William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 9 – Divine Chastisement

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

IX. Divine Chastisement.

We believe that, though the people of God are exempted from the penal consequences of all their sins by the death of Christ, and freely forgiven all their transgressions[1] their voluntary sins after regenera­tion and conversion are followed by His paternal rebukes and chastenings[2] for the correction of their way­ wardness[3] their instruction in the truths they have disregarded or slighted[4] and the restoration of their souis.[5]

[1] See Article VIII.
[2] 2 Sam 12:3; Ps 39:11; 89:32; 119:75; Prov 3:12; Jer 31:18-20; Mic 6:9; Mal 2:2; 1 Cor 11:30-32; Heb 12:6-9; Rev 3:19
[3] Ps 39:11; 94:10; Jer 30:11; Hos 2:6
[4] Ps 78:34,35; 119:70,71; Hos 5:15; 141-4
[5] Ps 23:3; 88:8; Is 27:7-9; 57:17-19; 2 Cor 2:6,7; 1 Jn 1:9



Note 1.—Article viii. states our belief in the rich grace of God as exemplified in the justification of His people and the free and full forgiveness of their sins. Article ix. with great propriety follows, to assert our conviction as to His holiness in chastening them for their offences. The one truth thus balances the other, and relieves the Gospel from the charge of leading to licentiousness.

The word chasten, or chastise, in English, signifies to inflict pain for the purpose of correction, and accurately represents the Greek verb paidem. The primary meaning of this is to treat as a child, but it includes the whole discipline of parental love. That the idea of correction by the infliction of pain was often present in the minds of the New Testament writers who employ it, is evident; as the parallelism of Heb. 12:6 demon­ strates. “For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth[1] every son whom He receiveth.” So also Rev. 3:19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent.”

It is, therefore, clear that chastening is the act of God as a Parent towards those whom He loves and accepts as His sons; that it is inflicted for conduct which He regards as deserving reproof or rebuke, and for whioh they ought to repent: and that it consists in the infliction of pain, answerable to giving blows with a scourge.

Divine Chastening is not Penal Punishment.

Note 2.—Chastening is not the infliction of penal evil, or punishment inflicted on men by God for breaking His holy law. From this all in Christ Jesus are delivered, (Rom. 8:1, Gal. 3:13.) They who are “chastened of the Lord” are not of the number who will, hereafter, “be condemned,” (1 Cor. 11:31,32,) “with the world.”

Divine chastisement is thus confined to “the house (hold,”) or “family of God.” He that “will judge the world in righteousness hereafter,” judges His people parentally now: and His impartiality in dealing with what offends Him in the conduct of His people, is an impressive forecast of what will be the end of those that obey not the Gospel, (1 Pet. 4:17,18.)[2]

All Divinely-sent Afflictions not Chastisements.

Note 3.—God permits His people to suffer for other reasons than to correct their misconduct. The mistake of Job’s friends arose from ignorance of this. See the speech of Eliphaz in Chapter 15.

They are afflicted that the propensities of the flesh may be subjugated, and they themselves delivered from the commission of sins into which recklessness or passion might hurry them.

The fruit-bearing branch of the True Vine is purged or pruned that it may bring forth more fruit, (John 15:2.)—in other words, holy and earnest Christians suffer, that they may become more useful. God’s people are brought into the furnace of affliction, that they may exemplify the sustaining power of His grace, and “glorify Him in the fires,” (Isa. 24:15.) Christians suffer for Christ’s sake, meeting with obloquy and opposition for their fidelity to Him, (John 15:19-21; Phil. 1:29.) Some are called to endure affliction that they may learn to sympathise with and succour their brethren —“filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, in their flesh, for His body’s sake, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24.)

Divine Chastisement sometimes denied, but never disproved.

Note 4.—In their solicitude to exalt the freeness of Divine grace, and the perfection of Emmanuel’s justifying righteousness, some godly and otherwise sound men, have denied the truth of this article.

Tobias Crisp unquestionably adhered more closely to the teaching of the Bible than any who opposed him. Moreover, the age in which he laboured for God called for the greatest decision and emphasis in declaring what the Gospel really was. Several expressions in his Christ-exalting sermons are, however undoubtedly injudicious,[3] and were pressed by his admirers to mean far more than he intended. It cannot, however, be denied that he, in express words, opposed the doctrine of this Article.

From time to time, his errors have been advanced among the Strict and Particular Baptists; but prominent ministers, like J. C. Philpot, J. A. Jones, and others, have promptly and scripturally withstood them.

“Zion’s Witness,” a magazine devoted to the interests of the Gospel of free and sovereign grace, is the only magazine in England in which the view of the above article is opposed— Dr. Crisp’s idea, “chastisement from sin, but not for sin, being from time to time advooated, and his very phraseology adopted. All that can be advanced in favour of these erroneous views, has, however, been repeatedly refuted.

The error lies in failing to distinguish between God’s legal and paternal character, and His inflicting penal evil on those for whom Christ did not die, and His expressing His displeasure as a Father when His children disobey Him. See A Manual Of Faith And Practice, Page 57.

[1] The word is maetigod, to scourge, from mastix, a scourge or whip.
[2] See also 1 Pet. 1:17, “and if (or, since—the fact is not questioned) ye call on Him (or, appeal to Him, as in Acts 25:25,) as (a) Father, who, WITHOUT RESPECT of persons judgeth according to each (elect, redeemed, and heaven-bom, see verses 1 and 2,) man’s WORK, PASS THE TIME OF YOUR sojourning in fear.” R.V.
[3] As when he says that “so often as you fear afflictions from (query, for) sins committed, you slander the grace of God. He must be dishonest to exact payment twice for one debt, or Christ’s satisfaction was insufficient,” Vol. iL 131,132. “Is not God offended at the sins of believers! No. The offence of God for those sins hath spent itself upon the person of Christ; and by having so spent itself there remains none of it to light on the persons of believers.” Vol. i. 17. “He doth not find the sin of the believer to be that believer’s own sin, but the sin of Christ,” Vol. i. 16. “Are not the afflictions of the believer for sin? No. Afflictions are unto believers from sin, but not for sin. God, in afflicting believers, doth not in­ tend to punish them as now laying on them the desert of their sin, for that is laid upon Christ; but He doth afflict them in part to preserve them from sin. For my own part I cannot see now a man can say Christ bore all the punishment of sin, if we bear any of it ourselves.” Vol. i. 19. Seventh Edition, 1832.

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
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