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Vol. 2, No. 6
June, 1993

The Sins of Jeroboam

by Glenn Conjurske

“And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David. If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.” ----I Kings 12:26-30.

The first thing to be observed here is the force of example. What the leadership does, the people do. “Like priest, like people,” says an old proverb. The sheep follow the shepherd. Jeroboam's name appears often throughout the books of First and Second Kings, and almost always in this connection: he is the man “who made Israel to sin.” These words became almost as a surname to him, and we rarely see his name without them. Sixteen times he is referred to as the man “who made Israel to sin.”

But observe, he did not force Israel to sin. He only led them to sin. He set the example, and they followed it. He advised them to sin, and they followed his advice. Here we observe the awful effect of unsound leadership, and the awful responsibility which rests upon the leaders of God's people. What the leaders do is sanctified in the eyes of the people. It is unlikely that a single Israelite would ever have set up and worshipped a golden calf of his own accord. This was a bold innovation. Who would have done so? But when it is done by the leader, all the rest are emboldened to do so also.

Jeroboam died, of course, but his evil example did not die with him. Throughout the book of Second Kings we read over and over, of almost every several king of Israel, that “he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin.” In this we see the force of tradition. Tradition is in fact one of the greatest forces on the earth, whether in the church or in the world. Once let a custom be established, and the people will blindly follow it for a thousand years. It matters not whether the thing be right or wrong, wise or foolish, reasonable or unreasonable, meaningful or meaningless, sensible or senseless. “Once a use, always a custom,” as an old English proverb has it. Let a custom once become entrenched, and it becomes almost an impossibility to root it out. Whether it be setting up Christmas trees, giving Christmas presents, making birthday cakes, giving birthday presents, giving wedding rings, sending flowers to a funeral, throwing rice at a wedding, wearing a square hat with a tassel at a graduation, or what have you, not one man can be found in a thousand who has the common sense to ask why the thing is done, or the moral fortitude to “depart from” it. They all follow in the beaten track, one generation after another, as did the kings of Israel in the sins of Jeroboam.

Now the sin of Jeroboam was no light thing. It was a matter so flagrantly wrong that its sinfulness should have been obvious to all Israel. Why was there never a king of Israel to depart from these golden calves? The language of Scripture is very instructive on this point. Of all of these generations of kings we are told, they “departed not” from the sins of Jeroboam. To depart from this tradition would have required some thought and inquiry, and a backbone made of something other than cotton candy. It would have required some mental activity and some moral action. But to “depart not” required nothing but apathy and moral lassitude. These are the reasons for the blinding and binding force of tradition, and so long as this apathy and moral lethargy exist, just so long will men continue to subject themselves to its reign. But when they begin to think and to care, then will arise a hardy race of non-conformists, who no more bend their necks to the yoke of tradition. But how likely is this to happen? Where is the solitary king, in the whole history of the northern kingdom of Israel, from its first king to its last, who departed from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat?

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley, younger brother and life-long fellow-laborer of John Wesley, was one of the truly great men of the history of the church. He is not so well known as he deserves to be, probably because he is eclipsed by his brother John. John was truly a greater man, though I believe Charles was a more fervent preacher. Charles was of a warmer and more fervent nature than John. As John himself expressed it, John was the head, and Charles the heart, of the Methodist movement. And while there are few men in history who excite our admiration as John does, there are equally few who win our love as Charles does.

Though I have diligently sought everything concerning Charles Wesley for many years, I have found such books to be scarce. His Journal was first published in 1849, but I have never seen the original edition. The first thing I was able to obtain by him was a small volume containing about the first third of his journal, published by John Telford. I got this in the summer of 1973 from The Lamp Press, in England. About a year later I was able to get a photocopy (from microcards) of the rest of the journal. When I read these volumes I felt strongly that this was the best book I had ever read, and though I have read many good ones since that time, I still give the first place to The Journal of Charles Wesley----though in the nature of the case I suppose few would agree with me. In 1980, when Baker Book House reprinted the work, I bought it, and gave away my non-uniform, mostly-homemade edition. The work is in two large volumes, and contains some letters and poetry besides the journal.

Biographies of Charles Wesley are also scarce. Few have been written, and those few are very hard to find. Thomas Jackson, who first published Charles Wesley's Journal, is also the author of The Life of Charles Wesley, published in 1841, in two volumes. Of this work Abel Stevens says (in the first volume of his History of Methodism), “I cannot too strongly commend this work. It has been our best history of Methodism.” I have never seen these volumes, but was fortunate enough to obtain (also from The Lamp Press, in 1974) the author's abridgement of them, entitled Memoirs of Charles Wesley, first published in 1848. Another good biography is The Life of Charles Wesley, by John Telford. I searched in vain for many years for a copy of this, and have never yet seen one for sale, though I was recently able to borrow one and photocopy it.

Charles Wesley is now known primarily as a hymn writer, or poet, but, aside from the few pieces which survive in modern hymn books, his poetry is also scarce. The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley were edited by G. Osborn and published in thirteen volumes, 1868-1872. This set contains: 1.works published under the joint names of John and Charles Wesley, 2.poetry published by Charles under his own name, 3.Wesley poetry published anonymously, and 4.previously unpublished poetry from Charles Wesley's manuscripts.

A question naturally arises as to the authorship of the joint publications, and of those which were anonymous. The joint publications were no doubt the work of both men, and there is no power on earth which can now sort out John from Charles, or Charles from John. As to the anonymous works, I concur with the judgement of a recent Methodist historian (Frank Baker) that they are “pure Charles Wesley.” My reasons are these: 1.Charles was very diffident about publishing his own works, and of putting his name to them if he did. Not so John. 2.In later life John was too busy to write poetry. He wrote in 1771, “In youth it is almost natural to write verses, especially at leisure times. But I have no leisure time; my every hour is constantly and fully employed.” All of the joint publications were of early date, the latest being 1746. 3.John expressly refers several of the anonymous publications to Charles, calling them his brother's hymns. 4.The one anonymous work which we would most expect John to have had a hand in, both from its nature and its early date, is Hymns on God's Everlasting Love (1741), but at the time of its publication George Whitefield referred it to Charles, saying, “Dear brother Charles...has lately published some very bad hymns”----very bad, of course, from Whitefield's point of view, for they very powerfully impugn Calvinism. They contain some of the most cogent and powerful language ever levelled against Calvinism, and I think they are also some of Charles's best poetry.

