The Will of God and the Gospel Offer: Robert Murray M'Cheyne, John Duncan, William Cunningham, Charles Calder Mackintosh, James MacGregor, John Kennedy and Hugh Martin
These passages from classical Reformed theologians and preachers speak of God's desire for or delight in the salvation of those who hear the gospel offer, inasmuch as his revealed will is an expression of his goodness and kindness toward the hearers of the gospel.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843):
Christ is willing that all sinners should come to him
("Ye Will Not Come To Me," a sermon on John 5:40, in Additional Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne, pp. 298-99)
Sinners are lost, not because Christ is unwilling to save all. The whole Bible shows that Christ is quite willing and anxious that all sinners should come to him. The city of refuge in the Old Testament was a type of Christ; and you remember that its gates were open by night and by day. The arms of Christ were nailed wide open, when he hung upon the cross; and this was a figure of his wide willingness to save all, as he said: "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." But though his arms were firmly nailed, they are more firmly nailed wide open now, by his love and compassion for perishing sinners, than ever they were nailed to the tree.
There is no unwillingness in the heart of Jesus Christ. When people are willing and anxious about something, they do everything that lies in their power to bring it to pass. So did Jesus Christ: "What could have been done more for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" But if they are very anxious, they will attempt it again and again. So did Jesus Christ: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" But if they are still more anxious, they will be grieved if they are disappointed. So was Jesus Christ: "When he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it." But if they are very anxious, they will suffer pain rather than lose their object. So did Jesus Christ: The good Shepherd gave his life for the sheep. Ah! dear brethren, if you perish, it is not because Jesus wishes you to perish.
A word to anxious souls. How strange it is that anxious souls do most of all doubt the willingness of Christ to be their Saviour! These should least of all doubt him. If he is a willing Saviour to any, O surely he is a willing Saviour to a weary soul! Remember the blind beggar of Jericho. He was in your case -- blind and helpless -- and he cried: "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me." And when. the crowd bade him hold his peace, he cried so much the more. Was Jesus unwilling to be that beggar's Saviour? He stood still, and commanded him to be brought, and said: "Thy faith hath made thee whole." He is the same willing Saviour still. Cry after him; and, though the world may bid you hold your peace, cry after him just so much the more.
A word to careless souls. You say Christ may be a willing Saviour to others, but surely not to you. O yes! he is quite willing for you too. See him sitting by the well of Samaria, convincing one poor sinful woman of her sins, and leading her to himself. He is the same Saviour toward you this day. If you do perish, it is not because Christ is willing. He wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He pleads with you, and says: "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?"
John Duncan (1796-1870):
Sinners who love death are objects of compassion to a gracious God, who prefers the sinner's conversion to the sinner's damnation
("Sinners shall be converted unto Thee," a sermon on Psalm 51:13, in Pulpit and Communion Table, 1969 edition, pp. 134-135)
The conversion of sinners is a matter in which the gracious God takes the deepest interest. Sinners are not concerned about conversion ordinarily. Sinners are lost, but it does not much matter to them that they are lost. They don't fully know it. They are not altogether ignorant of it--conscience speaks in every man more or less, but they are not fully aware of it, and they are not willing to be so. The voice of conscience is very feeble in fallen man, and the voice of depravity very loud and imperious, and it silences it. But while sinners are not objects of compassion to themselves, they are objects of compassion to God. Fools, hating wisdom--Christ, the wisdom of God--love death. Not designedly, but really they love death. They love that with which death is indissolubly connected, and so they love death. Looking at death, they don't love it, but looking at that of which death is the wages--sin--they do love sin; and they love sin so much, that they will take it with death rather than want it. In short, they dislike death much, but sin they love so well that they will take it even with death. That is the sinner's mind, and what is God's mind? It is hardly credible, so He swears to it:--"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?" Sinners are lost. Who has lost us? God has lost us. And so, though sinners are under the curse of God, they are matter of interest to Him still, considering sinners as His lost. God's lost--not so lost as to be out of His mind and concern--He has sent His Son, and the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost. O sinner! lay it to heart. Thy conversion, perhaps, concerns thee little: thy conversion concerns thy God much. You love death, that is, you love sin so well as to take it, death and all, and keep it, death and all, and you little care about returning to God from whom you have gone away. But God cares. Mark this: if you be not converted, or turned, you die; God will pay you the wages of sin--death. But He says He has no pleasure in it; that He prefers conversion to death. Lay this to heart, sinner, that thou must be converted or damned, and that God prefers thy conversion to thy damnation. You will observe that David, in this Psalm, praying for the restoration of the joy of God's salvation, urges this as a motive, and let believers in their penitence make use of it too:--"Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee." David therefore knew that God was interested in the conversion of sinners, how otherwise would he make such a vow?
