August 16, 2014

John Calvin on Luke 23:34

"Luke 23:34. And Jesus said, Father, forgive them. By this expression Christ gave evidence that he was that mild and gentle lamb, which was to be led out to be sacrificed, as Isaiah the prophet had foretold, (53:7.) For not only does he abstain from revenge, but pleads with God the Father for the salvation of those by whom he is most cruelly tormented. It would have been a great matter not to think of rendering evil for evil, (1 Peter 3:9;) as Peter, when he exhorts us to patience by the example of Christ, says that he did not render curses for curses, and did not revenge the injuries done to him, but was fully satisfied with having God for his avenger (1 Peter 2:23.) But this is a far higher and more excellent virtue, to pray that God would forgive his enemies.

If any one think that this does not agree well with Peter’s sentiment, which I have just now quoted, the answer is easy. For when Christ was moved by a feeling of compassion to ask forgiveness from God for his persecutors, this did not hinder him from acquiescing in the righteous judgment of God, which he knew to be ordained for reprobate and obstinate men. Thus when Christ saw that both the Jewish people and the soldiers raged against him with blind fury, though their ignorance was not excusable, he had pity on them, and presented himself as their intercessor. Yet knowing that God would be an avenger, he left to him the exercise of judgment against the desperate. In this manner ought believers also to restrain their feelings in enduring distresses, so as to desire the salvation of their persecutors, and yet to rest assured that their life is under the protection of God, and, relying on this consolation, that the licentiousness of wicked men will not in the end remain unpunished, not to faint under the burden of the cross.

Of this moderation Luke now presents an instance in our Leader and Master; for though he might have denounced perdition against his persecutors, he not only abstained from cursing, but even prayed for their welfare. But it ought to be observed that, when the whole world rises against us, and all unite in striving to crush us, the best remedy for over-coming temptation is, to recall to our remembrance the blindness of those who fight against God in our persons. For the result will be, that the conspiracy of many persons against us, when solitary and deserted, will not distress us beyond measure; as, on the other hand, daily experience shows how powerfully it acts in shaking weak persons, when they see themselves attacked by a great multitude. And, therefore, if we learn to raise our minds to God, it will be easy for us to look down, as it were, from above, and despise the ignorance of unbelievers; for whatever may be their strength and resources, still they know not what they do.

It is probable, however, that Christ did not pray for all indiscriminately, but only for the wretched multitude, who were carried away by inconsiderate zeal, and not by premeditated wickedness. For since the scribes and priests were persons in regard to whom no ground was left for hope, it would have been in vain for him to pray for them. Nor can it be doubted that this prayer was heard by the heavenly Father, and that this was the cause why many of the people afterwards drank by faith the blood which they had shed."

August 9, 2014

D. A. Carson on the Sovereignty-Responsibility Tension and the Love of God

"The sovereignty-responsibility tension in the fourth Gospel embraces two different conceptions of the scope and perhaps the objects of divine love. There is a sense in which God's love is directed toward the 'world' per se; but to absolutise the passages where this is enunciated is to fail to recognise the even more numerous passages in which the divine love is restricted to the elect, while unbelievers sit under wrath and judgment. However, granted that election is present in the fourth Gospel, the tension between the two descriptions of the scope of divine love is better than either of the other theoretically possible alternatives, viz: (1) God loves everyone without exception equally--which would make election logically absurd; (2) God loves only the elect and hates the rest--which would destroy the evangelistic thrust and the emotive incentive to believe based on God's love for the 'world', a love which sent the Son of God on his saving mission and robs the 'world' of excuse.[77] Moreover, John also relates God's special love to the obedience of men (e.g. 14.21; 16.27). Even if that obedience is not the ultimate cause of God's special love, the formulation of the relationship in this way designedly dispels fatalism and indolence."

77. Cf. Calvin's wrestlings with this problem in connection with Rom. 9, in Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God (London, 1961), p. 76ff.
D. A. Carson, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension (1981; repr., London: Marshall Pickering, 1994), 197.

August 7, 2014

Curt Daniel on Hyper-Calvinism and the Denial of God's Universal Saving Will

Dr. Curt Daniel has given several lectures on hyper-Calvinism (see here and here), but this latest one given in 2013 is particularly good:

There are three sections to this lecture:

1) An Introduction [min. 0:40-11:37],
2) A Four-fold Description of the Hyper-Calvinist Distinctives [min. 11:37-65:40], and
3) A Question and Answer Period [min. 65:40-75:05].

The four-fold description of hyper-Calvinism's distinctives involve their rejection of:
2A) the free offer of the gospel [min. 11:42-23:54],
2B) the universal saving will of God [23:54-33:00],
2C) common grace [min. 33:00-46:00], and
2D) duty-faith [min. 46:00-56:12].

Here is the section dealing with hyper-Calvinism's rejection of God's universal saving will [min. 23:54-33:00]:

"Number 2: There's more. It's what is involved in the free offer from God's point of view in His attitude. Now, I have a little booklet here I will give out in a minute by the late John Murray, a first class, mainline Calvinist scholar. The very first sentence of it hits the nail on the head:
"It would appear that the real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men."
And he's right. All  mainline Calvinists have taught what we call the universal saving will of God in the preaching of the gospel. Now, one or two have kind of been unclear on that, but you can still find it in their writings, such as John Owen. But all hyper-Calvinists have denied that, because they deny the free offer and they say, "No, God does not desire the salvation of everybody, but only the elect."
Now, to lay the groundwork for this debate, we first have to understand something very distinctive to Reformed theology, and that's the two-fold will of God. What do we mean by that? The two-fold. For example, there's the secret will of God that we call predestination. God has foreordained everything that comes to pass, including election. It will happen. Period. It's never frustrated. But then there is also the revealed will of God, and that is what we find in the law, and in the gospel; that is His will of command, desire, His wish, and it is not always fulfilled. In fact, it rarely is. But it includes law and gospel. We have to keep those two in balance. But the hyper-Calvinists do not. You can tell which one of them they put all the emphasis on, the secret will. Now, true historic Calvinists study the bible, and they say that the bible clearly does teach that in the revealed will, in the gospel, God does earnestly, sincerely desire the salvation of all those that are lost, and especially those that hear the gospel. That desire is well-meant and sincere. For example, John Calvin said this in his Institutes (III.iii.21):

"Indeed, God declares that He wills the conversion of all and He directs exhortation to all in common."

In the handout I'll have a dozen or so more similar quotes. You can multiply hundreds like that. God sincerely desires and offers the gospel to all lost sinners.
Now, how do we base our case in Scripture? Well, first, we see several scriptures which says God holds out His hands to lost sinners in general. Romans 10:21 quotes Isaiah 65:2: "All day long I have held out my hands to a lost and rebellious people." You find that in Proverbs 1:24 and elsewhere. He holds out His hands and He calls and beckons to lost sinners to come. Secondly, three times in Ezekiel, 18:23, 18:32 and 33:11, God says, "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but only that they repent and live." God's pleading with them. That's a saving desire for them. Now, that leads us to two verses upon which mainline Calvinists are not in complete agreement: 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9. 1 Timothy 2:4 says God desires all those to be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 [says that] "God is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. Some, such as Calvin, say both of these are referring to the revealed will of God, not the secret will; in other words the gospel, not predestination. But then as you continue to study this you'll find that some Calvinists will say that one of them refers to the secret and the other one to the revealed, or vice versa, and then still others say both of these refer to the secret will. But yet, even those they will say we still believe in the universal saving will of God, whether it's taught in either or both of those two verses [i.e. Mainline Calvinists are in theoretical agreement regarding God's universal saving will, even if they disagree on the interpretation of some verses used to support the doctrine]. So we can't found our case completely on them, although it is interesting that John Calvin went on record in his Commentaries on those to say that in the revealed will of the gospel, God does desire the salvation of all those that hear the gospel.