I have never seen any more of this set for sale than a few scattered volumes, but years ago I found the whole set in a library and photocopied it, at the cost of about $75 and many hours of labor. And seldom have I spent time or money better. This poetry----besides the fact that some of it is excellent as poetry----embodies two things of priceless value: the spirit of early Methodism, and the soul of the great and beloved Charles Wesley.

Smaller collections of his poetry are also few and scarce. The Treasure House of Charles Wesley, by John Telford, contains only about a hundred pieces, many of them mere fragments of the original. Representative Verse of Charles Wesley, edited by Frank Baker, 1962, does not profess to give the best of Charles Wesley, but “representative verse.” It therefore contains some of the worst as well as the best, and is after all but a very small collection. The best selection I have seen is Charles Wesley Seen in his Finer and Less Familiar Poems, edited by Frederic M. Bird, and first published in 1866. It is a book of almost 400 pages, containing 350 poems, many of them brief, but given unaltered and unabridged, except in spelling and punctuation, in which points the editor felt free to dispense with the original. The first 58 pages are “Autobiographic.” Other sections are “Occasional,” “Doctrinal and Polemic,” “Scriptural,” and “General Hymns.” A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists, published by John Wesley in 1780, is a good selection of his brother's devotional poetry.

In 1816 Charles's widow published a volume of his sermons. These were preached in his early days in Georgia, and on ship en route thither, so that they doubtless bear little resemblance to the fervent and powerful preaching of his later days. The book is entitled Sermons by the Late Charles Wesley. It contains thirteen sermons (and one poem) in 244 pages, and a brief memoir in xxxiv pages.


The Horrible Decree

by Charles Wesley

[This poem was published by Charles Wesley in his Hymns on God's Everlasting Love in the midst of the Calvinistic-Arminian controversy in 1741. The title is taken from the Institutes of Calvin himself (bk. 3, chap. 23, sec. 7). John Wesley, in his Dialogue Between a Predestinarian and His Friend, translates Calvin's statement, “I confess it is a horrible decree.” In Henry Beveridge's translation of Calvin's Institutes the statement is rendered, “The decree, I admit, is dreadful.” I should add that some moderns have remarked upon the supposed bad spirit of Charles Wesley's poetry on this subject, accusing him of treating all the preachers of Calvinism as the ministers of Satan. On this I need only say, in spite of the strong language he used, it is certain that Charles Wesley did not regard men like George Whitefield as ministers of Satan, but loved and honored him as a minister of Christ. He no doubt has doctrines in his mind in this poetry, not persons. The doctrines he did indeed regard as Satanic, and poured the whole of his fervent soul, perhaps with some intemperance of zeal, into a defense of what those doctrines impugned, namely, the love of God for all men, and the fact that Christ died for all men.]

AH! gentle, gracious Dove;
And art Thou grieved in me,
That sinners should restrain Thy love,
And say, “It is not free:
It is not free for all,
The most Thou passest by,
And mockest with a fruitless call
Whom Thou hast doom'd to die.”

They think Thee not sincere
In giving each his day:
“Thou only draw'st the sinner near,
To cast him quite away;
To aggravate his sin,
His sure damnation seal,
Thou show'st him heaven, and say'st, Go in,----
And thrusts him into hell.”

Worthy of whence it came!
Forgive their hellish blasphemy
Who charge it on the Lamb,
Whose pity him inclined
To leave His throne above,
The Friend and Saviour of mankind,
The God of grace and love.

O gracious, loving Lord,
I feel Thy bowels yearn;
For those who slight the gospel word
I share in Thy concern:
How are Thou grieved to be
By ransom'd worms withstood!
How dost Thou bleed afresh, to see
Them trample on Thy blood!

To limit Thee they dare,
Blaspheme Thee to Thy face,
Deny their fellow worms a share
In Thy redeeming grace;
All for their own they take,
Thy righteousness engross,
Of none effect to most they make
The merits of Thy cross.

Sinners, abhor the fiend:
His other gospel hear----
“The God of truth did not intend
The thing His words declare;
He offers grace to all,
Which most cannot embrace,
Mock'd with an ineffectual call
And insufficient grace.

“The righteous God consign'd
Them over to their doom,
And sent the Saviour of mankind
To damn them from the womb:
To damn for falling short
Of what they could not do,
For not believing the report
Of that which was not true.

“The God of love pass'd by
The most of those that fell,
Ordain'd poor reprobates to die,
And forced them into hell.”
“He did not do the deed,
(Some have more mildly raved,)
He did not damn them----but decreed
They never should be saved.

“He did not them bereave
Of life, or stop their breath;
His grace He only would not give,
And starved their souls to death.”
Satanic sophistry!
But still, all-gracious God,
They charge the sinner's death on Thee,
Who bought'st him with Thy blood.

They think with shrieks and cries
To please the Lord of Hosts,
And offer Thee, in sacrifice,
Millions of slaughter'd ghosts;
With new-born babes they fill
The dire infernal shade,
For such, (they say) was thy great will
Before the world was made.

How long, O God, how long
Shall Satan's rage proceed!
Wilt thou not soon avenge the wrong,
And crush the serpent's head?
Surely thou shalt at last
Bruise him beneath our feet;
The devil and his doctrine cast
Into the burning pit.

Arise, O God, arise;
Thy glorious truth maintain;
Hold forth the bloody sacrifice,
For every sinner slain!
Defend Thy mercy's cause,
Thy grace divinely free;
Lift up the standard of Thy cross,
Draw all men unto Thee.

O vindicate Thy grace,
Which every soul may prove;
Us in Thy arms of love embrace,
Of everlasting love.
Give the pure gospel word,
Thy preachers multiply;
Let all confess their common Lord,
And dare for him to die.

My life I here present,
My heart's last drop of blood:
O let it all be freely spent
In proof that Thou art good;
Art good to all that breathe,
Who all may pardon have;
Thou willest not the sinner's death,
But all the world wouldst save.

O take me at my word;
But arm me with Thy power,
Then call me forth to suffer, Lord,
To meet the fiery hour:
In death will I proclaim
That all may hear Thy call,
And clap my hands amidst the flame,
And shout,----HE DIED FOR ALL.

----The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, Collected and Arranged by G. Osborn; London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, vol. III, 1869, pp. 34-38.


Charles Wesley on Displeasing Children

His father had not displeased him at any time, &c. I Kings 1:6.

