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Me answered plainly by action, No; and referred me to Titus iii. 5, 0, 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy,' &e.
8th. I asked him if ever he had been afraid he should go to Hell. He expressed by action that he had; but referred me to Psalm ciii. 3, 4, " Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction,' and which had been comfortable to him.!
9th. I asked him concerning Baptism. He referred me to Matt. iii. 13-17, " Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John,' &c. and chap. xxviii. 19, 'Go, there fore, and teach all pations, baptizing them in the name,' &c. and then expressed his desire to be baptized.
10th. I asked him if he desired to eat bread and drink wine at the Lord's Table. He answered by actions which were expressive of his desire of this; and how glad he should be to be among the Lord's people, referring me to Psalm xxvii. 4, One thing have 1 desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after,'&c. also Psalm lxxxiv. 1, 2, How amiable are thy 'tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts !' &c.
The above Mr. Cook is the son of a late worthy minister of that name, who lived at Pershore, in Worcestershire. This bis eldest sori was born deaf and dumb, to the no small affliction of his good father.
ON PREACHING THE GOSPEL TO SINNERS.
To the Editor. Some time ago, being in conversation with a young man who was just en.
tcring upon the ministry, be asserted, that there was no such thing in the Scriptures as Calls or Exhortations to Singers as such, to repent of their sins, and believe the Gospel, &c. I confess, it was a sentimeut I could not receive; but, as a minister of the gospel whose praise is in the churches was to supply for us the following Sabbath, I availed myself of the opportunity of communicating the above conversation to him, and asking his opinion. I desired that when he should return home, he would give me his thoughts in the compass of a letter, which I have since received; and it has afforded me great satisfaction; and hoping it inight be made still useful to some amongst the many readers of your valuable Miscellany, I should be glad to see it igserted.
C. L. My Dear Friend,
I have not forgotten the conversation I had with you in your garden, on the Saturday evening I was at A-op; nor the promise I then made of writing you on the subject of ministers preaching the gospel to sinners as such; -and I now attempt to make my promise good.
When I speak of preaching the gospel to sinners, I do not deny that it is also to be preached to saints or believers as such; but I mean that it is not to be confined in its ministration to them. Nor do I mean to say that sinners will embrace the gospel until they are renewed by divine grace: as when the apostle Paul preached to Lydia, the Lord opened her heart, so that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul; nor do I suppose that any one's heart will be opened to receive the gospel, except he be one of the elect: but what I mean to affirm is this, That ministers are under obligations to preach the gospel to sinners as such, without any regard to their being elect or non-elect; without knowing whether they are or are not influenced by supernatural power to embrace it.
Yea, farther, That the preaching of the gospel to sinners includes in it, not only a declaration or exhibition of Christ and the grace of God in him, but also an attempt to make men sensible of their need of Christ, and an earnest persuasion of them to erabrace him, or to believe in him, and that on pain of everlasting damnation; and that this is the case, appears plain to me, from various considerations; among which I mention the following:
1. The express command of our Lord Jesus Christ * : Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,' i. e. as every one will readily perceive, - to every rational creature. Now I cannot conceive any thing that could be spoken more decidedly to the purpose than this. If this be not the general warrant for all succecding ministers, it will be difficult to say what warrant they have for preaching the gospel at all: if it be its language, it is direct, - Preach the gospel, not to new creatures or elect creatures, but to etery creature; and, that preaching the gos. pel, is designed to include all that belongs to the gospel ministry, such as persuasion, command, intrealy, &c. is not only plain from the conduct of the apostles in the execution of their commission, but also from the cominission, or this command of our Lord itself. Hence it is added,' He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not, shall be damned;' which plainly implies, That their preaching should bave the force of a command, insisting upon such a compliance with the gospel as arrounted to saving faith, upon pain of eternal damnation ; and this, if possible, is more plain still from the parallel passages in Matthew and Luke; in the former of which he thus expresses himself: - Go and teach,' i. e. disciple, or make disciples of all nations; in the latter thus : That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem ;'-in both which, such a compliance with the gospel is demanded as amounts to true faith ; for without faith, a man cannot be a disciple of Christ, - cannot be a penitent, and have his sins remittcu.
* Mark xvi. 16.
This will appear
2. The constant practice of inspired men. We
may tain they did not go beyond their commission; and may therefore look upon their conduct as a pattern for all succeeding ministers. Now, not to insist upon the prophets in the former dispensation, tho' it would be impossible to vindicate them in their indiscriminate addresses to men, but upon such principles as will apply to ministers, - let me only instance in John, Christ and his apostles. John the Baptist was an inspired man, raised up to prepare the way of the Messiah. Now, that he preached the gospel to sinners is plain, from the account we have of his preaching, in each of the four evangelists. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand *! Now this is a direct address to the multitude; and such an address as in its own nature supposes that those to whom it was made were impenitent; such as had not repented; otherwise the exhortation would have been superfluous. Nor is it less plain, that, by the repentance he urged upon them was meant true repentance. to any one who only reflects that it qualified men for baptism, and was followed by remission of sins. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. That our Lord Jesus Christ preached the gospel to sinners as such, is nearly as plain as that he ever preached it at all. From a great variety of instances in proof of this assertion, it may susfice to select John vi. 25, &c. That the people to whom he addressed his discourse were sinners, i.e. unbelievers, is evident, not only from their conduct, but from his testimony. • Verily, verily,' says he, ' ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled: ye also have seen me, and believe not.' That our Lord, in his preachiug, demands of them true faith, &c. is equally evident, not only from the whole drift of his discourse, but from sonte particular passages in it; such as Labour not for the meat which perisheth ; but for that meat which endureth to everlasting life:' and which labouring he afterwards explains, ' of believing on him.' Hence, in answer to their question, What shall we do that we may work the works of God?' - he says, 6. This is the work of God, --That ye believe on him whom he hath seat ;'and which he continues to speak of under the figurative representations of coming to him, - of eating his flesh and drioking his blood. Can any thing be plainer than that the apostles preached in the same strain ? Peter, for instance, on the day of Pentecost, when he addressed those who, by wicked bands, had crucified and slain the Lord of Glory t; and when stung with remorse for their wickedness, they cry out,' Men and brethren, what shall we do?'- immediately replies," Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission
* Mall. iji. 1, 2.
