About sixteen years ago, I heard a young man from Hoxton Baptist Academy pretend to preach, and he made the following remarks: “I now offer you Christ, and Christ stands with open arms ready to receive you. Yea, He begs, He prays and beseecheth you to come unto Him and have life; and yet you will not come.” In this way he proceeded for a considerable time. And this he called preaching the gospel to every creature. And indeed I heard a pretended Calvinistic minister in this town use pretty near the same expressions.
From a professed Arminian such remarks might be expected, but for one who professeth to believe in eternal and absolute election, to use such awful expressions is one of the highest insults that can be offered, in a religious shape, either to God or man. It represents both Christ and God the Father as poor disappointed beings, quite unable to subdue the heart of a poor dying worm. And what encouragement can there be in such a gospel as this for any poor, broken-hearted, self-despairing sinner in the world to trust in the Lord for salvation? Who dare trust the concerns of eternity in the hands of Being, who cannot obtain a favour which He desires and seeks with earnest supplication upon His knees? But, thanks be unto God, we have not so learned Christ; “we know that whatsoever His soul desireth, even that He doeth.” Hence, says Christ, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me and him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.” “And all Thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of Thy children.” “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring and they shall hear My voice.”
What has an offered gospel to do with such eternal bulwarks as these? When all free-will offers are sunk in oblivion, God’s immutable shalls and wills must stand. Bless His precious name, there is nothing precarious in the salvation of His people; He does not leave it to them whether they will accept offered mercy or not; no, they shall hear His voice, and they shall live.
Should it be said that preaching the gospel and offering the gospel are the same thing, then I apprehend that wherever we find the terms preached or preaching, in the Word of God, we may translate them offer or offering; but if they will not always bear this translation, they cannot be the same thing. Let us just try a passage or two by this rule: “And, as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” If they proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it appears consistent; but to say they offered that the kingdom of heaven is at hand would be ridiculous. “Being grieved that they taught the people and preached, through Jesus, the resurrection of the dead.” But how would it read, “offered the resurrection of the dead”?
Let men offer and proffer as long as they will, no man can come unto Christ except the Father draw him.
God speaks to the hearts of His people with a power that quickens the dead and makes them willing to receive Christ from a feeling sense of the real need of Him and by the invincible power of the Holy Ghost, Christ is revealed to the conscience, and the poor soul, by a living faith in Him, sweetly rejoiceth in Him. An offered gospel will be like water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; but the gospel of Christ shall win its way, and prosper in the thing whereunto He hath appointed it.
We believe it right to preach both law and gospel in the hearing of all that hear us; to declare that God made men upright, but that he has ruined himself by sinning against God, and has merited eternal wrath at the hands of justice, and that such is the nature and holiness of the righteous law which man hath broken, that it extends to the principles and thoughts of the heart, and condemns for both: “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things, (both in thought, word and deed), written in the book of the law to do them.” “By the deeds of the law, no flesh living can be justified”; and yet “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
We consider that Jehovah is bound, in real love and strict justice to His own holy nature to vindicate the honour of His law. Sooner than God could repeal one jot or tittle of His law, the whole race of man must sink into black despair for ever, for the law is holy, just and good, and a holy, just and good God must in love to Himself vindicate a just and holy and a good law. This we preach in the hearing of all that hear us.
When we are upon this subject, we also preach that there is no escaping, by works of righteousness which we can do, the just vengeance which we have merited, and that the only way in which God can be just and the justifier of the ungodly is by the atoning blood and the justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ. We repeatedly declare that there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby sinners can be saved but the name of Christ, that there is redemption through the blood of Christ and no other way, and that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved, and shall never be confounded world without end.
We feel a real pleasure in declaring that Christ is both able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them; nor do we neglect to tell all who hear us that this salvation is all of grace, and that there is nothing uncertain or precarious in it but that the promise is sure to all the seed of promise; for the eternal God, in everlasting love, has elected unto Himself a people whom He will save with an everlasting salvation, let what will oppose. The Three-One God has entered into an everlasting covenant on behalf of the elect, and Christ, as their Surety, has taken their cause into His own hands and has made Himself accountable for all their sins. Yes; He has really taken into union with His Deity the seed of Abraham, and in this nature He has fully atoned for all the sins of the elect, and divine justice is well pleased with the satisfaction He has given; so that He has not merely made it possible for sinners to be saved, but made the everlasting felicity of His people sure. He has finished transgression; and by one offering has for ever perfected them that are sanctified, or set apart in Him, their Head. “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Not, “They shall have an offer of mercy made unto them”; but they shall be crowned with everlasting joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
We declare that all the elect of God are justified in the righteousness of Christ; for in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. We also preach that it hath pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell, so that whatever His people need for life or holiness, in time or in eternity, it is all secured in Christ, their living Head.
We insist upon the necessity and describe the nature of repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; but we preach them both as the free gift of God: “Then hath God unto the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Christ is exalted at the right hand of the Father to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins; and He is the Author and Finisher of faith.
We also preach the absolute necessity of the Holy Ghost to quicken the dead; to enlighten the blind, to convince of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, and to take of the things which are Christ’s and show them to His people, and so exalt Christ in their hearts.
We separate the precious from the vile in tracing the footsteps of the flock of Christ and the work of the Holy Ghost in their souls; and we attempt to describe their various feelings under His divine teachings. We enter into their hopes and fears, their ups and downs, cowardice and zeal, defeats and victories, sorrows and joys, fastings and festivals, contractions and enlargements, misgivings, temptations and triumphs. We trace them in their suits of mourning, when their Master’s presence is withdrawn and their comforts appear to be dead; and in their beautiful garments of praise when their comforts return on jubilee days.
We give a description of their enemies, together with their dens and holds and artful workings; but we assure the saint of victory through the blood of the Lamb. We lisp forth a little of the beauty and preciousness of Christ in His Person, undertakings, work, blood, righteousness, offices, characters, relationship, fulness, love and loveliness.
We in our ministry feel a solemn pleasure in attempting to range in the immeasurable field, and soar up towards the unsearchable heights, and plunge into the fathomless depths of the unutterable love of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost to His people. We describe, as far as the blessed Master gives grace and talent, both the internal and external glory of the Queen the Lamb’s wife. And we endeavour to detect hypocrites and expose the fallacy of their hopes, and apprise them of the just doom that awaits them, if they die in the state they are in. And we encourage every self-despairing sinner to hope in Christ, and to wait at the door of mercy, begging, praying and hoping till the Lord come; to believe in and rest upon Christ as the only Saviour of poor sinners. We preach the various branches of divine truth in the gospel of Christ, in doctrines, promises, invitations, precepts, encouragements, ordinances, cautions, etc. And we endeavour to point out the characters and cases to whom these truths are immediately applicable in their various situations and circumstances.
Thus we separate the precious from the vile and, as instruments in God’s hand, we endeavour to comfort the family of God with the same comforts wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God, and so give a portion of meat to each in due season. And we exhort God’s people to be careful to maintain good works; and these things we preach in the hearing of all that hear us.
This article is published in appendix 5 of B. A. Ramsbotttom’s book, “William Gadsby”—an extract from the Gospel Standard, 1890, pp 254-257.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist.