“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen; the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.” - Job xxviii. 7, 8.
IN his communication on another page of this number, brother Meredith requests the views of brother Trott, or our own, on the passage quoted above. We have no disposition to anticipate brother Trott, or to prevent him from giving his views on the subject; but while we wait for his communication we will offer a few thoughts on the text, keeping in view the object of our brother’s inquiry, viz: Whether there is or is not a way passing between the sand bars of Arminanism and the granite rocks of Antinomianisin.
What we mean to express by the term Arminianism is spoken of (Prov. vii.) in the plural number, denoting, first, the way or path leading to the house of the anti-christian harlot; and second, denoting her house, which is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death, while the admonition is given to the children of wisdom. “Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.” - Verse 25. We will notice these two wars:
First, the way to her house, which is, we understand, the way by which the children of men are introduced into the various anti-christian religious establishments called christian churches, but which are in reality only the way which our Lord informs us is broad and the gate thereof is wide. In illustration of this way we might very readily refer our readers to all the religious trickery, doctrines, efforts, seductions and ordinances of men which are at this day employed in the business of convert-making and filling the numerous branches of anti-christ with members, a few only of which we have time and space now to remark upon.
The first way-mark connected with the Arminian path which we will remark upon is its contigiousness to the street or corner of her house. By a street we understand a public thoroughfare, a very public place. Such places were of old selected by the Pharisees for the performance of their ostentatious devotions; they prayed in the corner of the streets and in the market places, to be heard of men. Such a street fitly represents the path which every fowl knoweth; the place where we have all strayed while alienated from God, like the young man void of understanding, mentioned in verse 7th.
Secondly, this way leads directly to her house. - Verse 8th. “And he went the way to her house,” by which we understand that no change is requisite from what we are by nature to bring us into any branch of anti-christ. We are born and live, until changed by grace, in the very path which leads to her broad gate; and many thousands have, by the Popish institution of infant sprinkling, been placed within her pales and lodged upon her lap. In the broad way of Arminianism there are no such stumbling stones and rocks of offence as divine sovereignty, discriminating grace, distinguishing love, special atonement, irresistible calling, &c., to trouble those who stumble at the word, whereunto also they were appointed. Arminianism is as clear from every sentiment of truth which is offensive to fallen sinners as the depraved sinner is of every principle of spirituality and holiness.
We notice, thirdly, the path leading to her house is a dark way, notwithstanding those who walk therein call it light; for they call light darkness, and darkness they call light. The sable shades of a darker night than the present have never enveloped the kingdom of Satan, yet we hear in their camp the universal shout of millennial glory dawning! The ninth verse shows that the time of fastening the anti-christian spell or charm on the simple ones is in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night. This figurative language holds good in reference to the modus operandi convert making at protracted and camp meetings, on anxious benches or on the straw. The victim to be operated on must be in a twilight state as it regards his intellectual powers; for there are seasons when, even as rational beings, men would know better than to become the silly dupes of such gross priestcraft and fanaticism; but becoming somewhat intoxicated with the allurements presented, reason forsakes her empire, and the young man is quite destitute of understanding. Thus, in the progress of the work, first twilight, then evening, and finally the dark and black night. By this time we have the silly goat far advanced in the path to her house; he is now upon the anxious bench or the submission chair - here we will leave him a moment getting religion, in the direct way to her house, and pay some attention to the description which Wisdom has given us of her ladyship, by whom this work goes on, and also of her house.
She is briefly described (verse 5) as the strange woman, the stranger which flattereth with her words. In every description given of anti-christ in the scriptures, she is represented as a strange woman, a mystery of iniquity; and the very name now written on her forehead is Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and the Abominations of the Earth. She flattereth with her Words.
Reader, did you never hear her say to a poor, lost, ruined sinner, “I invite you to come; you can come; you have the power to come to Christ; the price is in your hand; it is for you to say whether you will be saved or lost; you have power to pray, to repent, to exercise faith, to use the means, to close in with the overtures of mercy, to make your peace with God, and to become at once a christian.” This language is flattery, and not a word of truth in it; for “no man can come unto Jesus except the Father draw him.” By her flattering words the sinner is led to conceive that he is some and mighty agent, having power to please or disappoint Jehovah; to let him into his heart, or prevent his entering! and he is flattered to that degree that he verily thinks he is able to perform for himself what he supposes the gracious Spirit of God might labor in vain to perform.
But this woman is not only a lying flatterer, but she is also loud and stubborn, and her feet abide not in her house. Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner. (Verses 11 and 12.) Her missionary operations have ever been a very prominent trait in her character - she abideth not in her house; she carries on extensive speculations in the foreign mission business; and although she has a house which is peculiarly her own, viz: her own religious establishments, yet she lieth in wait at every corner, creeps into some of our Baptist churches unawares, and leads captive silly women, laden with iniquity; and we are peculiarly happy if she does not find her way occasionally even among the Old School Baptists. But let the children of Wisdom beware of her; let not their hearts decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. Her doctrine is with much fair speech, and with such persuasive expressions as can only be uttered by Arminians.
