"In a nook in the North, not far from Manchester, is the village of Openshaw, in the Parish Church of which the certain sound of a full, free, finished and eternal salvation issued for about twenty-four years. Much modern Evangelicalism has dwindled into a sort of negative theology; hence the honest testimony of hungry souls is on this wise: I do not find so much fault with what he said, as with what he did not say. 'So they wrap it up' was the lamentation of an ancient prophet that applies with force to the present time." Thus wrote the Authoress of "Light in Openshaw," referring to one of the clearest and most powerful preachers of his day--William Parks, B.A. (1810-1867) rector of Openshaw. "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God" was the motto of his ministry. His acute discernment between truth and error, his vigorous opposition to the ensnaring divinity of the day, his fearless declaration of all that God had revealed to his soul, his unwearied diligence in the use of his pen, all combined to make his loss severely felt. He feared no frown, he courted no smile, he employed but little religious machinery to "work the parish;" but he was instant in season and out of season, preaching the Word, visiting the sick, and warning the ungodly, whether rich or poor. He was respected by the world as an honest and consistent man, and valued by the lovers of grace as a faithful teacher and fearless advocate of the truth. He was a terror to Arminians as a vehement opposer of error, and he was obnoxious to professors who, whatever might be their degree of knowledge, were destitute of life. An extract from "A Brief Review of My Ministry," his last publication, will show in his own words what manner of man he was--
Martin Luther said long ago--'It takes three things to make a divine,
"Paul exhorted Timothy to give attendance to reading and meditation, 1 Timothy 4:13-15. What sort of reading this was we may readily imagine. It could not have been the works of the rabbis and doctors of the law, for these were utterly ignorant of the true meaning of God's Word, but the reading insisted upon must have been the prayerful perusal of the Word itself, seeking out the meaning through the teaching of the Holy Ghost.
"This is the sort of reading ministers ought to devote themselves to, and not the study of commentators, who are often fanciful.
"God grants salvation, not of works, but by grace--sheer, gratuitous sovereign grace--and this He gives according to the good pleasure of His will!
"Brethren in the Lord, thus was I delivered! The work was done by God the Holy Ghost quickening me--me who never sought Him; secondly, by inciting me to give diligence to reading the Word. 'Ah,' say many, 'we don't like those extreme views!' Like them or dislike them, I reply, I am going to heaven with them in the full assurance of understanding! How common is this objection to the doctrines of distinguishing grace! 'Extreme!--Extreme!' the enemy cries, 'let us have something more in accordance with man's notions of right and wrong!'
"I answer, that what the Word teaches, and what man wishes, are two different things. The Word distinctly declares that God's thoughts are not as man's thoughts, and the whole tenor of God's dealings with man proves that His ways are diametrically opposed to man's. 'Who by searching can find out God?' But let us have a word upon 'extreme views.' What folly and inconsistency lie at the bottom of this objection!
"What greater extreme than the eternal love of God for His poor sinning Church? (Jeremiah 31:3)
"What greater extreme that the assumption on the part of Jehovah Jesus of the form of sinful man? (Philippians 2:6-8)
"What greater extreme than Jesus becoming poor that His Church might be rich? (2 Corinthians 6:10)
"What greater extreme than the Creator of the universe submitting to be maltreated by His own creatures? (John 1:3;19:18)
"What greater extreme than God in redemption work passing by angels, and rescuing and saving men, who by nature are lost and ruined? (Hebrews 2:16; James 2:19)
"What greater extreme than God giving grace to His Church in Christ Jesus before the world began, to save it irrespective of all sorts of works whatever? (2 Timothy 1:9)
"These are truths so amazing as to nonplus the highest intellectual power of man! Yet we have preachers professing to hold them, hesitating, parleying, shifting, shirking, and evading in connection with other truths as clearly revealed, such as predestination, election, particular redemption, and final perseverance!
"General Redemption, to me, is a figment of the father of lies to take man's minds off thinking and lull them to sleep. If it secures nothing, what's the use of it? Christ's work on earth was a STUPENDOUS work, a work that must produce what it was intended to produce, otherwise it would have been an unwise work. No wise man wastes his strength, or beats the air; but this 'man Christ Jesus' did evidently waste His strength and beat the air, all to no purpose, if He redeemed every one of the human family, and the majority be lost. 'To make redemption larger than electing love is to overlay the foundation, which is a very momentous error in building.'
"We will now pass on to MEDITATION. 'Give thyself to meditation,' says Paul. 'Meditation helps to make a divine,' says Martin Luther. Ay, and true it is, for without meditation the reading is not mellowed, and the teaching is not edifying.
"What hours, and days, and nights have I meditated upon what the Word has taught me! I don't think that ten minutes of my life have passed for the last twenty-four years, except in sleep, during which I have not thought upon the Lord. I make no boast of this. I wanted to make things plain to my own soul, and also to you, my dear hearers, in my preaching. It is for want of meditation on the deep things of God that we are to attribute the painful prosiness, or self-stultification, of many professed preachers of the Gospel. They don't read the Word; they consequently don't meditate upon it. But the man of God is compelled to meditate, and this makes him profitable, humble, and honest, throughly furnished for every good work. (1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 3:17)
"And here am I plucked as a brand out of the burning, sought out by the Lord, a monument of mercy permitted and privileged to proclaim the glorious gospel of the grace of God! Surely there must be a cause! The cause, I tell you, was not in me, for I hated God and religion, but in the Sovereign choice of Jehovah, who will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. (Romans 9:15)
"TEMPTATION has now to be dealt with. Some years ago an old Christian man whom I never saw wrote to me thus: 'My dear brother in the Lord Jesus, you have need of many prayers, for I am certain you are the object of fierce attack on the part of Satan, whose cause you have much injured.' Never was a truer word written! Every man who will speak the truth as it is in Jesus is sure to be fiercely opposed by the father of lies. The reason why preachers and professors in general spend such quiet and apparently happy lives is, they never oppose Satan. Poor deluded souls! They eat, and drink, and are merry with their fellows, never for a moment alluding to serious things, but speaking of the news of the day, and are 'hail fellows, well met,' with the world at large! Why should such suffer persecution? They oppose nothing, therefore Satan leaves them unmolested. But it is not so with a truth-speaking minister. He must identify himself with God, and consequently he is shunned, and hated, and tempted."
We have quoted somewhat largely from Mr. Parks, because his remarks so closely and searchingly deal with the condition of many Churches and preachers today.