William Cunningham (1805-1861):
Assurances given by the Christian revelation
(Theological Lectures, p. 120)
Speaking of the assurances given to us in the gospel message, Cunningham couples God's "readiness to pardon" and "his desire to save men."
If natural religion, whatever measure of light it may be fitted to cast upon the character and moral government of God and a future state, plainly teaches men that they are sinners, or transgressors of God's laws, but does not plainly teach that God will forgive sin, or distinctly point out in what way, or upon what terms, forgiveness is to be secured; then men who have only the light of nature to guide them, even though they are making the best use of it, and indeed we might say just because they are making the best and fullest use of it, must be in a state of fearful anxiety and alarm as to the way and manner in which the sins they have committed are to tell upon their ultimate destiny. Now, in this state the Christian revelation presents itself to their notice, and challenges their investigation. And in doing so it holds out, as one of its leading recommendations, that it professes to give a full solution of these important and perplexing questions which natural religion could not solve. It confirms indeed all the fears and apprehensions of nature as to the intrinsic difficulties connected with the subject of the pardon of sin, and the insufficiency of repentance; but, at the same time, it fully reveals the mercy of God, assures us of his readiness to pardon, and of his desire to save men, and unfolds to us a great scheme through which God has provided for securing this object, in full consistency with all the attributes of his nature and all the principles of his moral government, and gives us full and explicit instructions as to what we must do in order that we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for our sins, and attain to the enjoyment of his favour and eternal happiness.
Charles Calder Mackintosh (1806-1868):
Christ weeping over the coming ruin of sinners whom he would have gathered but who would not come to him, and divine mercy pleading for forbearance to be shown as a gracious property of the divine nature towards the impenitent
("The Saviour's Compassion" and "Divine Long-Suffering," sermons on Luke 19:41-42 and Luke 13:6-9, in Memorials of the Life and Ministry of Charles Calder Mackintosh, D.D., of Tain and Dunoon, Edinburgh 1870, pp. 127-129 and 141-142)
"The Saviour's Compassion"
But more than all this, He saw multitudes of immortal souls passing into eternity, with the guilt of His blood upon them, dying in darkness, and cast into outer darkness.
And He "would have gathered them" (Luke 13:34). His infinitely compassionate heart told Him how He had sought their salvation. He knew that He had come to them with glad tidings, that He had sincerely and earnestly invited them to the enjoyment of rest, that His mercy had gone out importunately after them beseeching them not to die, that He had spent His strength in labouring among them; and now finding, as it were, this mercy thrown back upon Him, returning to His breast all but empty, because while He would have gathered them they "would not." He wept over their coming ruin.