Here's another one that we would appeal to: Romans 10:1. Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (very important) said, "My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." He's not praying just for the elect, because he didn't know who the elect Israelites were. My desire for them in prayer is that they may be saved. Similar words are found in Acts 26:19, speaking to Agrippa, he said that, "I wish that you were altogether like me, except for these chains." And he said all those that would hear me. That's a desire. This is crucial. If God desires people's salvation, so should we. But if God does not desire everybody's salvation, neither should we; and we cannot pray for everybody to be saved, or pray for anybody to be saved because we don't know who the elect are. Sometimes I wonder if our hyper-Calvinist brethren desire the salvation of people. We'll get back to that later. I wonder if they pray for their lost loved ones, "Lord, save them!" Paul says "my desire is that they be saved." Paul's prayer was right! It echoed God's desire for lost sinners to be saved.

Next, if God commands sinners to believe, and faith is a condition of salvation, it logically follows [that] God desires their salvation. If He commands faith which leads to salvation, certainly a command is an expression of desire. You can't get around that. It won't do to say, as some hyper-Calvinisnts say, "well God has no unfulfilled desires." They're confusing the two-fold will of God. The secret will is always fulfilled, the revealed will is not usually fulfilled. So to say "no unfulfilled desires," they don't know their scripture. John Murray, for example, refers to four verses, that are what's called the "optative desires." Deuteronomy 5:29 and other ones where God says, "Oh, that my people would do this!" That's a desire. But [if] you look up those verses you will find out that the people were not honoring that desire. It was one that did not come to pass. Again, the revealed will of God does not always come to pass. If you say that it always comes to pass, then you say that everybody obeys God's law. God's law does not always come to pass. Same thing with the gospel.

Now, let's give just one or two of their arguments on this. Sometimes hyper-Calvinists will argue, "there can be no contradiction between the secret will and the revealed will. There's only one will of God." Well I'd appeal to John Calvin that said ultimately God has only one will, but He condescends to explain it to us in part by saying it's two aspects. So we would say it's a paradox, not a contradiction. And we'd say both of them are legitimate because both are taught in the bible: the secret will of predestination and the revealed will of law and gospel. By the way, the Arminians say you can't have it both, so they go with the revealed will and they negate the secret. Hyper-Calvinists tend to do it in reverse and say since they can't be harmonized, we reject the revealed and go with the secret. But they're inconsistent. What God has joined together, let no many put asunder. They're both taught in the bible.

Now their next argument would be similar to that. They say, "well, God wills only the salvation of the elect. If God desired that people be saved, they would be saved!" To which we say, in the secret will, yes, revealed will, no. They do not see the difference between them. They're confusing the categories. Mainline Calvinists, including your pastor, say, in the secret will whoever God wills to be saved, he chooses. They will be saved. But in this universal desire, He desires all. But only those that He has chosen will be saved. So we dare not confuse or eliminate either one.

So, that's our second point: mainline Calvinists have repeatedly taught God sincerely desires the salvation of all lost sinners, especially those that hear the gospel. But since some Calvinists deny this, they are going beyond the mainstream. Therefore, on this point, they are hyper-Calvinists. They have gone too far, not only out of the mainstream, but out against what scripture itself teaches."

James Morison (1816–1893) and the Argument from 1 Cor. 15:3

I don't know if Morison's theology as a whole is sound, but his argument from 1 Cor. 15:1-4 is spot on, I think. Also, some people need to know that this argument is not new. It is at least as old as the 19th century.
"Sect. 2. -- The next passage to which I would direct your attention, is 1 Cor. xv. 1-4. "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you THE GOSPEL, which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which, also, ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain; for I delivered unto you FIRST OF ALL that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures." You will observe that the apostle sets out in this passage by declaring unto the Corinthians THE GOSPEL. Here, then, we may expect to find out the real object of saving faith. All will admit that it is THE GOSPEL which is THE OBJECT of saving faith; and in this place the apostle professedly explains to the Corinthians what THE GOSPEL is. What then is it? Were we to consult human authors to find out what it is, we would be perplexed and confounded by an almost endless variety and diversity of opinions. It is amazing to find such a conflict of views concerning such a simple subject as the gospel. It is more than amazing, it is melancholy and heart-rending, to find the apostle's definition of it passed by as apparently unworthy of notice, and others proposed in its room. O what is it that ails people at the Holy Ghost's explanation of "the gospel of the grace of God"!

What, then, is the explanation of the gospel here given by Paul, the Holy Ghost's amanuensis? It is this: "Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures," &c. This, then, is THE GOSPEL, "the truth as it is in Jesus." Seeing this is the case, it must be of paramount importance to ascertain who were the precise persons referred to by the apostle in the word "OUR." Were they the believing or the unbelieving Corinthians? This is the question. Is it said by any that it was the believing Corinthians alone who were meant? This cannot be the case; for though it was true indeed that Christ did die for them, none, surely, will say that this truth is THE GOSPEL,--the good news which are to be preached "to every creature." Am I preaching THE GOSPEL when I rise up in an assembly and say, "Christ died for your sins, O ye believers"? Nay, this cannot be regarded as glad tidings "to every creature." But I go farther, and say, that it is quite impossible to bring a consistent meaning out of the passage, if we confine the word OUR to the believing Corinthians. This will be evident to you if you consider that that this gospel--"Christ died for OUR sins"--was what Paul preached unto them before "they received it, and were saved by it." "I declare unto you," says he, "the gospel which I preached unto you, WHICH ALSO YE HAVE RECEIVED, BY WHICH ALSO YE ARE SAVED." Paul preached this gospel--"Christ died for OUR sins;" and the heathen Corinthians "received it," that is, "believed it;" and because they believed it, "they were saved by it." They were saved by believing Paul when he stood up in the midst of them and proclaimed--"Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." As if to obviate every possible difficulty in the way of understanding this passage, the apostle repeats, and still more explicitly, the same declaration in the third verse,--"For I delivered unto you FIRST OF ALL that which I also received, how that Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." Amongst the very "first" things that the apostle delivered to the heathen Corinthians, after he entered their city, was this--"Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." He did not first preach to them some other gospel than this, and by and by, after they were all believers, come out with the daring declaration--"Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." On the contrary, this was the truth which "first of all" he delivered unto them; and this was to them the saving truth, for it was the truth "which they received, BY WHICH ALSO THEY WERE SAVED." Here, then, you have an inspired definition of the object of saving faith--the gospel. It is not merely this,--"Christ is able, infinitely able, to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him;" but it is this,--"Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." Some persons have even ventured to assert that no man is warranted, till after a long life of holiness, to say, "Christ died for me;" and ministers have been told by other ministers that they have no right to say to any man, "Christ died for you." It appears, however, that the apostle Paul was of another mind, for he had no scruples in rising up amidst the heathen Corinthians, whilst yet heathens and unbelievers, and boldly proclaiming, not merely "Christ died for MY sins," but "Christ died for OUR sins, (that is, for your sins, O heathen Corinthians, and for mine,) according to the Scriptures." And this proclamation, moreover, was regarded by him to be the gospel, v. 1.; and be it remembered, in addition, that he elsewhere says, "but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Gal. i. 8. O who, after this, will dare preach any other gospel to an audience of sinners than this--"Christ died for YOUR sins, according to the Scriptures?" How long shall this, the only gospel, be unheard of in then hundreds of our churches? How long shall our land mourn in sackcloth because of the silencing of that "joyful sound" which alone has in it holy might and majesty and mastery, and which should everywhere be heard echoing and re-echoing wherever sinners are to be found? O dear sinner, how true is it that "Christ loved you, and gave himself for you"! Will you not then believe this, "the gospel," and live for him, since he died for you? Oh why will you not?"


Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on the World in 2 Cor. 5:19

"II. Verse 19. is mistaken by man, as if by [the World] were meant only [the Elect] because Reconciliation and not imputing Trespasses are mentioned: But the Text most plainly tells us of a General Reconciliation and non-imputation to Mankind, and a particular to Believers. God did so far reconcile and forgive the World, as not to deal with them merely on the terms of the violated Law of Innocency, but to give them a Redeemer, and a Law of Grace, and a Sealed Pardon of all sin, and free gift of Salvation by Christ, on condition of Believing Acceptance; and that is commonly said to be given, which is freely by a deed of Gift conferred, though Acceptance by implied or expressed as the Condition of enjoyment, and a Man may yet willfully refuse it or neglect it; yea, such Conditions are so naturally necessary, that they use not to be expressed. Yet no Man is Actually (but only Conditionally) possessed of Pardon and Reconciliation, till that Condition be performed: Yet God was forgiving them on his part, and was not imputing sin and unworthiness of Redemption to them, when he gave them a Savior. And yet the work of the Ministry remaineth, even to entreat Men to believe and accept this Pardon and Reconciliation as offered; and it is then actually theirs, when they thus accept it. To say, that then their Faith doth more than Christ's did, or God's Grace, is putid Cavil. Their Faith or Acceptance is no efficient cause at all of their Pardon or Justification: It is but a necessary Receptive Qualification; he that shuts the Window causes darkness: But it's sottish to say, that he that opens it does more than the Sun to cause light; which he causes not at all, but removes the impediment of reception; and Faith itself is God's Gift of Grace, though Preaching and Persuasion be the means of working it."
Richard Baxter, A Paraphrase on the New Testament, with Notes, Doctrinal and Practical (London: Printed for B. Simmons, at the Three Cocks in Ludgate-street, 1685), 380. [No pagination after page 3; pages numbered manually from page 3]

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on Augustine and Redemption

"As for Augustine and some Protestants, they oft deny that Christ redeemeth any but the Faithful, because the word Redemption is ambiguous, and sometimes taken for the price or ransome paid, and often for the very liberation of the captive Sinner. And whenever Austin denieth common Redemption, he taketh Redemption in this last sense, for actual deliverance. But he asserteth it in the first sense, that Christ died for all. Yea, he thought his death is actually applied to the true Justification and Sanctification of some Reprobates that fall away and perish, though the Elect only are so redeemed as to be saved. Read yourself in Augustine, Prosper and Fulgentius, and you will see this with your own eyes."

Thomas Ball (1590–1659) on the Discussion Between John Preston (1587–1628) and Francis White (c. 1564–1638) on Redemption

"Some of the Lords proposed that, instead of this book which Mr. Montague promised to write, the Synod of Dort might be received & established as the doctrine of the church of England, seeing there was nothing there determined but what our delegates approved. But Dr. [Francis] White [an Arminian-Remonstrant] opposed this mainly; for, said he, the church of England, in her catechism, teaches to believe in God the Son, who redeemed me and all mankind, which that Synod did deny.

Dr. Preston answered, that by redemption there was only meant the freeing of mankind from that inevitable ruin the sin of Adam had involved them in, and making them savable upon conditions of another covenant. John 3:16-17. So that now salvation was not impossible, as it was before the death of Christ; but might be offered unto any man, according to the tenor of that commission, Mark 16:15-16. This could not however be applied unto the devils, for they were left in that forlorn condition whereinto their sin & disobedience put them, Heb. 2:16 & 2 Pet. 2:4. On the other hand, the jailor, Acts 16:24, 27. was a boisterous, bloody fellow, yet Paul made no doubt to tell him (verse 31) that, if he believed in the Lord Jesus, he should be saved with his house. But Dr. White would in no sort admit this, but affirmed earnestly that Christ died for all alike in God's intention and decree; for Cain as well as Abel; for Saul as well as David; for Judas as much as Peter; for the reprobate & damned in Hell as well as for the elect and saints in Heaven.

To which Dr. Preston answered, that there was a special salvation offered to believers, 1 TIm. 4:10. That Christ was indeed a ransom for all, 1 Tim. 2:6. yet the Savior only of his body, Eph. 5:23. That he redeemed all, but called, justified, & glorified, whom he knew before, & had predestined to be formable to the image of his son, Rom. 8:29-30. That to whom in this sense Christ was given, to them were given also all things appertaining unto life & godliness, 2 Pet. 1:3. As says, 2 Pet. 1:1. Phil. 1:29. Eph. 2:8. Repentance, Acts 11:18. 2 Tim. 2:25. A new heart, Ezek. 36:26. His Spirit, Gal. 4:5-6. So that nothing can be charged on them, Rom. 8:31-34. So that they can never perish nor be taken out of Christ's hand, John 10:28-30. But as they are begotten again unto a lively hope, 1 Pet. 1:3. so they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (verse 5). Whereas Judas was lost, John 17:12. and is gone to his own place, Acts 1:25.

And there are many nations & people of the world, that have no outward offer made unto them in the Gospel, Psa. 147:19-20. Acts 16:6-7. And those that enjoy the means of grace, have not all hearts given them to understand & believe it, Deut. 29:2-4. Isa. 6:9-10. Matt. 13:13-15. and therefore they are lost, 2 Cor. 4:3-4. and are damned. 2 Thess. 2:10-12. He showed them, in Adam all men were lost, Rom. 5:12. and none recovered but by Christ; therefore, such as had not Christ's intercession could not recover; That Christ prayed not but for some, John 17:9. and therefore none but such only could be saved, Heb. 9:15.

Dr. White acknowledged there was a difference; for, though all had so much as by good improvement might serve their turn, yet the elect had more, for God abounded towards them, Eph. 1:8-9. Rom. 5:15, 17, 20. Thus, by example, all the troop have horses, but the officers have better; two travelers have staves to leap over a ditch, yet the one a stronger & better then the other; the worst men had grace enough to keep corruption & the evil of their nature down, but the elect such as would do it easily. Christ had tasted death for every man; Heb. 2:9. he died for those who might notwithstanding perish, 1 Cor. 8:11. and bought those that yet might bring upon themselves swift damnation, 2 Pet. 2:1. because they did not husband & improve the favor offered to them.

Dr. Preston answered that Christ was in himself sufficient to save all; and might be said to be provided for that end & use; as a medicine is to cure infected poison, though it cures none actually but those that drink it. "Habet in se quod omnibus prosit, sed, si non bibitur, non," as in 1 John 5:11-12. But many did not thus apply Christ, because they had him not so offered & exhibited as others had, Matt. 11:21. Luke 10:13. for God gave some faith & repentance, as I have showed. The serpent (Moses was commanded to make), was in itself sufficient to cure those that were bitten, Num. 21:8-9. yet cured none but only those who looked on it. "So, as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness, shall the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life," John 3:14-15."


Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) on Christ Seeking the Salvation of the Wicked

The Hickman edition has this:

"Ans 2. We ought now to seek and be concerned for the salvation of wicked men, because now they are capable subjects of it. Wicked men, though they may be very wicked, yet are capable subjects of mercy. It is yet a day of grace with them, and they have the offers of salvation. Christ is as yet seeking their salvation; he is calling upon them, inviting and wooing them, he stands at the door and knocks. He is using many means with them, is calling them, saying, Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? The day of his patience is yet continued to them; and if Christ is seeking their salvation, surely we ought to seek it.

