Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hardshells & the London Confession VIII

Chapter 133

The clearest evidence that the Fulton congregation of Hardshell elders have twisted the words of the London Confession comes not only from the express and clear statements that the confession gives, but also from the writings of the men who wrote and originally endorsed the confession. In this posting I will continue to look at the writings of some of these leading men and show how they all believed in gospel means, thus proving that the confession means exactly what it says, contrary to the footnotes of the Fulton Sanhedrin of Hardshells. If the Hardshells were correct about their interpretation of the document, then surely one would find a denial of gospel means in the writings of the original signers of the confession. The Fulton footnotes are not valid "interpretations" or "explanations" of the London Confession.  The Hardshells cannot find anyone prior to the middle 19th century who interpreted the old Confession as did the Fulton brethren.

In previous postings we have already cited come writings from Hanserd Knollys to show that he believed in the Gospel means position, a fact that Michael Ivey admits.  Let us look now at some more writings of Knollys.  Knollys wrote:

"The Ministers of Christ must declare the Testimony of God not with excellency of speech, not with enticing words of Man’s Wisdom. Their speech and their preaching must be in the Demonstration of the spirit and in power, 1 Cor. 2:1,2,4,5, before the Gospel can come to their hearers’ hearts in power and in the holy Spirit, and before their hearers can come to Christ, and before they can attain to the power of Godliness. The plain and powerful preaching of the Gospel is the ordinary means whereby God draws sinners with Cords of Love to Christ, and makes the Ministry of the word powerful and effectual to call, convert, sanctify and save sinners, Rom. 1:16,17; Rom. 10:14,17."  ("Plain Preaching," 1674 - see here)

Before commenting upon the words of Knollys, let is be observed that Knollys live in America from about 1636-41 and no doubt had intercourse with John Clark and Obadiah Holmes and other Particular Baptists in America.  Some even think that Knollys first came to Baptist views while in America. 

Knollys makes it clear that he believed that the "the plain and powerful preaching of the Gospel" was the "ordinary means whereby God draws sinners." 

Knollys wrote:

"Two things need some explanation in this Doctrine; viz. First, Who is here meant by the "New Man." And secondly how Christ is all, and in all, in the new man. By the new man here, we are to understand (as it was meant by the Apostle) a true BELIEVER, or a faithful brother in Christ, one sanctified in Christ Jesus, called a Saint; who is redeemed in the spirit of his mind, and hath put on the new man. (Eph.4:23-24) Which is done, when by the mighty operation of the Holy Spirit, in the promises given unto us, we are MADE partakers of the Divine Nature. (II Pet.1:3,4) Thus being by the Spirit and Faith united with Christ, we are made a new creature, or creation, (II Cor. 5:17) have a new heart (Ezek.36:26,27) and walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:4) "Christ is all, and in all.""

Again, like the first and second London Confessions, to which he was a signatory, Knollys teaches that sinners are called by the word and Spirit.

Knollys wrote:

"The apostle Peter in his speech to Simon Magus, (Acts 8:20-23) told him his heart was not right in the sight of God, that he was "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity." And he exhorted him to repent and pray to God. (vs 22) Not that any man in his natural condition can of himself come to Christ, desire Him, or seek to enjoy Him, for none can come to Christ except the Father draw him. (John 6:44 & 65) It is God that "works in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure." (Phil.2: 13) So then, saith the Apostle, it is NOT OF HIM THAT WILLETH, NOR OF HIM THAT RUNNETH, but of GOD that sheweth mercy; only know this, God REQUIRING poor sinners to use the means, He hath appointed, is pleased to make that means effectual for their conversion and salvation. For if God has purposed to shew mercy, and confer His grace upon your souls, He will CAUSE you to seek unto Him. (Ezek. 36:26,27,37) A new heart will I GIVE you, & I WILL PUT my Spirit within you, and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes: Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel to DO IT FOR THEM." (verse 37) God's gracious and free promises do not exclude the means He hath appointed to attain the mercies therein promised. It pleaseth Him to tie His creatures to the use of such means, when He affords it them, though He will SOMETIMES WORK WITHOUT IT. Now the ordinary means which God hath in His infinite wisdom appointed to "convert" sinners, and also to build them up in Christ, is the word preached. (Rom. 10:8,17 ) This word of the Gospel God will have preached to every creature in all parts of the world. (Mark 16:15) None are exempted or prohibited from hearing the Gospel preached, but every one that hath an ear is required to hear. (Rev. 2:7) And let such as neglect the hearing of the word of God (preached by such as are CALLED and SENT of Christ) consider what the Lord saith. (Prov. 1:20-32) But albeit some of you see it is that which you ought to do, and that you had need to do, to wit, to seek the Lord; assenting to what you heard in the first use of the doctrine, that there is much worth, beauty, and excellency in Christ, and that poor lost undone sinners stand in need of Him."