We would remember that this is very holy and tender ground. It is evident that our Lord's lamentations did not arise from any want of complacency in His Father's will regarding the salvation of some and not of all: "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25); or from the want of entire complacency in the threatenings of that law which attaches eternal ruin to sin; or from any feeling that His own work would be in vain, and that He should not "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied" (Isaiah 49:5-6, John 6:37, 10:27-28). None of these things are to be understood. But we trace it to the pity and mercy of His heart, overflowing in sorrow in contemplating the misery produced by sin. Unless He had been "the Lamb of God," He could not have been thus affected. It was a part of His humiliation to be "despised and rejected of men." It was a necessary consequence of His purity and love, that this rejection should make Him "a man of sorrows." And it was perfectly consistent with His perfection as God-man that He should weep over the destruction of sinners, while He saw clearly that they merited their doom, and while the foundations of His own happiness should be altogether untouched by the sight of their misery. We see His holy jealousy in the denunciations against the Scribes and Pharisees: "Ye hypocrites, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" We see His complacency in the punishment of the lost, in the words which He tells us He will address to the wicked on that day: "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." We see here the gushing forth of His mercy, the mercy which has "no pleasure in the death of the wicked," the grace and tenderness and love (unselfish, self-sacrificing love) manifested in the whole of His work of humiliation and suffering, and by which He revealed the Father's "love"; mercy and love not the less real but the more wondrous, because in alliance with the purity which hates sin, and the righteousness which cannot spare sin. We have the heart of Christ opened up to us, a heart filled with good-will to sinners, with tenderness and compassion; yes, as having as its deepest affection in connection with the glory of His Father, thirst for their salvation; full of grace, pure grace, yet holy grace which cannot desire to be exercised at the expense of righteousness or to screen the guilty. And though every tear has been wiped from His eyes, though His sorrows were over when He said "It is finished," and He is now infinitely exalted above all sorrow, yet His heart is the same--as gracious, and as full of compassion as in the days of His flesh.
Christ's tears over Jerusalem now assure the most guilt-laden sinner of His readiness to receive him, and that he cannot perish because of want of willingness in Christ to save him.
The forbearance of God, that gracious property of the Divine nature, or exercise of the Divine character, in virtue of which He has "no pleasure in the death of him that dieth," is brought out very strikingly here in His general long-suffering towards the impenitent and unfruitful. He comes seeking fruit, after He has spoken to them in His word; He finds none: yet He bears with them. He comes, Sabbath after Sabbath, year after year; and though they cumber the ground, He bears with them still; for His is not the manner of men.
Then this forbearance is brought out in the special and successful interposition of mercy pleading for a further respite to the barren tree: "Let it alone this year also," etc. Our position under the gospel is at all times sufficiently solemn--that it must be to us either the gospel of salvation or the occasion of our greater condemnation. To be unfruitful under the means of grace is at all times sufficiently terrible--ever liable to be "cut down." But there are critical times in the sinner's history; times when God "comes down" to inspect him, to see if in righteousness He can spare him any longer; times when, if his eyes were opened, the first thought that suggested itself might be, that he had already filled up the measure of his iniquity; times when further space to repent can only be obtained by some new and unwonted exercise of the infinite mercy that resides in God. Who can tell whether such a time has not passed in regard to some one now addressed, and whether the period of respite is not very near a close? Or who can tell whether the solemn conference between righteousness and mercy in regard to some of us may not now be going on? May not righteousness be demanding with a voice of thunder that this or that sinner, who has so long "refused" when God called, so long "disregarded" while the Lord stretched out his hand in warnings and expostulations, should be cut down; while mercy pleads, as only Divine mercy can plead, that, notwithstanding all, he yet be spared for a little while? "True, most true, he deserves to be cut down, but oh, that soul, capable of such intense suffering or intense joy, is unspeakably precious: even for such a sinner as this did Christ die; and such can He save. Spare him, that I may dig about him; I am not yet weary of this thankless work. My bowels yearn over him; he considers not what he is doing: I will bring yet nearer to his mind and conscience a long-despised Saviour. I will cast him into a furnace of affliction; I will make him to realize, as he has never yet done, how bitter the world is without Christ. Peradventure, he may yet prove a jewel in the crown of Jesus. But if not, then after that thou shalt cut him down."
James MacGregor (1830-1894):
God's complacency or delight in man's holiness and happiness presents the same motive and encouragement to faith for all unconverted men alike
(The Question of Principle Now Raised in the Free Church Specially Regarding the Atonement, from pp. 50-57, and Blown By the Wind or Growing By the River?: Presbyterians On Trial By Their Principles, from pp. 16, 18-19 and 26-27)
MacGregor shows that Arminianism and Amyraldism posit a so-called saving purpose in God (a divine decree) which does not save, but Calvinism teaches both a saving purpose which is efficacious and alongside it a beneficent benevolence in God toward man which involves no saving purpose.
The Question of Principle Now Raised in the Free Church Specially Regarding the Atonement
Amyraldism, with its un-Calvinistic universalism, occasioned, both in France and Scotland, a full and explicit recognition on the part of old school Calvinists of what I shall call the true Calvinistic universalism. And this true Calvinistic universalism shows that no obstacles really are removed by Amyraldism. For the true Calvinistic universalism extends to the following details: --
First, The Gospel Offer and Call, addressed to all sinners of mankind. How a sincere invitation to all men can be harmonized with the doctrine or fact of the election and redemption only of some men, Calvinists of the old school do not pretend to explain; just as neither old school nor new pretend to explain how God can seriously address the Ten Commandments to all men, while only to some men he has resolved to give the power to obey them. But old school men and new, while confessedly unable to give a rationale or explanation of the fact, yet affirm the fact itself, that God is sincere in bidding all men obey the commandments of the Decalogue. And in like manner the old school men, though confessedly unable to give a rationale or explanation of the fact, yet affirm the fact itself, that God sincerely invites all sinners to believe and be saved. The most thorough-going old-school Calvinist in Scotland at this hour is as faithful in offering free salvation to all men as any Amyraldian in Scotland can be.
Second, A Divine complacency in man's well-being and well-doing. While persistently maintaining that there is no such thing in God as a saving purpose, intention, or desire, that does not infallibly determine salvation, the old school maintain also that there is in His nature a certain complacency or delight in man's holiness and happiness; such that He is really pleased when men obey His law, and really displeased when they obey not; and that He sincerely mourns over the misery of the unbelieving impenitent as lost, while sincerely rejoicing over the blessedness of penitent believers as saved. They affirm that this complacency, inherent in God's nature, is most wondrously illustrated in the great work of His redeeming grace, and ought to be set forth as a motive and encouragement to saving faith. And they affirm, besides, that it presents the same aspect of motive and encouragement to faith towards all unconverted men alike, without any discrimination of elect from non-elect.
Third, Certain aspects of redemption, as achieved in Christ's death. While persistently maintaining that there is no real substitution or suretyship of Christ but for the elect, the old school have affirmed that God's redeeming grace in Christ has certain aspects towards all men indiscriminately. Thus, for instance, it secures to them all a season of suspended judgment and offered mercy. Again, it provides an inexhaustible fulness of saving merit, or power of right amply sufficient in itself for the salvation of all men. And, once more, in the great atoning sacrifice it gives an open way, by which God comes with free salvation to men, and all men are freely invited to go for that free salvation to God. These three general aspects of redemption have been recognized by the old school of Calvinists both in Scotland and in France. But there are two points in this connexion on which I must make two episodical notes: --
In the first place, as to the all-sufficiency of saving grace in Christ. In the old school at all times the common way of thinking has been, that the dignity of Christ's person gives a strictly infinite expiatory value to His passion. Further, this view of His suffering, which the mass of old-school Calvinists have derived from the Catholic doctrine of His person, is not inconsistent with any real principle of the Calvinism of the old school, but is really in more full harmony with the strict Calvinistic doctrine of the destination of redemption than with any other doctrine of that destination. For, if the atonement really be sufficient for all, why has it not become efficacious to all, unless because its efficacy has been destined only for the elect?
In the second place, as to the connexion of all-sufficiency of grace with the universalism of the gospel offer. The all-sufficiency of grace in Christ does not of itself constitute a true warrant to us, who "were afar off," in taking Him and His riches of grace to ourselves. Our only true warrant in this act of faith, the minister's only true warrant in inviting us to faith, is the permission or invitation of God in His Word. It is only from this Word that we can know it is His will that all sinners of mankind should receive for salvation His riches of grace in Christ. And, having this true warrant in the Word -- the express declaration of His will -- what we have in the all-sufficiency of that grace is not, properly, a supplementary warrant, but only a motive to faith or encouragement in believing.
