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Title: The Breadth, Freeness, and Yet Exclusiveness of the Gospel
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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EXCLUSIVENESS OF THE GOSPEL***


Transcribed from the [1865] William Hunt and Company edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



                                   THE
                            BREADTH, FREENESS,
                                   AND
                     Yet Exclusiveness of the Gospel.


                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE
                         REV. EDWARD HOARE, M.A.,
            _Incumbent of Trinity Church_, _Tunbridge Wells_.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                        WILLIAM HUNT AND COMPANY,
                   23, HOLLES STREET, CAVENDISH SQUARE.
                          IPSWICH: WILLIAM HUNT.



THE BREADTH, FREENESS, AND YET EXCLUSIVENESS OF THE GOSPEL.
JOHN III. 16.


THE subject has, I presume, been chosen for our discussion, in order to
meet the aspersions of those who claim for their own system the merit of
breadth, comprehensiveness, and large-heartedness, while they speak of
our Gospel as the narrow-minded theology of a body of men whose
contracted intellects are so cramped and stunted that they are unable to
take in the broad views of the nineteenth century.  Such persons consider
themselves broad, and us narrow; and their teaching to be characterized
by largeness, ours by narrowness; theirs by generosity, ours by bigotry;
theirs by comprehensive philanthropy, ours by an exclusive interest in a
small section of the human family.

Now there is something very noble in broad, large, and comprehensive
views of the dealings and character of God, and something, on the other
hand, exceedingly repulsive in any disposition to contract God’s message,
or to half close the door which God has opened wide for the world.  And,
more than that, there is something so grand in the magnificence of
creation, that we cannot be surprised if our judgment naturally decides
in favour of that which claims to be the broader view of the religious
government of God.  We fully acknowledge therefore the attractiveness and
persuasiveness of breadth, and are fully prepared to admit that the broad
has much more to commend it than the narrow, and that the probability of
truth lies on the side of the broadest, the widest, the freest message.

But, while freely admitting that the broadest statement of the Gospel is
most probably the truest, we have yet to decide the question, which
statement is really the broadest, and on which side is the narrowness to
be found? and if this question be fairly considered, it may possibly turn
out that that which calls itself the broad is really the narrow, and that
which some men call narrow is possessed of a breadth, and length, and
depth, and height, that can only be measured by the infinity of God.  It
is well therefore to consider whether the Gospel, as revealed in
Scripture, is really broad or really narrow,—applying the tests of
breadth and fulness to the message of salvation as proclaimed in the
Gospel of the grace of God.

                                * * * * *

I.  _Its breadth_.

Is there in all language, a wider, broader, fuller, and more
comprehensive statement, than is found in the words of our blessed
Redeemer,—“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life”?  It describes a Divine and eternal love, originating a salvation
unmerited, unlooked for, and as far above all human thoughts as heaven is
above the earth.  It declares the object of it to be the world, the whole
world, and nothing short of the world; for it is just as unreasonable to
maintain that the world in this verse means the elect, as it would be to
maintain that “the elect of God,” in Col. iii., means the world.  It
proclaims the most magnificent possible offer as the result of it.  God
forbid that we should ever cramp, fetter, or limit it!  It is the New
Testament exposition of the Old Testament invitation,—“Ho, every one that
thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” and it is the foundation of the
message heard from heaven,—“The Spirit and the Bride say, Come: and let
him that heareth say, Come: and let him that is athirst come: and
whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”  Our Lord’s words
on earth are one with His words in heaven, and both proclaim an
unqualified invitation to all, without the exclusion of an individual.
The invitation is as broad as the world itself, and there is no man,
woman, or child under the whole heaven, to whom God, in His unbounded
mercy, has not sent the gracious message of free and complete salvation.

If we look more closely at the details, we find that the glad tidings are
not limited,—

1.  _By nationality_.

