“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
The foregoing language was used by the inspired apostle Paul to a mixed multitude, where he preached the next Sabbath [and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed] in the synagogue, at Antioch, in Pisidia. After speaking of the peculiar dealings of God with the people of national Israel, when they dwelt as strangers in Egypt, and through the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan, and until Samuel the prophet, when God gave them judges, till they desired a king, and he gave them Saul in his wrath, whom he removed, and gave them David, a man after his own heart, to be their king, of whose seed according to the flesh he gave Israel a Savior, Jesus, whom they had crucified and laid in a sepulchre, but that God had raised him from the dead, so that he saw no corruption, but ascended up far above all heavens, exalted with the right hand of God for to give repentance unto Israel and forgiveness of sins. Therefore through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins. Certainly sins are, nor can be forgiven in no other way to this day; not by or through the use of means, men, money, Bibles, tracts, Sunday Schools, Missionary Boards, preaching, praying, faith, repentance, nor works of any kind performed by men or angels; but alone through the man Christ Jesus. Hence I conclude that the great debt contracted by his chosen people, when they sinned and fell in Adam, is not repudiated at the expense of justice; but because Jesus stood related to them before the debt was contracted, as their Surety, in the unchangeable covenant of redemption, eternal life, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, were given them in him, and they were chosen in him, before the foundation of the world, and given to him, and predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to God the eternal Father, according to the good pleasure of his will. Eph.1:3-5. Therefore Jesus in his life and death rendered to justice all its claims against them, and was by the one offering made of himself, perfected forever them that are sanctified. Then on the part of his redeemed – faith, repentance, believing, or performing good works of obedience &c., pays no part of their debt, neither places them where they can claim forgiveness of their sins; but because Jesus has paid the whole debt, faith and repentance is given them, and by him they are called and brought to believe, and are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. There has been great anxiety manifested by many debtors [since the dreadful calamities of war have been realized among us] to have all old debts repudiated, and various plans have been suggested, but none can be adopted without the violation of justice. All just claims should be paid; heaven requires it, and so does all righteous laws upon earth. A man’s insolvency is no just plea against the claims of his creditor, no matter how he becomes unable to pay. On the part of God’s chosen people, Jesus has paid the whole debt more than eighteen hundred years ago. Therefore justice, as well as mercy requires their forgiveness. And God has said by the prophet: “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Isa.28:16,17. How glad poor forgiven sinners feel that their former refuge of lies has been swept away, and their former hiding place over thrown, and Jesus their glorious hiding place revealed. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom.5:1,2. Popular Arminian preachers proclaim it, and poor deluded nominal professors, with all other unbelievers, love to hear and have it so, that Jesus has done nothing more for sinners than make the way of salvation or forgiveness possible for any and all who will on their part seek for and accept the offers made to them through preaching, and through faith and repentance. But, dear reader, don’t forget the text, Be it known unto you, that through this man is preached [by all God’s ministers] unto you the forgiveness of sins. Not through preaching, not through hearing preaching, not through works, faith, repentance, believing or accepting; but alone and exclusively through what Jesus has done in making atonement, and is doing in calling sinners by his grace, and gathering them with his arm, or power, according to the eternal purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. Seeking and praying is not the reason why sinners obtain eternal life, but eternal life, or the spirit of God’s Son, being sent [not offered] into the heart, crying Abba, Father, is the only reason why any seek or pray, or have gospel faith or repentance. Proud depraved nature, whether under the cloak of a profession of religion, or in open rebellion, cries out against this doctrine, saying it is too hard, and ought not to be preached; when the truth is, they are contending for doctrines that are too hard, sure because they are false, and because they require more of sinners than they can perform. To illustrate, suppose you are insolvent, and have two creditors, one of them requires you to pay part of the debt, and the other forgives you all, which would be the hardest doctrine to you? Arminian doctrines require sinners to pray, or do something to obtain the favor and forgiveness of God, and then continue doing, to keep it, or all will be a failure. The doctrine of the cross of Christ proclaims Jesus as the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved; that through him sinners are forgiven, life given to the dead, strength given to such as were without it; a will to serve God is given, love to God and holiness is given; hope, faith, and in fact, eternal life with all spiritual blessings is bestowed upon [not offered] poor helpless, undeserving sinners, and they are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast; and for their safe keeping, the power and promise of God is employed, which never can fail. O, my soul, let others complain of its being hard doctrine, but to poor unworthy me it is palatable and heart-cheering.
Many say, If the above doctrine be true, why be at any trouble to preach, pray, go to meeting, or anything else, seeing it is all of God fixed and sure? No one would ask any such questions, but such as have never yet been brought to the knowledge of the truth, but vainly hope for forgiveness and perseverance by something they have done, or expect to do. Such as have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, serve him and keep his commandments because they love him, while they preach and pray of necessity, feeling in their hearts to say, with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life; and we are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:68,69. So that truly such as worship God, worship him in spirit and in truth, because he seeketh such to worship him.
I will close for the present. May God bless and restore you to health, my dear brother.
Yours in love,
Near Lexington Georgia, August 28, 1869.