By Robert Barclay
Concerning the Light wherewith Jesus Christ hath enlightned every Man: The Universality and Sufficiency of God's Grace to all the world made manifest therein.
Question. Wherein consists the Love of God towards Fallen and Lost Man?
A. For God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not Perish, but have Everlasting Life [John 3:16].
In this was manifested the Love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him [1 John 4:9].
Q. What is intended here by the World? all and every Man, or only a few?
A. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the Angels, for the suffering of Death crowned with Glory and Honour, that he by the Grace of God should taste Death for every Man [Heb. 2:9].
And if any Man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for ours only, but also for the Sins of the whole World [1 John 2:1-2].
Q. Methinks the Apostle John is very plain there, in mentioning the whole World, which must be not only the Saints, but all others; seeing he distinguisheth the World from himself and all the Saints to whom he then wrote: What saith Paul else-where in this matter?
A. Christ in you the Hope of Glory, whom we Preach, warning every Man, and teaching every Man in all Wisdom, that we may present every Man perfect in Christ Jesus [Col. 1:27-28].
I exhort therefore, that first of all Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions and Giving of Thanks be made for all Men; For this is good and acceptable in the Sight of God our Saviour, who will have all Men to be saved, and to come to the Knowledge of the Truth; who gave himself a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time [1 Tim. 2:3-4,6].
Q. What is the apostle Peter's Testimony in this?
A. The Lord is not slack concerning his Promise (as some Men count slackness) but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should Perish, but that all should come to Repentance [2 Pet. 3:9].
Q. Are there any more Scripture Passages that prove this thing?
A. Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked, but that the Wicked turn from his Way and live [Ezek. 33:11].
The Lord is Gracious, and full of Compassion; slow to Anger, and of great Mercy. The Lord is good to all, and his tender Mercies are over all his Works. [Psal. 145:8-9]
To wit, That God was in Christ reconciling the World unto himself [2 Cor. 5:19].
Q. Seeing then by these Scriptures it appears that the Love of God is held out to all, that all might have been or may be saved by Christ: What is to be judged of those who assert, that God nor Christ never purposed Love nor Salvation to a great part of Mankind, and that the Coming and Sufferings of Christ never was intended, nor could be useful to their Justification; but will and must be effectual for their Condemnation, even according to God's Purpose, who from their very Infancy to their Grave with-held from them all Means of Salvation? What saith the Scripture to such?
A. For God sent not his Son into the World to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved [John 3:17].
I am come a Light into the World, that whosoever believeth in me, should not abide in Darkness. And if any Man hear my Words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the World, but to save the World [John 12:46-47].
Q. From what Scripture then came these Men to wrest an Opinion so contrary to Truth?
A. For the Children being not yet born, neither having done any Good or Evil, that the Purpose of God according to Election might stand, it was said unto her, The Elder shall serve the Younger, as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated [Rom. 9:11-13].
Q. I perceive in that Scripture it was only said before the Children were born, The Elder shall serve the Younger; These other Words (Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated) are mention'd out of the prophet Malachie, who wrote them many hundred Years after both were Dead: Doth not the Scripture mention any other Cause of God's hating Esau, than meerly his Decree? What saith the same Apostle elsewhere?
A. Lest there by any Fornication or Profane Person, as Esau, who for one Morsel of Meat sold his Birth-right; for ye know, how that afterward when he would have inherited the Blessing, he was rejected [Heb. 12:16-17].
Q. But seeing that such allege, that it is because of Adam's Sin that many, even Children are Damned: Doth not the Scripture aver, that the Death of Christ was as large to Heal, as Adam's Sin could Condemn?
A. For if through the Offence of one many be Dead, much more the Grace of God, and the Gift by Grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the Offence of one, Judgment came upon all Men to Condemnation, even so by the Righteousness of one, the free Gift came upon all Men unto Justification of Life [Rom. 5:15,18].
Q. That proves abundantly that Christ's Death is of sufficient Extent to make up any Hurt Adam's Sin brought upon Mankind: What is then the cause of Condemnation?