God is wont now to make men the means of one another's salvation; yea, it is his ordinary way so to do. He makes the concern and endeavors of his people the means of bringing home many to Christ. Therefore they ought to be concerned for and endeavor it. But it will not be so in another world; there wicked men will be no longer capable subjects of mercy. The saints will know, that it is the will of God the wicked should he miserable to all eternity. It will therefore cease to be their duty any more to seek their salvation, or to be concerned about their misery. On the other hand, it will be their duty to rejoice in the will and glory of God. It is not our duty to be sorry that God hath executed just vengeance on the devils, concerning whom the will of God in their eternal state is already known to us."
Jonathan Edwards, "The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Carlisle, Penn.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1992), p. 210.

The Yale edition has this:

"2. we ought to seek & be Concernd for the salv. of

wick men now. because now they are Capable sub-

jects of it there is no man living

wicked men tho they may be very wicked yet are

Capable subjects of mercy it is yet a day of Grace

with & they have the offers of salvation.


X is as yet seeking their salvation he is Calling

upon them Inviting & wooing he stands at their

door & Knocks he is using many means with

them . . & if X seeks G. is now Calling to em

& telling saying turn ye turn ye why will

ye die. the day of Gods Patience is yet Continu

ed to them & if G. X is Yet seeking their salv. surely

we ought to seek it.


G. is wont now to be m be making mens a

means of an one anothers salvation & tis Commonly

yea tis his ordinary way so to do way so to do

he makes one the Concern & Endeavours of his

People a means of bringing home many to X

therefore they ought to be Concerned for them it

& Endeavour it.


But it wont be so in another world for there

wicked men will be no Longer Capable subjects

of mercy G They will know that that is the

will of G. that they should be miserable to all

Etern. the it will Cease theref. to be their

duty to be any more Concernd about wick

to seek their salv. or to be Concern'd about their

being miserable . but to Rejoice in the will

& Glory of G. .


Tis not our duty now to be sorry that G. has Executed

Just vengeance on the devils that we Know Certainly

are damned
Concerning whom Gods will in their

Eternal state Is already declared to us."

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) On Christ Laying Down His Life For Those That Will Be Damned

The Hickman edition reads this way:
"Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, will have no pity on you. Though he had so much love to sinners, as to be willing to lay down his life for them, and offers you the benefits of his blood, while you are in this world, and often calls upon you to accept them; yet then he will have no pity upon you. You never will hear any more instructions from him; he will utterly refuse to be your instructor: on the contrary, he will be your judge, to pronounce sentence against you."
Jonathan Edwards, "The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Carlisle, Penn.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1992), p.  211.

The Yale edition has this:

" Jesus X the

1 we you have now heard Inhabi Cr Redeemer

will have no Pity upon You tho he had so much Love

to sinners as to be willing to Lay down his Life for

& offered you the benefits of his blood while on

this T yet then hell have not Pity upon you

you never will have any more Invitations from him

hell utterly Refuse to be your Intercessour. on the

Contrary he will be your Judge to Pronounce sen-

tence against you."

Note: The first "you," in the context, refers to those that will eventually be damned, i.e. the reprobates or non-elect. That is why Edwards says that after they perish, Jesus Christ will no longer take pity on them. However, to this same group of "sinners," Edwards says Jesus "loved" them so as "to be willing to lay down his life for them."

July 12, 2014

Richard Maden (ca. 1591-1677) on the Will of God Touching Man's Salvation

Luke 19:42

Oh if thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, &c!

Chap. 6.

The Will of God touching man's salvation, as it is generally revealed and propounded in the Gospel.

Hitherto of Christ's carriage and deportment towards Jerusalem; It follows now to speak of his words and speeches to her, and therein first of his passionate and pathetical wish or complaint: wherein first of all, the manner of speech offers itself to our consideration, because the original text, is not rendered alike by all. In the translation of it, some looking more at the scope and intention of Christ, who sets himself purposely to bewail the condition of Jerusalem, than at the bare and naked translation of the words; do render them in the nature of a wish or desire, oh that thou hadst known, &c. and so make the sense full and complete, without the supply or addition of anything else unto it; and the particle (If) is sometimes rendered in that sense, as the learned observe: and many interpreters go this way. Others looking more punctually at the grammatical construction of the words in the original, render the words in a conditional phrase, by way of supposition, If thou hadst known, &c. and so seem to make it defective speech, or a broken and imperfect sentence, which must be thus supplied and made up: If thou hadst known the worth and excellency of those good things which are offered unto thee by the coming of a Saviour, though wouldst not value them at so low a rate: Or, If thou hadst known the misery and calamity thou lyest open unto, thou wouldest not sing and rejoice as now thou doest, but weep and shed tears as thou seest me do. And this also is well backed with the authority of the learned, and they are induced to incline to this opinion, because of the tears of Christ mentioned in the verse before.

Now for a man that speaks out of depth of sorrow, and fulness of grief, it is nothing strange for him to break off his speech, and leave it imperfect; for as it is the nature of joy to enlarge the heart, and dilate the spirits, & so set open as it were a wide door for the thoughts of the heart to go out and vent themselves; so it is the nature of sorrow to contract and straighten, to narrow and draw together the spirits, and as it were to shut the door of the soul, so that like as it is with a vessel, though it be full of liquor, yet if the mouth of it be stopped, none will flow out; even so it was here with Christ: having begun to speak, he was so overwhelmed with grief, and so deeply affected with the estate and condition of Jerusalem, that he could not speak out, but was even constrained to weep out the rest of the sentence, leaving the full sense and meaning to be gathered and supplied out of his tears: as is used in such passionate and pathetical speeches. The matter is not much in regard of the sense and meaning, whether the words be read in a manner of a wish, O that thou hadst known, &c. or whether they be translated by way of supposition, in a conditional phrase, If thou hadst known, &c. And happily he shall not do amiss that joins them both together, and reads the words thus, O if thou hadst known, and so they afford this observation.

That Christ did seriously will and desire the welfare of Jerusalem, even that part of Jerusalem which was afterward miserably destroyed, for refusing the mercy that was tendered and offered unto her: neither did he will this as man only, but likewise as God; the will of the humanity, and the will of the Deity were not contrary, but subordinate; they did both meet in the object or thing willed; that is, in the good and salvation of Jerusalem. And that he did seriously will it, there be three things in the Text seem plainly to evince: 1. His tears, as has been shown before. 2. His patience and long-suffering, because not withstanding the killing of so many Prophets, as had been slain before, the contempt and undervaluing of so many mercies as had been offered before; yet even to that very day he carried thoughts of peace towards her, and accordingly sent her means of peace, even such means, as from that day forward she should never enjoy the like again. And what more evident sign of his serious intentions than this, that he is so long, before his thoughts can be taken off from it. 3. His coming to her in his own person: when the Physician does not only prescribe remedies for his sick Patient, and gives order what he shall take, but also comes himself in his own person to apply them, lest there should be any mistake or neglect; it is a sign he does seriously will and desire his recovery; so when Christ comes himself in person to Jerusalem, as to his sick patient; it shows how willing and desirous he was to work a cure upon this diseased party, and to heal that [which] was amiss; and this is that which [he] himself testifies, & speaks out plainly elsewhere [Matt. 23:37], O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee, even as the hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? You see what Christ professes, I would have gathered thee, &c. and that his purpose and intention was serious in the willing of it, appears, 1. From the ingemination of the word, Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem: a single compellation had been sufficient, to let Jerusalem know his mind; but that it might make a deeper impression, and that she might see and perceive his thoughts and purposes to be serious indeed; therefore he doubles the word, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: to show that he desired her welfare, not by a single and slender intention, but by a more serious and re-doubled affection. 2. From the qualification of the persons, whom he would have gathered, they were such as had killed the Prophets, stoned them that were sent, &c. and now ready to exercise the like cruelty upon himself. Here were indignities more than sufficient to have abated somewhat of his affections towards her, &; to have taken off his thoughts and intentions of doing her good, had not the bent and inclination of his will been seriously propending that way. 3. From the frequency of his endeavors; he had made an offer and tender of salvation unto her, not once, but often; even by all the Prophets in the Old Testament that went before him: neither was there only an offer tendered, but that also seconded with earnest entreaties and exhortations to accept of it, and that after so many denials and refusals of it, he would yet still continue to make the same offer, and that in his own person; it plainly shows, that he did seriously will and desire her good. 4. From the manner of willing, which is set forth here by way of comparison, as the hen gathers her chickens, &c. Now of all females among the reasonable creatures, there is none more tenderly affectionate towards her young, than the hen is towards her chickens; other fowls are not known to have young, unless it be when they are in the nest, or together with them; but the hen is known to have young, even then when she is apart from them, when they do not follow her, because even then her wings flag and hang down, her feathers are rough, and stand up, she goes feebly, and clucks mournfully, as the father [Chrysos. & Augustine] well observes. And therefore Christ comparing his will and affection for the good of Jerusalem, with the native propension that is in the hen, to gather her chickens under her wings, does plainly show that he did seriously will and desire her good.

