13 July 2013

Spurgeon: To Pursue Union at the Expense of Truth is Treason to the Lord Jesus


The intense desire for union has its commendable side, and we are far from undervaluing it. Precious also is the protest for liberty, which certain valorous souls have lifted up. We rejoice that our brethren will not submit their consciences to any man; but the mercy is that we do not know of any man who desires that they should. Specially is the object of their brave opposition as free from a desire to rule over them as from the wish to be ruled by them. It is a pity that such loyalty to liberty could not be associated with an equally warm expression of resolve to be loyal to Christ and his gospel. It would be a grievous fault if the sons of the Puritans did not maintain the freedom of their consciences; but it will be no less a crime if they withdraw those consciences from under the yoke of Christ.

To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus. If we are prepared to enter into solemn league and covenant for the defense of the crown-rights of King Jesus, we cannot give up the crown-jewels of his gospel for the sake of a larger charity. He is our Master and Lord, and we will keep his words: to tamper with his doctrine would be to be traitors to himself. Yet, almost unconsciously, good men and true may drift into compromises which they would not at first propose, but which they seem forced to justify. Yielding to be the creatures of circumstances, they allow another to gird them, and lead them whither they would not; and when they wake up, and find themselves in an undesirable condition, they have not always the resolution to break away from it. . . .

As a matter of fact, believers in Christ's atonement are now in declared religions union with those who make light of it; believers in Holy Scripture are in confederacy with those who deny plenary inspiration; those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death, and a future restitution for the lost. Yes, we have before us the wretched spectacle of professedly orthodox Christians publicly avowing their union with those who deny the faith, and scarcely concealing their contempt for those who cannot be guilty of such gross disloyalty to Christ. To be very plain, we are unable to call these things Christian Unions, they begin to look like Confederacies in Evil. Before the face of God we fear that they wear no other aspect. To our inmost heart, this is a sad truth from which we cannot break away. . . .

Furthermore, we should greatly object to the shifting about for heresy which some speak of; but in this case the heresy is avowed, and is thrust forward in no diffident style. No words could be more explicit had they been selected as a challenge. We have not to deal with those tares which were like the wheat, but with thorns and thistles which declare themselves openly. Whether the Down-Grade evil has operated on few or many is a question which may be waived: it has operated manifestly enough upon some, and they glory in it. Yet professedly sound believers are in full accord with these outspokenly heterodox men, and are linked with them in set and formal union. Is this according to the mind of the God of truth?

The largest charity towards those who are loyal to the Lord Jesus, and yet do not see with us on secondary matters, is the duty of all true Christians. But how are we to act towards those who deny his vicarious sacrifice, and ridicule the great truth of justification by his righteousness? These are not mistaken friends, but enemies of the cross of Christ. There is no use in employing circumlocutions and polite terms of expression:—where Christ is not received as to the cleansing power of his blood and the justifying merit of his righteousness, he is not received at all.

It used to be generally accepted in the Christian Church that the line of Christian communion was drawn hard and fast, at the Deity of our Lord; but even this would appear to be altered now. In various ways the chasm has been bridged, and during the past few years several ministers have crossed into Unitarianism, and have declared that they perceived little or no difference in the two sides of the gulf. In all probability there was no difference to perceive in the regions where they abode. It is our solemn conviction that where there can be no real spiritual communion there should be no pretense of fellowship. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. Those who know and love the truth of God cannot have fellowship with that which is diametrically opposed thereto, and there can be no reason why they should pretend that they have such fellowship.

We cheerfully admit that among men who possess the divine life, and a consequent discernment of truth, there will be differences of attainment and perception; and that these differences are no barriers to love and union. But it is another matter when we come to receiving or rejecting the vicarious sacrifice and the justifying righteousness of our Lord. We who believe Holy Scripture to be the inspired truth of God cannot have fellowship with those who deny the authority from which we derive all our teaching. We go to our pulpits to save a fallen race, and believe that they must be saved in this life, or perish for ever: how can we profess brotherhood with those who deny the fall of man, and hold out to him the hope of another probation after death? They have all the liberty in the world, and we would be the last to abridge it; but that liberty cannot demand our co-operation. If these men believe such things, let them teach them, and construct churches, unions, and brotherhoods for themselves! Why must they come among us? When they enter among us at unawares, and are resolved to stay, what can we do? The question is not soon answered; but, surely, in no case will we give them fellowship, or profess to do so.

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "A Fragment Upon the Down-Grade Controversy"

Further Reading
A Cooked Goose: Remembering John Huss
Free Will and Liquid Plumr®
Bad Doctrine Yields Bad Fruit . . . and Bad Comments Defending Bethel Church

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