One of the things important to note from the above citation is the fact that the inability of sinners to do what they are commanded to do for salvation is no argument against the use of Gospel commands and exhortations as means.  The Fulton brethren tried to say that the London Confession could not be taught to uphold the Gospel as a means because the same Confession says that men are not able to obey the Gospel.  But, clearly, Knollys believed both.  He believed that men were saved by the hearing of the Gospel in spite of the fact that they were not able to obey it.

Further, the Fulton brethren tried to say that the London Confession did not teach that God had more than one method of regenerating sinners, but Knollys here states just what is stated in the Confession.  God uses means, the "ordinary" manner, but was free to work apart from them, and in fact did so, as in the case of those dying in infancy.

Knollys continued:

"Notwithstanding how to obey Christ, you know not as yet. Let me tell you, God gives Christ upon Gospel terms, which are these three:

First, God in the dispensation of the Gospel propounds Christ to LOST sinners, as the ONLY necessary, and All sufficient means of salvation: Christ is the ONLY NECESSARY MEANS OF SALVATION. (Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other. And Christ is the All-sufficient means of salvation, so that we need NONE BUT HIM. (Heb. 7:25) He is able to save them to the uttermost, &c.

Secondly, God doth give Christ to lost sinners without respect to price or person. He invites them that have no money, to come and buy wine, and milk (that is to say, Christ) without price. (Isa. 55:1) And any one that will are invited to take Christ freely. (Rev. 22:17) And, whosoever will, let him take the water of life (that is, Christ) freely.

Thirdly, God requires, that those, who do receive Him SHALL DEPART from iniquity. (lI Tim. 2:19) "Live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." (Titus 2:11-15) And that they SHALL FAIL ALL, LOSE ALL, and have ALL for the sake of Christ, and take up the cross and follow Him."

How could language be any plainer?  Christ is given "upon Gospel terms." 

Knollys continued:

"You will say to me, Alas, here is my misery, to wit, although God propound Christ upon good terms to poor sinners, to me among others, I have no power of myself to receive Christ, to believe in Him, and accept of Him. True, it is not (as I said) in him, that willeth, nor of him that runneth but of God, who sheweth mercy (Rom. 9:16) It is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, which must be put forth in your hearts, to MAKE you believe also, according to the working of His mighty power, which He WROUGHT in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead. (Eph. 1:19-20) And you ought to wait on God in the diligent use of means until the day of His power come upon you, and then you shall be a willing, a believing people. (Psa. 110:3) I may exhort you to repent of your wickedness, profaneness, &c. as Peter did: (Acts 8:22) But God must GIVE you repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)"

Again, Knollys answers the objection that the Fulton Hardshells make against the Confession.  Sinners are indeed not able to respond to the Gospel, though this is necessary for them to do for salvation.  Knollys answers by saying that the power to respond is not in the Gospel alone, but in the power of God that attends it in the case of the elect.

Knollys continued:

"It is my duty to preach the Gospel to you, and to exhort you to seek Christ, (Acts 17:22,27) but it is the mere mercy and free grace of God to DRIVE you to Christ, which nothing but His everlasting love can move Him to do. (Jere. 31:3) You ought to seek, and wait, ask, and use all the means which God hath appointed, and afforded you, both secret, private, and public. (Rev. 2:29) But God must make the means effectual. (Acts 16:14) And therefore I must say, it is not in me, I cannot draw you to Christ, that is the Father's work. (John 6:44) But having exhorted you to seek Him in the use of means, there I must leave you to wait on God for the moving of His Holy Spirit where you must lie and continue like the poor impotent man at the pool of Bethesda for healing: And though as he did, so you may see many a lame, blind, deaf, dumb, naked-leprous soul get healing and go away rejoicing and praising God, and you remain still so impotent, that you cannot get into the Fountain, set open for sin and for uncleanness, nor have any that can help you in, that you may be cured: yet be not disheartened, as Christ came suddenly and unexpectedly, and healed the impotent man after long waiting; so Christ will come according to His promise to your souls that seek Him. (Mal.3:1) The "The Lord whom you seek shall come, shall suddenly come, saith the Lord of Hosts.""  (see here)

Again, this is clear.  There is no archaic or ambiguous language.  Like the London Confession, Knollys joins together both the word and Spirit in the salvation of sinners.

Next to consider further are the writings of that giant of signatories to the London Confession, the great Benjamin Keach, the pastor of the church that would later be pastored by John Gill and Charles Spurgeoon. 