The parent indolently mild
May here his fatal dotage see:
Afraid to vex thy darling child,
Thy darling child shall trouble thee,
Make his indulgent father smart
And break thy old, fond, foolish heart.

“What pity 'tis, to cross his will,
His clamorous appetites deny,
Restrain the acts of childish ill,
And make the fretted infant cry,
Harshly his little faults reprove!
How can I grieve the son I love?”

Continue then thy son to please,
Leave him to nature's discipline,
Till ripe in full-grown wickedness
He claims the wages of his sin,
The wrath of heaven's impartial Lord,
The edge of the Avenger's sword.

----The Poetical Works of John And Charles Wesley, Collected and Arranged by G. Osborne; London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, vol. IX, 1870, pp. 172-3.

“Ordained to Eternal Life”

by Glenn Conjurske

We read in the English Bible, at Acts 13:48, “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” This text, as it thus stands, is one of the strongholds of the Calvinistic doctrine that none will or can believe unto eternal life except those who have been fore-ordained to it by God's decree of predestination. And no doubt, as thus translated, the text certainly seems to be a strong argument for that doctrine. But we deny that this is its proper sense. Only let the word “ordained” be rendered “determined,” and all is changed. The same Greek word (though not in the same tense and voice) is in fact rendered “determined” in its next appearance in the New Testament, in Acts 15:2: “They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem.”

If we read, then, “As many as were determined for eternal life believed,” we leave it at any rate ambiguous. This might mean that they were so determined by an eternal decree of God, but it might also mean that they were so determined in their own hearts at that time, by the working of God's Spirit through his word and his preachers. That this latter sense is the most consistent with the meaning of the Greek word, and the immediate context, as well as common sense and reason, I shall endeavor to prove. That it is also most consistent with sound doctrine I most surely believe, but that point I shall leave alone.

But first, if “ordained to eternal life” gives a wrong sense, why does it stand thus in the English Bible? To go back to the beginning, the New Testament was first translated from Greek to English by William Tyndale, in 1525. Tyndale was a disciple of Martin Luther in doctrine. Luther was a Calvinist, though it would be more correct to say that Calvin was a Lutheran, for Luther came first. The real author of Calvinistic doctrine, however, was neither Calvin nor Luther, but Augustine, and there are certain knowledgeable men who do not call it Calvinism, but Augustinianism. Luther had been an Augustinian monk, and always regarded Augustine as the best of the fathers of the church. “Augustin was the ablest and purest of all the doctors,” he says, and again, “Saint Augustine pleases me more than all the others. He has taught a pure doctrine.” It was Augustine's controversy with Pelagius that made him what would now be called a Calvinist. Prior to that he had written in favor of the free will of man. As for Luther, his controversy with the papists over human merit confirmed him in Augustine's doctrine, and he wrote very forcefully against the free will of man in his Bondage of the Will. Tyndale was influenced by Luther from the beginning, and Tyndale's viewpoint was also Calvinistic.

How far this Calvinistic prejudice influenced his rendering of this verse it is impossible to say, but at any rate Tyndale's first New Testament, printed in 1526, read “and beleved even as many as wer ordened vnto eternall lyfe.” This was followed verbatim in the revisions of Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, the Great Bible, and the Geneva New Testament of 1557. The Geneva Bible of 1560 altered the word order, but retained the words: “as manie as were ordeined vnto eternal life, beleued.” This was followed by the Bishops' Bible and the King James Version.

Besides the Calvinistic bias of most of the earliest Reformers and Bible translators, the Latin Vulgate exercised also an undoubted influence upon the translation of the English Bible, and the Vulgate here reads quotquot erant praeordinati ad vitam aeternam, “as many as were pre-ordained to life eternal.” Suffice it to say, there is neither reason nor excuse for thrusting in the prefix “pre,” and the Greek word certainly will not bear such a sense. Even Theodore Beza, Calvinist of the Calvinists though he was, could not accept this, but reads quotquot erant ordinati ad vitam aeternam in his Latin translation. Even granting that the meaning is that these folks were ordered, determined, arranged, or ordained to eternal life by God, there is not the slightest reason to apply this to anything other than his present working in them, by the preaching of the word. Indeed, it is possible that Jerome meant no more than this by his praeordinati in the Vulgate, for I do not suppose that praeordinare need have any reference whatsoever to an eternal decree, but might refer to nothing more than a drill sergeant setting the troops in order before the inspector arrives.

On this point Christopher Wordsworth well says, “The Vulgate has `quotquot erant præordinati' here, whence the English Version, `as many as were ordained.' In like manner in the cognate text, ii.47, touV" swzomevnou", the Vulgate has `qui salvi fierent,' whence the English Version, `such as should be saved.'

“It would be interesting to inquire, What influence these renderings in the Vulgate Version had on the minds of some, like St. Augustine and his followers in the Western Church, in treating the great questions of Free-Will, Election, Reprobation, and Final Perseverance?

“What, also, was the result of that influence on the minds of some writers of the Reformed Churches, who rejected the authority of Rome, which almost canonized that Version; and yet in these two important texts (Acts ii.47; xiii.48) were swayed away by it from the sense of the Original?

“The tendency of the Eastern Fathers, who read the original Greek, was in a different direction from that of the Western School [who read only the Latin]; and Calvinism can receive no support from these two texts as they stand in the original words of Inspiration, and as they were expounded in the primitive Church.”

Nevertheless, at this time of day, whether we read “ordain,” or “pre-ordain,” or “ordain beforehand,” minds with a Calvinistic bias will think one and the same thing. Yet there is nothing in the Greek word (tavssw) to suggest predestination. Its ordinary meaning is to order, arrange, or establish, and so to appoint, assign, or determine. The word is used but few times in the Greek New Testament, but it is used often in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint), from which I cull a few examples. I give the references according to the English Bible, but the translations are from the Septuagint, and will not always agree with the English.

It is used in Song of Solomon 6:4 and 10 (and elsewhere) of an army set in array (“with banners” in the English version).

In II Kings 12:17 “Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem.” And in Dan. 11:17, “He shall set his face to enter in.” In these instances we may see a clue to the sense of Acts 13:48.

Jer. 2:15, “lions, which made his land into a desolation.” This is not something determined concerning the land, but something actually done in it.

Jer. 5:22, “who have set the sand as the bound of the sea.” If anyone wishes to translate this “ordained the sand as the bound of the sea,” I have no objection. Only let it be understood that the reference is to the actual placing and establishing of that bound, and not to a purpose or foreordination of it.

