It is common to assume that offering Christ to sinners is an essential branch of the Gospel. Proof is, how­ever, rarely advanced: but, if the Bible and the Bible only is the religion of Protestants, so important an article of belief should not be regarded as unchallengeable, without positive appeal to the word of God.

Let the studious reader turn to Young’s Analytical Concord­ance,[1] and examine the words by which the preaching of the Gospel to the unconverted is described in the New Testament. Let him then turn to Hudson’s Critical Greek and English Concordance, and trace these words in all their occurrences. He will find that not one expresses or implies the idea that it is an Evangelist’s mission to tender, proffer, or offer Christ, grace or salvation to sinners. Their true meaning is given in Note 1, which consult.

It is observable that no text of Scripture is advanced in sup­port of this doctrine in any of the editions of the Assembly’s Confession and Catechisms,whether “printed by authority,”or otherwise.

The Rev. J. Macpherson and Dr. Robert Shaw, of Whitburn, to their excellent Expositions of the Confession of Faith (both standard works) are silent upon the statement that grace is offered in the GospeL Rev. A. S. Paterson, A.M., in his Con­cise System of Theology on the Basis of the Shorter Catechism (also a standard work} justifies the expression “that Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel,” in the answer quoted above, by observing that “this offer is tendered to all as sinners of Adam’s race; for were not this the case, the Gospel could not properly be called, “good news, or glad tidings of great joy to all men.’ Luke 2:10,11. This, it will be observed, is both a misquotation and a misapplication. The angel’s words were, “I announce to you glad tidings of great joy, which (the joy) shall be to all the people,’—the Jewish people. “To them was the first message of joy before its communication, through them, to the Gentiles.” Dean Alford and Dr. E. H. Plumpre.

A few texts have indeed been pressed to involve the idea of conditional overtures or offers of sovereign mercy to sinners. “We are ambassadors, therefore, on behalf of Christ; as though God were intreating by us: we beseech [you] on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:20. It is granted that were the persons here addressed by the Apostle Paul unregenerate men, who had given no indication of contrition or penitence, this text might fairly be cited to prove that Gospel ministers should tender grace to the unconverted, and beg them to accept God’s terms.

It is, however, fully shown in the Author’s “Manual of Faith and Practice,” page 228:—1. That the persons addressed were MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH at Corinth. 2. That the “you” following the word “beseech” is, on the authority of Dean Alford, rightly introduced in the Authorised, as it is re­tained in the Revised Version. 3. That the reconciliation con­templated is to be understood of full-hearted acceptance by Christians of the truth of God, and of their cordial resignation to the conduot of God. And, 4. That this is in harmony with the context.

The parables of the Great Supper and the Marriage of the King’s Son have been so used.

These—though resembling each other—are quite distinct.

The parable of the Great Supper was delivered in Perea, at the house of “a chief Pharisee,” during the last December of the Lord’s life on earth, (Luke 14:15-24.) The Marriage of the King’s Son was delivered in Jerusalem four months later, on the Tuesday before His crucifixion, when the hostility of His enemies had become far more open and pronounced, (Matt. 22:2-14.)[2]

The applicability of the first parts of both to the sin of the Jewish nation in disregarding the claims of Jesus to be their Messiah, refusing the national blessings and privileges which He would have bestowed on them; and finally conniving at and consenting to His death, is apparent to all.

The second parts of each are supposed to teach offered grace.

Luke 14:21: “Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.”

Matthew 22:8,9: “Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”

Luke 14:22. “And the servant said, ‘Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.’ And the lord said unto his servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you that none of those men which were (originally) bidden, shall taste of my supper.’”

The latter part of the parable of the Great Supper teaches, that on the repudiation of the claims of Jesus by the bulk of the more wealthy and reputable portion of the Jewish community, His apostles commenced to minister in the Holy Land, (to which “the streets and lanes of the city answer) and wherever they found consciously destitute sinners, (whose spiritual condition is figuratively presented by the expressive terms, “poor,” “maimed,” “lame,” and “blind,”) they would bid them welcome to the great supper—assure them of the mercy of the Gospel.

The parable further teaches that, subsequently, the servants of Christ would go forth into Gentile countries, (signified by the “highways” and “hedges,”) and, by the urgent preaching of the Gospel, through the power of the Spirit, induce such char­ acters as had before been specified, (namely, men and women whom grace had made sorrowful for their degradation and sin) to apply to God for the rich provisions of His mercy.

The meaning of the expression, “compel” (or constrain, R.V.) them to come in,”is determined by the context. The servant would induce these “tramps and squatters,” as Dr. Plumptre calls them, to come to the great supper, by dwelling on the sumptuousness of the feast, and the bounty of him who was giving it, and explaining that the invitation was to the absolutely destitute.

This exactly corresponds with the manner of preaching the Gospel for which this Article contends, namely, not extending invitations to all men, irrespective of their characters, but assuring conscious and contrite sinners of the good-will of God in Christ towards them.

The second part of the parable of The Marriage of the King’s Son, (Matt. 22:8-10,) clearly corresponds in its teachings with the above.