When Wilberforce pleaded in the House of Commons for the admission of
missionaries to India, it was argued that the Gospel was not adapted to
the Indian mind, and that it was not in the nature of things that Hindoos
should be converted to God.  So persons, laying claim to great
anthropological wisdom, appear to regard the Gospel as something never
meant for the African.  But there is no limitation in Scripture.
African, Indian, American, New Zealander, are all alike included in the
message as found there.  The Jew of old believed that it was only for the
Jews, and some English in modern times seem to regard it as intended only
for the European.  But the Word of God says it is for _all_; experience
proves it to be for _all_; and the comparatively recent missionary
efforts of the Church of Christ have been sufficient to prove that
climate makes no difference as to faith; and, whether it be under a
tropical sun, or in an arctic frost, the knowledge of Christ is followed
up by the same results,—the same change of heart, the same love, the same
fruits of the Spirit, the same joy and peace in believing, and the same
blessed hope to fill the soul in the dying hour.  Our missionary spirit
therefore should be wide as the world; and those who boast of the
superior broadness of their principles, ought to lead the way in a
large-hearted effort to follow up the directions of their Saviour:—“Go ye
into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

2.  It is not limited by _ecclesiastical order_.

God forbid that I should say one word that should appear for one moment
to make light of Christian order, for I believe it to be a subject far
too much forgotten by devoted men in the present day.  Evangelical zeal
is considered by some to have full license to override all authority, and
break through every regulation.  There are many excellent, zealous,
faithful, and fervent spirits, who are contending manfully for the
inspiration of the whole of Scripture, but who appear completely to
ignore such words as those by St. Paul, in 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.  I believe
therefore, that it is one of the special duties of the day to urge
devoted Christians to investigate what Scripture says of order.  But,
however important it be, we must still remember that the glad tidings of
the Gospel are not limited to any order or any system whatever.  Our
episcopacy is gathered from facts recorded in Scripture, but is never
established by the authority of a command.  We adopt it because we
believe it to be in harmony with Apostolic practice as revealed in
Scripture; but we dare not pronounce it an essential: for it is not so
pronounced in Scripture.  There is not one word there to lead us to
suppose that episcopacy is like one great conduit pipe, through which
alone grace can flow.  The blessed message is not limited to any one
channel.  The Holy Spirit is free as the winds of heaven; and it is
perfectly clear that God, in saving souls, has not tied Himself down to
the employment of any particular Church organization.  As the message is
sent to all men, in all countries, and under all circumstances, so also
is it conveyed through all kinds of instrumentalities;—Episcopalian and
Nonconformist,—ordained and unordained,—Churchmen, Dissenters,
Presbyterians,—Churches at home and Churches abroad,—teachers, preachers,
pastors and evangelists; for there is a breadth in the agency as well as
in the sphere of action, and the same Lord over all, who is rich unto all
that call upon Him, is rich also unto all who labour for His Name.

3.  Once more: there is no _doctrinal limitation_.

I presume that we are perfectly agreed as to the Scriptural truth,—that
our salvation in Christ Jesus is to be ascribed entirely to the Father’s
electing love.  We know that it was not our fallen, ruined, sin-corrupted
will which chose Him, but His own boundless grace which chose us to life.
In other words, we know that salvation is the result of God’s election,
and we believe in the words of our Lord,—“No man can come to Me except
the Father which hath sent Me draw him.”  But we have all probably felt,
at some time or other, the difficulty of reconciling such a fact with the
free offer of life to all.  It is not unnatural that men should argue,
that if the elect alone are saved, to them alone must the salvation be
offered.  I am not prepared to find any fault with the logical process
which leads to this conclusion, for I fully admit that to my own mind the
logic seems correct; but God’s eternal counsels rise high above all human
logic, and there are deep mysteries in His infinite mind, which we finite
thinkers are utterly unable to unravel.  So it is in this instance.  Our
logic breaks down, but His Word stands fast; and that Word teaches us
that God’s election does not neutralize the free offer, any more than the
Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ neutralized His Manhood.  How it is we
cannot explain, any more than we can the union of two natures in the one
Person of our Blessed Saviour.  But, thanks be to God, we find in
Scripture the universal offer side by side with electing love; so that,
accepting Scripture as we find it, we learn that election does not narrow
the breadth of the offer, or take away its universality.  It does not
blot out the “whosoever” from the words of our Saviour.  It does not
contract the glad tidings; but it leaves the Gospel perfectly open to
every man, without qualification, without limitation, and without the
necessity of any evidence of election to precede a trust in the Lord
Jesus for pardon, life, and immortality.

