13 April 2005

robert rollock on titus 3

The Scots divine, Robert Rollock (1555-1599), was a graduate of St. Andrews and later served briefly as the regent there, before being appointed to what would later be the University of Edinburgh, where he soon became a professor of theology. He preached at the East Kirk and, later, several other parishes, as well as serving on various committees of the General Assembly and once as its moderator.

I've previously quoted a few sentences from his sermon on Titus 3 that can be found in his Select Works. The following is a more extensive quotation that provides the wider context and gives a better sense of his preaching style.

The cause of our salvation is in God only and no part in man who is saved. The first cause is the love of God, which is the fountain: the next cause is mercy, for before ever this world was created, God of his mercy took purpose to save us. And when he comes on to the execution of that eternal purpose of our salvation, there is no thing in us, but all is in himself, for he is all-sufficient in himself, and nothing is without him. The end wherefore he died all by himself, without us, was to the praise of the glory of his grace, that thereby the whole glory of our salvation might redound to him only, because the cause is only in him. You that take any part in it and attribute it to yourself, you spoil God of his glory. Either give him all the glory of this action, or take it all to yourself; this glory is over-heavy for you, if you take it on thee, it will press you to everlasting damnation. Then there is the means of our salvation, the mercy of God.

Next he lays out the parts of our salvation abroad, one by one, that you may see what salvation means. He says, "Through the laver of washing of the new birth and renewal of the Holy Ghost." There is the first part. It is any washing of us, when God puts to his hand to save us.

You know washing presupposes foulness; therefore it must follow that when God began to save us, we were unclean, full of boils and blotches, conceived and born in filthiness, and then wriggling and waltering in our own sin and filthiness, and ever the longer we live we are all the filthier. It is a marvel that the holy God should ever sustain to look to your filth or to put his holy and pure hand to your vile blotches or to send down his clean Spirit to dwell in your unclean heart or that any way his purity should meddle with your impurity.

Among all the arguments of his love this is one: when he puts to his fair hand to you that is so foul. You find that your sins pardoned and yourself purged and washed? Assure yourself you are saved and God has loved you. For except the love of God had been all the greater towards you, he would never have purged you from your sins. It is one sure token of his love towards you, that it is infinite and exceeding, that he has not loathed you and your filthy boils and blotches.

I see here two washings, one outward and another inward: the first in the words, "the laver of regeneration," the next, "the renewing of the Holy Spirit." The first is our baptism, the next the inward washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit, represented by this outward baptism. As the water washes away the filth from the body, so the Holy Spirit purges and washes the heart from sin, I will speak but this far shortly of baptism.

The outward washing in baptism is not to be looked to lightly, the pouring on of the water is but any base sign to look to; rather it is the instrument that God takes in his hand and whereby he applies to us the inward washing of the Holy Spirit; Col 2:12; Rom 6:4; he ascribes our regeneration to baptism. We by baptism are buried with Christ, risen with Christ, and if this means be contemned, there shall be no regeneration. If any man treats lightly this baptism, I affirm there shall be no renewing inwardly by the Holy Spirit; and if he be not renewed, he shall never be saved, for without regeneration, no salvation.

You see what was enjoined to Naaman the Syrian when he sought cleansing. The prophet bade him go to Jordan and washing himself seven times. But he thought to himself, "What is this? Are there not rivers at home in Damascus?" Yes, he would not go until he took better counsel, but as soon as he went and washed himself seven times, he was cleansed. Even so it is in baptism. If any man contemn the outward washing, he shall never be cleansed by the Spirit. The same is also true of the sacrament of the Supper. Count not, therefore, little of the sacraments, because God has promised to give himself with the sacrament rightly received.

Now look how long our regeneration is in working in this life; the force of baptism continues all along. You must be continually renewed until your last breath. Therefore, the force of baptism must last with you to your last breath. It is a vanity to think that the force of baptism stands in the ministration of the action only. No, it leaves us never from the time we receive it til we be placed with Jesus Christ. Have your eye still on baptism for it is one means whereby the Lord will save you.

Further, brethren, he begins here at regeneration; you may see then the necessity of regeneration. Would you be saved? Look that there be any new birth; look that you be born over again, as Christ said to Nicodemus, John 3:3, "Verily I say to you, except any man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." If you be not a new creature, you are not in Christ, but without Christ and without Jesus Christ, there is no salvation.