Page 65, First Edition Of Gospel Standard. To The Editors Of The Gospel Standard:

In looking over the first number of the Gospel Standard, I was certainly gratified to perceive the confidence with which some of the writers assert their certainty of salvation, &c. &c. The most valuable legacy which Jesus, “the true God and eternal life,” has left to them who believe in his name, is, “a good hope, through grace” which enables them to look beyond the cares and sorrows of a vain world, rejoicing in the hope of a glorious immortality beyond death and the grave; and the highest attainment which the humble Christian, walking in the light of his Father’s countenance, can arrive at on this earth, is, when he attains to that” assurance of faith,” which enables him to rejoice all the day” with undisturbed confidence in the smiles of his Redeemer’s face. The promises in God are all Yea and Amen, to the believer in Christ. Every word of the Messiah, and of his appointed messengers to the churches, is calculated to give “strong consolation,” and full assurance of hope even to the end, to those followers of the Lamb who, by grace, are taught to yield obedience to the doctrines of the cross.

I should certainly be the last person in the world to detract one iota from the assurance, or confidence, of the strongest believer; but I would humbly suggest that, having a strong faith in the testimony of God is one thing, and boasting of our individual confidence and security is another. Of late years, I have been especially disposed to think with great caution respecting those persons who make this boasting, or vaunting, or talking with dogmatical confidence, about their certainty of salvation, as the reward of their strong faith; and I have met with many who make no scruple about dooming the whole human race to eternal damnation, except the few who are disposed to adopt their own peculiar strung language. It’s true, that Job is represented as being enabled to say, whilst suffering under the severest agony of mind and body, magnified into torture by the keen reproaches of his friends, in spite of his accumulated sufferings. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself and not another,” &c. It is true also, that the Apostle Paul, in the probable prospect of being torn to pieces by wild beasts, for bearing testimony in support of the truths of the gospel, in the immediate prospect of a cruel death, was enabled to say, “I am now ready to be offered, and the hour of my departure is at hand: I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day,” &c. These are glorious examples, and calculated to encourage the weak believer to emulate the Apostle’s faith, and practice of obedience; that he also may be able to look death in the face with humble resignation, and say, “Welcome, thou king of tenors.” The enthusiasm of these inspired Writers is most sublime; but it is humble. None of that bombastic vapouring that would attempt to crush and trample upon the more timorous of Christ’s flock. None of that “man-glorifying” spirit which would say, “Stand by, for I am holier than thou;” or, what is, if possible, more wicked; “Stand by, for my faith is stronger than thine.” It is the privilege of every Christian to believe implicitly in the testimony of Jesus; to rely with confidence on the fulfilment of his promises; and to be ready at all times to give a reason to every man that asketh him, of the hope that is in him, with meekness and with fear. The stronger that a Christian’s faith really is, the less will he be disposed to boast of it; but he will become the more disposed to manifest, by its effect upon his conduct, that faith is not with him a mere profession. Alas for them who say, “Lord, Lord, and do not those things which he has commanded.”—Liverpool, August, 1835. J. Woodrow.

In the October No. of the Gospel Standard, 1835, a letter appeared from a Mr. Woodrow on the subject of faith. In the following month my father replied to it:

Messrs. Editors,—In looking over the “Gospel Standard” for October, I was struck with some little surprise upon perusing a piece, by a Mr. Woodrow, of Liverpool, on the important subject of faith. First he informs you he was “certainly gratified to perceive the confidence with which some of the writers assert their certainty of salvation,” &c. But,, behold, he very soon lets us know what we must understand by his gratification; for it evidently appears that his gratification was that it afforded him an opportunity to fall very foul upon such statements; and the best name he appears to give them, even in Job or Paul, is enthusiasm, and in others, “boasting, vaunting, or talking with dogmatical confidence, bombastic vaporing,” &c. Really, Messrs. Editors, is this the religion of Christ—that the inspired penmen, when triumphing in the glorious Redeemer, feeling their own personal interest in him, under the solemn teachings and holy unction of God the Holy Ghost, had only arrived to sublime enthusiasm? What! The blessed Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father,”—the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirits that we are the children of God” (Rom 8:15,16), at best only sublime enthusiasm in the inspired penmen, and in others, bombastic vaporing? I say can this be the religion of Christ?’ No, Messrs. Editors. I feel persuaded that many of your readers, to the praise and glory of the God of grace, can, under the sweet unctuous, teachings of the blessed Spirit, glorify God in and for this blessed truth, that “because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6) And this is not as the reward of their strong faith either, as Mr. W. taunts; no, no; but, as the glorious fruit of the Spirit, the blessed shedding abroad of the love of God in their hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them. (Rom 5:5) “Now, he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and bath anointed us, is God, who hath also ‘sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor 1:21,22); “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:13,14)