+ Acts li. 23.
of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Should it be said that these were sensible sinners, and as such difkered from singers in common, it may be sufficient to reply, That Peter afterwards addressed the same things to those who discovered no sense of sin at all. “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send Jesus, which before was preached unto you *.'
It may indeed be said, That' the instances already adduced were confined to the Jews, who were the peculiar people of God: but what then ? They were the people of God in an external, a national sense only; and on that account no more entitled to any spiritual blessing than the Gentiles. They themselves, it is true, thought otherwise; and were therefore greatly offended at our Lord for intimating that the Gentiles should be placed upon a level with themselves; and at the apostles for preaching to the Gentiles: but Christ and his apostles constantly affirmed, That Jews, as well as Gentiles, were of their father the Devil, were all under sin, -all shut up in unbelief, &c, and lay alike at the disposal of sovereign mercy.' Every one must know this wbo reads the New Testament, That whatever addresses and calls to repentance and faith were made to the Jews, may, doubtless, be made to all : but waiviug this consideration, it may be sufficient to observe, That the same gospel which the apostles first preached to the Jews, they afterwards preached to the Gentiles, who could leave no pretence to any covenant relation to God whatever t.
3. The very design of God in sending the gospel into the world requires that it should be preached to sinners as such. I't is to turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just 1, 6 to turn men from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive remission of their sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified $ ;' for the obedience of faith,' i. e. to bring men to the obedience of faith ||, 6 to be the power of God unto salvation 1.' In a word, to bring the elect of God, who are scattered abroad in the world, and sunk into the same ruin with them, to repentance and faith in the Saviour. Now, if these and such like are the ends of Gol in setting up the gospel, is it not plain, that the gospel must be preached to the disobedient, to those who are in darkness,- to unbelievers, - te men in a lost and ruincd state? &c. How else can these ends be accomplished ?
4. T'he very nature of the case requires that it should be so. 1 If the doctrine of the Fall of Man and the Universal Depravity
and Ruin of Human Nature be admitted, there are none but sinwers to be found, wherever the gospel comes at first into any
+ See Act» x. 28, &c. ; xits. 46, 47, ; XYÜ. 30 ; together with almost the whole of the episiles to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, &c. Luke i. 17.
* Acts jji. 19.
Acts xxvi. 18. Rom. xvi. 26.
(Rom. i. 16.
place; and consequently it could never be preached at all, unless it were preached to sinners as such. The apostles did not find men Christians; but, as instruments in the hand of God, made them Christians: - did not find them, but made them believers : - did not find them in Christ, but brought them into fellowship with them. How evident is it then that they must have preached the gospel to them before they were Christians, before they were believers, before they were in Christ, unless we suppose they were brought to the knowledge and practice of Christians by somewhat different from the gospel! - which supposition would not only be directly contrary to Scripture, but tend to render the gospel itself of none effect. If there had not been ministers differently minded from them, those wbo scruple the propriety of preaching the gospel to sinners, would never have had any thing to do.
5. The testimony God himself has borne to that preaching which addresses the gospel to sinners, and those ministers who have dealt much in such addresses. Every one who is acquainted with the writings, or the histories, of such men as Bunyan, Flavel, Henry, Whitfield, Grimshaw, Erskine, Stoddart, Edwards, Evans, Pearce, &c. know thcir strain of preaching was such as have been pleading for'; but these were the instruments of the conversion of hundreds ; whereas, on the contrary, those who have departed from such a strain of preaching, have scarcely been useful in the conversion of sinners at all; and in those few instances in which they have been uscful, they themselves often deviated from their own principles, and took those liberties in addressing sinners, which their more rigid sentiments would con lemn. Such inconsistencies are by no means uncommon in men of an ardent mind and a true zeal for the honour of Christ and the good of souls, which bappens to be the case with some whose creed is exceedingly faulty and circumscribed. Now, I cannot help thinking that this circumstance carries much weight with it, as it serves to demonstrate that the divine approbation has been bestowed on such preachers and such preaching; and, in a great measure, with held from tbose of a contrary description.
As to the supposed inconsistency between such prcaching and the doctrine of particular election and man's inability to comply with the deinands of the gospel, which forms the grand objection against it, it may be suflicient to remark, That Christ and his apostles apprehended no such inconsistency in the case, as is plain from their conduct; and we cannot follow better guides. What if some difficulty should hang upon our minds on such a profound subject as that of the divine decrees? Shonld that op 'rate so forcibly as to make us depart from the most obvious precepts and examples in the New Testament, in order to get it removed ? Had we not better confess our igncrance, and implicitly follow those we are sure are infallible guides? This is not ihe only instance in which the decrees of God may seem to us to clash