Jer. 7:30, “they have established their abominations in the house of which my name is called upon it.”

Isaiah 38:l, “Set in order concerning your house” (English, “Set your house in order”).

I Chron. 17:10, “from the days in which I established judges over my people Israel.” Again, translate it “ordained judges” if you please; still it refers to the actual setting up of those judges, not to predestinating them.

II Chron. 31:2, “Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and Levites.” This was not a mere purpose in his mind. He actually established those courses, set them up.

Micah 5:1, “He has laid a siege against us.”

Hab. 2:9, “to set his nest on high.”

Hab. 3:19, “He will establish my feet unto the end,” or “unto perfection.”

Zech. 7:12, “Their heart they made disobedient, that they might not heed my law.”

The word is also used of such things as setting a time, in both the Septuagint and the New Testament. Now in most of these instances it is perfectly clear that the word relates to a work actually accomplished, a thing actually set, established, ordered, placed, arranged, or done, and this is its common usage. Who would ever dream of predestination when the centurion says to the Lord, “I am a man set under authority” in Luke 7:8? Nay, who would think it in Romans 13:1, where we are told, “The powers that be are ordained of God”? They are set up, or established, by God. “The existing authorities are established by God”----the italicized words being, in the Greek, a present verb of being, and a present participle of the verb of being. This has to do with what now is, and not with any decree of predestination.

Now it is worthy of note that Romans 13:l is the only other place in the New Testament where the same form of the word is used as is found in Acts 13:48. In both places we have a perfect passive participle. Yet observe that on Romans 13:l the hyper-Calvinistic John Gill so weakens its force as to exclude any reference even to particular persons, and to make the ordination of God ineffectual. He says, “The powers that be are ordained of God. The order of magistracy is of God; it is of his ordination and appointment, and of his ordering, disposing, and fixing in its proper bounds and limits. The several forms of government are of human will and pleasure; but government itself is an order of God. There may be men in power who assume it of themselves, and are of themselves, and not of God; and others that abuse the power that is lodged in them; who, though they are by divine permission, yet not of God's approbation and good will. And it is observable, that the apostle speaks of powers, and not persons, at least, not of persons, but under the name of powers, to shew that he means not this, or the other particular prince or magistrate, but the thing itself, the office and dignity of magistracy itself; for there may be some persons, who may of themselves usurp this office, or exercise it in a very illegal way, who are not of God, nor to be subject to by men.” I remark in passing that Gill's interpretation here is certainly mistaken, for Paul says first, “There is no power but of God”----that is the authority or magistracy as such----and then, “the powers that be are ordained of God”----that is, the particular magistrates which now exist. According to Gill's explanation, Paul is only saying the same thing twice.

Now observe, when this word is used in Romans 13:1, Gill says that the magistracy itself is of God's ordination and appointment, that it is ordered and disposed by him, and its bounds and limits fixed by him, and yet that man is perfectly free to violate those bounds and limits, and set aside all of that ordering and disposing, taking the office upon himself, and using it against God's ordination. Yet when the same form of the same word occurs in Acts 13:48, the same man informs us that it “designs no other than predestination or election, which is God's act, and is an eternal one; is sovereign, irrespective, and unconditional; relates to particular persons, and is sure and certain in its effect.” Amazing!!

The fact is, the word means a good deal more than Gill will admit in Romans 13:1, and a good deal less than he contends in Acts 13:48. It is to be observed further that Romans 13:1 ascribes this ordaining, establishing, or setting in order, to God, where no such thing is said in Acts 13:48. Not that we would dream of denying that it was God's work in Acts 13:48, but neither does the text require us to ascribe it exclusively to him. On this point John Fletcher well says, “It is remarkable that the word tetagmeno" occurs but in one other place in the New Testament, Rom xiii,1. `The powers that are, are tetagmenoi, ordained or placed.' And I grant that there it signifies a Divine, `extrinsic' appointment only. But why? Truly because the apostle immediately adds, upo tou qeou, `They are ordained or placed OF GOD.' Now, if the word tetagmeno" alone necessarily signified `ordained, disposed, or placed OF GOD,' as Mr. Madan's scheme requires; the apostle would have given himself a needless trouble in adding the words `OF GOD,' when he wrote to the Romans; and as St. Luke adds them not in our text, it is a proof that he leaves us at liberty to think, according to the doctrine of the Gospel axioms, that the Gentiles, who believed, were `disposed' to it by the concurrence of free grace and free will----of GOD and THEMSELVES. God `worked,' to use St. Paul's words, and they `worked out.”'

In an excellent discussion on the meaning of the word (too long and too technical to quote here), Bloomfield says, “Now tavssesqai eij" sometimes signifies to be thoroughly disposed for, or purposed for, bent on (like the expression eu[qeto" ei\nai eij") where the middle or reciprocal force is very apparent, as often in Josephus.” He cites several examples, including this one from Plato: fuvsi" eij" ajrethVn tetagmevnh, “a nature bent to virtue.”

The context is next to be considered, and it speaks very decisively for the sense for which we contend. I give the whole paragraph:

“And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord, and as many as were disposed to eternal life believed.”

This is all clear enough. The Jews put the word of God from them. The Gentiles glorified the word of the Lord. The Jews judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. Though this was no doubt said in sarcasm (for they judged themselves above God's way of life, not beneath it), it is nevertheless to this statement that the record draws the contrast in affirming that the Gentiles were set for eternal life, as the Jews were set against it. There is not the slightest intimation in the text concerning anything beyond their present state and disposition.

On this Henry Alford writes, “as many as were disposed to eternal life] The meaning of this word disposed must be determined by the context. The Jews had judged themselves unworthy of eternal life: the Gentiles, as many as were disposed to eternal life, believed. By whom so disposed, is not here declared: nor need the word be in this place further particularized. We know, that it is GOD who worketh in us the will to believe, and that the preparation of the heart is of Him: but to find in this text pre-ordination to life asserted, is to force both the word and the context to a meaning which they do not contain. The word in the original is the same as in 1 Cor. xvi.15, where it is said that the house of Stephanas `have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,' and in Rom. xiii.1, where it is said that `the powers that be are ordained of God:' in both which places the agents are expressed, whereas here the word is used absolutely, without an agent expressed.”