The blessed witness of the Spirit with our spirit, and the solemn anointings and sealing of God the Holy Ghost, are truths of such glorious blessedness that I cannot conceive that any man, with the life and fear of God in his heart, can call them enthusiasm, much less bombastic vaporing. I readily admit that many of God’s dear people are not brought into the sweet enjoyment of these truths for themselves, and it ‘becomes the ministers of Christ to encourage their hope, and, as instruments in the bands of the Spirit, endeavour to strengthen their faith in the Lord, by giving a Scriptural definition of the work of God the Holy Ghost in his life-giving and light-communicating power, and the various intimations of his mercy and grace made known in his divine operations in the soul of the quickened sinner, and so encourage them to “wait on the Lord, and to be of good courage, for he will strengthen their hearts.” (Ps 27:14) But to exhort them to sit down satisfied without the Spirit’s witness in their hearts that they are the children of God would be to make light of the work of the Holy Ghost. Indeed, Messrs. Editors, after I had read once and again Mr. W.’s piece, I was obliged to conclude that we did not hear therein whether there be any Holy Ghost or not; for I cannot observe anything of his work in giving faith, and in drawing that faith into holy act and exercise, either in a greater or lesser degree, in anything Mr. W. has said. I should be sorry to be censorious; but I greatly fear Mr. W. is not in the habit of hearing or feeling much of the glorious work of the Holy Ghost; and a religion without his divine operations is a religion without life or power.

As to the “many” Mr. W. has met with who doom the whole human race to damnation except the few who are disposed to adopt their own peculiar strong language, I believe but few, if any, of your correspondents are of that sort. I have no doubt Mr. W. may know a few awful characters of the sort, who also deny the eternal duration of the miseries of the ungodly. I heard one of this sort myself say that nothing short of the full assurance of faith was faith, &c. But what have such awful characters as these to do with the glorious witness of the Spirit in the hearts of God’s family? If God has given such up to strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, &c., this does not make the truth of God of none effect. That remains the same; and the awful delusions of others should be a means of leading us to search diligently the Word of God, and to cry daily for the glorious witness of the Spirit in our hearts, and that its unctuous power may be daily felt, that our fellowship with the Father, and with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost may be solemnly, sweetly, and daily maintained.

As it respects dooming the whole human race to damnation except a few, &c., let Mr. W. remember that there are but the elect and the rest, and that the elect are, in God’s own tune, born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Unless this divine change takes place in our souls, our profession of religion is all vain; and this change is wholly of God and is accomplished with invincible power: “The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8) The child of God may not, at the tune, know what is the matter, nor from whence it cometh; but overcome it he cannot, and in the end he blesseth God that he could not. But wherever this glorious change takes place, the soul will never rest satisfied till, by faith and in feeling, it can say, “My Lord and my God.” Yet with some of God’s people there are thousands of heart-rending sighs and groans, and deep pantings for God, the living God, before they are experimentally brought into the glorious liberty of the gospel; and they are mostly in some deep water or hot fire when the Lord is pleased to bring them to the sweet enjoyment of personal interest in himself: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God.” (Zech 13:9)

If it be the sovereign pleasure of the Lord, may your correspondent Mr. W. be led deeply into the deep things of God, by that glorious Spirit who alone can search them; and may he daily feel that without the teachings of this blessed Spirit he does not know what he should pray for as he ought; and then I think he will not be induced to write another epistle similar to that which I have just noticed in this.

[I think it right to say that my father knew nothing of Mr. Woodrow’s letter until he saw it in print. I inserted it for the very purpose of causing him to write a reply. I confess also that on more than one occasion, I myself wrote an article and sent my father a proof, as it seemed to be the only way of getting him to write in time, he being so much from home; but as soon as he had cast his eye over the proof he would do what I wanted—sit down and write a proper article. He would then come down to my office and most emphatically say, “This [my proof] will never do. [I knew that very well.] See; this is what I have been writing.”—J. G.]


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