his studies as a Reformed Presbyterian or ‘covenanter’ as they are sometimes referred to.
After graduating from college in May 2008, John spent time with various RP congregations in Ballyclare, Carrickfergus and Lisburn before receiving the ‘call’ to Kellswater.
Talking about what he would like to see happen there, the incoming Minister said: “I want to see the people of the Church growing in their knowledge of God and in all holiness. I want to see us pressing on towards the mark together.”
Remarkably, with Kells village having doubled in size over the last 15 years, John is also looking forward to reaching out with his congregation with the gospel message.
He looks forward to having fellowship with the other ministers in the area and who knows, perhaps seeing God moving mightily again as in 1859.
In his spare time, he likes to go out for walks with Janet and enjoys reading and keeping an eye on the fortunes of Manchester United and Crusaders FC. But he stresses that it’s only a glance for there is much work to be done and the labourers are few.
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath-day.
I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. (Rom. 1:20, Acts 17:24, Psalm 69:68, Jer. 10:7, Psalm 31:23, Psalm 18:3, Rom. 10:12, Psalm 62:8, Josh. 24:14, Mark 12:33) But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture. (Deut. 12:32, Matt. 15:9, Act 17:25, Matt. 4:9-10, Deut. 15:1-20, Exod. 20:4-6, Col. 2:23)
II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone;(Matt. 4:10, John 5:23, 2 Cor. 13:14) not to angels, saints, or any other creature: (Col. 2:18, Rev. 19:10, Rom. 1:25) and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone. (John 14:6, 1 Tim. 2:5, Col.3:17)
III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, (Phil. 4:6) is by God required of all men: (Psalm 65:2) and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, (John 14:13-14, 1 Pet. 2:5) by the help of his Spirit,(Rom. 8:26) according to his will, (1 John 5:14) with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; (Psalm 47:7, Eccl. 5:1-2, Heb. 12:28, Gen. 18:27, James 5:16, James 1:6-7, Mark 11:24, Matt. 6:12-15, Col. 4:2, Eph 6:18) and, if vocal, in a known tongue. (1 Cor. 14:14)
IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful; (1John 5:14) and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter: (1Tim. 2:1-2, John 17:20, 2 Sam. 7:29, Ruth 4:12) but not for the dead, (2 Sam. 12:21-23,Luke 16:25-26, Rev. 14:13) nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death. (1 John 5:16)
V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.
VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.
VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian sabbath.
VIII. This sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.Home Page
WHEREIN THE TERMS COMMONLY MADE USE OF IN TREATING OF THIS SUBJECT ARE DEFINED AND EXPLAINED.
Having considered the attributes of God as laid down in Scripture, and so far cleared our way to the doctrine of predestination. I shall, before I enter further on the subject, explain the principal terms generally made use of when treating of it, and settle their true meaning. In discoursing on the Divine decrees, mention is frequently made of God’s love and hatred, of election and reprobation, and of the Divine purpose, foreknowledge and predestination, each of which we shall distinctly and briefly consider.
I.-When love is predicated of God, we do not mean that He is possessed of it as a passion or affection. In us it is such, but if, considered in that sense, it should be ascribed to the Deity, it would be utterly subversive of the simplicity, perfection and independency of His being. Love, therefore, when attributed to Him, signifies- (1) His eternal benevolence, i.e., His everlasting will, purpose and determination to deliver, bless and save His people. Of this, no good works wrought by them are in any sense the cause. Neither are even the merits of Christ Himself to be considered as any way moving or exciting this good will of God to His elect, since the gift of Christ, to be their Mediator and Redeemer, is itself an effect of this free and eternal favour borne to them by God the Father (John iii. 16). His love toward them arises merely from “the good pleasure of His own will,” without the least regard to anything ad extra out of Himself.
(2) The term implies complacency, delight and approbation. With this love God cannot love even His elect as considered in themselves, because in that view they are guilty, polluted sinners, but they were, from all eternity, objects of it, as they stood united to Christ and partakers of His righteousness.
(3) Love implies actual beneficence, which properly speaking, is nothing else than the effect or accomplishment of the other two: those are the cause of this. This actual beneficence respects all blessings, whether of a temporal, spiritual or eternal nature. Temporal good things are indeed indiscriminately bestowed in a greater or less degree on all, whether elect or reprobate, but they are given in a covenant way and as blessing to the elect only, to whom also the other benefits respecting grace and glory are peculiar. And this love of beneficence, no less than that of benevolence and complacency, is absolutely free, and irrespective of any worthiness in man.
