CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND., Feb. 3, 1897.
ELDER P. A. Chick – MY DEAR BROTHER: – The inclosed from sister Minnie B. Matthew will interest you, and it is at your disposal, by her leave. Most fully do I concur with her in reference to the unlimited meaning of Paul’s strong and comforting statement, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” It must be so, for Paul again says that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will;” and all who love God are the beloved of him, we know. Then will he not control and overrule all things to the ultimate good of his foreknown and beloved people, “To them who are the called according to his purpose?” Assuredly he will. It were unbelief to say otherwise, and would be limiting the power of the Most High. Following right on in the strong assurance of faith in God, Paul boldly asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ! shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword!” He repels such a thought, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are mere than conquerors, through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Does not this enumeration include “all things?” Does not Paul’s divine Master assure his disciples of the same faithful love and care of God the Father, telling them that not a sparrow shall fall to the ground without his notice, and that the very hairs of their heads are numbered! And does not his servant Peter assure his brethren that they “are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation?” How then can anything arise against them outside of the “all things” that work together for their good! Hear Paul’s sweeping challenge, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect!” “If God be for us, who can be against us?” All this comfortingly assures my faith that when Paul says, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” he means all things, and that there is not anything outside of all things, which shall not so work for their good. If such a thing were possible, it would be a mere chance event, and would deny the omnipotence of God. We rejoice that such a thing cannot be. It does not follow from this that the children of God’s love are either neutral, or passive, in their loving obedience to him, but the rather that this knowledge of this strong consolation brings them under the mest sacred and endearing obligations to be his followers as dear children, running with patience the race that is set before them. How blessed the divine assurance that the Lord encampeth round about his saints, and that their everlasting Father worketh in them, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Thus they are willing in the day of his power, in the beauties of holiness, and their delight is in the law of the Lord; they run, and are not weary in well doing, and walk in paths of holiness, and faint not. Therefore, brother Chick, it is a matter of sorrow and surprise to me, that any of our dear kindred in Christ could find it in their heart to even want to deny that God’s sweetly reigning grace in the hearts of his children is the true source of all their willing and loving obedience. Why any one should insist, and even contend, that our salvation from sin and disobedience in time is a legal transaction, conditional, and not of grace, but depending upon ourselves, as a reward of merit, or as wages paid for our obedience – why any, who at all believes in salvation by grace, will contend for this legal transaction, is passing strange to me. For both revelation, and experience, teach us that nothing but the love of God abiding in the heart, and his grace sweetly reigning therein unto righteousness, will subdue the sinfulness of the flesh, the enmity of the carnal mind, and both teach and sweetly constrain any man or woman “to live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.” Paul was not ashamed to say, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Nor to say again, “Put by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain; but I labored mere abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” He would have been grieved, had any minister of the gospel of grace charged upon his doctrine or teaching that it denied the accountability of the children of God to him, and reduced them to mere stocks or stones, or that his doctrine of grace charged all the meanness and bad acts of men upon God. To me it seems passing strange that any who are “saved by grace,” should want to deny that this grace saves them to the uttermost, from all their sins, meanness, unrighteousness and disobedience, in time, and unto blest eternity; for if grace docs not save us from all these things, then will any one please tell me what does? “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Was the poet in error when he sang,
“’Twas glace that kept me to this day,
And will not let me go?”
There is, there can be, but two principles or systems of salvation. One is grace, the other is works; one is unconditional, the other is conditional; one is of the Lord, the other is of man; one depends upon the Holy Spirit, the other “depends upon ourselves.” There is no such thing as blending, or mixing these two principles, for they are contrary the one to the other, and where one obtains, the other ceases. One bestows all the blessings received, as God’s free and unbought gift, the other deals them out as a debt paid for the good works done. One leads the seeking soul who desires salvation from every sin to cry, “God, be merciful to me a sinner,” the other disposes the sinner to say, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” This radical difference runs throughout these two principles of salvation, and there is no escaping from these opposite effects, for every tree bears fruit after its own kind. Now then, if we apply the principle of unconditional salvation, or salvation by grace, to our everlasting salvation, but apply the principle of conditional salvation, or salvation of works, to our “time salvation,” we then have two principles and ways of salvation at war against each other, absolutely irreconcilable and contradictory, and make ourselves mere inconsistent than Arminians.
The address of Paul to the saints at Ephesus, also embraces all the chosen and predestinated people of the covenant God and Father, of whom he says, “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Here we have in Christ all spiritual blessings vouchsafed to us, even unto perfect love and holiness, and full adoption, or redemption, in the everlasting presence of the Father and Son; and this, all this, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. Paul here covers the entire period of this blessed people’s salvation, from the choice in Christ before the world was, to their entrance into God’s presence as his glorified children; and through it all, from first to last, their only acceptance and approval is in the Beloved, and all to the praise of the glory of his grace. It is therefore true that every heavenly blessing we receive in time, as also in eternity, is a blessing of grace, and each sweet reward connected with our salvation, is a reward of grace, all given and treasured in the Lord Jesus, the spiritual head of the body, and freely bestowed upon the heirs of salvation for his righteousness’ sake, and in his name. This is God the Father’s will. O, what unspeakable and heavenly obligations all this salvation and blessing brings us under to be the followers of God as dear children, walking in love, and in loving and delightful obedience to the precious and beloved Savior. What child’s heart can resist the grateful incense of praise for blessings so infinite? or harden his heart against obligations and metives so heavenly and divine? What else than this heavenly fullness of abounding and saving grace, reigning through righteousness, will subdue our sins, fit us to walk in all the paths of holiness, and bring every thought into sweet obedience unto Christ? So grace well deserves the praise. And when the glorious, heavenly temple is completed, and the Headstone is brought forth, it will be with shoutings of grace, grace unto it. Even now my soul would join in this heavenly acclaim. Your brother in bonds of grace,
Signs Of The Times
Volume 65., No.16.
AUGUST 15, 1897.