These episodical notes I shall now follow up by a digression, in the form of a practical remark. Calvinism is not constituted merely by the five Calvinistic "points." The "points" in the system are only as bones, by which the fair living body of truth is kept from collapsing into a mere chaotic mud-heap. And the flesh and blood, and blooming beauty, of that fair living body cannot be exhibited nor seen apart from those things I now have enumerated under the description of the true Calvinistic universalism. Those things, therefore, in order that men may be drawn as "with the cords of a man," must shine on the forefront of all our preaching. To set forth the "points" so as to hide those things from view, would be to present to men's embrace a frightful skeleton -- nothing but bones -- instead of the fair living body of truth divine. It may be that some old-school Calvinists in France or Scotland, or both, though theoretically recognizing the humaner aspects of the truth, were yet in their practical teaching too exclusive in presentation of the "points"; and that the new movement in both countries may have owed its origin, or force, in some measure, to a recoil of humanity from the ghastly caricature -- nothing but bones -- thus pressed on its embrace. And certainly if we, in our practical teaching, so caricature our grand Calvinistic system that it shall appear to be all "points," nothing but bones, there will be a recoil of humanity from our teaching; and the recoil thus provoked may result, in our day, in something far more formidable than mere Amyraldism.
Returning, now, from both digression and episode, I recall attention to that from which I started, viz., the proposition that Amyraldism, both in France and in Scotland, occasioned a full recognition, by old-school Calvinists, of what I have described as the true Calvinistic universalism. When the old-school Calvinism had in this way exhibited its own true nature, Amyraldism was thenceforward manifestly shorn of a large part of its argumentative strength. For a very large part of what has been advanced ostensibly in support of an un-Calvinistic universalism is really relevant only to the maintenance of that universalism which has always been cordially owned by the old school. Thus far, therefore, Amyraldism has really done nothing towards smoothing the sinner's way to salvation in Christ; for thus far, (i.e., in all that can be truly said in support of a bona-fide gospel call to all sinners, a divine complacency in man's well-being and well-doing, and some general aspects of redemption), thus far Amyraldism has not originated any thing new or peculiar, but merely given new emphasis to some common-places of the Calvinism of the old school.
And when the old school had, by explaining itself, reclaimed its own common-places, the residuum, Amyraldism pure and simple, stripped of popular irrelevancies, presented certain aspects which might well dispose sober-minded men among its adherents to reconsider their position of adherence to it.
The more malignant aspects of Amyraldism are as follows: --
First, The notion of any saving purpose of God that does not infallibly determine salvation, or, in other words, of a frustrated intention, or disappointed desire, of His; this notion is not only on the face of it unscriptural, but in the heart of it offensive even to our natural reason, because inconsistent with the very nature and perfections of Deity. Nor does the notion gain anything, in respect of spiritual seemliness, when transferred from God's eternal decree to the execution of that decree in time on the cross. For the notion of any substitution of Christ that does not infallibly secure by purchase the salvation of all for whom He died, is deeply dishonouring to the person and work of the adorable Substitute.
Again, The two notions alike (or the notion in its two applications alike), must, where seriously entertained, tend to undermine the believer's assurance of hope. For that assurance is ultimately founded on the truth, that all God's purposes are unchanging and effectual, and that no sinner can ever perish for whom Christ gave His life on the cross. The assurance, therefore, is fatally undermined by the notion, that there is a changeable or ineffectual purpose of God, and that many of those for whom Christ gave His life shall nevertheless fall into death eternal.
"I cannot tell thee whether God loves thee as He loves His own nor whether Christ has died for thee, as He surely has died for all the elect: that can be known to men only when Christ lives in thee and thou lovest God and man. Nor can I explain to thee how the free invitation of the gracious gospel to all may be harmonized with the sovereign particularism of grace in election and redemption. There is a mystery here too vast for my narrow and shallow comprehension. Here I have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. But this I can tell thee, for this is what God has told me in His word: -- His love, with which He loves His own, is freely offered to thee as thy life. The all-sufficient fulness of His Christ is freely offered to thee as a 'way' to life in His love. The bosom of that love which is life is wide open to thee as the sky. The arms of that love are stretched out far to thee from the cross. The voice of that love cries, Come, to thee, in the Spirit, through the Bride. And if only thou hear, thy soul shall live. Only give thyself over, a lost sinner, into the arms and bosom of that freely-offered love, and that love of God shall be thy portion, and the righteousness of Christ shall be thy white raiment, and the Spirit of Christ shall be thy new and true life, and thou shalt be saved, for ever and ever."
So speaks the Calvinism of the old school, -- "upright, downright, and straightforward." The practical tendency of its clear-ringing utterances has been shown, through many ages and lands, in the conversion of myriads of sinners to God, as well as in a peculiarly deep and strong establishment of believers in their faith and hope. In order to be accepted and loved by all true children of God on earth, as it is accepted and loved by all His children in heaven, it needs only to be known and understood by His children on earth as it is known and understood by His children in heaven -- who know nothing of an ineffectual purpose of God, or of a substitution of Christ that does not infallibly secure salvation by purchase.
Blown By the Wind or Growing By the River?: Presbyterians On Trial By Their Principles
Objection to reprobation, or to preterition, really is objection to the sovereignty of saving grace. The objection is at the impulse, or by the inspiration, of a corrupting worldliness (II Cor. 4:3-4; John 5:39-42), perhaps disguised under double-meaning phraseology about "love" or "fatherhood" of God, revolting from His holiness in the punishment of sin. It makes a religion of mere sentimental naturalism, which destroys the Gospel under the name of explaining it, effacing the distinctness (John 1:17; Rom. 5:20-21) of gospel from law, grace from nature, by confounding a natural affection of beneficent benevolence in God (Ps. 145:9; Matt. 5:45-48), toward the sentient creation generally and man in especial, that involves no saving purpose, and never saved one soul, with that redeeming love, which involves a purpose to save sinners (Luke 15; Rev. 1:5-6), that (John 6:37, 39, 44) is unfailingly efficacious in the actual salvation of the loved and lost.
Arminianism seeks a warranting ground in a doctrine of "general grace"; that is, of a certain wistfulness on God's part that all men should be saved, which so far is a saving purpose: -- a purpose, however, that does not secure the actual salvation of any one, but only puts it into the minister's power to say with truth to every sinner, "God loves thee," where Calvinism only enables him to say, "God's love, with its graces, is offered to thee in the gospel." Amyraldians retain in their doctrinal system the Calvinistic particularism, but, as a means of bringing the sinner to God, employ (under the name of "method") a surface universalism like the Arminian. The sovereignty of grace is thus rejected by them, put out of sight and out of mind, at the decisive moment of conversion; while (Heb. 3:14) the character of men's confidence at the beginning natively tends to be decisive in influence on its character to the end.
The general grace, that is proposed as warranting ground, -- What is it? Is it fitted for the purpose? It cannot be simply that natural affection of God (see above, p. 18), toward sentient creatures in general and (Titus 3:4) man in particular, which involves no saving purpose. But though the "general grace," as a wistfulness or wishfulness for man's salvation, should (improperly) be spoken of as involving a sort of saving purpose, yet, as it does not secure the actual salvation of any one, it is not fitted to serve as a warranting ground of the offer of salvation. But on the contrary, the proposal of it as warranting ground, in place of God's declared kingly will, is dangerously delusive to man, and at the same [time] dishonouring to God both as Creator and as Redeemer, derogatory to His glorious attributes of nature as well as of grace. To speak of an ineffectual wistfulness of God, a saving purpose of His that does not secure the salvation of anyone, is to cloud His glory of nature, as omnipotent, omniscient, whose counsel shall stand, and whose purposes are unfailingly accomplished; as well as to cloud His glory of grace as a faithful covenant-keeping God (I Cor. 1:9), without shadow of turning, whose love in Christ is changeless as His being (Isa. 55:3), so that (John 3:16) the gift of it is life eternal. And an unsaving saving purpose of God is not a Rock (Psalm 40:1-3, Matt. 16:18), to which a perishing sinner can flee for refuge in "full assurance of faith"; but merely as a sinking sand, a mocking mirage, a waterless cloud, "another gospel," that has an illusory word of promise in the ear while breaking it to the hope.