Benjamin Keach wrote in "GTropología: a key to open Scripture metaphors" (see here):

"1. The work of conversion itself, and in particular the act of believing, or faith itself, is expressly said to be of God, to be wrought in us by him, to be freely given unto us from him; the Scripture saith not that God gives us ability or power to believe only, namely, such a power as we may make use of, if we will, or do otherwise, but faith and conversion themselves are said to be the work and effect of God."

What Keach here says about "the act of believing," or "of faith itself," is contrary to what Hardshells teach.  They teach that no man can believe unless he is first given the ability to believe, which ability is given in "regeneration."  But, Knollys denies this idea.  He says "the Scripture saith not that God gives us ability or power to believe only...but faith and conversion are said to be the work and effect of God."  The moment God gives the ability to believe (or regeneration) he also gives faith itself, or the act of believing.

"Object. But it may be objected that every thing which is actually accomplished is in potentia before. There must therefore be in us a power to believe before we do so actually."

To this objection Keach replies:

"Answer. 1. The act of God working faith in us, is a creating work, "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus," Eph. ii. 10, and "he that is in Christ is a new creature." Now the effects of creating acts are not in potentia any where but in the active power of God, so was the world itself before its actual existence. This is termed potentia logiea; which is no more but a negation of any contradiction to existence; not potentia physica, which includes a disposition to actual existence. Notwithstanding, therefore, all these preparatory works of the Spirit of God which we allow in this matter, there is not by them wrought in the minds and wills of men such a next power, as they call it, as should enable them to believe without further actual grace working faith itself. Wherefore with respect to believing, the first act of God is to work in us to will; so Phil. i. 13, "He worketh in us to will." This God worketh in us by that grace which Austin and other learned men call gratia operans."

Keach believed that salvation was the very creation of faith, not the creating of ability to believe.  Again, this is contrary to Hardshellism.  Keach confesses that there are "preparatory works" of the Spirit, prior to the creative work of God in begetting faith, but he does not see these as the giving of ability or regeneration itself.

Keach wrote:

"1. Gospel grace is glorious, because, when received in truth, it delivers the soul from bondage, it breaks the bonds. For the soul is not set at liberty by the bare shedding of Christ's blood, without the application of it by the Spirit or infusion of grace into the heart.

2. The Gospel through the grace of it when received in truth, opens blind eyes, it makes them see, that never saw, in a spiritual sense, before; it opens their eyes that were born blind; how blind was Saul till the Gospel grace shone upon him, or rather in him?

3. The Gospel through the grace of it, when received in truth, raises the dead soul to life. It is hereby we come to be quickened, the flesh profiteth nothing, it is the Spirit that quickeneth; that is, the human nature without the divine cannot accomplish salvation for us; nor shall any soul receive any saving benefit by the flesh, or death of Christ, unless he be quickened by the Spirit.

4. The Gospel in the grace of it, when received in truth, casts out that cursed enmity that is in the heart against God, and thereby reconciles the sinner to the blessed Majesty of heaven.

5. The grace of the Gospel works regeneration, makes the sinner another man, a new man. It forms the new creature in the soul.

6. The Gospel in the grace of it, brings the soul into union with God. No grace, no Christ. God is the fountain of this union, Christ is the conduit-pipe as Mediator; the Spirit aud the grace thereof is the stream. Union is let into the soul at this door; no grace, no God, no union with him, and no communion with him.

7. The grace of the Gospel washeth the polluted soul; it cleanseth the filth of the heart and pollution of the life. "He put no difference between them and us, purifying their hearts by faith," 1 Cor. vi. 11, Tit. iii. 4, 5, Acts xv. 9.

Language cannot be any plainer in support of the Gospel means position.  How can Hardshells claim that Keach helped write the London Confession with a denial of it.  He says - "The Gospel through the grace of it, when received in truth, raises the dead soul to life...hereby we come to be quickened...The grace of the Gospel works regeneration." 

Keach continues:

"III. The Gospel is glorious in respect of the glorious things that are brought about and accomplished thereby.

The first I shall mention is reconciliation, which is a glorious blessing; what is more fully opened and held forth in the Gospel than reconciliation, with the means and manner how, and by whom accomplished? which will appear,

1. By considering the parties reconciled.
2. By considering the nature of the breach that was between them.
3. By considering the means and manner how it is accomplished.
4. By considering the fruits and effects of it.

