July 19, 2007

Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) on the “Sweet Evangelick Invitation”

It’s much worthy of observation, how that sweet evangelick invitation is conceived, Isaiah 55:1, Ho, every one that thirsts; the Heb. word ‘hui‘ is alas, or ah, every one that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that hath no silver, come, buy, and eat: as if the Lord were grieved, and said, woe is me, alas that thirsty souls should die in their thirst, and will not come to the waters of life, Christ, and drink gratis, freely, and live. For the interjection, (Heb. Hui) Ho, is a mark of sorrowing… it expresseth two things, 1. A vehemencie, and a serious and unfeigned ardencie of desire, that we doe what is our duty, and the concatenation of these two, extremely desired of God, our coming to Christ, and our salvation: This moral connection between faith and salvation, is desired of God with his will of approbation, complacency, and moral liking, without all dissimulation, most unfeignedly; and whereas Arminians say, we make counterfeit, feigned, and hypocriticall desires in God, they calumniate and cavil egregiously, as their custom is. 2. The other thing expressed in these invitations, is a sort of dislike, grief, or sorrow; (‘tis a speech borrowed from man, for there is no disappointing of the Lord’s will, nor sorrow in him for the not fulfilling of it) … God loveth, approveth, the believing of Jerusalem, and of her children, as a moral duty, as the hen doth love to warm and nourish her chickens… but there is no purpose, intention, or decree of God holden forth in these invitations called his revealed will, by which he saith that he intendeth and willeth that all he maketh the offer unto, shall obey and be saved.
Samuel Rutherford, Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself (London: Printed by J. D. for Andrew Crooke at the Green-Dragon in Paul’s Church Yard, 1647), 443–444.

(HT: James Durham Thesis blog)

Donald, from the JDT blog, observes a number of important points from the above quote:
* Rutherford speaks of the gospel offer as a ‘sweet evangelick invitation’ showing he obviously believed it to be more than a mere presentation of facts or a command.

* Rutherford speaks in ‘a speech borrowed from men’ showing his willingness to speak as scripture speaks whilst at the same time guarding against abuse of scriptural expressions by noting their limitations.

* Rutherford uses desire in connection with the revealed will of God and the gospel invitation.

* Rutherford was aware of the charge of inconsistency levelled against his views of ‘sweet evangelick invitations’ and election by Arminians. He rejected this charge outright.
Update on July 23rd: My point in posting this quote by Rutherford is to show that he, a high supralapsarian Calvinist and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, did not hesitate to refer God's revealed will as indicating a "vehement," "unfeigned," "serious," "ardent" and "extreme desire" that we, all of humanity, "come to Christ" for "salvation." Even Turretin, a staunch anti-Amyraldian and high Calvinist (though he was an infralapsarian), referred to God's preceptive will as a "desire."

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