Though it ought to be obvious enough, it is really needless to inquire how they came to be so disposed or purposed. The perfect passive participle merely states the existing condition, without reference to how, or by whose agency, that condition came about. That may or may not be stated in other words in the sentence, but nothing is to be gathered concerning it from the participle. The fact is, these Gentiles were determined to, set for, or bent to, eternal life, and the verse itself says nothing about how they came to be so. Christopher Wordsworth writes on the passage, “...and as many as were ordered, i. e. were set in order (by God's grace, and by His Word preached by St. Paul, and by their own will concurring therewith, see v. 43), to eternal life, believed.”

But supposing men will persist in finding a Calvinistic decree in this text, see to what absurdities it will take us. Bear in mind that “almost the whole city” was gathered together on this occasion to hear the word of God. And among those thus gathered we are told that “as many as” were ordained to eternal life believed, all under that one sermon. Every soul then present, who had been elected by God to eternal life before the foundation of the world, believed under that one sermon. And since almost the whole city was then present, the consequence of this marvellous thing must be that there could have been but little use to preach the gospel any more in that city, at least during that generation. All who had been predestined to life were already saved. “As many as” could be saved in that company were saved under that one sermon. We grant that such a thing is possible, but it is so far-fetched that it is a wonder that any sober man would countenance it. Can anyone suppose that this is what Luke meant by his words? Even assuming that Luke believed in the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, how could he have made such a statement? How could he have known any such thing? He could not have had the slightest pretense to the knowledge which would have been necessary to make such a statement. Supposing now that Luke is known to be a genuine Calvinist, believing assuredly that God had before the foundation of the world ordained certain men, and no others, to eternal life, let us pose to him a few questions:

Querist: Do you believe that all those who were saved on that day in Antioch in Pisidia were ordained by God to eternal life from before the foundation of the world?

Luke: Assuredly I do.

Querist: But do you suppose that there were others then present, who were also ordained to eternal life, who were not saved on that day, but will be at some future day?

Luke: Of that I know nothing, though it is certainly reasonable to suppose it, for whoever heard of all the elect in a town believing at once?

Querist: But is not such a thing possible?

Luke: Possible, yes, but extremely unlikely, especially if you consider that there were likely elect infants present, who had no capacity to believe.

Querist: But leaving infants out of the question, would you be prepared to affirm that all, “as many as were ordained to eternal life,” might have been saved on that one occasion?

Luke: Might have been, yes.

Querist: But would you be prepared to affirm that they all were saved on that one occasion?

Luke: That I would not dare to affirm, nor would any man in his senses.

And yet this is exactly what we are asked to believe that Luke did affirm, in spite of extreme unlikelihood of the thing happening in the first place, and in spite of the impossibility of Luke having any knowledge of the fact, if it were a fact. For Luke wrote as a historian, setting forth the facts of history, not as a revelator divulging the secrets of the Godhead.

To conclude, to find Calvinistic predestination in this text is as much against common sense as it is against the common meaning and usage of the Greek word employed. “As many as were disposed to eternal life” is perfectly consistent with the meaning of the Greek word, with the context, with common sense and reason, and, as I surely believe, with the doctrine of the rest of the Bible.


World Rulers

by Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon Preached on Dec. 6, 1992, Recorded, Transcribed, and Revised.

Turn in your Bibles to the book of Ephesians, chapter 6. We read in verse 12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Now in Ephesians 6:12 it tells us who the enemy is. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” That is, not against the pope, not against the liberals, not against the Democrats, not against the cultists, not against flesh and blood. But, “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Now this passage could be translated much better than it is. This expression “the rulers of the darkness of this world” is really deficient. The Greek says, “against the world-rulers of the darkness of this age.” “World-rulers is one word, which is merely translated “rulers” here. “The world-rulers of the darkness of this age”----this age being this present evil age, which Scripture speaks of in various places. This present evil age is all that time that continues up until the age to come, which is the reign of Christ on earth. During this present evil age, we have “world rulers.” They are not flesh and blood. They are principalities and powers. Now, those principalities and powers are demon powers. Satanic powers. They have a kingdom of darkness. The world-rulers of the darkness of this age.

Then he goes on and says, “against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This also is a poor translation. It is spiritual persons or hosts of wickedness, in the plural. “In high places.” Here is another difficulty in the translation. You know, I can't help feeling this. I observed twenty-five years ago, when I began to get a little knowledge of Greek, that it seemed that most of the passages in the New Testament which have to do with the devil are translated very obscurely. I can't help but wonder if the devil wasn't standing over the translators to make sure that they were translated obscurely. This one is translated obscurely. It should read, “Against the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Not “high,” but heavenly----the same word as in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ.” It isn't talking about high places in earthly government, but spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. These are our enemies. These enemies are principalities and powers. They are rulers----authorities. And they are in the heavenly places.

Now it says they are world rulers. Though they are in the heavenly places, they are ruling over the world. The first world ruler, who is the head over all of this system is the devil himself. In Luke 4:5-7 the devil makes this claim for himself. It says, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” He showed him all the kingdoms of the world, all the power, all the authority, of all the kingdoms of the world, and said, This is all mine, and I give it to whoever I will.

The devil was telling the truth. Revelation 13:2, “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat [that is, his throne, as the Greek means], and great authority.” Verse 3, “And all the world wondered after the beast, and they worshipped the dragon, which gave power unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast.” Verse 7, “And power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations.” Who gave him that power? It tells you, the devil gave it to him----the dragon. If you don't know who the dragon is, it tells you right across the page, in verse 9 of chapter 12: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

It's very clear, then, that the devil is the supreme head over this world. He's called the prince of this world, which means the supreme ruler over this world. He is the head of the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Now understand, he's ruling over the world, but his place is in the heavenly places. And the scripture that we just read in Revelation chapter 12, verse 9, indicates this very plainly. Backing up to verse 7, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” This, of course, is a prophecy of things that are yet future. The devil hasn't been cast out yet. He's going to be, but at the present time the devil's place is the heavenly places. Some folks, you know have the really strange idea that the devil is in hell, ruling over hell. He's not in hell; he's in the heavenly places. And when he is cast into hell, he won't be ruling there. But now he has access to the very throne room of God in heaven. (I'll prove that to you in a minute, if you need proof of it.) But there's going to come a time when Michael and his angels are going to make war with the devil and the devil's angels, and cast them out into the earth----no more place found for them in heaven. Now they are the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Now you notice the devil isn't alone here. It says, “Michael fought and his angels, and the devil fought, and his angels.” His angels are those principalities and powers who are the world-rulers of the darkness of this age. The President in Washington, he's not the real ruler of this country. There are spiritual world rulers who are in the heavenly places, who are ruling the world, with the devil himself at the head of them.