God’s anger at the rejection by the Jews of the testimony of those who proclaimed the Gospel of His risen and ascended Son, and who were concerned in the persecution of the Apostles, and the murder of Stephen (Acts 8:64-60,) and of James, (Acts 12:2,3,) is evidently referred to in verses 6 and 7.

The preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and the urgent invitation of any who hungered in their souls for Divine mercy, is as plainly intended in the ministry of the “servants” in the “highways.”

That these passages do not support general invitations and offered grace is now, it is hoped, evident. In both parables the hungry, homeless and destitute were to be informed of a repast to which they would be welcomed, and their misgivings were to be removed by the assurances of those who were sent to invite them. So the invitations of the Gospel are addressed to those whose spiritual condition is analogous to the circum­ stances of those to whom only these were sent, and their fears and misgivings it is the business of the Gospel preacher to try to remove.”[3]

Acts 26:28. “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” It is supposed that Paul persuaded Agrippa to become a Christian, and almost succeeded in so doing. The Apostle, however, (as a glance at the context will demonstrate) did not urge this unhappy man to profess the religion of Jesus. Agrippa’s utterance admits of more than one interpretation. It is literally, “In a little thou persuadest (or dost thou persuade) me to become a Christian.” It should be remembered that the word Christian, at that time, was a term of contempt Agrippa, probably desirous of terminating the Apostle’s address, exclaimed, “In a little (time),” or, “with little (effort) thou wouldst persuade me,” (R. V.,) or dost thou persuade me to become a Christian. He was not in earnest. He did not mean that a conflict was going on in his own mind; but that he conceived it ridiculous for Paul to imagine that arguments so flimsy would affect a person so important as himself.

Paul, however, solemnly rejoined[4]—taking up Agrippa’s word, and giving his idea an earnest and pathetic turn, “I would to God that, whether in little or in much (whether with little or with great and protracted effort on my part) not thou only, but also all that hear me to-day, might become such as I am—except these bonde.”

2 Cor. 5:11. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.” Supposed to mean that Paul and his colleagues, aware of the terror of future punishment, persuaded men to be saved. It is, however, evident that his subject is the fact that their commission was Divine, and that they had Christ’s authority for acting as His servants. Of this they were assured by the inner witness of the Spirit. “Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord,” R.V., not the terror,) or, as Alford happily renders it, “Being conscious of (‘no strangers to,) the fear of the Lord,” “we persuade men” (in general) of our integrity and the validity of our high office: “but we are made manifest unto God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”

This was the view of John Hazelton, who observes that, “It has been supposed that the Apostle persuaded men to live, to believe and to turn to the Lord.” This, [however] is not the meaning of his words, but that—“We persuade men of our own sincerity, and of the fact that what we preach is the Gospel, or the very Word of God, and that we cannot possibly keep back any portion thereof.” Hence, he immediately added, ‘We are made manifest to God, &c.’” Sermons. Vol. 2. No. 32.

This we submit without fear of contradiction:—That the Master Himself is never recorded to have made an offer or proffer of grace to any one, (pages 28 and 29:) That no record of grace being offered, tendered or proffered is to be found in the Acts of the Apostles; and, That no such offers are con­tained or referred to in the inspired Epistles, especially in those to Timothy and Titus, in which minute and specific directions respecting the preaching of the Gospel are given.[5]

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[1] These are diag(n)gello, euag[n)gelizo, katag{n)gello,—all modifications of ag(n)gellizo, to act as a messenger; and kerusso to proclaim as a herald. When preaching to Christians is de­scribed, these words are not used, but the term dialegemai (to discourse or argue) is employed.
[2] See “The Bible Students’ Life of our Lord,” by Rev. S. J. Andrews, First Edition, pages 327 and 858. Also Dr. Hanna’s “Our Lord’s Life on Earth,” page 888, in which a suggestive comment of the first part of the two parables, viewed separately and conjointly, will be found.
[3] On Matt. 22:9, C. H. Spurgeon, in his “Gospel of the Kingdom,” indeed observes, “’As many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.’ This indicates no limited call, no preaching to gracious character.” He thus shows how little he under­stood the views of those to whom he was so opposed. A conscious or sensible sinner is, we admit, the subject of a work of grace, or he would be apathetic and callous on the matter, as all unregenerate men necessarily are. But the Gospel (so we contend) does not address such on the ground or their graciousness, but of their sinfulness and peril. The student of Hart’s hymns will remember that this idea is repeatedly enforced; notably in hymns 61 and 91.
[4] Would that every Strict and Particular Baptist Minister felt the same earnestness concerning his congregation. God grant that contention for the truth may never sterilize our feelings in relation to perishing sinners.
[5] Bitter things have been said and written about Strict and Particular Baptists, because instead of offering Chriet to sinners and urging Faith as a legal duty, they present the invitations and promises of the Gospel in a hypothetical way. This, however, has the highest authority. “On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying ”—what? Come all of you, come at once, to Me? No; but, “Ye have busied yourselves with disputations on religious topics,” now, “If {ean) any (one of you) thirsts (is vitally concerned about the salvation of his own soul,) let him come to Me, and let him drink.” (John 7:37.)



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