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“ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS.”

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – Jer. vi. 16.

Beloved In The Lord: – It is well that we earnestly give heed to this command to Israel. First, let us be solemnly impressed that it is the Lord who thus speaks to his people, as their covenant and faithful God, and for their spiritual welfare, peace and rest.

Next, let us well consider that our best interests, safety and well being, is in asking for the old paths, and walking therein.

It was a divine command to Israel to remove not the ancient landmarks, which their fathers had set. “This is the way; walk ye in it.” “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” He says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” Prophets of old pointed to Jesus, and apostles followed him. The divine truths which they taught are the old paths, and in the footsteps of Christ is the good way. “Follow thou me,” is his word. “Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” “This man shall be blessed in his deed.” “In me ye shall have peace,” says Jesus, who is our peace. He is the good way.

“God will not leave himself without witness,” and since the apostles he has called faithful men, who have earnestly contended for the faith of his elect, and kept it. Loving their Lord, they kept his commandments. These have walked in the old paths, and the good way, and the Lord was with them. It will refresh, strengthen and help us, by seeing how they lived and died in the faith. Hassell’s Church History is a store-house of knowledge; so let us see a few facts that he records. He says of Andrew Fuller, (page 338): “He confesses that he was ‘saved by mere grace, in spite of himself, by free grace from first to last.’ He declared that he ‘never had any predilection for Arminianism, which appeared to him to ascribe the difference between one sinner and another, not to the grace of God, but to the good improvement made of grace given us in common with others, and that his zeal for the doctrine of grace increased with his years;’ and his dying declarations are that ‘all he had done needed forgiveness; that he trusted alone in sovereign grace and mercy; that he was a poor, guilty creature, but Christ was an almighty Savior; that the doctrine of grace was all his salvation and all his desire; that he had no other hope than from salvation by mere sovereign, efficacious grace, through the atonement of his Lord and Savior; that with this hope he could go into eternity with composure.’” Elder Hassell says, “Mr. Fuller (is) the standard of the New School Baptists in England and the United States;” therefore it cannot be claimed that Mr. Fuller made too much of grace, nor too little of all that he had ever done, for this was his dying testimony. His solemn, dying words should be a warning to any of us who dwell more upon our works than upon “sovereign, efficacious grace.”

Elder Hassell says, (page 327): “Old School, Primitive, or Bible Baptists, believe and rejoice in the absolute sovereignty of God, their heavenly Father – in the entire dependence of all his creatures upon him, both in nature and in grace; a doctrine that leads its adherents to abandon all confidence in creature power, and to exercise a living and a loving trust in the Most High.”

He says, (page 333): Christian predestination far surpasses Arminianism in its moral results, as history abundantly demonstrates. * * * Predestinarianism is highly promotive of both civil and religious liberty. It represents God as absolute and supreme, and makes all men equal before him. It develops the power of self-government, and a manly spirit of independence, which fears no man, though seated on a throne, because it fears God, the only real Sovereign.” Again, he says, (page 485): “If God is omniscient and omnipotent, and existed alone from eternity, and created all things out of nothing, and disposed of all things in his providence, with all the surrounding circumstances, exactly foreknowing all the results, then, certainly, in one sense, his foreknowledge of all things is equivalent to his foreordination of all things, including the volitions of his creatures, yet without the slightest degree of sin on his part, as the Most Holy God tempts no one to sin. The sinful, carnal mind of fallen, darkened rationalism, paints this certain truth of nature and Scripture in the most revolting colors, preferring that senseless and heartless fate or chance should sit at the helm of the universe; but the regenerated, enlightened, spiritual mind of the child of God incomparably prefers that his holy and heavenly Father should sit at the helm, and direct and work all things according to the counsel of his own will. The foreknowledge of God is, in one sense, so evidently identical with his foreordination that some of the most able living conditionalists propose to revolutionize the Arminian theology, and make it consistent with itself by the denial of God’s foreknowledge of future contingent events.” Elder Hassell again says, (page 486): “For, if the will of fallen man is inevitably restrained from spiritual good by his innate depravity, he cannot be said to be truly free, (his fallen will always preferring evil) especially as Christ declares that the sinner is the servant (doulos, the born slave,) of sin, and must be made free by the Son, if he be free indeed.”

Upon the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, Elder Hassell says, (page 203): “These precious declarations are precisely equivalent to the comforting assurance of the apostle Paul, ‘that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform (epiteleo, bring to an end, accomplish, perfect,) it until the day of Jesus Christ,’ (Phil. i. 6,) not only the day when he is manifested as the Sun of righteousness and the divine Savior of the trembling sinner, but as shown by the fourth verse below, (Phil. i. 10,) and by 1 Thess. v. 2, and 2 Peter iii. 10, the day at the close of this dispensation, when Christ shall come in final judgment. This one verse, (Phil, i. 6,) like Heb. xii. 2, in which Jesus is called both ‘the author and finisher of our faith,’ and like Isa. xxxv. 10, in which it is declared that ‘the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads,’ and like many other verses of Scripture, cuts up the system of conditional salvation by the roots, and incontestably and eternally establishes the system of salvation by sovereign grace, beginning and consummating the good work in the sinner’s heart, so that all the glory, without the slightest reservation, shall be given by the saved to God. Every system of conditionalism represents the sinner as doing that which insures his salvation, and which should, therefore, entitle him to the chief glory. As for good works, they are, as we have shown by abundant scriptural quotations, but the fruit of divine grace implanted in the heart.”

How true! These are “the old paths,” and our fathers walked therein, as did “holy men of old.” They unitedly testified that “Salvation is of the Lord;” “not of works.” Our author states a strong truth in saying, “Every system of conditionalism represents the sinner as doing that which insures his salvation;” for this is just as true of “conditional salvation in time,” as it is of every other conditional salvation, and the entire system of conditionalism entitles the one who is thus saved “to the chief glory.” “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works! Nay; but by the law of faith.” – Romans iii. 27. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.” – Romans iv. 16. Nothing conditional can be sure, therefore conditional paths are both uncertain and unsafe to walk in.

D. BARTLEY.
Crawfordsville, Ind.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 1.
JANUARY 1, 1900.