For Believers in bivio

September 3, 2008

I was scheduled to present a paper at the annual ETS meeting this year in Rhode Island, but again with a new wife and a new ministry, I do not really have the time or the finances to make the trip. But instead of wasting some great material from John Gill on the Sufficiency of the Scriptures, let me reproduce a brief exerpt from his sermon titled “The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith” (Preached at the Baptism of several persons in Barbican, November 2, 1750).

About the way of Salvation; if that is the affair the doubt is concerning, look up to the way-posts, look into the word of God, and read what that says; search the scriptures, for therein is the way of eternal life; life and immortality, or the way to an immortal life, is brought to light by the gospel. The scriptures, under a divine influence, and with a divine blessing, are able to make a man wise unto salvation, and they do point unto men the way of it: it is not the light of nature, nor the law of Moses, but the gospel-part of the scriptures which direct to this; there will shew you, that God saves and calls men with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his purpose and grace; that it is not by works of righteousness done by men, but according to the mercy of God, that men are saved; and that it is not by works, but by grace, lest men should boast (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5: Eph. 2:8,9). That it is a vain thing for men to expect salvation this way; that it is a dangerous one: such who encompass themselves with sparks of their own kindling shall lie down in sorrow: and that it is a very wicked thing; such sacrifice to their own net, and burn incense to their own drag. These will inform you that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; that he is the only true way to eternal life; that there is salvation in him, and in no other: the language of them is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved: these words, Salvation alone by Christ, salvation alone by Christ, are written as with a sunbeam on them; just as the way-posts, set up in places where two or more ways met, to direct the manslayer when he was fleeing to one of the cities of refuge from the avenger of blood, had written on them in very legible characters, refuge, refuge.

John Gill (1697-1771)


Advice from The Doctor – The Message of the Preacher

June 13, 2008

New Series: Advice from The Doctor

June 6, 2008

As I have made the switch from formal study of Andrew Fuller to that of John Gill (my lover for Fuller though continues to grow!) I should switch from my quotes of Fuller I used to do to that of John Gill. So, now every Friday I will contribute something of Gill’s from my new series called Advice from The Doctor as Gill has been called The Doctor before. As probably the most important theologian of the Particular Baptist community, it is important to continue to learn and to grow from this great saint. Today’s quote comes from a sermon Gill preached on November 2, 1750 at the baptism of several persons in Barbican titled, “The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith.”

“About the way of Salvation; if that is the affair the doubt is concerning, look up to the way-posts, look into the word of God, and read what that says; search the scriptures, for therein is the way of eternal life; life and immortality, or the way to an immortal life, is brought to light by the gospel. The scriptures, under a divine influence, and with a divine blessing, are able to make a man wise unto salvation, and they do point unto men the way of it: it is not the light of nature, nor the law of Moses, but the gospel-part of the scriptures which direct to this; there will shew you, that God saves and calls men with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his purpose and grace; that it is not by works of righteousness done by men, but according to the mercy of God, that men are saved; and that it is not by works, but by grace, lest men should boast (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5: Eph. 2:8,9). That it is a vain thing for men to expect salvation this way; that it is a dangerous one: such who encompass themselves with sparks of their own kindling shall lie down in sorrow: and that it is a very wicked thing; such sacrifice to their own net, and burn incense to their own drag. These will inform you that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; that he is the only true way to eternal life; that there is salvation in him, and in no other: the language of them is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved: these words, Salvation alone by Christ, salvation alone by Christ, are written as with a sunbeam on them; just as the way-posts, set up in places where two or more ways met, to direct the manslayer when he was fleeing to one of the cities of refuge from the avenger of blood, had written on them in very legible characters, refuge, refuge.”


John Gill (1697-1771) on Prayer

May 13, 2008

It is good for the saints to draw near to God; it is not only good because it is their duty, but because it yields their souls a spiritual pleasure; and it is also of great profit and advantage to them: It is often an ordinance of God, and which he owns for the quickening the graces of his spirit, for the restraining and subduing the corruptions of our hearts, and for the bringing of our souls into nearer communion and fellowship with himself. Satan has often felt the force and power of this piece of our spiritual armour; and it is, indeed, the last which the believer is directed to make use of. Praying souls are profitable in families, neighbourhoods, churches, and common-wealths, when prayerless ones are in a great measure useless. The believer has the utmost encouragement to this work he can desire; he may come to God, not as on a seat of justice, but as on a throne of grace. Christ is the Mediator between God and him, his way of access to God, and his Advocate with the Father; the Spirit is his Guide, Director, and Assister; he has many exceeding great and precious promises to plead with God; nor need he doubt of a kind reception, a gracious audience, and a proper answer, though never so mean and unworthy in himself; since the Lord will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise his prayer.


