Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Forefathers on Romans 8:28 - PART I

I appreciate Brother Stephen’s latest posting so much that I must follow it up with something similar.

Along with New Birth and Its Effects, an additional publication issued by UPBUILD was a booklet entitled Gold, Silver, Precious Stones - A Treasury of Old Baptist Faith and Practice: Glory in Tribulations Also'. It contains many valuable citations from Old Baptists prior to the rise of conditionalism. As I read through the booklet, I noticed that many of the citations focused upon Romans 8:28. This is most significant! One of the sad consequences of the departure on the matter of predestination is the denial of the truth behind this most blessed passage, which when properly understood should bring much comfort to believers in times of distress and affliction. As can be expected, our forefathers prior to the divisions over gospel means, perseverance, predestination, and related issues, did not restrict Rom. 8:28 to simply mean that some things work together for the elects’ good, as do our ultraists today. Having understood that God’s providence was over ALL, they had no problem seeing that all things work together for good to those called by God.

Here are a few of the quotations (emphasis mine – KF) with more to come later.

By the special providence of God, all things are made subservient to his purpose, hence all things work together for good to them that love God – Rom 8:28. All the trials, affections, persecutions and temptations of the saints are ordered by divine providence for their good, though they cannot always behold the dispensations of God in that light.” (John Rowe, A Practical Discourse on the Sovereignty of God, 1885)

It was the belief of these sentiments that caused the Apostle to say: ‘All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose'.” (James Oliphant, "The Providence of God", Principles and Practices of the Regular Baptists ch. 1, 1885))

That is the people which he loved and knew by name, and endorsed, and chose before, these hath he not cast off. But on the other hand whom (or all that) he foreknew he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son – Rom. 8:29. Here all (and only) those that are predestinated to the image of Jesus are the persons God foreknew. The reason too why all things work together for their good is because he predestinated that they should be conformed to the image of his Son.” (P.D. Gold, in Zion’s Landmark vol.13 no. 14, June 1880)

From the language of the Apostle Paul before and after this verse (in verses 16 to 27, and 29 to 39), it is evident that by “all things” in the 28th verse he means all the sufferings, trials, tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, peril, or death which the child of God endures here on earth, that is, all the afflictive providences of God which seem to be for his injury, but which conform him by Divine grace to the humble and watchful and prayerful and patient and heavenly and holy image of Christ, and thus really work together for his spiritual and eternal good, according to God’s purposes of infinite love towards him from eternity, so that, instead of desponding and murmuring under earthly trials, he ought rather to resignedly and even thankfully receive them as sure evidences of his Heavenly Father’s love.”(Sylvester Hassell, “All Things Work Together for Good to Them that Love God”, The Gospel Messenger Apr. 1900)

Indeed, are we not apt, to become careless and neglect to return the gratitude of hearts to God for the riches of his grace, thus bestowed on such poor creatures as we are? And hence it becomes necessary, for our good, that we be afflicted in some way, in order that we may be again brought to see where our strength lies; still we know that no chastisement for the present is joyous, but grievous, yet, ‘if you are without chastisement whereof all are partakers then you are Bastards and not Sons,’ again, ‘All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.’

Thus when through the divine blessings of heaven we become exalted above measure, and neglect to pay our vows to the giver of all good, nothing short of the chastising rod of God can humble us down to the foot of sovereign mercy, and there the blessed Jesus meets us and wipes away and bottles all our tears, and speaks to the troubled soul, peace be still, and all is calm and serene. Then it is that the text just quoted sweetly forces itself upon us, saying ‘all things work together for good,’ yea farther; these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us (who love God) a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory
.” (John E. Frost, in Zion’s Advocate vol. 6 no. 22, Nov. 1859)

It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profiteth nothing. The words, says Jesus, which I spake unto you, they are spirit and they are life. Dear brethren and sisters, the Lord has done all things well: he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The wrath of man shall praise him, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain. He has declared the end from the beginning and his counsel shall stand and he will do all his pleasure. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God – to them who are the called according to his purpose. And our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, do work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. What reason we have then to be thankful to God, to praise, trust and adore him, and to follow him, as dear, not through fear of hell, but from love!” (Samuel Clark, Signs of the Times vol. 25. No. 2, Jan. 1857)

Your blessed God is in every affliction and in every trial. You may not see his hand, but it is there, as much so as when your soul is made to rejoice. Let us so trust him as to obey him in all things.” (James H. Oliphant, “The Providence of God”, Principles and Practices of the Regular Baptists ch.1, 1885)

I have concluded to write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting on. I have such a complication of diseases I have been confined to my room for three months, the weather continuing cold and disagreeable, my old disease, (Asthma) is as bad as it has ever been. I have not tried to preach ever. I have tried to bear my affliction with Christian fortitude and resignation, and sometimes I think I do; at other times I become impatient and wonder why I am made to suffer so much, yet knowing that He works all things together for good to them that love God, and that the Lord knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations, and reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished, I try to be resigned.” (Jesse Cox, The Baptist Watchmen vol. 4 no. 47, Mar. 1873))

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