Second. Universal invitations are supported, and can only be supported, by a perversion and misapplication of the addresses of the word of God. It is pretended that universal invitations are used in the word of God, and accordingly to be used now on that authority, although no man can bring them into harmony with any truth of a particular nature. I have read those who have collected their supposed authority from the sacred word, and the whole appears to me to be altogether without the true mind and intent of one text cited for the purpose; and to be a direct misapplication of them, both to persons and things; and a mere catching at sounds, with a gross perversion of sense, to make it fit to the predetermined favorite point. I am confident that with such a catching at sounds, irrespective of the real mind and intent of the text, which is evident from the connection, the occasion, the parties addressed, the nature, subject, and design of the address, opponents may find as much and just about as good ground in the sacred word for the denial of the divinity of Christ, the personality of the Holy Ghost, the Trinity of persons in the Godhead, salvation as all of grace, the final perseverance of the saints, the endless punishment of the wicked, &c., as they have already done. And if by such a catching at mere sounds, irrespective of sense, and directly opposite also to the greatest truths in the Bible, as is made for the support of duty faith and universal invitations, one sentiment is considered made good and supported as by due authority, why may not any sentiment be so, however bad and opposed to the mind and spirit of all divine truth? For a point being a favorite one and going down well and sweet among men, does not made it one particle the better, or less false, with such an authority only for its support.
The Lord himself made a difference between the Jews and the heathen nations, putting the former into a peculiar situation by the covenant of the land of Canaan that he made with them, and according to which he was their God and they were his people, Rom 11:4. And the Lord himself put a real difference between the personally called disciples of our Lord, and the Jews as a nation, Rom 9:7,8. And the Lord himself puts the vital difference there is between the quickened in distress, and the dead in sins, Luke 6:21,25. And the Lord himself has put a vital and salvation difference also between the churches of his called saints and the world that lieth in wickedness, 1 John 5:19; 1 Cor 1:2. And a distinct address to these respectively, according to their state, is intended in the sacred word; and which is as proper to observe always as their difference of state is real; for the same kind of address to all alike can never be applicable, nor consistent with their different states; and which must consequently always involve the truth of God in confusion and self-contradiction, as we have above shewn and complained. But if these distinctions are duly observed in scripture addresses, according to the mind of the Spirit, there would be no jar between one part and another of God’s holy truth; ministers would not belie themselves in God’s name, with contradictions which neither themselves nor any one else can reconcile; and there would then be none of the now pretended authority for universal invitations, or duty faith either; nor would it have to be said, as an excuse for self-contradiction, that `truth is no system,’ nor that the truth of God can never be reconciled with itself.
Our Lord observed and marked the distinction there is between the living by quickening grace, and the dead in sins, and between the churches and the world, saying, `He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,’ &c Matt 11:15; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; Luke 8:8; 14:35. And in Rev ii and iii it is seven times said, `He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.’ And our Lord said to his disciples, ‘Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear,’ Matt 13:16. And on the manner of our Lord’s speaking to others, `The disciples said unto him, why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to them it is not given,’ Matt xiii 10, 11. And the apostles, in all their epistles, particularized the characters to whom they wrote, and what is said to them belongs to them, and to persons in their state and character, and belongs to such only; except what is said of others, and then their characters too are described, as according with what is said of them. And if truth in the name of the Lord, in its reality and harmony, be a man’s object to have and maintain, this irrefutable rule must always be maintained.
John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.