II.-When hatred is ascribed to God, it implies (1) a negation of benevolence, or a resolution not to have mercy on such and such men, nor to endue them with any of those graces which stands connected with eternal life. So, “Esau have I hated” (Rom. ix.), i.e., “I did, from all eternity, determine within Myself not to have mercy on him.” The sole cause of which awful negation is not merely the unworthiness of the persons hatred, but the sovereignty and freedom of the Divine will. (2) It denotes displeasure and dislike, for sinners who are not interested in Christ cannot but be infinitely displeasing to and loathsome in the sight of eternal purity. (3) It signifies a positive will to punish and destroy the reprobate for their sins, of which will, the infliction of misery upon them hereafter, is but the necessary effect and actual execution.
III.-The term election, that so very frequently occurs in Scripture, is there taken in a fourfold sense, and most commonly signifies (1) “That eternal, sovereign, unconditional, particular and immutable act of God where He selected some from among all mankind and of every nation under heaven to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ.”
(2) It sometimes and more rarely signifies “that gracious and almighty act of the Divine Spirit, whereby God actually and visibly separates His elect from the world by effectual calling.” This is nothing but the manifestation and partial fulfilment of the former election, and by it the objects of predestinating grace are sensibly led into the communion of saints, and visibly added to the number of God’s declared professing people. Of this our Lord makes mention: “Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John xv. 19). Where it should seem the choice spoken of does not refer so much to God’s eternal, immanent act of election as His open manifest one, whereby He powerfully and efficaciously called the disciples forth from the world of the unconverted, and quickened them from above in conversion.
(3) By election is sometimes meant, “God’s taking a whole nation, community or body of men into external covenant with Himself by giving them the advantage of revelation, or His written word, as the rule of their belief and practice, when other nations are without it.” In this sense the whole body of the Jewish nation was indiscriminately called elect, because that “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Deut. vii. 6). Now all that are thus elected are not therefore necessarily saved, but many of them may be, and are, reprobates, as those of whom our Lord says (Matt. xiii. 20), that they “hear the word, and anon with joy receive it,” etc. And the apostle says, “They went out from us” (i.e. , being favoured with the same Gospel revelation we were, they professed themselves true believers, no less than we), “but they were not of us” i.e. , they were not, with us, chosen of God unto everlasting life, nor did they ever in reality possess that faith of His operation which He gave to us, for if they had in this sense “been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us” (1 John ii. 19), they would have manifested the sincerity of their professions and the truth of their conversion by enduring to the end and being saved. And even this external revelation, though it is not necessarily connected with eternal happiness, is nevertheless productive of very many and great advantages to the people and places where it is vouchsafed, and is made known to some nations and kept back* from others, “according to the good pleasure of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”
(4) And, lastly, election sometimes signifies “the temporary designation of some person or persons to the filling up some particular station in the visible church or office in civil life.” So Judas was chosen to the apostleship (John vi. 70), and Saul to be the king of Israel (1 Sam. X. 24). Thus much for the use of the word election.
IV.-On the contrary, reprobation denotes either (1) God’s eternal preterition of some men, when He chose others to glory, and His predestination of them to fill up the measure of their iniquities and then to receive the just punishment of their crimes, even “destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” This is the primary, most obvious and most frequent sense in which the word is used. It may likewise signify (2) God’s forbearing to call by His grace those whom He hath thus ordained to condemnation, but this is only a temporary preterition, and a consequence of that which was from eternity. (3) And, lastly, the word may be taken in another sense as denoting God’s refusal to grant to some nations the light of the Gospel revelation. They may be considered as a kind of national reprobation, which yet does not imply that every individual person who lives in such a county must therefore unavoidably perish forever, any more than that every individual who lives in a land called Christian is therefore in a state of salvation. There are, no doubt, elect persons among the former as well as reprobate ones among the latter. By a very little attention to the context any reader may easily discover in which of these several senses the words elect and reprobate are used whenever they occur in Scripture.
V.-Mention is frequently made in Scripture of the purpose*of God, which is no other than His gracious intention from eternity of making His elect everlastingly happy in Christ.
VI.-When foreknowledge is ascribed to God, the word imports (1) that general prescience whereby He knew from all eternity both what He Himself would do, and what His creatures, in consequence of His efficacious and permissive decree, should do likewise. The Divine foreknowledge, considered in this view, is absolutely universal; it extends to all beings that did, do or ever shall exist, and to all actions that ever have been, that are or shall be done. Whether good or evil, natural, civil or moral. (2) The word often denotes that special prescience which has for its objects His own elect, and them alone, whom He is in a peculiar sense said to know and foreknow (Psalm i:6; John ii.19; Rom. viii. 29; 1 Pet. i:2), and this knowledge is connected with, or rather the same with love, favour and approbation.