First, Considering the parties that were at variance, who by the Gospel are reconciled, God and man, the infinite God, the holy God and man, these were at enmity; it is sad when a difference rises in a family, in a congregation, in a city, in a kingdom, or between one kingdom and another; but much more sad is it to have God and sinners at enmity. Adam runs from God, hides himself, he knew God was now become his enemy; the word declares the creature to be God's enemy, whilst he stands in old Adam in the state of nature; "And you that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind," &c, Col. i. 21. And then God declares himself to be the sinner's enemy, he is angry with the wicked every day; he is said to fight and war against them, which plainly shows he is their enemy. But now what a glorious blessing is this to have these two parties reconciled; "When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son!" "You that were enemies in your minds by wicked works, (or, as in the margin, by your minds in wicked works,) yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death," Rom. v. 10, Col. i. 21, 22."

Hercules Collins was a leader among the particular Baptists and one of the signatories to the old London Confession.  He was learned in the Scriptures as was Knollys and Keach.  In his work "An Orthodox Catechism: Being the Sum of Christian Religion,Contained in the Law and Gospel," Collins responded to questions in the form of a catechism.  (see here)

"Q. 20 Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

A. No. Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his blessings.1

1 Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21

Q. 21 What is true faith?

A. True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true;1 it is also a deep-rooted assurance,2 created in me by the Holy Spirit3 through the gospel,4 that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ, 5not only others, but I too,6 have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.7

1 John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19
2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16
3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14
4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21
5 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10
6 Gal. 2:20
7 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10"

This definition of "faith" is not how later Hardshells would define it.  In denying the Gospel means position, they found it much harder to deny that faith was necessary for being eternally saved.  So, they invented a subconscious or non-cognitive "faith," a faith that had no knowledge.  But, Collins and the Old Baptists of the London Confession knew nothing of this kind of "faith." 

"Q. 30 Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?

A. No. Although they boast of being his, by their deeds they deny the only savior and deliverer, Jesus.1 Either Jesus is not a perfect savior, or those who in true faith accept this savior have in him all they need for their salvation.2

1 1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal. 5:4
2 Col. 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1: "

I cite this part of the questions and answers, not because it adds anything to what has already been cited on the Gospel means position, but because Collins uses the word "accept" when he speaks of "those who in true faith accept this savior."  Many Hyper Calvinists attack others who they style "Arminians" for calling upon sinners to "accept" Christ.  Though Collins and the Old Baptists who wrote the London Confession were against "Arminianism," they did not go to extremes.

"Q. 60 How are you right with God?

A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.1 Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God's commandments and of never having kept any of them,2 and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,3 nevertheless,without my deserving it at all,4 out of sheer grace,5 God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,6 as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.7 All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.8

1 Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11
2 Rom. 3:9-10
3 Rom. 7:23
4 Tit. 3:4-5
5 Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8
6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2
7 Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21
8 John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31"

Notice again Collin's speaking of accepting the gift of salvation with a believing heart.

"Q. 61 Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?

A. It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God.1 And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.2

1 1 Cor. 1:30-31
2 Rom. 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12"

"Q. 65 It is by faith alone that we share in Christ and all his blessings: where then does that faith come from?

A. The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts1 by the preaching of the holy gospel,2 and confirms it through our use of the holy sacraments.3

1 John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8
2 Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25
3 Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16"

This is Old Baptist doctrine and the same that is contained in the London Confession.  Such statements deny Hardshellism.

"Q. 81 What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood?

A. It means to accept with a believing heart the entire suffering and death of Christ and by believing to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.1 But it means more. Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us, we are united more and more to Christ's blessed body.2 And so, although he is in heaven3 and we are on earth, we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.4 And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit, as members of our body are by one soul.5

1 John 6:35, 40, 50-54
2 John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13
3 Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1
4 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13
5 John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24"

Collins says "by believing to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life."  How much clearer can language be?  It is also the same sentiment that is found in the London Confession.

"Q. 90 How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?

A. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all their sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God's judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.1

1 Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23"

There are not many writings available from William Kiffin, a great leader among the Particular Baptists of London.  He was, like Knollys, a signatory to both the 1644 and 1689 Confessions.  But, he did say this (see here):

"To know God and Jesus Christ is eternal life. Endeavour to be diligent. Inquire after, and be established in the great doctrines of the gospel; which are of absolute necessity to salvation."  ("Remarkable passages in the life of William Kiffin" By William Kiffin, William Orme or "Kiffin's Memoirs")

Thus, we see that the attempt by the Fulton Hardshells to make the London Confession authors believers in their "anti means" position is nothing but a perversion.

1 comment:

Kevin Fralick said...

"The Fulton brethren tried to say that the London Confession could not be taught to uphold the Gospel as a means because the same Confession says that men are not able to obey the Gospel."

A Pelagian deduction.