                                * * * * *

II.  But we must pass on to the _freeness_.  For there might be an offer
made to every one, but yet on such terms that no one could accept it; and
so would this have been, had God required that there should be one act of
sinless obedience on our part, as a preliminary qualification to our
being saved in Christ Jesus.  The person who is possessed of nothing is
as little able to pay one pound as a hundred; and the ruined man, dead in
sin, is as little able to produce one act of life as a hundred.  So long
as he is dead he can produce nothing; for he is not only without God, but
also without strength.  Oh, the depth of the riches of the tender
lovingkindness of our God!  Oh, the wonders of that grace that does not
wait till the sinner can produce a something, however small that
something be; but freely, and graciously, and mercifully, and lovingly,
bestows a free, full, perfect, complete, and everlasting reconciliation
on the poor ruined sinner, even at the very time of his utter ruin!  I do
not pretend to know all the various religious systems of the world; but
this I can most safely say,—that I never yet heard of anything but the
blessed Gospel of the grace of God, which proclaims reconciliation to men
without a claim, and at the very time that they are without a claim.  In
every other system the order is amendment first, and forgiveness second:
but in the Gospel the order is reversed, and we find the forgiveness
first, as a free gift, while the amendment follows, as the blessed fruit
of the Spirit in a repentant and loving heart.  The language of Scripture
is not what any natural moralist would have written,—“There is
forgiveness with Thee if I can but fear Thee sufficiently:” but God
reverses the order, so that those who cannot, for one moment, stand
before Him, are taught to say,—“There is forgiveness with Thee that Thou
mayest be feared.”  I should like to know from those who boast of the
superior benevolence of their system, what that system does for the
helpless,—for the man whose soul is paralyzed, and whose power to rise is
gone, being deadened by his sin.  I fearlessly ask the advocate of mere
natural religion, what the religion of nature can do for such an one.
His moral sense may teach him his duty, and his conscience may bring him
in guilty of not having fulfilled that duty; but what does natural
religion do to reinstate and restore him?  Our Gospel proclaims to him
pardon, and our Saviour gives him life, even at the time of the deepest
ruin.  But what does nature do for him?  What does conscience do to
restore him?  It leaves him condemned, ruined, sunk, and helpless; and
holds out to him nothing better than the hope, that when he has got out
of the pit, he may find mercy through the benevolence of God.  If that
were the Gospel, it would be glad tidings to those only who have already
recovered themselves from their ruin.  The Lord Jesus would be a Saviour
for only such as do not need one.  It would be a promise of life to those
only who have already raised themselves from death; but it would be a
sentence of everlasting exclusion against all those who have failed as
often as we have done, and have had to learn from bitter experience the
sad lesson of their utter helplessness.  But, praised be God, the whole
ransom has been paid, the whole claim of the law satisfied, the utmost
depth of ruin fully provided for; so that now there is life in the midst
of death, and full, complete, and final reconciliation presented to the
sinner, at the very time when he is lost in his fall.  Did the world ever
produce an offer so free? and was there ever yet a religious system in
the world which presented such a salvation, on such terms, to the sinner?

                                * * * * *

III.  But still there is an _exclusiveness_ in the Gospel.

Let us however clearly understand, when we speak of exclusiveness, that
we do not mean exclusiveness in the glad tidings, for, as already shown,
these glad tidings are freely sent to every man; but what we do mean
is,—that Christ Jesus is the only Saviour, and that “there is none other
name under heaven, given amongst men, whereby we must be saved.”  We do
mean that God has not promised salvation through a conscientious devotion
to Buddha, or Vishnu, or Mahommed, or reason, or the light of nature; but
that God, in giving Christ as our life, gave Him as the only Source of
life, and not as one amongst many Saviours.