VII.-We came now to consider the meaning of the word predestination, and how it is taken in Scripture. The verb predestinate is of Latin original, and signifies, in that tongue, to deliberate beforehand with one’s self how one shall act: and in consequence of such deliberation to constitute, fore-ordain and predetermine where, when, how and by whom anything shall be done, and to what end it shall be done. So the Greek verb, IIροοριζω, which exactly answers to the English word predestinate, and is rendered by it, signifies to resolve beforehand within one’s self what to do; and, before the thing resolved on is actually effected, to appoint it to some certain use, and direct it to some determinate end. The Hebrew verb Habhdel has likewise much the same signification.
Now, none but wise men are capable (especially in matters of great importance) of rightly determining what to do, and how to accomplish a proper end by just, suitable and effectual means; and if this is, confessedly, a very material part of true wisdom, who so fit to dispose of men and assign each individual his sphere of action in this world, and his place in the world to come, as the all-wise God? And yet, alas! How many are there who cavil as those eternal decrees which, were we capable of fully and clearly understanding them, would appear to be as just as they are sovereign and as wise as they are incomprehensible! Divine preordination has for its objects all things that are created: no creature, whether rational or irrational, animate or inanimate, is exempted from its influence. All beings whatever, from the highest angel to the meanest reptile, and from the meanest reptile to the minutest atom, are the objects of God’s eternal decrees and particular providence. However, the ancient fathers only make use of the word predestination as it refers to angels or men, whether good or evil, and it is used by the apostle Paul in a more limited sense still, so as, by it, to mean only that branch of it which respects God’s election and designation of His people to eternal life (Rom. viii. 30: Eph. i. 11).
But, that we may more justly apprehend the import of this word, and the ides intended to be conveyed by it, it may be proper to observe that the term predestination, theologically taken, admits of a fourfold definition, and may be considered as (1) “that eternal, most wise and immutable decree of God, whereby He did from before all time determine and ordain to create, dispose of and direct to some particular end every person and thing to which He has given, or is yet to give, being, and to make the whole creation subservient to and declarative of His own glory.” Of this decree actual providence is the execution. (2) Predestination may be considered as relating generally to mankind, and them only; and in this view we define it to be “the everlasting sovereign and within himself to create Adam in His own image and likeness, and then to permit his fall; and to suffer him thereby to plunge himself and his whole posterity” (inasmuch as they all sinned in him, not only virtually, but also federally and representatively) “into the dreadful abyss of sin, misery and death” (3) Consider predestination as relating to the elect only, and it is “that eternal, unconditional, particular and irreversible act of the Divine will whereby, in matchless love and adorable sovereignty, God determined with Himself to deliver a certain number of Adam’s degenerate* offspring out of that sinful and miserable estate into which, by his primitive transgression, they were to fall,” and in which sad condition they were equally involved, with those who were not chosen, but, being pitched upon and singled out by God the Father to be vessels of grace and salvation (not for anything in them that could recommend them to His favour or entitle them to His notice, but merely because He would show Himself gracious to them), they were, in time, actually redeemed by Christ, are effectually called by His Spirit, justified, adopted, sanctified, and preserved safe to His heavenly kingdom. The supreme end of this decree is the manifestation of His own infinitely glorious and amiably tremendous perfections; the inferior or subordinate end is the happiness and salvation of them who are thus freely elected. (4) Predestination, as it regards the reprobate, is “that eternal most holy, sovereign and immutable act of God’s will, whereby He hath determined to leave some to perish in their sins, and to justly them.” (Pp, 57-64)
*See Psalm clxvii. 19, 20.
*The purpose of God does not seem to differ at all from predestination, that being, as well as this, an eternal, free and unchangeable act of His will. Besides, the word “purpose,” when predicated of God in the New Testament, always denotes His design of saving His elect, and that only (Rom 8:28; 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9). As does the term “predestination,” which throughout the whole New Testament never signifies the appointment of the non-elect to wrath, but singly and solely the fore-appointment of the elect to grace and glory, though, in common theological writings, predestination is spoken of as extending to whatever God does, both in a way of permission and efficiency, as, in the utmost sense of the term, it does. It is worthy of the reader’s notice that the original word which we render purpose, signifies not only an appointment, but a fore-appointment, and such a fore-appointment as is efficacious and cannot be obstructed, but shall most assuredly issue in a full accomplishment, which gave occasion to the following judicious remark of a late learned writer:”a Paulo saepe usurpatur in electionis negotio, ad designandum consilium hoc Dei non esse inanem quandam et inefficacem velleitatem; sed constans, determinatum, et immutabile Dei propositum. Vox enim est efficaciae summae, ut notant grammatici veteres; et signate vocatur a Paulo, consilium illius, qui efficaciter omnia operatur ex beneplacito suo.” -Turretin. Institut. Tom. 1, loc. 4, quaest. 7. s.12.
* When we say that the decree of predestination to life and death respects man as fallen, we do not mean that the fall was actually antecedent to that decree, for the decree is truly and properly eternal, as all God’s immanent acts undoubtedly are, whereas the fall took place in time. When we intend, then, is only this viz., that God (for reasons, without doubt, worthy of Himself, and of which we are by no means in this life competent judges), having, from everlasting, peremptorily ordained to suffer the fall of Adam, did likewise, from everlasting, consider the human race as fallen; and out of the whole mass of mankind, thus vied and foreknow as impure and obnoxious to condemnation, vouchsafed to select some particular persons (who collectively make up a very great though precisely determinate number) in and on whom He would make known the ineffable riches of His mercy.
Arminianism is a movement of Protestantism initiated in the early 17th century, based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic supporters known as Remonstrants. Dutch Arminianism was originally articulated in the Remonstrance (1610), a theological statement submitted to the States General of the Netherlands. This expressed an attempt to moderate the doctrines of Calvinism related to its interpretation of predestination.
I much question whether the man that dies an Arminian can go to heaven. But certainly he will not be an Arminian when he is in heaven. The employ of the blessed is to cast their crowns at the feet of God and the Lamb, and to sing, “Not unto us, O Lord.”
Should it be thought harsh to question the salvation of one who dies under the blindness of Arminianism; as if a man who only robs God in part might miss of glory; let it be considered that, even on earth, if a person robs me only of my watch, or of a single guinea, he has forfeited his life to the law, as much as if he had robbed me of all I am worth.
The old Arminians mentioned in scripture are blamed for thinking wickedly that God was such an one as themselves; but our new Arminians out-sin their predecessors, and actually represent God as a being in many respects considerably inferior to themselves. They suppose him both to form schemes with less wisdom, and to execute them with less power, spirit, and success, than a prime minister of common sense forms and executes his. They dare ascribe to God such impotence, blunders, imperfections and disappointments, as they would blush to ascribe to a Xiemenes, or a Sully.
Arminians consider the grace that is inspired into a true believer’s heart, as a text of scripture written upon a pane of glass, liable to be demolished by the first hand that flings a stone at it.
All the disputes between us and the Arminians may be reduced to these two questions: 1. Is God dependent on man, or is man dependent on God? 2. Is man a debtor to God, or God a debtor to man?
When the Arminians foolishly affirm concerning the will of an unregenerate man, vis., that “Its liberty consists in an indifferency to good or evil, like a balance in equal poise;” holds true of a regenerate man in some circumstances, and in some respect, vis., that a person who is happily resigned to God’s providential disposals, may (in point of absolute acquiescence) be said to have his will in equilibrio, i.e., he wishes to be quite conformed to the divine pleasure, and to incline neither to prosperity nor adversity, life nor death, but is desirous that God’s own hand may incline the scale. We are never truly contented, nor of (course) truly happy, until God and we have but one will between us.
The Arminians think, that in conversion God does little or nothing for men, but gives them a pull by the elbow, to awake them from their sleep. Rather, he acts as maritime officers do by their sailors; he cuts down the hammock of carnal security in which the elect are; down they fall, and the bruises and surprise they receive awaken them to themselves whether, they will or no.
According to Arminians, grace has the name, but free-will has the game.
Arminians suppose God to give us heaven, as the king grants a brief for building a church. The brief runs, “We have granted our most gracious letters patent.” But these same most gracious letters are amply paid for before they are granted. No free, no brief.
Some people (especially the Arminians) seem to speak of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Established Church, as if those articles were like Mr. Van Bushel’s newly-in-vented elastic garters, which are so contrived by springs, that they will accommodate and fit themselves to any leg that should wear them.