John Gill (1697-1771) on Marriage – In Preparation for my own Marriage

May 11, 2008

“Marriage is honourable in all”, (Heb. 13:4) it being an institution of God, and that of God in paradise; by whom our first parents were directed to it, in a state of purity and innocence; God made the woman for an help meet, and brought her to the man, proposed her to him, whom he approved and accepted of, and she became his wife, (Gen. 2:18, 22-24) it was the Lord’s act and deed, and to him Christ ascribes the act of marriage (Matthew 19:6). Christ honoured it by his presence, and at such a solemnity wrought his first miracle, and manifested forth the glory of his Deity, (John 2:1, 2, 11) and what makes this state yet more honourable is, that the marriage of Adam and Eve was a type and emblem of the conjugal union of Christ and the church, (Eph. 5:32) Adam was a figure or type of Christ, and, among other things, in his marriage; and Eve, the mother of all living, was a type of the church; Adam was first formed, and then Eve; Christ was before the church, and, indeed, before all things; Eve was formed from Adam, from a rib taken out of his side; the church has her original from Christ, and her subsistence by him; all her grace, blessings, and happiness, are from him; her justification and sanctification are from him, signified by the blood and water which sprung from his pierced side. Eve was brought by the Lord to Adam, not against her will, but with it, and by him presented as a proper match for him, which he approved and accepted of; and the church was brought to Christ, and given to him by his Father, to be his spouse and bride, whom he liked, accepted of, and betrothed to himself; and her consent is obtained by the drawings and influences of his Father’s grace: and though this is no direct proof of, yet it has a favourable aspect upon, and may serve to illustrate the “supralapsarian” scheme; that Christ had an interest in his church, and she in him, and was espoused unto him before she fell in Adam; this marriage transaction between Adam and Eve being before the fall. Moreover, marriage is honourable with respect to the ends of it; which even before the fall, and supposing Adam had stood, hereby he would have had an help meet; and the first law of creation would have been carried into execution, increase and multiply; a godly seed, a legitimate offspring would have sprung from hence; families formed and built up, and the world peopled with inhabitants; and since the fall the ends and uses of it are to preserve chastity, to prevent incontinence, and to avoid fornication; as well as to answer the other ends: and particularly this state appears honourable.

A Body of Practical Divinity – Book 4 Chapter 1 – Of the Respective Duties of Husband and Wife


Gill on the Pactum Salutis

May 5, 2008

My good friend Mark Jones, who is doing his PhD alongside me on Thomas Goodwin’s Christology at Leiden University, has noted that the work of the Spirit in the pactum salutis is an area that still needs to be explored in PhD work here.

Now Mark knows that the grand Particular Baptist theologian John Gill (1697-1771) is one of the few who have made a contribution in this regard. Richard Muller, has noted this contribution in his article, “The Spirit and the Covenant: John Gill’s Critique of the Pactum Salutis,” Foundations 24 (1981): 4-14. I would suggest any pursuing the idea of the Spirit’s role in the pactum salutis check out Muller’s article and the go directly to the source to Gill to see how he approached the issue.

Mark is right, it is an area that needs to be explored. Let’s not forget our Particular Baptist brethren though as we look at this issue. Often scholars fail to see the Baptist contribution to Reformed thought. Muller, has argued that Gill carries the 17th century Reformed legacy into the 18th century (see his “John Gill and the Reformed Tradtion: A Study in the Reception of Protestant Orthodoxy in the Eighteenth Century” in Michael A. G. Haykin, ed. The Life and Thought of John Gill (1697-1771): A Tercentennial Appreciation [Leiden, Brill, 1997]). Let’s not forget that!


John Gill on the Eternal State

May 3, 2008

“So the heavenly glory is not obtained by the works of men, though they naturally think they must do some good thing to inherit eternal life; nor is it to be purchased, if a man would give all the substance of his house for it it would utterly be condemened: it is bequeathed to saints by their heavenly Father, whose good pleasure is to give them the kingdom; and this he gives by will, by testament, and which comes to them, upon, and through the death of the testator Jesus Christ.”

“The Glorious State of the Saints in Heaven” – A Sermon Preached to the Society which Support the Wednesday’s Evening Lecture in Cannon-Street, London – December 31, 1755.