Now this exclusiveness appears to be the necessary consequence of the
breadth and freedom of the offer; and had I had the framing of the
thesis, I should have preferred to have stated it as “The breadth,
freeness, and _consequent_ exclusiveness of the Gospel:” for if we
consider the great origin of the Gospel,—the eternal love of God; the
marvellous plan of the Gospel,—the sacrifice of the Son of God; the
boundless mercy of the Gospel,—as seen in the offering such a salvation
to every poor sinner under heaven; and the unutterable grace of the
Gospel,—in offering it freely to poor sinners, at the very time that
those sinners are hopelessly sunk in the ruin of their sin;—it does
appear to be an act of the deepest presumption for men to suppose that
there may be other ways through which men can be saved, other systems
through which men can be restored.  If men could be saved any other way,
why did the Lord Jesus come? why did He die?  If self-denying idolatry or
conscientious morality were sufficient, why was there any Gospel at all?
and why were we not left to win our way to eternal life, by morality and
heathenism in all their varied forms?  If the Gospel be regarded as a
Divine remedy for the sinner, then surely it must be exclusive.  If this
be God’s plan, then surely a plan from God was needful, and no human plan
was sufficient.  If it were a human plan, then I could perfectly
understand that other human plans might be equally effectual,—or, I
should rather say, equally fruitless; but if it be really God’s plan,
then it must stand alone as the only way of restoration to life.

The only possible way of meeting this view of the subject is, by
supposing that the result of our Lord’s propitiation is applied, without
their knowledge, to those who do not believe in His Name.  Of course if
this were God’s plan, we should have nothing to say, and our simple duty
would be to accept it with thanksgiving.  But on this point we must be
wholly dependent on God’s own statement of His own counsel.  When we are
studying God’s purpose, our only hope of arriving at truth is by simple
dependence on what God has revealed to us in His Word; and not the
smallest reliance can be placed on any conclusions which we may draw from
what we think most probable in so benevolent a God.  Of course if men do
not believe in Scripture, as inspired by the Spirit, this evidence fails
them; but then they have nothing to assure them that there is any Gospel
at all.  But if we admit it to be God’s plan, then from God we must learn
its character, and His Word alone must guide our decision.  Now it is
needless for me to multiply passages, as I might do to almost any extent,
to show that in God’s Word we are taught, that the blessings of our
Lord’s work are not bestowed except through faith in His Name.  Whatever
conclusions men may derive from their own ideas of Divine benevolence,
there cannot be a question that this is the testimony of Scripture.  If
men place greater reliance on their own opinion of what they think God
ought to have done, than on what God Himself declares He has done, we can
only say, as St. Paul did,—“Nay! but, O man, who art thou that repliest
against God?”  In such a matter we are entirely limited by the Divine
statements, and man’s opinion is utterly worthless; for the counsels of
God, in their very nature, lie quite beyond the limits of human enquiry.
If we do not believe in the words of our blessed Saviour, we have not the
slightest evidence of any salvation at all; and if we do believe them, we
must believe them all, and must accept without hesitation His own most
solemn statement, the most exclusive sentence which I know in the whole
range of Christian theology,—“He that believeth, and is baptized, shall
be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.”

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                    London: William Hunt and Company.

                                * * * * *



ADVERTISEMENT.


_The following will be published in this Series_, _uniform in size and
price_.

“The Present Position and duties of the Evangelical Body in the Church of
England.”

  By the Rev. W. R. FREMANTLE, M.A.

“The Atonement.”

  By the Rev. J. RICHARDSON, M.A.

“The Articles, Liturgy, and Subscription.”

  By P. F. O’MALLEY, Esq., Q.C.

“The Reality and Eternity of the Future Punishment of the Wicked.”

  By the Rev. W. HARRISON, M.A.

“The Best Mode of Presenting the Privileges of the Church of England to
the Working Classes.”

  By the Rev. James BARDSLEY, M.A.

“The Rights and Duties of the Lay Members of the Church of England.”

  By the Rev. EMILIUS BAYLEY, B.D.

“The Breadth, Freeness, and yet Exclusiveness of the Gospel.”

  By the Rev. EDWARD HOARE, M.A.

And it is hoped,

“The Inspiration of Scripture.”

  By the Rev. E. GARBETT, M.A.





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