John Kennedy (1819-1884):
The desire of His heart is that everlasting salvation in Himself should be yours
("The Precious Deposit," a sermon on Psalm 31:5, in Sermons, p. 20)
Friends, what are you going to do with your souls? I will tell your answer--not that given by your lips, but the answer which your conduct gives: "I am going," you say, "to keep it in my own hand; I am going to leave it in Satan's hands; I am going to leave it in the hands of a deceitful and cruel world." Ah, poor soul! you have done this long enough. Poor fool! You do not know who your friend is, and who is your foe. Surely you would not trust yourself but in the hands of Jesus, if you knew your own position. Surely the crucified one, He who suffered the death of the cross, surely He is the one to whom you should commit your spirit. Away with your soul from yourself, away with it from the world, lose not a moment, but pass it over into the hands of Him who is "able to keep that which is committed to Him." Whatever your case may be, however unpromising, however different from every other case on the face of this earth, though you should feel that yours is an utterly hopeless case, do not hesitate, but pass it into the hands of Him who says, "I will in no wise cast out." It is the desire of His heart and the cause of His glory, as it is the promise of His word, that everlasting salvation in Himself should be yours, to the glory of His Father's name, to the praise of His rich grace, and to your joy throughout eternity. Oh, do not leave this house tonight without seeking to leave your spirit in the hands of the Lord Jesus, and may the gracious Spirit help you so to do."
Hugh Martin (1822-1885):
The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ
(Christ's Presence in the Gospel History, chap. IX, pp. 210-11, reprinted as The Abiding Presence, pp. 182-83; The Shadow of Calvary, chap. VII, p. 150)
Christ's Presence in the Gospel History
It is the person and work of Emmanuel that afford a true revelation of the glory of God. He is the full and express image of God in human nature; he is the brightness of the Father's glory. To Philip's prayer: "Shew us the Father," Jesus maketh answer, -- "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." And the co-existence of the Divine and human natures in the unity of one person in Christ affords a marvellous, -- one might almost say, a fascinating, revelation of God, -- God manifest in the flesh.
Does the human soul of Jesus burn into lofty indignation against scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites? It is a holy human affection, in unison with, and revealing, the Divine detestation of sin. Does the tender heart of Jesus overflow in tears for Jerusalem? It is a holy human affection, in unison with, and revealing, the Divine compassion for sinners. So that the human graces of the man Christ Jesus are an inlet by which we enter on the contemplation of those Divine attributes with which these graces subsist in glorious and perfect coalescence. There is no inharmonious jar between Godhead and humanity as they are yoked in matchless union in the person of the God-man, Emmanuel. And there is no inharmonious jar between the attributes of Godhead and the graces of humanity as these are exhibited in the character of Emmanuel. We can draw near and contemplate holy justice and unparalleled love in the man Christ Jesus. And, entering by this open door of his character as man, -- owing to the unison of which I have spoken, we may follow on, without a break, into the depths of his character as God. We see in the man Christ Jesus the glory of God, -- the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Shadow of Calvary
Mark you this: that if you put away the discipline of Christ in grace and providence, in forbearance and affliction, as he seeks to probe your evil heart and show you all its treachery to him and its love for the world and the sin which crucified him -- if you set your face against his efforts to emancipate you from the carnal mind which is treachery and enmity to God -- then these efforts will become more and more brief, till at last the Saviour, who once yearned to pluck you as a brand from the burning, shall treat you with the utmost brevity and most perfect coolness, scarce even condescending to express in this life his indignation at your crimes. Ah! how many, by resisting the Spirit of the Lord, bring themselves to that dread experience! The time was when God's dealings with them in providence and on their consciences exhibited on his part a prolonged and warm interest in their spiritual condition: such manifestations of his gracious disposition towards them have been slighted and perverted; till gradually diminishing they are at length withdrawn, and the final expression of his mind towards them -- terrifically brief, scarcely indicating either wrath or compassion -- seems designed for little more than to remit the case to the eternal tribunal. Ah! what fresh force and meaning this gives to that blessed sentence, so full of mingled tenderness and terror, but so often heard in vain -- "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near."