If you will go back with me to the book of Daniel, the tenth chapter, we'll see these same spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, and we'll see them ruling over the kingdoms of the earth. Daniel chapter 10, verse 12: “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” Daniel had some questions, and set himself to chasten his soul and to inquire of God. The very day that Daniel began to inquire, God sent an angel to answer him. It took the angel three weeks to get there. Why? Because the ruler----the prince: that means the supreme ruler. In King James English the “prince” is not the son of the king. The prince is the king. Just open your Bibles to the first page after the title page, to the “Epistle Dedicatory,” and it says, “To the most high and mighty Prince James, by the grace of God King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Etc.” He was the King, but addressed as the most high and mighty Prince. The prince is the supreme ruler. Now, the angel says, Three weeks ago I set out on this journey to come to you from God, in answer to your prayer, to make known these things to you, but for one and twenty days the prince of Persia withstood me. Now who is this prince of Persia? He is a spiritual power in the heavenly places----somewhere between here and the throne of God, to hinder that angel from doing the business that God had sent him on. And he prevailed against that angel for three weeks. “But, lo,” verse 13, “Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.”

Who are the kings of Persia? The demons. The spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The world-rulers of the darkness of this age. He was there for three weeks, fighting against them, and did not prevail against them, until Michael, an archangel, came to help him.

Now I'm going to go down to verse 20. “Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia, and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” He doesn't say, I'm going back to God that sent me, though that is what he was intending to do. He says, No, I'm going back to fight with the prince of Persia. He expected the prince of Persia to withstand him on his way back to God, as he had when he came forth from God. He knew he wasn't going to get through without being attacked again, and hindered again. Now this prince of Persia is one of those principalities and powers who are in the heavenly places, but who are ruling over the affairs of the earth. He's the prince over a nation on earth. “The prince of Grecia” is the same thing.

Now these princes have some reason to hinder God's angel. This angel was giving information concerning the rise and fall of their empires. Perhaps they didn't want that information divulged to the sons of men on earth. Therefore, they came to hinder it. Now I believe every nation on earth has a prince over it----not flesh and blood, but a demon power----spiritual principalities and powers in the heavenly places. You can go to the polls and defeat the Democrats, and elect Republicans. What have you done? The prince of America is still in power. He's a demon power, in the heavenly places. And I rather suspect, because the United States is one of the most important nations on earth today, I rather suspect that the devil has assigned one of his most powerful allies to be prince over America. You can't defeat him at the polls. You can't touch him. By prayer you might, but not by politics.

Well, as I said, these spiritual powers now inhabit the heavenly places. If you turn with me to the first chapter of the book of Job, you'll see that they have access to both heaven and earth----which is a necessity if they are to inhabit the heavenly places, and yet reign over the nations of the earth. They have access to both. Verses 6 and 7 of the first chapter of Job: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” The sons of God----I believe this must refer to angels----don't know what else it could refer to----when they come and present themselves before God, and stand before the very presence of the Almighty, in the throne room of God, the devil is among them. And God speaks to him, and says, Where did you come from? And he says he was walking to and fro in the earth, going up and down in the earth. He has access to both realms. He reigns over his spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places----fights against the angels of God there----and has free access to the earth, to walk up and down and go to and fro in it.

Now as I already read to you from the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation, the time is going to come when the devil and his angels are going to be cast out of heaven. He's going to be limited to the earth then, and he's going to make great havoc on the earth, knowing that he has but a short time. At the present time he has free access to both heaven and earth, with all his hosts of wickedness. Now Paul says, We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against these principalities and powers----these world-rulers of the darkness of this age. But the judgement is coming. The judgement is going to overtake the devil and all his wicked angels, as we already read in Revelation 12, and you'll see more of it in Revelation 20. Verse 1: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

You see, God has a purpose for the devil, even after the thousand year reign of Christ. There are going to be multitudes of men on the earth during the thousand year reign of Christ, who will be outwardly subject to Christ's authority, but against him in their hearts. God is going to loose the devil out of his prison for a little while, and he's going to go out again and deceive, and draw those multitudes after him, and God is going to use the devil to draw the lines, and to separate the true from the false. And when the lines are drawn, God is going to destroy those that follow the devil. But that's more than a thousand years away. Meanwhile the devil remains in the heavenly places, ruling over the affairs of earth. When the day of judgement comes, he's going to be first cast out of the heavenly places into the earth, and then cast into the pit, and bound and sealed, for the thousand years that Christ reigns on the earth.

Now this scripture in Revelation chapter 20 speaks only of the devil. But we know that in Revelation 12 when the devil is cast out of heaven into the earth, his angels are cast out with him. Do you think it's a legitimate conclusion that when he is cast out of earth, cast into the pit, that his angels are cast in with him? I think that would be a legitimate conclusion, if we had no scripture on the subject, but we do have scripture on the subject. It's found in the book of Isaiah, the twenty-fourth chapter, beginning at verse 21: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” Now, “the host of the high ones that are on high” are the principalities and powers, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Not only the devil himself is going to be bound, but all the spiritual hosts that are with him, “the host of the high ones that are on high.”

This is not speaking in a figurative sense----not talking about the rulers and kings in the “high places” of government on this earth----because it immediately goes on to say, “the hosts of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.” The hosts of the high ones that are on high are the demon powers that rule over the affairs of the kingdoms of the world. The kings of the earth upon the earth are the pawns in their hands, that do their bidding. They're all to be visited together, and it says, “they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit.” Now we learned from Revelation 20 that Satan is going to be cast into the pit, and bound a thousand years, but here it's a much broader thing----all the host of the high ones that are one high----all the devil's angels are going to be bound in the pit with him. “And after many days they shall be visited”----the same as it says in Revelation 20. The devil will be bound in the pit for a thousand years, but after the thousand years he will be visited, and loosed for a little season. Here it doesn't say a thousand years; it just says “after many days,” but those many days refer to the thousand year reign of Christ. How do I know that? Because the next verse says, “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.”

The Lord will reign, in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David, ruling over the earth, as a multitude of scriptures testify. Where are these world rulers then? Cast into the pit, bound in the pit, bound with chains, and the pit sealed over them. Now those world rulers reign over the affairs of men, and they have immense power. They are actually controlling the affairs of this world. Then they will be bound in the pit, and the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

He's going to reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, “and before his ancients gloriously.” Who are his ancients? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah----all of the godly, all raised from the dead in the first resurrection. He will reign before them in glory, when the present rulers of the world are bound and shut up in the pit.

