SIN, THE LAW AND THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL
By Joseph Bellamy
Preface by Bernard Timmerman
The Lord Jesus Christ, just before his death prayed these words; "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). The purpose of true preaching and writing should be, that we and our hearers, come to know this one true God and His Son. Joseph Bellamy was one who fulfilled that mandate. He teaches us the knowledge of the true God who gave His holy law, its usefulness in bringing a sinner to Christ and clearly shows that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.
We must have some understanding of the law before we can receive Him, who is the end of the law for righteousness. John Bunyan wrote, "The man who does no know the nature of the law cannot know the nature of sin; and he that does not know the nature of sin, cannot know the nature of the Savior."
I am very thankful that God has given us such men as Bunyan and Bellamy, and preserved their writings for us. We are also blessed that God has, in these last years, raised up people who have been led to re-print their writings.
There is much misunderstanding of the scriptures in the present time. Some have told me that after reading the writings of godly men of the past, they then understood what I had been trying to teach them. I am thankful that I can point others to Mr. Bellamy and his clear message of God's way, in both the law and the gospel. When reading the messages he gave us, I am reminded of what Thomas Boston (1676-1732 wrote in his book, Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, "There is no mixing of the law and faith in this business."
Listen to a quote taken from the Law Our School-Master; one of the sermons in this book: "So, although true faith in Christ implies an hearty approbation of the law, which cannot be without a supreme love to God, which will naturally lay a foundation for repentance and sincere obedience; yet, it is not this hearty approbation of the law, nor this supreme love to God, nor this repentance, nor this sincere obedience, no, nor the act of faith itself, that makes atonement for sin; but only the blood of Christ according to the constant language of the New Testament. Nor are any of these, therefore, to be depended upon; but only Jesus Christ. Nor can faith do anything toward justifying us, unless it unites us to Christ. For in the very act of faith, all pretenses to the divine favor on our own account, are given up; and hell is owned to be our due.'
In Romans 3:20-22 we read: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested; being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference..." We find this truth expounded by Mr. Bellamy in the messages in this book: The Great Evil of Sin; The Law our School-Master; and The Nature and Glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that you will read them all and rejoice.
Joseph Bellamy was one of the men responsible for what became know as New England Theology although, some might call this modified Calvinism and believe he and others moved away from the teaching of Jonathan Edwards and older Calvinism. I believe it might better be called refined Calvinism. There are too few people who know both our inability and our accountability in a right way before God. There might be less of both hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism, if God's holiness and just requirements were preached and taught today as in the following three messages. To be taught these truths by God, will bring us guilty, with our mouths stopped in repentance before God and also give the pardon, adoption, and assurance that we can have by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. John 6:45
It is very easy to come short and be confused. The denial of these great truths is bringing much division in the church and, sadly, confusion before the world. Paul wrote, "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid, yea we establish the law."
We read of some who in our time make such statements as the following; "Our churches are committed to a New Covenant position in which we do not preach, nor wish to preach, the Old Testament law." I do not see Mr. Bellamy in such a position, and I believe we can learn much from him.
When David Brainerd (1718-1747) was under conviction and the teaching of God's Word and Spirit, he wrote, "While I was in this distressed, bewildered, and tumultuous state of mind, the corruption of my heart was especially irritated with the following things:" He then stated four things, which he found great inward opposition to. One of which was, "The strictness of the divine law".
Mr. Brainerd, like Paul, had to learn this from God's Word. He had to bow to the law that he had rebelled against, and learn from it his sin against God and his need of a Savior. As Paul wrote, "I had not known lust except the law had said, thou shalt not covet". (Romans 7:7b) We can read Paul's answer for deliverance in verse 25, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Under such a teaching from God, Paul could also write, "Yea doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith". (Philippians 3:8-9) Paul found the law to be holy, just and good; by it he knew that he was carnal, sold under sin, and with that knowledge wanted to "win Christ."
We may believe that God also taught Mr. Bellamy these wonderful sublime truths. He comes with truth, not lightness and lies; as God described some prophets in Jeremiah 23:32. It is my prayer that God will, because of Christ, teach us the same truths through the words of this writer, whom, "Being dead, yet speaketh." If we have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, then we can learn to have not only a faith that saves, but also a "Faith which worketh by love." "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'. (Galatians 5:6,14)
I close with the words of Jonathan Edwards in a preface to another of Joseph Bellamy's works, True Religion Delineated. "And I cannot express my sincere wishes, that what is here written by this reverend and pious author, may be taken notice of, read without prejudice, and thoroughly considered; as I believe, from my own perusal, it will be found a discourse wherein the proper essence and distinguishing nature of saving religion is deduced from the first principles of the oracles of God in a manner tending to a great increase of light in this infinitely important subject--discovering truth, and at the same time, showing the grounds of it or showing what things are true, and also why they are true." I believe these words are applicable to this present volume as well.
The Lord Jesus prayed, "That they all may be one as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me". (John 17:21)
May God use the words of this book to fulfill that prayer in us.
February 9, 1998
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