September 19, 2007

Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on God's Sincere Gospel Offers

[3.] How meltingly doth he bewail man's wilful refusal of his goodness! It is a mighty goodness to offer grace to a rebel; a mighty goodness to give it him after he hath a while stood off from the terms; and astonishing goodness to regret and lament his wilful perdition. He seems to utter those words in a sigh, "O that my people had hearkened unto me, asn Israel had walked in my way" (Ps. lxxxi. 13)! It is true, God hath not human passions, but his affections cannot be expressed otherwise in a way intelligible to us; the excellency of his nature is above the passions of men; but such expressions of himself manifest to us the sincerity of his goodness: and that, were he capable of our passions, he would express himself in such a manner as we do: and we find incarnate Goodness bewailing with tears and sighs the ruin of Jerusalem (Luke xix. 42). By the same reason that when a sinner returns there is joy in heaven, upon his obstinacy where is sorrow in earth. The one is, as if a prince should clothe all his court in triumphant scarlet, upon a rebel's repentance; and the other, as if a prince put himself and his court in mourning for a rebel's obstinate refusal of a pardon, when he lies at his mercy. Are not now these affectionate invitations, and deep bewailings of their perversity, high testimonies of Divine goodness? Do not the unwearied repetitions of gracious encouragements deserve a higher name than that of mere goodness? What can be a stronger evidence of the sincerity of it, than the sound of his saving voice in our enjoyments, the motion of his Spirit in our hearts, and his grief for the neglect of all? These are not testimonies of any want of goodness in his nature to answer us, or unwillingness to express it to his creature. Hath he any mind to deceive us, that thus intreats us? The majesty of his nature is too great for such shifts; or, if it were not, the despicableness of our condition would render him above the using any. Who would charge that physician with want of kindness, that freely offers his sovereign medicine, importunes men, by the love they have to their health, to take it, and is dissolved into tears and sorrow when he finds it rejected by their peevish and conceited humor?
Stephen Charnock, "Discourse XIII: On the Goodness of God," in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:286–287. Also in Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1971), 599.


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