The ceremony of laying the first stone of the New Tabernacle, 16 August 1859
Suggested Reading: 3 John: 5-11
We believe in what are called the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic; but we do not regard those five points as being barbed shafts which we are to push into the bowels of Christendom. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to illuminate the cross, or rather five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified. Against all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure gospel truth. At the same time I can make this public declaration, that I am no Antinomian. I do not belong to the sect of those who are afraid to invite the sinner to Christ. I warn him, I invite him, I exhort him. Hence, then, I have reproach on either hand. Inconsistency is urged by some, as if anything that God commanded could be inconsistent. I will glory in such inconsistency even to the end. I bind myself precisely to no form of doctrine. I love those five points as being the angles of the gospel, but then I love the centre between the angles better still. Moreover, we are Baptists, and we cannot swerve from this matter of discipline, nor can we make our church half-and-half in that matter. The witness of our church must be one and indivisible. We must have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And yet dear to our hearts is that great article of the Nicene Creed, the Communion of Saints. I do not believe in the communion of Episcopalians. I do not believe in the communion of Baptists. I dare not sit with them exclusively. I think I should be almost strict communicant enough not to sit with them at all, because I should say, This is not the communion of saints, it is the communion of Baptists. Whosoever loves the Lord Jesus Christ in verity and truth has a hearty welcome, and is not only permitted, but invited to communion with the Church of Christ.
For meditation: What binds you to others in fellowship? Oneness in the great fundamentals of the Gospel? Or a man-made grouping? The first would make you like Spurgeon, the second can easily lead to the extremes of unequal ecumenism or schism.
Part of nos. 268-70 16 July
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