Hear her language to the silly half-made convert to her religion, which we left in the blackness and darkness of night sitting on her anxious stool a little while ago: “So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows; therefore came I forth to meet thee, dilligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon; come, let us take our fill of love.” Is not this the very spirit of the language used by all the revivalists of our day? Do not they claim to have peace offerings with then! Come up to the altar, say they, we pray for you. We have the peace offerings to make; for we paid our vows; we have settled the account for ourselves, and we have room enough, religion enough, and rest and solace enough to supply all demands. Don’t wait for the Lord to convert you; for the good man gone a long journey.
True there was once a time of miracles; then the Lord made converts to the christian religion, and added to his people such as shall be saved; but the day of miracles is past and gone. “The good man is not at home; he has taken a bag of money with him, and will return on the day appointed. Now hear the result of her efforts. “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him; he goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks.”
Thus we have traced the process of the New School or Arminian methodism of making converts, illustrative of the way to her house; the way which seemeth right to a man; but the end whereof are the ways of death. But the victim knoweth not that the dead are there; he probably supposes that her inmates are living, are christians, and enjoying the vital power of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ; he enters her house by the path which the vulture’s eye can discern, and dwells among the dead. “She hath cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her.” She never cast down any but the wounded, for sound christians know better than to listen to the flattering of her words. Strong self-conceited work-mongers are frequently slain by her.
As to our brother’s allusion to Antinomianism we presume he means those doctrinal views which are frequently so denominated, viz: that sin is not a vice nor holiness a virtue, and that the children of God. are at liberty to sin that grace may abound. We do not consider these views properly involved in Antinomianism, as the term more appropriately signifies a difference between two laws; or anti against, nomia law; and in its appropriate definition was charged upon the apostle Paul by the orthodox party. Acts xxi. 28. Men of Israel, help! this is the man that teaches all men against the people and the law, &c. If therefore to preach as did the apostle Paul, that the church of Christ is not under the law of Moses, as a rule of life, but under grace, be Antinomianism, then that sentiment may be justly imputed to us; for it matters not to us by what epithet the enemies of the cross arc pleased to designate us. But if by Antinomianism we are to understand what is frequently intended by the use of that term, viz: that christians should sin that grace may abound, then the term will by no means apply to Old School Baptists, but rather to all the New School tribes who preach and practice that doctrine. For instance, they hold that it is proper to get up all the institutions of the day, and thereby amalgamate the church with the world in order to convert the heathen and evangelize the world, although God has positively forbidden all such amalgamation, and commanded his children to come out and be separate from them: also to withhold such points of truth in preaching, as would offend the multitude and drive them away, lest grace should not so much abound, and in in a thousand other particulars in which we could show that the spirit of what is called Antinomianism, exists only with the Arminians, and is in truth but Arminianism in another form.
Hence we come to the conclusion, after the most critical search we are capable of that if Arminianism be sand-bars, and Antonianism be granate rocks, that the path which no fowl knoweth cannot pass between them, as there is not room enough to crowd a needle point between them.
We cannot conceive that the way or path of holiness has any connection with either of the ways above described; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than the ways and thoughts of man; the same disparity exists between the way of life and salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the paths marked out by human wisdom; the former as far transcends the latter as the heavdo the earth. The path intended in our text, cannot mean any middle ground system of divinity; but evidently signifies the unsearchable wisdom of God as demonstrated in the way of holiness, which is visible only to the wayfaring man, for whom it was cast up.
The glorious economy of grace - of salvation through Jesus Christ, as the only name given under heaven or among men by which we must be saved, is, as we intend briefly to show, a path which no fowl knoweth, and in every particular answering to the description given in the text.
By fowls we understand those high flyers in religion which are brought to view in the parable of the mustard seed, which come and lodge in the branches of the kingdom of heaven; not because they are any part of that kingdom, but because they wish there to build their nests, lay their eggs, and propagate, under the shadow and name of that kingdom, their species; and therefore may appropriately apply to all such as hang about the branches of Christ’s kingdom while they do not belong to it; for, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, in its spirituality. The vulture’s eye hath not seen: the vulture’s eye is remarkable for its keen preception, it can discry objects afar off; such as victims, carron, &c.; for the vulture is a bird of prey, and justly represents the wisdom of this world, which is very keen in natural things, and when brought into connection with religious matters, as the history of all past ages will prove, can only serve to search out the disciples of Christ as objects of their hatred and persecutions and victims of their wrath; and as the vulture’s eye can perceive carron at a distance, so those worldly wise men connected with a religious profession can and do make great proficiency in the dead languages, can pounce upon dead men’s brains, the dead body of Moses, &c., and so in the cunning subtlety of satan, make a great flourish in the world. But with all their cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive the hearts of the simple, they cannot see the things of the Spirit which are only spirdiscerned. God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes; even so, for so it seemed good in his sight. Hence the way of holiness,. which is the path of all such as follow our Lord in the regeneration, is a way which the vulture’s eye has not seen, the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it; for Isaiah has informed us that no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast go up thereon, but it shall be for those the wayfaring men, &c., and by it the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion. By lions lions’ whelps understand the same that brother Meredeth calls sand-bar & granate rocks, self-conceited, self-sufficient workmongers, who, like the lion and her whelps, feel amply sufficient to act as free agents. Such characters have never been able to set their paw into the plan of grace or the spirituality of the gospel; for none but such as are converted and become as little children can enter the strait gate, or walk the narrow road. Marvel not, said the Redeemer, that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
May 1, 1839.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 493 – 500