A. He that believeth on him is not Condemned, but he that believeth not is Condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God [John 3:18].
And with all Deceivableness of Unrighteousness in them that Perish, because they received not the Love of the Truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong Delusions, that they should believe a Lye, that they all might be damned who believe not the Truth, but had Pleasure in Unrighteousness [2 Thess. 2:10-12].
Q. Seeing it is so of a Truth according to the Scripture's Testimony, that God has purposed Love and Mercy to all, in the Appearance of his Son Jesus Christ; Is the Gospel or Glad Tidings of this Salvation brought nigh unto all, by which they are put into a Capacity of receiving the Grace, and being saved by it?
A. If ye continue in the Faith grounded and setled, and be not moved away from the Hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every Creature which is under Heaven, whereof I Paul am made a Minister [Col. 1:23].
Q. What is the Gospel?
A. I am not ashamed of the Gospel; for it is the Power of God unto Salvation, unto every one that believeth [Rom. 1:16].
Q. Is this Gospel hid?
A. If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are Lost, in whom the God of this World hath blinded the Minds of them which believe not, lest the Light of the Glorious Gospel of Christ should shine unto them [2 Cor. 4:3-4].
Q. Is this Light then come into the World? And are not Men condemned because they love it not, and not because it is hid from them?
A. And this is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, and Men love Darkness rather than Light [John 3:19].
Q. Why do they so?
A. Because their Deeds are Evil [John 3:19].
Q. Is every Man enlightened by this Light.
A. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light, that was the True Light, which enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World [John 1:8-9].
Q. Doth this Light discover all things?
A. All things that are reproved are made manifest by the Light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is Light [Eph. 5:13].
Q. Do Evil Men preach up this Light, or mind it?
A. Every one that doth Evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his Deeds should be reproved [John 3:20].
They are of those that Rebel against the Light [Job 24:13].
Q. Do good Men love it, and follow it?
A. He that doth Truth comes to the Light, that his Deeds might be made manifest, that they are wrought in God [John 3:21].
Q. What Benefits doth redound to such as love the Light, and walk in it?
A. If we walk in the Light, as he is in the Light, we have Fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all Sin [1 John 1:7].
Q. Doth Christ command to take heed to the Light?
A. While ye have the Light, believe in the Light, that ye may be the Children of the Light [John 12:36].
Q. Were the Apostles commanded to turn People to the Light?
A. Delivering thee from the People, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their Eyes, and to turn them from Darkness unto Light, and from the Power of Satan unto God, that they may receive Forgiveness of Sins, and Inheritance among them which are sanctified, through Faith that is in me [Acts 26:17-18].
Q. Doth this Light abide with every man all his Life time, in order to save, or only during the Day of his Visitation?
A. Yet a little while is the Light with you; walk while ye have the Light, lest Darkness come upon you [John 12:35].
Again, He limiteth a certain Day, saying in David, to day, after so long time, as it is said, To day if ye will hear his Voice, harden not your Hearts [Heb. 4:7].
Q. How can it be proved, that there is a day wherein People may know things concerning their Peace, which afterwards may be hid from them?
A. And when he was come near, he beheld the City, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known even thou, at least in this thy day the things which belong unto thy Peace; but now they are hid from thine Eyes [Luke 19:41-42].
Q. Is there any further Scripture Proof of the Lord's willingness to gather a People, who would not, and therefore were condemned?
A. Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, How oft would I have gathered thy Children together, even as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her Wings, and ye would not? [Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34]
Then his Lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou Wicked Servant! I forgave thee all the Debt, because thou desiredst me; shouldst not thou also have had Compassion on thy Fellow-Servant, even as I had Pity on thee? And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the Tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him [Matt. 18:32-34].
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 Everlasting Life, lo we turn to the Gentiles [Acts 13:46].
Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my Hand, and no man regarded: But ye have set at nought all my Counsel, and would none of my Reproof; I also will laugh at your Calamity, I will mock when your Fear cometh [Prov. 1:24-26].
