September 2, 2007

Edward Reynolds (1599–1676) on God Beseeching

Here's a quote from vol. 1 of his Works:
Eighthly, The evil doth not reach to men only, but the scandal and indignity overspreads the Gospel; a great part of the life of sin is drawn from the several respects it hath to God's acknowledged will. When we sin not only against the law of nature in our hearts, but against the written law; not only against the truth, but against the mercy and spirit of God too; this must be an heavy aggravation. O what a Hell must it be to a soul in Hell to recount, 'So many sabbaths God reached forth his Word unto me, so many sermons he knocked at my door, and beseeched me to be reconciled; he wooed me in his Word; allured me by his promises; expected me in much patience; enriched me with the liberty of his own precious oracles; reached forth his blood to wash me; poured forth his tears over me; but against all this I have stopped the ear, and pulled away the shoulder, and hardened the heart, and received all this grace in vain; and notwithstanding all the rain which fell upon me, continued barren still. God might have cut me off in the womb, and made me there a brand of Hell, as I was, by nature, a child of wrath: he might have brought me forth into the world out of the pale of his visible church, or into a corrupted synagogue, or into a place full of ignorance, atheism, and profaneness; but he hath cast my lot into a beautiful place, and given me a goodly heritage: and now he requires nothing of me, but to do justly, and work righteousness, and walk humbly before God; and I requite evil for good, to the hurt of mine own soul.'
Edward Reynolds, "The Sinfulness of Sin," The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Edward Reynolds (Ligonier: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), 1:207–208.

This volume is also available to download and search online here:

Edward Reynolds on "The Sinfulness of Sin," in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Edward Reynolds, Lord Bishop of Norwich (London: Printed for B. Holdsworth, 1826), 1:207–208.

Here is a quote from volume 5 of his Works:
2. To take heed that the labour of your ministers for your souls be not, by your carelessness, all in vain. Do not with our sermons, which cost us so hard labour, as David did with the water of the well of Bethlehem,—spill them on the ground, and let them cry from thence, like the blood of Abel against you. So long as he keeps to his commission, and deliver the counsel of God, you cannot despise the work of your minister, but you do therewithal despise the blood of your Saviour. If your souls be dear in their eyes, should they he vile in your own? Will you, by your wickedness, turn the prayers of your pastors into curses, their sermons into a savour of death, and their tears into the blood of your own souls? Shall they beg mercy for you, and will you reject it! Shall they tender grace unto you, and will you resist it? Shall they open for you the door of life, and will you shut it against yourselves? Shall Christ by them beseech you, and will you, by your impenitency, refuse him? Is it not a reasonable request, though you will not love your ministers, yet not to hate nor destroy yourselves? Must he teach, and you not learn? Must he open his lips, and you shut your ears? Are sermons preached to be praised only, and not obeyed? Must he reprove sin in you, and will you reprove God in him? Shall he take up the weapons of God to withstand sin? and will you take up the weapons of lust to withstand God? Is it good to kick against the pricks? Will God's word be impune despised? Can his law be put to flight? where it doth not persuade, can it not curse? Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? Shall the minister in the name of God, forewarn us of the wrath to come, and shall we belie the Lord, and say, It is not he? Shall we bless, where God curseth? and promise peace, where God proclaimeth war? Shall we sell ourselves to sin, and make a covenant with hell and death, as if we could sin securely, and choose whether we would perish or no? Will not the Lord make us know at the last, whose word shall stand, his or ours? Oh that the love of Christ might constrain us, and his goodness lead us unto repentance, that, when Christ doth beseech us, we would be persuaded not to deny him! Did Satan die for us? did the world or the flesh ever redeem us? were they scourged, or mocked, or crucified to save us? Oh that Christ should be persuaded to die for us, and we should give him his blood back again, and choose rather to die ourselves. Consider what I say; and the Lord give you understanding in all things.
Edward Reynolds, "Sermon XXV: The Pastoral Office," in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Edward Reynolds, Lord Bishop of Norwich (London: Printed for B. Holdsworth, 1826), 5:407–408.

Volume 6 is HERE.

A Presbyterian by conviction, he nonetheless wanted to maintain the unity of the national church, and argued for a milder form of episcopacy that would accommodate Presbyterian beliefs. He wrote out his convictions in A Sermon Touching the Peace & Edification of the Church (1638).

In 1643, he was appointed to serve as a divine at the Westminster Assembly. Though he spoke little, Reynolds played a major role in committee work on behalf of the assembly. He was the only divine who was a member of all three major committees for the Confession of Faith: the large committee of nineteen, with four later additions, appointed to set parameters; the drafting committee of seven for the first composition; and the committee of three, with four later additions, for proofing and final editing. More than anyone else, Reynolds provided continuity throughout the twenty-seven months it took to write the Confession. William Barker concludes, "It is ironic, however, that the one who seems to have contributed most of the Presbyterian doctrinal confession was the only Westminster divine to become a bishop after the Restoration and one of only four who were active in the Assembly who conformed" (Puritan Profiles, p. 180).
Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints (Grand Rapids: RHB, 2006), 496–497.

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