Arminians will ask, “Where’s the use of preaching the doctrines of grace, even supposing them to be true? since we may go to heaven without a clear knowledge of them.” And a man may go to heaven with broken bones; yet it is better to go thither in a whole skin. A man may get to his journey’s end, though it rain and thunder all the way; yet it is more comfortable to travel in fair weather. You or I might make a better shift to live upon a scanty allowance of bread and water; yet, surely, and easy fortune, and a decent table are, in themselves, abundantly preferable to poverty and short commons. Who would wish to go upon thorns when his way may be strewed with roses?
Where is the difference between Arminianism and Epicurism? To suppose a fortuitous concourse of incidents is no less Atheistical than to suppose a fortuitous concourse of atoms.
I can compare some ranting Arminian preachers, who represent salvation as a matter of chance, and press men to help forward their own conversion, upon pain of damnation, to none so well as to auctioneers; who, with the hammer in their hands, are always bawling out, “Now is your time; now is your time; a-going a- going, a–going.”
Such a method is equally inconsistent with the analogy of faith, and subversive of the majesty of the gospel. Shall I order a dead soul to awake, and rise itself to life? Let me rather address the living God, and say, “Awake, and put on thy strength, O arm of the Lord! Breathe on these slain, that they may live!”
This is the conclusion from the whole. Salvation is not from the will of man, nor from his efforts in striving for it, but is entirely of God’s mercy vouchsafed to whom He pleases. What foundation, then, can be discovered in the word of God for those schemes of self-righteousness, which, in a greater or less degree, make salvation depend on man’s own exertions?
There may be here an allusion to Jacob’s desiring the blessing of the birthright, and his running to provide the venison by which he deceived his father; but his obtaining the blessing was solely the consequence of God’s good pleasure, for the means he employed for the purpose merited punishment rather than success. In like manner, the salvation of any man is not to be ascribed to his own good will and diligent endeavors to arrive at it, but solely to the purpose of God according to election, which is ‘not of works, but of Him that calleth.’ It is true, indeed, that believers both will and run, but this is the effect, not the cause, of the grace of God being vouchsafed to them. ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ To whom is this addressed? To ‘the saints in Christ Jesus,’ in whom God had begun a good work, which He will perform until the day of Jesus Christ — to them who had always obeyed, Philippians 1:1,6,2,2: 12. But besides this, what is the motive or encouragement to work out their salvation? ‘For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ Here all the willing and doing of men in the service of God is ascribed to His operation in causing them to will and to do. The whole of the new covenant is a promise of God that He Himself will act efficaciously for the salvation of those whom He will save. ‘I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.’ ‘I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me for ever.’ ‘I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me.’ ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them,’ Jeremiah 31,32; Ezekiel 36: In this way the means by which God’s elect are brought to Him, their calling, their justification, their sanctification, their perseverance, and their glorification, are all of God, as was shown in the preceding chapter, and not of themselves. ‘There is great folly,’ say Calvin, ‘in the argument that we are possessed of a certain energy in our zeal, but of such a kind as can effect nothing of itself, unless aided by the mercy of Jehovah, since the Apostle shows that we possess nothing of our own, by excluding all our efforts. To infer that we have the power either of running or willing, is a mere cavil, which Paul denies, and plainly asserts that our will or ardor in the race has not the smallest influence in procuring our election. On the other hand, those merit the severest reproof who continue to indulge in sloth, that they may afford room and opportunity for the grace of God to act; since, although their own industry can accomplish nothing, yet the heavenly zeal inspired by the Father of Lights is endued with active efficacy.’
If any shall oppose the declaration of the Apostle, that it is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy, and assert that the salvation of man depends on conditions which he is obliged to fulfill, then it may be asked, what is the condition? Is it faith? Faith is the gift of God. Is it repentance? Christ is exalted a Prince and a Savior to give repentance. Is it love? God promises to circumcise the heart in order to love Him. Are they good works? His people are the workmanship of God created unto good works. Is it perseverance to the end? They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. It is true that all these things are commanded and enforced by the most powerful motives, consequently they are duties which require the exercise of our faculties.
But they are assured by the decree of election, and are granted to the elect of God in the proper season; so that, in this view, they are the objects of promise, and the effects of supernatural and Divine influence. ‘Thy people,’ saith Jehovah to the Messiah, ‘shall be willing in the day of Thy power.’ Thus the believer, in running his race, and working out his salvation, is actuated by God, and animated by the consideration of His all-powerful operation in the beginning of his course; of the continuation of His support during its progress; and by the assurance that it shall be effectual in enabling him to overcome all obstacles, and to arrive in safety at its termination.
Robert Haldane commentary on Romans 9 verse 16 (pp. 467-477)Home Page
What is Reformed Theology? What is Calvinism? What does it mean to be Reformed?