"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Gospel of Divine Grace the Only Means of Converting Sinners

The Gospel of Divine Grace the Only Means of Converting Sinners; and Should be Preached Therefore Most Clearly, Fully, and Freely.

a Poem by Ralph Erkine

They ought, who royal grace's heralds be,
To trumpet loud salvation, full and free;
Nor safely can, to humour mortal pride,
In silence evangelic myst'ries hide.

What heav'n is pleas'd to give, dare we refuse;
Or under ground conceal, least men abuse?
Suppress the gospel-flow'r, upon pretence
That some vile spiders may suck poison thence?

Christ is a stumbling-block, shall we neglect
To preach him, lest the blind should break their neck?
That high he's for the fall of many set
As well as for the rise, must prove no let.

No grain of precious truth must be suppress'd,
Though reprobates should to their ruin wrest.
Shall heaven's corruscant lamb be dimm'd, that pays
Its daily tribute down in golden rays?

Because some, blinded with the blazing gleams,
Share not the pleasure of the lightning beams.
Let those be hardned, petrify'd, and harm'd,
The rest are mollify'd and kindly warm'd.

A various favour, flowers in grace's field,
Of life to some, of deat to others yield.
Must then the rose be vail'd, the lily hid,
The fragrant favour stifled? God forbid.

The revelation of the gospel-flow'r,
Is still the organ fram'd of saving pow'r
Most justly then are legal minds condemn'd,
That of the glorious gospel are asham'd:

For this the divine arm, and only this,
The pow'r of God unto salvation is.
For therein is reveal'd, to screen from wrath,
The righteousness of God, from faith to faith!

The happy change in guilty sinners case
They owe to free displays of sov'reign grace;
Whose joyful tidings of amazing love
The ministration of the Spirit prove.

The glorious vent of the gospel-news express,
Of God's free grace, thro' Christ's full righteousness,
Is Heaven's gay chariot, where the Spirit bides,
And in his conqu'ring pow'r triumphant rides.

The gospel-field is still the Spirit's soil,
The golden pipe that bears the holy oil;
The orb where he outshines the radiant sun,
The silver channel where his graces run.

Within the gospel-banks his flowing tide
Of lightning, quickning motions sweetly glide.
Received ye the Spirit, scripture saith,
By legal works, or by the word of faith?
If by the gospel only then let none
Dare to be wiser than the wisest one.

We must, who freely get, as freely give
The vital word that makes the dead to live.
For ev'n to sinners dead within our reach
We in his living name may most successful preach.

The Spirit and the scripture both agree
Jointly (says Christ) to testify of me.
The preacher then will from his text decline,
That scorns to harmonize with this design.

Press moral duties to the last degree;
Why not? but mind, lest we successless be,
No light, no hope, no strength for duties spring,
Where Jesus is not Prophet, Priest, and King.

No light to see the way, unless he teach;
No joyful hope, save in his blood we reach;
No strength, unless his royal arm he stretch
Then from our leading scope how gross we fall,
If, like his name, in ev'ry gospel-call,
We make not him the First, the Last, the All!

Our office is to bear the radiant torch,
Of gospel-light, into the darkened porch
Of human understandings, and display
The joyful dawn of everlasting day;

To draw the golden chariot of free grace,
The darkned shades with shining rays to chase,
'Till Heaven's bright lamp on circling wheels be hurl'd,
With spark'ling grandeur round the dusky world;

And thus to bring, in dying mortals sight,
New life and immortality to light.
We're charg'd to preach the gospel, unconfin'd,
To ev'ry creature of the human kind;

To call, with tenders of salvation free,
All corners of the earth to come and see:
And ev'ry sinner must excuseless make,
By urging rich and poor to come and take:

Ho, ev'ry one that thirsts, is grace's call
Direct to needy sinners great and small;
Not meaning those alone, whose holy thirst
Denominates their souls already blest.

If only those were call'd, then none but saints;
Nor would the gospel suit the sinner's wants.
But here the call does signally import
Sinners and thirsty souls of every sort;

And mainly to their door the message brings,
Who yet are thirsting after empty things;
Who spend their means no living bread to buy,
And pains for that which cannot satisfy.

Such thirsty sinners here invited are,
Who vainly spend their money, thought, and care,
On passing shades, vile lusts and trash, so base
As yeilds the immortal souls no true solace.

The call directs them, as they would be blest,
To choose a purer object of their thirst.
All are invited by the joyful sound
To drink who need, as does the parched ground,
Whose wide-mouth'd clefts speak to the brazen sky
Its passive thirst, without an active cry.

The gospel-preacher then with holy skill
Must offer Christ to whosoever will,
To sinners of all sorts that can be nam'd;
The blind, the lame, the poor, the halt, the maim'd,

Not daring to restrict th' extensive call,
But op'ning wide the net to catch 'em all
No soul must be excluded that will come,
Nor right of access be confined to some,

Though none will come till conscious of their want,
Yet right to come they have by sov'reign grant;
Such right to Christ, his promise, and his grace,
That all are damn'd who hear and don't embrace:

So freely is th' unbounded call dispen'd,
We therein find ev'n sinners unconvinc'd;
Who know not they are naked, blind, and poor,
Counsell'd to by, or beg at Jesus door,
And take the glorious robe, eye-salve, and golden store.

This prize they are oblig'd by faith to win,
Else unbelief would never be their sin.
Yes, gospel-offers but a sham we make,
If ev'ry sinner has not right to take.

Be gospel-heralds fortify'd from this
To trumpet grace, howe'er the serpent hiss.
Did hell's malicious mouth in dreadful shape
'Gainst innocence itself malignant gape;

Then sacred truth's devoted vouchers may
For dire reproach their measures constant lay.
With cruel calumny of old commence'd,
This sect will ev'ry where be spoke against.

While to and fro he runs the earth across
In spite of hell be then our constant strife
To win the glorious Lamb a virgin wife.

* The Accuser of the Brethren (Rev. 12:10)

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