And at what Instant I shall speak concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdom to build and to plant it; If it do Evil in my Sight that it obey not my Voice, then I will Repent of the Good wherewith I said I would benefit them [Jer. 18:9-10].
Q. Doth God's Spirit strive then for a season, and afterwards forbear?
A. And the Lord said, my Spirit shall not always strive with man [Gen. 6:3].
Q. May it then be resisted?
A. Ye Stiff-necked and Uncircumcised in Heart and Ears, ye do always Resist the holy Ghost, as your Fathers did, so do ye [Acts 7:51].
For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of man, who hold the Truth in Unrighteousness [Rom. 1:18].
Q. Hath God manifested to Man that which may be known of himself?
A. That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them [Rom. 1:19].
Q. Is then this Light or Seed sown in the Hearts of Evil Men?
A. And he spake many things to them in Parables: Behold, a Sower went forth to sow, and when he sowed, some Seeds fell by the way side, &c. some fell among stony places, &c. and some fell among Thorns, &c. [Matt. 13:3-5,7].
Q. Are these Places where the Seed is said to have fallen understood of the Hearts of Men?
A. Hear ye therefore the Parable of the Sower, when any one heareth the Word of the Kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the Wicked One, and catcheth away that which was sown in his Heart; this is he which received the Seed by the way side, &c. [Matt. 13:18-19].
Q. Is this Seed small in its first Appearance?
A. The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a Grain of Mustard Seed, which a Man took and sowed in his Field, which indeed is the least of all Seeds [Matt. 13:31-32].
Q. Forasmuch as many understand not this under the Notion and Appellation of Light or Seed, it being quite another Dialect than the common; though I must needs confess it is the very Language of the Scriptures, Is there a saving Manifestation of the Spirit given unto all?
A. The Manifestation of the Spirit given to every Man to profit withal [1 Cor. 12:7].
Q. Sure if it be to profit withal, it must be in order to save; for if it were not useful, yea, sufficient to save, what Profit could it be of? But in regard some speak of a Grace that is common, and of a Grace that is saving, is there such a Grace common unto all as brings Salvation?
A. The Grace of God that brings Salvation hath appeared to all Men [Tit. 2:11].
Q. That which brings Salvation must needs be saving; What doth that Grace teach us?
A. Teaching us, that denying Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts, we should live Soberly, Righteously and Godlily in this present World [Tit. 2:12].
Q. Certainly that which teacheth both Righteousness and Godliness must be sufficient; for therein consisteth the whole Duty of Man: What saith the Apostle elsewhere of this Instructor?
A. And now, Brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of his Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an Inheritance among all those that are Sanctified [Acts 20:32].
Q. What is the Word of God?
A. The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper then any Two-edged Sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit, and of the Joynts and Marrow, and is a Discerner of the Thoughts and Intents of the Heart. Neither is there any Creature that is not manifest in his Sight, but all things are naked and open to the Eyes of him with whom we have to do [Heb. 4:12-13].
Q. Ought we to take heed to this Word?
A. We have also a More Sure Word of Prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a Light that shineth in a Dark Place, until the Day dawn, and the Day Star arise in your Hearts [2 Pet. 1:19].
Q. I perceive the Scriptures are very clear both concerning the Universality and Sufficiency of this Light, Seed, Grace and Word of God, but is this Word nigh or afar off, inward or outward?
A. Say not in thine Heart; Who shall ascend into Heaven, that is, to bring Christ down from above; or who shall descend into the Deep, that is, to bring up Christ again from the Dead? But what saith it, The word is nigh, in thy Mouth and in thy Heart, that is the Word of Faith which we preach [Rom. 10:6-8].
Q. That is clear as to the Word; Is there any Scripture speaks of the Light's being inward?
A. God who commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, hath shin'd in our Hearts, to give the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. But we have this Treasure in Earthen Vessels, that the Excellency of the Power may be of God and not of us [2 Cor. 4:6-7].
Q. But seeing it is also called the Seed of the Kingdom, is the Kingdom of God also within?
A. The Kingdom of God comes not with Observation, neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there; for behold the Kingdom of God is within you. [Luke 17:20-21]