Transcript as published in the John O’Groat Journal for March 6, 1896
“That, according to the Scriptures, the ‘ransom for all’ given by the ‘Man Christ Jesus’ does not give or guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man. It only guarantees for every man an opportunity for life everlasting.”The last part of that sentence was not exactly according to the book, but Mr Davidson would not take it up in any other way, so let it go. He was glad that Mr Davidson had accepted it even in this form, and here he was to try and make known just a little of what it is to get an opportunity for life everlasting.
Dr Young of Edinburgh defined it as a corresponding price – an equivalent of the same kind. Let them now come to the Scriptures and see God’s arrangement with the first man. He described the glory of the garden in which the glorious perfect man was placed – God’s representative on earth – a representative man of what God meant men to be. And had he obeyed God he would have been there forever and ever, for God did not set him there with a trap to fall into. God’s foreknowledge does not clash with His righteous doings. If God did not intend something better for the race he did not think He would have suffered the world to live down in misery for six thousand years if there was no hope. Now Adam had laws laid down to him, and so long as he obeyed he would be lord over the whole earth. But the moment he made any deviation – and sin was just deviation – it was said to him he would die – “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Well he did die in one of God’s “days.” And all his posterity was doomed the same way, and there had not been a man able to redeem his brother. Now he wished them particularly to understand that God meant Adam to live and obey Him. Here now came the Ransom. God does not give or guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man by His own eternal fiat without a purpose, but He has guaranteed to all an opportunity for life and for blessing. God’s order in Adam was repeated in the case of the Jews – “Choose life that ye may live; refuse my law and it is death.” God does not propose to give eternal life right off without our acquiescence, acceptance, obedience; but neither does He propose to condemn if He has found a Ransom, not one living soul but those who wilfully refuse the Second Adam, the Lord from Heaven. The great principle laid down to Adam was to obey God, and he had the ability to do so. But he did not. Now the Second Adam comes on the scene – the Son of God, the Perfect Man – came and divested Himself of His glory, and the Second Man’s life had to be given for the first man’s life – blood for blood, life for life. And so they read that “as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Paul beautifully reasoned out the whole transaction in the 5th chapter of the Romans. The Second Adam gave His life for the first and all that was in him, and that would be testified by God to every living soul in due time. That was an arbitrary act of God decreed by Him before the world was. There was therefore no man who could perish but by refusing, after full knowledge and opportunity of knowing and understanding what the Second Adam had done. That was the truth of God; that was the gospel, the joyful message which shall be unto all people. But that did not of itself save any man. There was just this little thing – you have it for nothing on condition you take it. The Son of God by one offering took away sin for ever and made reconciliation with God. Now, then, how many of the sons of men had heard this glorious gospel? The heathen had not heard. It would be a moral impossibility for God to suffer creatures to live on for ever if He had no provision of love and mercy; but He condemned them all in one that He might redeem them in One. Now is there to be a time when God shall show forth what He has done for mankind? Yes. Whosoever will may have life. Two thousand years ago the Jews had an idea that the promise that was made to Abraham was to have a literal fulfilment and that Jacob and all the patriarchs and prophets were to be brought back. Paul said “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” But they forgot their life’s history and what they had been taught through the blood of bullocks and goats. They forgot that the world had to be redeemed first before one of them could get it. Christ had to die according to the Scriptures, and but for that they could never possess the land. And they shall possess it, for God had decreed it, and they had been ransomed by the Son of God, and all the earth at the same time. But before that takes place God purposed that the price should be paid two “days” in advance, 2000 years or so before the purchase was taken possession of, and why? That a noble people might be taken out of the world who would just believe all this, and as a reward for their faith and their witnessing to the world and overcoming were to be over yonder and made glorious beings like unto the Son of God. When that people is taken out, after this, declares the Apostle James “I will return and will build again this tabernacle of David...that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles” – after the spiritual sons are first taken out to be joint heirs with their Lord in restoring and blessing the world of mankind. He could prove that from the Word of God. The Jews were gauge. They had a carnal notion that they must be set up, and so they did not receive Him when He came. And when He said “This day your house is left unto you desolate” from that moment they began to receive their double – their period of disfavour, which five or six lines of Bible testimony proved terminated in 1878. Their rise, however, would be as gradual as their fall had been, and after that time was up Jerusalem would be ready to receive Him and not till then.
It was knowledge that would be our condemnation if the favour of God were rejected. Our wills were a factor that God had recognised and if they doubted that or disbelieved it then the Scriptures were broken. God meant man to be a noble being and not a slave, and the awfulness of sin was shown in the destruction of those who fell away and remained impenitent, who had possessed knowledge and opportunity, had tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come. For them was reserved the devouring fire which should devour the adversary. What a responsible thing it therefore was to those who hear and do not obey.
Mr Davidson began by saying that in the time allotted to him he would centre his thoughts and arguments on the latter part of the terms of debate and would do his best to make his position clear and convincing that the “ransom” did not guarantee “another opportunity for life everlasting as taught in ‘Millennial Dawn,’ vol. 1.” He would first, however, by way of argument and answer to Mr Houston’s speech, make one remark. From his letters and his remarks his position seemed to be: there is ransom for all;, then why should not all receive blessing through that ransom? No doubt it was a little difficult to reconcile these two positions; but he (Mr Davidson) would endeavour to make it clear by a simple illustration. Mr Houston was a draper in Wick, and being in that line of business, he was quite willing and fully competent to supply to all the servant girls who into Wick at each term with bonnets and dresses. (Laughter and some hisses.) But he supposed he was not exaggerating or stating what was untrue when he said that many of these persons when they went into Wick did not go into Mr Houston’s shop and buy bonnets and dresses notwithstanding his willingness to supply these articles. Many of them went into other shops – by their conduct they showed they had no faith in Mr Houston or his goods – (some hisses) – in which they were perhaps mistaken, but it was a fact. He could sympathise with Mr Houston in that position, for he was in the same position himself as regards spiritual matters. There was a ransom for every one in Canisbay, and they knew that, but alas, many would not come and avail themselves of it. The god of this world had blinded their minds, and that explained why, though here was a ransom for all, all did not avail themselves of the glad tidings. Proceeding, he said he had one or two questions to put to Mr Houston, which he might answer or decline to answer. They could not extort an answer.
James Macpherson, E.C. minister of Canisbay.
Alex. Sinclair, C.C., Canisbay.
Andrew Munro, teacher, Canisbay.
Alexander G. Macgregor, medical doctor.
James Sutherland, elder, inspector of poor.
George Manson, elder, Duncansbay.
David Kennedy, elder, Freswick.
Alexander Dunnett, elder, Brabster.
David Nicholson, deacon, Seater.
John Simpson, deacon, Moy.
Francis Sutherland, deacon, John O’Groats.
William Dunnet, elder, Huns.
William Steven, elder, Gills.
George Malcom, deacon, Gills.
Matthew Dundass, deacon, Duncansbay.
Geo. T. Mackenzie, schoolmaster and deacon, Freswick.
Arthur M’Connachie, divinity student, Zion Chapel, Wick.
Daniel Sutherland, accountant, Wick.
Alex. S. Fullarton, teacher, Wick.
A. Phimester, clothier, Wick.
Donald Davidson, Free Church Minister, Canisbay.