And to enlarge the point a little more, and raise it a little higher, from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to all those to whom the Gospel is preached, and to whom Christ is offered in the ministry of the Word: for there is a like party of reason in both: for Christ came not to do his own will, but the will of his Father that sent him. And therefore so as Christ willed the good and salvation of Jerusalem, to which he was sent; so does God will the good and salvation of those to whom the Gospel is preached: that is, as Christ did seriously will the good and salvation of Jerusalem, even of that part of Jerusalem, which for the refusal of his mercy was afterward miserably destroyed by her enemies: So God does seriously will and desire the salvation of those to whom the Gospel is preached; even of those, who through their own fault perish in their sins: For God will have all men saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth [1 Tim. 2:4]: which words I take in that sense and meaning that I find them interpreted in the Articles of our Church, to wit, according to that conditional promise of grace and favour to mankind, which is universal; universal, I say, in the offer, or antecedent part of it, though not so in the event or consequent part of it: and so it is taken by Zanchy [J. Zanchius], and some other modern Divines, who make the latter part of the sentence to be a condition required of everyone, for the obtaining of that salvation which is mentioned in the foregoing part of it, so that the will of God revealed in the Scriptures touching man's salvation, it respects both the end, and the means; the end which God would have men come unto, it is a happy end, even the salvation of their souls; which salvation he is willing to give unto them, upon such terms and conditions as are expressed in the new Covenant; the means he would have them use for the attaining of this end, is, to come to the knowledge of the truth, even that lively and effectual knowledge which is accompanied with the love of the truth, and obedience to it.

I am not ignorant that some understand the Apostles words of an absolute will in God, and therefore do not extend or enlarge it to all and every one to whom the Gospel is preached, but only to some few of all sorts of men. And this interpretation they father upon St. Augustine, the more to endear it to their followers, by so great a name: and it may not be denied, but that it contains a truth in it: for God by his absolute will, which does always most certainly and infallibly take effect, he wills the salvation of none but the elect only. But yet that learned Father, in that very place where he gives this interpretation, does also give leave and liberty to every one to follow any other sense and meaning that the words bear, so be it do not [so long as it does not] constrain us to believe the omnipotent power of God can be hindered in those things which He absolutely wills [Enchirodion, c. 103]. And the same Father does elsewhere acknowledge that the words may well admit of another interpretation [Epist. 107]: and himself does so qualify his former exposition [Ad art. sibi falso impos., art. 2: See Willet's reference], as that he plainly shows, that the cause why men perish, is in themselves, because they do not desire salvation, neither are they willing to have it, upon such terms and conditions as it is offered unto them; so that they come to perish, not simply for want of good will in God towards them, but because they are wanting to themselves, in the use of those means that lead to life; and thus do some of his own followers interpret his mind and meaning, and will have him to make the Apostle speak of the antecedent part of that conditional will, which is revealed and generally propounded in the Gospel. But however that be, it is certain, that many learned men do so interpret the Apostle, both ancient and modern: Some in their commentaries upon the place, and some in other parts of their works; and that seems most agreeable to the scope and intention of the place: he that takes a view of all other interpretations that are given of the words, he shall find none among them all (those only excepted which are in sense the same, and do but differ from it in words and expressions) but it is more strained & wrested from the true sense and meaning of the Holy Ghost, and liable to more just and material exceptions, than this is.

As for that first exposition of Saint Augustine, which interprets the Apostle of an absolute will in God, and restrains it only to some of all sorts, though it be received by many, yet it seems not so proper and suitable to the scope of the place; because the words are brought in as a reason or motive to press the exhortation laid down before; to wit, that prayers and supplications be made for all men; and therefore must be of equal extent and largeness with it. The word All must be so taken in the Motive annexed, as it is in the duty enjoined; God wills the salvation of all those for whom he will have his people make prayers and supplications: Their charity in praying must reach to all, because God will have all men saved. Now the word All, in the duty enjoined, as Calvin well observes, it signifies the whole race of mankind, and so reaches to all and every one: God will have prayers and supplications made, not only for some of all sorts, but for all of every sort; and therefore the Text gives express charge, that prayers be made for all in authority; not only for some of all sorts, as for some Kings, & some that bear office and authority under them, but for all in authority; even those that were no better than Wolves and Bears, and Lions to the Church; for such were Kings and all in authority in those times; they were so many sworn enemies to Christ and his Kingdom, and yet prayers and supplications are to be made for them. So the Prophet enjoins the Israelites, when they were in captivity under the King of Babel, to seek the prosperity of the City, and to pray for the King's welfare, and the good success of his government: So Christ enjoins his disciples to pray for their enemies and persecutors, &c. and that from the example of God himself, who causes his sun to shine, and the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust [Matt. 5:45]: So when the people had revolted, and provoked God with a high hand, what does Samuel? Does he cease to pray for them? No: God forbid that I should sin against God in ceasing to pray for you. There is not any particular man whom the faithful are to exclude from the benefit of their prayers. Every one is capable of salvation upon such terms as are expressed in the Covenant; and it is the duty of every one, as to seek the enlargement of God's Kingdom, so for that end to pray for him that is without, that he may be added to it: as he is bound to do good unto all; so likewise to pray for them, that being one principle means and way by which he is enabled to do them good; as he is bound to love his neighbor, that is, every one as himself, so likewise he is bound to pray for him; this being one of the best fruits and effects of love that he can show unto him; as there is none but stands in need of his prayers, and may receive benefit and advantage by them; so none must be excepted in the making of them. Now from all these premises, it is plain and evident, that in the duty enjoined by the Apostle, the word All, is to be taken in a general sense, for all and every one; and therefore in all congruity of reason, it must be of the same extent and largeness in the Motive that is used for the enforcing of it, because otherwise it would not bear up the weight that is laid upon it, it would not reach home, nor serve the Apostle's purpose and intention; it would not be sufficient or available to persuade unto it, or to further and put on the practice of that precept for which it is brought: and this is consonant and agreeable to other places of Scripture, where the same truth is asserted and laid down. Let one or two suffice in the stead of all the rest; As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn and live, &c [Ezek. 33:11]. Where you have first the declaration of God's will and affection to the sons of men, and then the proof and confirmation of it. God declares himself to stand tenderly affected towards the sons of men, as appears,

1. By the quality of the person to whom he bears this good will, and that is a sinner, not only a repenting sinner, as some gloss upon it, but even of that sinner, who for the refusing of mercy offered, dies and perishes in his sin; as is plain by comparing this with another parallel place [Ezek. 18:23]; I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, &c.

