A LETTER to J. T. MOLESWORTH, Esq.,
discussion on the subject of Entrance into the
But to my point! You have appeared, dear brother, as the principal defender of the doctrine - that all believers will enjoy an entrance into the Saviour’s reign of glory.
I purpose then to examine your pleas on behalf of the doctrine, and to show why I cannot agree with your statements. You have behaved kindly in the matter. You have owned the deep importance of the doctrine, and have confessed that the motives of those who are bringing this topic before the saints may be good. The cessation of the discussion comes not from you.
In this I am at least in the position of the doer of truth, who comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest. If my money is but silvered pewter and gilded brass, pray detect it! I would rather be convicted of using bad money in your drawing-room, than be prosecuted for uttering base coin before the Master of the Mint in the Queen’s Bench.
Allow me then first to observe, that if your views be true, you have before you a very short path to victory. He who affirms must prove. You affirm that every believer will enjoy the thousand years of glory. Well, produce the texts which say so! If this be a Scripture doctrine, the testimonies to it cannot be far to seek. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established." This will settle the question at once. Holy Scripture was given on purpose to prove all God’s truths. If this be a truth of God there are texts which must assert it. Produce them! The same call was made by me in April and June 1865, to the readers of The Rainbow: but the texts which prove the doctrine have yet to be presented.
While, dear brother, you have met some of the arguments which I set forth in the January number of ‘The Voice,’ you are far from citing the whole.
1. I observed, that if the entrance into the millennial kingdom be a reward according to works, (Rom. 2: 5-16; Matt 16: 27, 28,) then in view of this there are three great classes of believers. (1) The doers of good works. (2) Those who have none, dying as soon as they believe. (3) Doers of evil works. It is evident that only one of these classes can enter.
2. Can there, in God’s family, be none but obedient children? Are not the Epistles especially the seven last sent by Jesus to the churches, full of distinct proofs to the contrary?
3. I inquired whether those justly excommunicated by Christ’s order, can enter the kingdom? Can those be accounted worthy of a seat in glory with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who were rightly accounted worthy of a seat at the Lord’s table with their fellow believers? Does not Jesus say, that He will assuredly confirm in the coming day all such exclusions? The rightly ejected from the church will be the surely rejected from the kingdom: Matt. 18: 15-18; 1Cor. 5: 6. Says not Scripture so?
4. I inquired, whether there were no "unprofitable servants" among believers in Christ? You gave me no reply. If there be such, to them belong, not the splendours of the banquet-hall, but the darkness outside: Matt. 25: 11.
5. I inquired, whether there are not Christian teachers, who upon the true foundation, are piling up masses of false doctrine? You gave no reply. If there be such, they are not to receive reward, but to endure the affliction of a fine. They will indeed be saved at last, but they will have to grope their way out of their burning house in fear and loss: 1Cor. 3: 15.
I inquired, whether there are not those who defile the
I now proceed to examine in detail your pleas in favour of the reception of all believers into the kingdom.
The main pillars of your structure are three.
1. You cite the privileges of believers.
"Brethren beloved of God, knowing your election of God, you will not hold yourselves as exposed to God’s indignation and wrath, inflicting tribulation and anguish."
Against this I reply:
1. That election is election unto eternal life, not unto the kingdom, so far as I can find: Tit. 1: 1, 2; 2 Thess. 2: 13; 1 Tim. 1: 16.
PRIVILEGE IS NO BAR TO JUSTICE. I admit, I teach, I rejoice in the
privileges granted to believers in Christ Jesus. But the Scripture again and
again assures me that God in judgment is no respecter of faces.
He warns believers in His Son of this; begs them not to be deceived by the
flattering idea, that threatenings cannot belong to those so greatly privileged
as themselves. According to the work of
each, be it believer or unbeliever, will God mete out His award. "For there is no respect of persons with God:"
day that is coming, when this period of grace is ended, is the
day of justice: Matt. 12: 36; 1 John
4: 17; Heb. 10: 30. And Christ is coming as "the Righteous Judge" and "Avenger:" 2
Tim. 4: 8; 1Thess. 4: 6.
God’s election then will not be a defence to any of His believing ones who
do evil. In that day God means to ‘reveal
His righteous judgment,’ and therefore justice must sweep the
whole circle of mankind, whether they be the converted
or unconverted. "On every
soul of man that doeth evil" the threatened tribulation is to
But you put in your plea anew.
I had asserted, that some believers, in consequence of their unprofitableness, or for other reasons, will be dismissed again to Hades. ¹ You reply.
"Coheirs with Christ, need we seek for disproof of this?"
Yes, indeed you must! For the text on board which you sail founders under you. It runs thus in the original: "Now if children, their [Greek, ‘kai’ (also)] heirs; heirs indeed of God, but joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together:" (Rom. 8: 17.) * The coheirship with Christ then is conditional, and this condition is not fulfilled in every believer. See also Luke 6: 20-26.
[* In the Vulgate, "Si autem filii, et heredes; heredes quidem Dei, coheredes autem Christi, si tamen compatimur, ut et conblorificemur."]
Moreover we are again and again warned, that the doers of moral evil have no lot "in the kingdom of Christ and God," even though once washed and justified, and sanctified: Eph. 5: 5; 1Cor 6: 9-11; Gal. 4: 30; 5: 19-21.
