July 30, 2007

William Perkins (1558–1602) Quotes from Silversides’ Book on the Free Offer

The benefits proper unto men are of two sorts: some are common to all men both good and bad, and some proper to the elect and faithful.
'An Exposition of the Creed,' in The Works of That Famous and Worthie Minister of Christ, in the Universitie of Cambridge, M.W.Perkins, (John Legat, Cambridge, 1605), p. 324.
...but the bond is conditional, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace: for we are bound to believe in Christ, if we would come to life everlasting...
'A Discourse of Conscience,' Works op. cit. p. 628.
and seriously bethink thyself of Christ, as he is revealed in the history of the Gospel, and as he is offered to thy particular person, in the ministry of the word and sacraments.
'A Declaration of the True Manner of Knowing Christ Crucified,' Works op. cit. p. 751.
Q. But to whom will this blessed King communicate all these means of salvation? A. He offereth them to many, and they are sufficient to save all mankind; but all shall not be saved thereby, because by faith they will not receive them.
'The Foundation of Christian Religion,' Works op. cit. p. 768.
There is but one will in God: yet doth it not equally will all things, but in divers respects it doth will and nill the same thing. He willeth the conversion of Jerusalem, in that he approveth it as a good thing in itself: in that he commands it, and exhorts men to it: in that he gives them all outward means of their conversion. He wills it not, in that he did not decree to effectually work their conversion.
'A Treatise of God's Free Grace and Man's Free Will,' Works op. cit. p. 876. Or see William Perkins, A Treatise of God's Free Grace, and Man's Free Will (Cambridge: Printed by John Legat And are to be sold at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Churchyard by Simon Waterson, 1601), 44–45.
...the desolation of Jerusalem may be a glass to every one of us, who in these days of God's merciful visitation, set the ministry of the Gospel at nought.
William Perkins, 'A Treatise of God's Free Grace and Man's Free Will,' Works op. cit. p. 900.

These quotes can be found in David Silversides book The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed (Glasgow, Scotland: Marpet Press, 2005), 94–95.


One may gather from these quotes that Perkins believed:

1) God gives some "benefits" to all mankind, even the non-elect. This is the idea of common grace. 
2) The covenant of grace is conditional, because we must believe to gain eternal life, i.e. faith may be called a condition.
3) Christ is "offered" through the Gospel to all those that hear it proclaimed, even to the non-elect.
4) The means of salvation, which must include Christ's sacrifice, is "offered" to all and is "sufficient to save all mankind."
5) There are distinctions in God's will, such that he can be said to both will and not will the same thing in different respects.
6) God willed the "conversion" of all of Jerusalem, which included the non-elect Jews.
7) The gospel is God's "merciful visition" to all that are exposed to it.
8) Some "set the ministry of the gospel at nought."

1 comment:

Tony Byrne said...


1) While Perkins says God's will is "one," there is complexity in it, such that it does "not equally will all things."
2) God is said to both "will and nill the same thing," but in different senses, i.e., he wills and also nills the conversion of Jerusalem.
3) Perkins says that God wills "the conversion (which is the same as salvation) of Jerusalem," and he does not think of all in that group as elect, since he says God "did not decree to effectually work their conversion."
4) God does not merely command their conversion, but he exhorts them to it, and gives outward means in order to convert them.

Nota Bene: God himself is the ultimate or remote cause (by willful permission) of the inefficacy of his revealed will, but disobedient men are the immediate and blameworthy cause; that is to say, God willfully decrees to permit men to act contrary to his preceptive will.