2. By the nature of the affection he expresses toward him, and that is set down partly by way of negation; I have no pleasure in his death, or I desire not his death: that is, antecedently, and of himself, in the primary intention of his Providence towards him: for God's primary intention in sending the Gospel to any, is to bring him to salvation, and not to seal up and further his condemnation; unless it be through his own fault, undervaluing the mercy offered, and neglecting the helps and means afforded unto him in the same; as Christ tells the Jews; These things I say unto you that ye might be saved, but ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life, &c. And partly it is set down by way of affirmation, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live; he would have him to live, and is willing to give life and salvation to him, according to that course of providence that he has taken for him, in, and by the new Covenant; and that he may live, he would have him to turn away from his wickedness, that deprives him of life: for to that end and purpose he sends his Word and Messengers, to convince him of his sin, to terrify and a fright him with it, to shame him out of his sinful courses. Again, you have the proof and confirmation of all this, As I live saith the Lord; he confirms it with an oath: the bare promise of God deserves credit, because it is he that cannot lie which hath promised; but when he binds himself by oath to make good that promise, who can make the least doubt of it? And therefore God promises with an oath to make his promise the more firm and stable: God willing more abundantly (says the Apostle) to show to the heirs of promise the stableness [stability] of his counsel, hath bound himself with an oath, &c. that by two immutable things, wherein it is impossible that God should lie, they might have strong consolation.

Again, the same truth is confirmed in the New Testament, by those two great Apostles, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and the Apostle of the Jews, St. Paul, and St. Peter; God hath shut up all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all [Rom. 11:32]. Where you see, that misery and mercy are in some sort of equal extent; that is, though all that be in misery do not obtain mercy, yet they are some ways under mercy: those that are made miserable by the breach of the first Covenant, are made capable of mercy by virtue of the second Covenant: Whom the Law convinces of sin, to them the Gospel offers mercy in Christ. And the primary purpose and intention of God in the work of the Law, is to prepare them for Christ, and for the Gospel; that being made sensible of their sin and misery by the Law, they might be more willing to accept of mercy, upon such terms and conditions as it is offered in the Gospel. God never shuts up any under sin by the spirit of bondage, by it is with a purpose and intention to fit him for mercy, if he make a right use of this passage of his providence towards him; that is, when out of a kindly impression that is has wrought upon him, he is moved to seek out for mercy, in that way and order that God has appointed. So then, as the purpose and intention of God in the Ministry of the Law, is shut up all under sin, to show them what they are in themselves, that every mouth may be stopped, and all made culpable before God: so his purpose and intention in the Gospel, and the Covenant of Grace, is, to set open a door of mercy to all, that they may be encouraged through hope of finding mercy, to seek after it: & to this accords the Apostle St. Peter [2 Pet. 3:9]; God is patient towards us, and would have no man perish, but all men to come to repentance. The person of whom God speaks, are such as are the object of his patience, towards whom he exercises his long-suffering; and those are not only some of all estates and conditions, but all and every one, of what estate and condition soever he be; not only the elect, but more especially the rest of the world, even those that abuse his patience, and treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath [Rom. 2:4]; who are therefore terms vessels of wrath, he suffereth with much patience vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; now if you would know how God stands affected to these, the Apostle resolves it first negatively, not willing that any should perish; having no antecedent thoughts of their destruction, before they give occasion, and are looked upon as persons worth of destruction, for their sins: then affirmatively, He would have all men come to repentance [Calvin's Comm. referenced in margin], lest any should think that the act of God's will stands in an indifferent neutrality, touching man's salvation, not caring greatly whether they sink or swim, or what become of them; therefore the Apostle does not only clear the will of God from being a cause of their perishing; but also shows, that is has a positive act, for, and towards the procuring of their salvation, because he is willing that all should come to repentance, and by repentance to remission of sins, and eternal life. By all which places, and many others that might be alleged to the same purpose; it is plain and evident, that God does seriously will the good and salvation of many, who notwithstanding through their own fault, perish in their sins.
Richard Maden, Christs Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem (London: Printed by M.F. for John Clark, and are to be sold at his Shop under S. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1637), 45-59. [English updated and modernized]


According to Keith L. Sprunger's work on Dutch Puritanism (Brill, 1982), Richard Maden (B.D.), once a preacher at St. Helens in London and Late Fellow of Magdalen College in Cambridge, served in both the English Reformed Church in Utrecht (1644-1646) and the Amsterdam English Reformed Church (1647-1668). Maden was an ejected Anglican turned Presbyterian. In 1662, Maden took charge of a project to translate into English the principal parts of the Dutch Reformed catechism for use in the church. He retired in 1668 at age 77.

July 10, 2014

Richard Holdsworth (1590-1649) on God's General Love and Common Graces

"Look upon the sun, how it casts light and heat upon the whole world in its general course, how it shineth upon the good and the bad with an equal influence; but let its beams be but concentrated in a burning-glass, then it sets fire on the object only, and passeth by all others: and thus God in the creation looketh upon all his works with a general love, erant omnia valde bona, they pleased him very well. Oh! but when he is pleased to cast the beams of his love, and cause them to shine upon his elect through Christ, then it is that their hearts burn within them, then it is that their affections are inflamed; whereas others are but as it were a little warmed, have a little shine of common graces case upon them." Richard Holdsworth, 1651 
 Quoted in C. H. Spurgeon's, The Treasury of David (Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 1:118. Spurgeon attributes this to Holdsworth in 1651. The only work I can see by Holdsworth on that date is one edition of his The Valley of Vision (London: Printed by Matthew Simmons, and are to be sold at Alders-gate street next door to the Gilded-Lion, 1651), and yet I can't find the quote in this book which contains 21 sermons. Another book of quotations attributes it to an early Holdsworth sermon preached at St. Paul's in London in 1625.


May 18, 2014

Richard Maden's (ca. 1591 - ca. 1677) Moderate Calvinism

According to Keith L. Sprunger's work on Dutch Puritanism (Brill, 1982), Richard Maden (B.D.), once a preacher at St. Helens in London and Late Fellow of Magdalen College in Cambridge, served in both the English Reformed Church in Utrecht (1644-1646) and the Amsterdam English Reformed Church (1647-1668). Maden was an ejected Anglican turned Presbyterian. In 1662, Maden took charge of a project to translate into English the principal parts of the Dutch Reformed catechism for use in the church. He retired in 1668 at age 77.

Maden's moderate Calvinism can be seen in the following preface to the reader in his Christ's Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem:
The Preface to the Reader.

Gentle Reader,

There is nothing more available for the rectifying of the judgment and understanding of a man in the mysteries of salvation, than a right apprehension and conceit, touching the will of God; to wit, what God is willing to do for him, and what he wills and requires him to do for the obtaining of it. The clear understanding of this, rectifies a man's faith in matters to be believed, either concerning God, or himself: it regulates his obedience in things to be done, teaching him how to pray aright with confidence to be heard, and that is, when he asks anything according to the will of God, directing him to walk aright in the way of life; and that is, when he is neither misled in his way, nor negligent in his work, but applies himself to God in a wise and orderly carriage, suitable to that course of providence that he has taken for his good.

Touching this will of God, there is something delivered in this ensuing Treatise, by which every one may take a true scantling of the goodwill and affection that God bears unto him, by those warm expressions of love which he finds in the Gospel. Much more might have been said in this argument, and perhaps in time may.