Now you want to clean the world up. It would be nice if you could, but you can't. You can't dethrone the world rulers of the darkness of this age. You can't wrest the power from their hands. It's going to be done. The fact of the matter is, we are going to help do it. Jude says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all.” I expect to be one among those ten thousands of saints that come with him to execute judgement. In I Corinthians chapter 6 Paul says in verse 2, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” And in verse 3, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” What angels? The wicked angels. When Christ comes back with ten thousands of his saints, and lays hold on the dragon and binds him in the pit, all the host of the high ones that are on high are going to be taken with him, and bound in the pit, and the saints are going to have a hand in doing that. The saints are going to judge angels. But you don't have the power to do it now. The angels of God in heaven don't have that power now. The angel sent to Daniel had to fight for three weeks to get past the prince of Persia. There are numerous such princes, hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. The angel of God from heaven could not defeat one of them. You can't dethrone those princes. You can go to the ballot box and vote, you can change the flesh and blood that reigns over the country, but you can't dethrone the demon. You can't dethrone the real world rulers.

It's not God's purpose to, by the way. If it were God's purpose, it would have been done by now. It will be done when it is his purpose. When God's time comes, when the vine of the earth is fully ripe, then God will put in the sickle and reap, and the vine of the earth will be cut down. The vine of the earth is not fully ripe yet. And the spirits of wickedness against whom we wrestle have not done all of their deeds of darkness yet. The world is yet to get worse. The time to displace and dethrone those wicked hosts is not yet come.

We have a different business now. Not to clean up the devil's kingdom, but get souls out of it, to get them into the kingdom of God. There are two kingdoms on this earth, God's and the devil's, but the kingdom of God is now in the state of suffering, as the God-anointed king David and his men were in the wilderness, when the God-rejected king Saul sat on the throne. The apostle John, in writing the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:9), styles himself, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” The time will come when that same apostle will be our companion in the kingdom and power and glory of Jesus Christ. Now he's our companion in the tribulation and patience of the kingdom----the time when Christ is seated at the right hand of God, “from henceforth expecting until his enemies be made the footstool of his feet.” He does not move a finger to defeat them, yet. This is the time of tribulation for his saints, and “the patience of Christ.” When Christ comes there will be no more need of that. The devil will be defeated once for all. He will not be defeated before that, and you can't defeat him. You cannot dethrone him. You cannot put him out of this place of power. You cannot wrest the scepter of the government from his hand. You can't do it, and it's not your business to. You can pluck poor souls out of his jaws. You can pull souls out of the fire, and separate them from his domain. You can persuade poor souls to renounce the scepter of Satan, and submit to the yoke of Christ. You can do that, and that's our mission.





by John Wesley

Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?----Luke xxii,48.

1.“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” shall see the face of God in glory. Nothing under heaven can be more sure than this; “for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. And though heaven and earth pass away, yet his word shall not pass away.” As well therefore might God fall from heaven, as his word fall to the ground. No, it cannot be; none shall live with God, but he that now lives to God; none shall enjoy the glory of God in heaven, but he that bears the image of God on earth; none that is not saved from sin here can be saved from hell hereafter; none can see the kingdom of God above, unless the kingdom of God be in him below. Whosoever will reign with Christ in heaven, must have Christ reigning in him on earth. He must have “that mind in him which was in Christ,” enabling him “to walk as Christ also walked.”

2.And yet as sure as this is, and as clearly as it is taught in every part of the Holy Scripture, there is scarce one among all the truths of God, which is less received by men. It was indeed acknowledged in some degree, even among the wiser Heathens. Some among them allowed, that nothing would please God, but the sancti recessus mentis, et incoctum generoso pectus honesto; “a virtuous, holy mind, and a heart deep dyed with generous honesty.” But though they could not deny, yet how easily and effectually did they evade this! They fancied something else would do as well; that some rites or ceremonies, some external forms, or glorious actions, would supply the place of inward holiness. So the famous Roman entitles to future happiness, not only the good and virtuous, but all

Ob patriam pugnando vulnera passos,
Quique pii vates, et Phæbo digna locuti;
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes.

So, to fight for their country, to write good verses, or to invent useful arts, was abundantly sufficient, in the judgment of the wisest Heathens, to give men a place in heaven!

3.But this would not pass with modern Romans. They despised such gross imaginations. But though they did not allow these, they found out another way to get to heaven without holiness. In the room of them they substituted penances, pilgrimages, praying to saints and angels; and, above all these, masses for the dead, absolution by a priest, and extreme unction. And these satisfy the Romanists full as well as lustrations did the Heathens. Thousands of them make no manner of doubt, but, by a diligent use of these, without any holiness at all, they shall see the Lord in glory.

4.However, Protestants will not be satisfied thus; they know this hope is no better than a spider's web. They are convinced, that whoever leans on this, leans on the staff of a broken reed. What then can they do? How shall they hope to see God, without holiness? Why, by doing no harm, doing good, going to church and sacrament. And many thousands sit down content with this, believing they are in the high road to heaven.

5.Yet many cannot rest here. They look upon this as the very Popery of Protestantism. They well know, that although none can be a real Christian, without carefully abstaining from all evil, using every means of grace at every opportunity, and doing all possible good to all men; yet a man may go thus far, may do all this, and be but a Heathen still. They know this religion is too superficial; it is but as it were skin deep. Therefore, it is not Christianity; for that lies in the heart; it is worshipping God in spirit and in truth; it is no other than “the kingdom of God within us;” it is the life of God in the soul of man; it is the mind which was in Christ Jesus; it is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

6.Besides, they see that, be this religion shallower or deeper, it does not stand on the right foundation; since “other foundation” for true religion “can no man lay, than that which is laid, even Christ Jesus;” since no one can have the mind which was in Christ, till he is justified by his blood, till he is forgiven and reconciled to God through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And none can be justified, they are well assured, but by faith, even faith alone; seeing “to him” only “that believeth on God who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.”

7.What evasion now? What way could Satan take to make all this light of none effect? What could be done when that grand truth, “By grace ye are saved through faith,” was more and more generally received? What, indeed, but to persuade the very men who had received it, to “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness?” To this end Simon Magus appeared again, and taught, “that Christ had done, as well as suffered, all; that his righteousness being imputed to us, we need none of our own; that seeing there was so much righteousness and holiness in him, there needs none in us; that to think we have any, or to desire or seek any, is to renounce Christ; that from the beginning to the end of salvation, all is in Christ, nothing in man; and that those who teach otherwise are legal preachers, and know nothing of the Gospel.”