2. Your second pillar is, "Believers are not to be judged." Your utterances indeed on this point are not clear, but sometimes seem to contradict one another; however this I gather to be the meaning of the following paragraph.
" ‘Believers are judged as servants:’ but believers are not, as servants, charged with a quantum of grace and power, and held to render account for this personal competency. Believers are sons, never possessing a stock of sufficiency in their own tenure, furnished once for all; but ever impotent and ever strengthened, ever empty and ever receiving, the hourly succoured and supplied, and capacitated child of the Father and member of Christ. The stocked and set-up state of the believer in potency and competency may be popular doctrine, but it is unsound and perilous."
This would teach, then, that it is not the believer who is responsible to God, but God who is responsible to the believer! If it is inquired in the judgment, ‘Why didst thou use abusive language to thy brother? Or why didst thou defraud him?’ - he may reply - ‘I am not to be dealt with as if I possessed in myself the power to comply with God’s commands. God Himself is the cause of my failure in not having bestowed upon me grace sufficient for the emergency.’
is the most perilous of the two doctrines? Your
idea carried out would equally defend the ungodly. The Holy Ghost crushes
this plea very summarily. "But if our
unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God -
what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh
vengeance? (I speak as a man.) God forbid: for then how shall God
judge the world?"
Moreover, the parables of the Talents and of the Pounds go upon the very principle of the servants being stocked, and set up in trade, and therefore responsible. The Son of man called "his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them:" Matt. 25: 15, 19. "He called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them (as so stocked and set-up), Occupy (do business) till I come." "When he was returning having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called to him, to whom he had given the money, (here is the ground of their responsibility,) that he might know how much each had gained by trading:" Luke 19; 13, 15. The standing of sonship then is no guarantee against our being also judged as servants, on the ground of powers, opportunities, abilities, once for all bestowed. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and of whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more," says Jesus to His disciples: Luke 12: 48.
3. The third pillar of your edifice is this: ‘No part of the New Testament is addressed to believers alone. All is written for "the professing church or promiscuous assemblage."’
But, dear brother, do you not seem to forget, that assertions need proofs? Specially, when they run counter to what is generally believed? How then do you prove this proposition? You give us no evidence of it beyond your affirmation. Will that suffice? I will not in this imitate you, though it would suffice logically to deny it. But as our faith ought always to rest on Scripture proof, let me adduce some on this most momentous question. I would affirm then, on what seems to me clear evidence and abundant, that all Jesus’ addresses to disciples, and all the Epistles to the churches, are addressed primarily to believers only.
I must be brief. I will only give a handful of ears out of the field of proof.
the Epistle to the Romans Paul addresses believers only, and to all
of them. "To all that be in
He puts them on the same ground of standing with himself, as believers justified and saved. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God:" 5: 1. *
[*It is worth notice, that the true reading here is "Let us keep peace with God."]
"We are children of God:" 8: 16. "Ourselves also which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan:" 23. "For we were saved in hope," (Greek) 24. "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities:" 26. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us:" 23-39. See also 9; 23, 24; 15: 7, etc.
Apostles always† speak of those within the church as the believers; those outside as unbelievers and unjust. Do you "go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" 1Cor. 6: 1, 2. "Brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers:" 6. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" "Ye are the temple of the living God:" 2 Cor. 14-18; 1Cor. 7: 12-15. "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go:" 1 Cor. 10: 27; 14: 22-24.
"Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to
the saints which are at
Twice over in the Epistle which most fully takes up the effect of our works in the day to come, we learn, that even offenders, who will be excluded the kingdom, will yet be saved. ‘Put out, Corinthians, the incestuous one!’ "Deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit * may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus:" 1Cor. 5: 5. "If any one’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by (it should be ‘through’) fire:" 3: 15.
Those in the churches, it is always supposed, are saved persons. "Unto us the saved it is the power of God:" 1 Cor. 1: 18. "By grace ye are (were) saved:" Eph. 2: 5, 8; Acts 2: 47; 2 Tim. 1: 9; Tit. 3: 5.
"The living oracles ... are addressed to all." "The Scripture is addressing promiscuously the holder fast, and the letter go, the believing and the professing, the quickened and the unquickened." And yet - "The Scripture here and throughout the volume of its utterance assumes the professor to be believer."
Are not these statements self-contradictory? God addresses believer and unbeliever alike in the Epistles, and yet assumes throughout that the believer is really such.
What would you think of a like case? The commander-in-chief issues orders of the day addressed - "To the British forces, horse and foot" - reminding them of the great actions they had won, laying down regulations concerning their drill and pay, punishments for drunkenness and desertion, and so on.
arises who criticises the whole body of orders. He declares that they are
appeals to all men of
These statements are also in manifest opposition to the Scriptures which have been quoted. The Epistles uniformly addresses believers only. There are but two texts that I remember occurring in the later Epistles which admit that unbelievers might by accident have crept in unobserved. The first is Jude 4. From which it is clear, that the church was no "promiscuous assemblage." And John tells us, that those who were anti-christian in spirit could not stay in the churches: 1 John 2: 18, 19.
With this I conclude the present letter, subscribing myself,
Yours truly in Christ Jesus,
1. ["I had asserted, that some believers, in consequence of their unprofitableness, or for other reasons, will be dismissed again in Hades." This statement has been dealt with in the Notes to "The Truth on Purgatory." ]