Meanwhile, for the preventing of all mistakes in that which is said already, be pleased (courteous reader) to take notice, that it is no part of my purpose and intention, in any part of these following discourses and meditations, to enter the lists of that dispute and controversy which is now in agitation among the learned divines of the Reformed churches, touching the will of God in the decree of election. The heat of that contention has already troubled and disquieted the peace of the church too much, and want of moderation in some on both sides, through the indiscreet handling, of that unsearchable depth, does still beget ill blood in the veins of that body, that should grow up unto an holy Temple in the Lord. As in all other controversies, so in this, the right stating of the matter in question, helps much for the clearing of the truth; and if that be first done, (I hope) it will fully appear, that the conclusion here maintained touching the will of God, does no way border upon that controversy; for the matter there in question is, whether the decree of election, as it is terminated, and pitched upon particular persons, be absolute, and irrespective, or out of consideration of foreseen faith and perseverance: that is, whether God does equally will the salvation of all, and have no absolute and irrespective purpose of saving one more than another, before he looks at different qualifications in them. It is freely confessed [Maden cites William Ames' 1633 Anti-synodalia scripta in the margin] by one that is no stranger to that controversy, nor any ways partially addicted to the Lutheran side, but in his judgment and opinion strong enough against it, that the question of it be rightly stated, is not, whether God does truly, sincerely, and seriously intend the conversion of that man who he outwardly calls, but whether he does equally and indifferently intend and procure the conversion and salvation of all those to whom the Gospel is preached; implying, that both sides agree upon this, that God does seriously will the salvation of all those to whom He makes an offer and tender of it in the ministry of the Word; and that neither part maintains any such decree of purpose in God, touching man's salvation, as is repugnant and contrary to that will of God which is revealed in the Gospel, but subordinate unto it. And when he [Ames in the same work] does positively and professedly set down the position and conclusion which [he] himself and others hold and maintain against their adversaries, he makes this expression of it, namely, that God does not antecedently will the conversion of such as die in their sins, after the same manner, and in the same degree as he does the conversion of others, whom in time he converts; neither does he work equally and indifferently in them both, but that by an antecedent purpose, independent upon anything in the creature, he absolutely intends, and so accordingly effectually procures the conversion of some, leaving others, who lie equally in the same condition with them, and are [in] no ways inferior unto them, save only in that previous purpose of special love, which he is pleased of himself, and for his own sake, to show to one more than to another.

And this seems to be the mind of those learned divines in the Synod of Dort, who speaking of the benefits of Christ's death and passion, when they come to that distinction of impretration and application, they show, that they do not simply and altogether mislike it; and therefore they qualify their censure thus far, that they do reject it only in this sense, to wit, as it is used to further and lead in this conclusion, that God, in respect of himself, is willing to bestow the benefits purchased by the death of Christ, equally and indifferently upon all; and that the reason why some are made partakers of remission of sins, and eternal life, rather than others, it is not primarily from any greater goodwill in God towards them, nor any special mercy peculiarly showed to them before others, but from their own freedom and liberty, whereby they apply themselves to God more than others, in making after that grace and mercy which is indifferently offered to both. From whence it appears, that the matter in question among the learned, is only touching the decree of election, how man is considered and looked upon, when God passes that decree upon him, whether barely and nakedly, as abstracted from all qualifications and conditions which are required in the covenant of grace, or clothed and invested with such preparatory gifts of grace, as do by virtue of God's promise, entitle him to eternal life. This question I purposely wave, and meddle not withal in this ensuing Treatise, but take that which is generally granted by the more moderate, and best learned on both sides: to wit, that all mankind are capable of salvation, upon such terms and conditions as are expressed in the covenant of grace: that is, if they repent of their sins, and believe in Christ, and that when God offers life and salvation to all and every one in the ministry of the Word, he is truly willing, and does seriously intend to bestow the same upon them, in that way that He has commanded them to seek it, and according to that course of providence that he has taken for their good: that is, if they will apply themselves unto him, and follow the counsel and direction that he gives them. And this, if I mistake not, is the general doctrine of the ancient Fathers, the learned School-men, and many modern divines: both Papists and Protestants, Lutherans and Calvinists, there is none that is well read and versed in their writings, that can much doubt or question the judgment of any of them, save only of those who follow and embrace Mr. Calvin's way, and build upon his foundation: and yet amongst them (over and besides those that are mentioned in the Treatise itself) these two or three testimonies may serve to show that many of very good note among them, are clear in this point:

First, it appears by Musculus in his Common Places, that the redemption which is purchased by Christ, is upon some condition applyable to the whole world, and to every particular man from the first to the last: that is, according to the report made in the general offer of it; for though all be not made partakers of it, yet their ruin and destruction, which is of themselves, does not [in] any way prejudice or impeach the general goodwill of God towards mankind, nor hinder, but that the benefit of redemption may be thus far termed universal, as that it is in some sort intended for all, and upon some conditions appliable unto all: and he illustrates this by two similitudes: First, of the sun, which may be said to send forth a general light and influence into all places, and all creatures, and to make them fruitful though many of them remain barren, because the defect and hindrance is not in the nature of the sun, but in other letts and impediments which hinder the effectual working of it: Even so (he says) it is with the redemption purchased by Christ; that Reprobates and wicked men do not receive it, it is not for want of goodwill in God towards them; nor through the defect of that grace He offers to them, for it is prepared for all, and in the preaching of the gospel are all invited to it: and therefore it is not fit that it should forfeit the title of a general benefit, because the sons of perdition, through their own fault, deprive themselves of it: for as a Medicine may be said to be universal, though it does not actually cure all diseases, because it has such a virtue in it, that it would heal them, if it were rightly and orderly applied unto them: Even so the blood of Christ may be termed an universal medicine, because it has sufficient virtue in it to heal the sins of the whole world, though it do actually cure none, but such only to whom it is applied.

The other similitude which he brings for the illustration of this point, is drawn from a custom which was used among the Jews, who in the year of Jubilee, proclaimed a general liberty to all servants, whosoever would, might go out free, though many remained still in their former bondage, refusing the benefit of liberty when it was freely offered and tendered unto them: even so in the Gospel, there is a Proclamation published of a general pardon purchased by Christ, which is offered and tendered to all and every one, upon such conditions as are expressed in the covenant of grace. The reason why many miss of it, is not for want of mercy in God, but because they are wanting to themselves, and do not seek for it according to his will.

Another [Maden cites Paul Testard's Synopsis doctrinae de natura et gratia in the margin] affirms, that besides that special and particular goodwill which God bears to some, there is a general goodwill which he bears to all, out of which he was moved to send Christ into the world, and out of a consideration, and for that, which Christ has done and suffered, to erect and set up a throne of grace, and from thence to offer grace, and that by means which in themselves are apt, and some ways sufficient to bring a man to life and happiness, if they be not hindered by a careless neglect on his part.

And this is plainly delivered by another author [Maden again cites William Ames' Anti-synodalia scripta in the margin] mentioned before, when he tells us, that the serious purpose and intention of God, which is required to the outward means, is never to be separated from them; that is, in the administration of the outward means, there is always a virtual purpose in God of doing that, which the means in their own nature lead unto. And again he does freely acknowledge, that those general helps which God affords to the men of this world, and those inferior gifts of the Spirit that he works in them, though they be but common works, and common graces, yet they do in some sort belong to a saving and justifying faith, as previous dispositions preparing and making way for it, and that God's purpose and intention in the working of them, is to afford them some more general helps, which they ought to make use of, for their furtherance, in the way of their conversion: and therefore God did seriously will their salvation.