8.This is indeed “a blow at the root,” the root of all holiness, all true religion. Hereby Christ is “stabbed in the house of his friends,” of those who make the largest professions of loving and honouring him; the whole design of his death, namely, “to destroy the works of the devil,” being overthrown at a stroke. For wherever this doctrine is cordially received, it leaves no place for holiness. It demolishes it from top to bottom; it destroys both root and branch. It effectually tears up all desire of it, all endeavour after it. It forbids all such exhortations as might excite those desires, or awaken those endeavours. Nay, it makes men afraid of personal holiness, afraid of cherishing any thought of it, or motion toward it, lest they should deny the faith, and reject Christ and his righteousness: so that, instead of being “zealous of good works,” they are a stink in their nostrils. And they are infinitely more afraid of “the works of God,” than of “the works of the devil.”

9.Here is wisdom! though not the wisdom of the saints, but wisdom from beneath. Here is the masterpiece of Satan: farther than this he cannot go. Men are holy, without a grain of holiness in them! holy in Christ, however unholy in themselves; they are in Christ, without one jot of the mind that was in Christ; in Christ, though their nature is whole in them. They are “complete in him,” though they are, in themselves, as proud, as vain, as covetous, as passionate as ever. It is enough; they may be unrighteous still, seeing Christ has “fulfilled all righteousness.”

10.“O ye simple ones, how long will ye love simplicity?” How long will ye “seek death in the error of your life?” “Know ye not,” whoever teacheth you otherwise, “that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” “Be not deceived;” although there are many lie in wait to deceive, and that under the fair pretence of exalting Christ;----a pretence which the more easily steals upon you, because “to you he is precious.” But as the Lord liveth, “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” “Such” indeed “were some of you. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified,” as well as “justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” You are really changed; you are not only accounted, but actually “made, righteous.” “The law----” the inward power----“of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made” you “free”----really, actually free----“from the law” or power “of sin and death.” This is liberty, true Gospel liberty, experienced by every believer: not freedom from the law of God, or the works of God, but from the law of sin, and the works of the devil. See that ye “stand fast in” this real, not imaginary “liberty, wherewith Christ hath made you free.” And take heed ye “be not entangled again,” by means of these vain boasters, “in the yoke of” that vile “bondage to sin,” from which ye are now clean escaped. I testify unto you, that if you still continue in sin, Christ shall profit you nothing; that Christ is no Saviour to you, unless he saves you from your sins; and that unless it purify your heart, faith shall profit you nothing. O when will ye understand, that to oppose either inward or outward holiness, under colour of exalting Christ, is directly to act the part of Judas, to “betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Repent, repent! lest he cut you in sunder with the two-edged sword that cometh out of his mouth! It is you yourselves that, by opposing the very end of his coming into the world, are crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame. It is you that, by expecting to see the Lord without holiness, through the righteousness of Christ, “make the blood of the covenant an unholy thing,” keeping those unholy that so trust in it. O beware! for evil is before you. If those who name not the name of Christ, and die in their sins, shall be punished seven fold, surely, you who thus make Christ a minister of sin, shall be punished seventy-and-seven fold. What! make Christ destroy his own kingdom? make Christ a factor for Satan? set Christ against holiness? talk of Christ as saving his people in their sins? It is no better than to say, He saves them from the guilt, and not from the power, of sin. Will you make the righteousness of Christ such a cover for the unrighteousness of man? So that by this means, “the unrighteous” of every kind “shall inherit the kingdom of God!” Stop! Consider! What are you doing? You did run well: who hath bewitched you? Who hath corrupted you from the simplicity of Christ, from the purity of the Gospel? You did know, “He that believeth is born of God: and whosoever is born of God sinneth not;” but while “he keepeth himself, that wicked one toucheth him not.” O come back to the true, the pure, the old Gospel! that which ye received in the beginning. Come back to Christ, who died to make you a holy people, “zealous of good works.” “Remember from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Your “Father worketh hitherto:” do ye work; else your faith is vain. For “wilt thou know, O vain,” O empty “man, that faith without works is dead?” Wilt thou know that “though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing?” Wilt thou know, that all the blood and righteousness of Christ, unless “that mind be in thee which was in him,” and thou likewise “walk as Christ walked,” will only increase thy damnation? “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about strife of words, whereof come railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth.” Be no longer afraid of the strongest exhortations either to inward or outward holiness. Hereby God the Father is glorified, and God the Son truly exalted. Do not stupidly and senselessly call this legal,----a silly, unmeaning word. Be not afraid of being “under the law of God,” but of being under “the law of sin.” Love the strictest preaching best; that which most searches the heart, and shows you wherein you are unlike Christ; and that which presses you most to love him with all your heart, and serve him with all your strength.

ll.Suffer me to warn you of another silly, unmeaning word: Do not say, “I can do nothing.” If so, then you know nothing of Christ; then you have no faith: For if you have, if you believe, then you “can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth you.” You can love him and keep his commandments; and to you his “commandments are not grievous.” Grievous to them that believe! Far from it. They are the joy of your heart. Show then your love to Christ by keeping his commandments, by walking in all his ordinances blameless. Honour Christ by obeying him with all your might, by serving him with all your strength. Glorify Christ by imitating Christ in all things, by walking as he walked. Keep to Christ by keeping in all his ways. Trust in Christ, to live and reign in your heart. Have confidence in Christ that he will fulfil in you all his great and precious promises, that he will work in you all the good pleasure of his goodness, and all the work of faith with power. Cleave to Christ, till his blood have cleansed you from all pride, all anger, all evil desire. Let Christ do all. Let him that has done all for you, do all in you. Exalt Christ as a Prince to give repentance; a Saviour both to give remission of sins, and to create in you a new heart, to renew a right spirit within you. This is the Gospel, the pure, genuine Gospel; glad tidings of great salvation. Not the new, but the old, the everlasting Gospel, the Gospel not of Simon Magus, but of Jesus Christ. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give you, “according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that, being rooted and grounded in love, ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height; and to know that love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God!”

----The Works of John Wesley; American Complete and Standard Edition, edited by John Emory; New-York: J. Emory and B. Waugh, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, vol. VI, pp. 136-140 (reprinted without editor's additions).

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