Third. If by our text our Lord had really meant any thing in the spirit of a universal invitation of the unbelieving world unto eternal salvation, would he not, without self contradiction, have uniformly maintained that, countenance through the whole, as the true spirit and intent of his ministry? To be self-consistent, would he not have done so? Methinks you must say – Yes, of course he would. But that he has not done this, but has altogether contradicted and denied this to be the true spirit and intent of his ministry, is most clearly evident. Because in this very selfsame discourse, our Lord declared: (1) A positive shall come of ‘all the Father giveth him,’ verse 37. (2) A positive cannot come, but as drawn by the Father, verse 44. (3) And he has positively declared, that for any one to come to him at all, is by the special gift only of God the Father, verse 65. So that if we say that our Lord spoke the words of our text in any way conveying, and meaning to convey, the sentiment of universal invitations and exhortations to eternal salvation, we are instantly driven into the awful but unavoidable labyrinth of charging him with direct self-contradiction in sound and sense, in the one and selfsame discourse to the same people.
It is said, ‘The Jews then murmured at him,’ verse 41; and if our Lord had so spoken in our text, as to convey to them any thing in the shape and nature of a universal invitation, which for all themselves they would have liked, and then, in the same discourse, to say the above direct opposite things; they might then well murmur, to hear such yea and nay – to hear themselves so tantalized and trifled with – to hear themselves told to do for themselves, as the only way of pleasing God, what they are directly told that no man of himself can possibly do – to hear that declared to be general as a universal invitation, which is directly declared to be as particular only, as the will and operative power of God alone shall determine. But he, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, would never so violate all the divinely given and settled laws of common sense in the rational world, as to set up that for a divine truth which is made up of such direct self contradictions. Truth does not require this, and such is not of the truth; for if such could be truth, what can be falsehood? Self contradiction in the parts of any whole is a division against itself in that whole, be the subject what it may; and our Lord himself has very plainly Shawn, that no house, city, kingdom, system or subject, so divided against itself can stand, but hath as end, Matt 12:25; Mark 3:24-27; and that no man can serve two such directly opposed masters at the same time, Luke 16:13. Truth is, therefore, no such two opposed – truth is not so divided against itself by such contradictions truth is a heavenly harmonious whole – truth is of God, and is his will revealed, and the truth of God endureth for ever; being as impossible to be divided against itself by self-contradiction, as the all-wise eternal God of heaven and earth and of truth is, without possible contradiction, in himself.
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.