I will add but one witness more in this matter, and that is the testimony of a learned professor in one of the universities beyond the sea [Maden cites John Cameron in the margin], who thus comments upon those words of the Apostle, God will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, &c. so as men are bound to pray for the salvation of all men, so does God will it: that is, not absolutely, but conditionally; for whatsoever God absolutely wills, that is always effected, and cannot be hindered by anything in the creature; but what he wills only upon condition, that may be hindered, because such as fail in the condition by a voluntary neglect, do thereby hinder and keep away good things from them. And thus should everyone pray for the salvation of others, not absolutely that God would bring them to salvation, whether they repent or no, but that he would bless the means unto them, and work grace in them, whereby they may repent and turn unto him, in that way of obedience, that leads to life.

And again, he shows that the Scripture does so describe the antecedent love of God towards mankind, as that there are certain degrees of love to be acknowledged in it, whereof the first is more general, and belongs to all, and out of this love he sends Christ into the world, to pay a sufficient price for the redemption of all, and by that payment to make them capable of salvation, upon such conditions as are expressed in the new covenant: and out of this love it is that he wills the salvation of all, and so accordingly calls them to repentance, that they might be saved. As it is amongst men, he that uses all fitting and convenient means to gain another man's good opinion of him, and to draw his love and affection towards him, and for that end, makes a signification of the goodwill and affection he bears him, and shows himself ready upon all occasions to do any good office for him; and withall, show him such arguments and reasons, such motives and inducements, as are in their own nature apt to persuade him thereunto, he may be truly said to desire his love and friendship; though he do not prevail with him for the obtaining of it, he has sufficiently managed and officiated his part, without omitting of anything that was fit and requisite for him to do: and the fault and hinderance lies wholly in him that was so inflexible, that no means could prevail with him, or move him to embrace such a friendly motion. Even so the case stands between God and man, in respect of that general goodwill and affection that God bears to him: God speaks unto him, and deals with him, as with a reasonable creature; and if he does not prevail with him, the fault is not in God, or in the means that are used by him, but only in man, who will not apply himself unto God, and serve his providence in that way and course that is taken for his good: and he [Cameron] illustrates this by two similitudes: First of the sun, which affords and sends forth sufficient light to all, and yet gives no light to those that wink with their eyes, and shut those windows against the light, not through any defect, or want of light in the sun, but only through his fault, who will not make use of that benefit which is afforded to him; so it is with the benefits of Christ's death and passion, which though they be upon some condition appliable unto all; yet are they effectual for the salvation of none, save only those who do embrace and lay hold on them by a lively faith.

The other similitude by uses, is drawn from a captive or bondslave, who has a friend, who lays down such a sum of money for his ransom, but withal adds this condition, that he shall then come to enjoy the benefit of this ransom, when he comes to acknowledge the kindness that such a friend has done for him, and humbly sues, and seeks that he may enjoy it: but if he value his liberty at so low a rate, that he condemns and despises that which has been done for him, then it is so ordered, that he shall be in the same place and condition with those that are not redeemed at all. Even so it is here, there is a sufficient price laid down by Christ for the redemption of all mankind: now if anyone undervalue this mercy, and make light of it, he may be justly upbraided with this benefit: and though he cavil and quarrel that he is not redeemed, for as much as he still lies in prison, yet will this avail him little, because the reason why he continues still in prison, is not for want of a sufficient ransom to release him thence, but for want of looking after it: even so it is here; all men are by nature captives and bondslaves: Christ has laid down a sufficient price for their ransom, but with this caution, that the benefit of it shall accrue only to such as do repent of their sins, and believe in him.

The reason why so many miss of that benefit, is, because they will not believe in him, nor lay down their weapons of rebellion, which they have taken up against him.

Now from all these testimonies, it is plain and evident, that amongst those who are most opposite to the Lutherans opinion in the matter of election, yet many of them do so conceive of God's purpose therein, as that it include nothing in it contrary to that will which is revealed, and generally propounded in the Gospel. All sides grant, that life and salvation is generally offered to all in the new covenant, and that God seriously intends to give it to all and everyone, upon such conditions as are there expressed, and that is all I contend for in this ensuing Treatise.

Now that God may be said seriously to will the salvation of any, there are two things necessary: 
1. That there be in God a real purpose and intention of giving life unto him.

2. That the conditions required for the obtaining of it, be some ways possible, not by the strength of nature, or the power and ability of his own free will, but by and through those gracious helps which are afforded unto him in the ministry of the Word.

To have made up the Treatise full and complete, it had been requisite to have handled this second point, which I could easily have supplied, out of some notes and meditations that lie by me: and it was more than once in my thoughts so to have done; but my second thoughts resolved against it, because the laying open of that point, would require a larger discourse than could well have been concluded within the bounds or limits of a reason or proof, (as here it must have been) as also in regard that the former point only was insisted upon, when that Sermon was preached. If you shall receive any profit or benefit by that which is here delivered, it is that only which I have principally endeavored and aimed at. If I miss of my purpose, and the success be not answerable to my desire, yet let it find that acceptance at your hands, which you are ready to afford to all such as unfeignedly wish your welfare.

And so I rest, 
Thine in our Lord and common Saviour, 
R. Maden.

Richard Maden, Christs Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem (London: Printed by M[iles] F[lesher] for John Clark, and are to be sold at his shop under S. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1637), xi-xxiii. [no pagination; pages numbered manually from the cover; English updated and modernized]

January 4, 2014

Greg Nichols on Dort, the Free Offer and Hyper-Calvinism

Greg Nichols is a pastor of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. More biographical information is available here (click). He has lectured on The Canons of the Synod of Dort. Nichols holds to a strictly limited (or an Owenic limited imputation) view of the atonement, and also doesn't seem to be well-studied in the diversity of views that were present at the Synod (which is why I do not recommend this lecture series), but he does strongly hold to the well-meant gospel offer. In lecture #10, he spoke on the atonement's necessity, nature, sufficiency, and the obligation for the indiscriminate publication of the gospel. He is expounding this section of the Dortian consensus:
"Second Head: Article 5.
Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel."
From minute 45:54 to 47:30, Nichols says the following, at times speaking rhetorically or sarcastically, as if he were a hyper-Calvinist:
"I wanted to call this [the Dortian statement] 'the free offer,' but I can just imagine some of my hyper-Calvinist friends pointing out to me that it no where says that it was 'well-meant' or 'well-intentioned,' only that it 'ought to be declared. [It] no where it says why. [It] no where says that God wants them to repent and believe. [It] no where says that God has good-will for the reprobate. It doesn't say that.' I can just hear them [hyper-Calvinists]. So, in deference to those voices of hyper-Calvinists pounding in my head, I have kept myself from putting my 'spin' on it [Nichols uses the exact language of Dort], and referring to it as 'the free offer of the gospel.' It doesn't say why it was intentioned, only that 'it ought to be,' only that it should be, not because we care about people, only because God tells us to.' [sarcasm] [audience chuckles] That's all it says, right? [It] doesn't say we ought to do it because we love people; [it] doesn't say we ought to do it because we love God; [it] doesn't say because we care about people [sarcasm]. No, no, no, doesn't say that, all it says is that it 'ought to be', so we ought to do it because it is our duty to do it, not because we care about people and love people [sarcasm], is that clear?

[An audience member says, 'So it [the hyper-Calvinist reading] is like a pretty heavy spin.']

Well, that's a spin too, isn't it? I agree. You've got to really go out of your way to put that 'spin' on it, but there are some who do and some who will. So, let's just be honest with what it says. All it [the exact Dortian statement] says is that 'it ought to be published and declared,' not out of good-will, which to me [that hyper-Calvinist 'spin'] is preposterous!"
The point is this: not only does this Reformed Baptist elder strongly believe that the gospel offer is free, well-meant and well-intentioned, since God has good-will for all men (including the non-elect), but he (like Curt Daniel, Iain Murray, and many others) associates the denial of the well-meant gospel offer with hyper-Calvinism, and rightly so.