October 29, 2007

The Works of Thomas Manton (1620–1677): An Index

The 22 volume Works of Thomas Manton is available to download for free on the Internet Archive. Solid Ground Books is selling The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (in both Hardcover and Paperback), and they've provided an index to the original set. Update: Banner of Truth is now selling a very nice newer edition of Manton's works here (click). Their current price is only $200.

Vol. 1 
Memoir by William Harris, D.D.
A Practical Exposition of the Lord's Prayer
The Temptation & Transfiguration of Christ
Christ's Redemption and Eternal Existence.

Vol. 2 

An Estimate of Manton by J.C. Ryle
Sermons on Various Texts, including:
Farewell Sermon following the Act of Uniformity;
Funeral Sermon following the execution of the Revd. Christopher Love.

Vol. 3 

Sermons on 2 Thessalonians 2.
A Practical Exposition of Isaiah 53.

Vol. 4 

A Practical Exposition of James.

Vol. 5 

A Practical Exposition of Jude.
Two sermons preached before the House of Commons
Four Sermons preached at the Cripplegate Morning Exercises.
Manton's Preface to Smectymnuus Redivivius.

Vol. 6 

Sermons on Psalm 119:1–46.

Vol. 7 

Sermons on Psalm 119:47–98.

Vol. 8 

Sermons on Psalm 119:98–141.

Vol. 9 

Sermons on Psalm 119:141–150.
Sermons on Matthew 25.

Vol. 10 

Sermons on Matthew 25 continued and concluded.
Sermons on John 17.

Vol. 11 

Sermons on John 17 continued and concluded.
Sermons on Romans 6.
Sermons on Romans 8.

Vol. 12 

Sermons on Romans 8 continued and concluded.
Sermons on 2 Corinthians 5.

Vol. 13 

Sermons on 2 Corinthians 5 continued and concluded.
Sermons on Hebrews 11.

Vol. 14 

Sermons on Hebrews 11.

Vol. 15 

Sermons on Hebrews 11 continued and concluded
A Treatise on the Life of Faith.
A Treatise on Self-Denial
Several Sermons preached on Public Occasions.

Vol. 16 

Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture, Part 1.
These are Sermons on : Titus 2:11
–14 ; Hebrews 6:18;
John 14:1 ; Luke 12:48 ; Mark 10:17–27.

Vol. 17 

Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture, Part 1 continued.
Mark 10:17
–27 continued and concluded; 2 Thessalonians 1:3;
Mark 3:5; Genesis 24:63
Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture, Part 2.
These are Sermons on: Luke 16:30-31; Acts 24:14
1 Thessalonians 5:16, 17.

Vol. 18 

Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture.
Forty-five Sermons on Various Texts including Isaiah 50:10;
Luke 2:52; Philippians 2:7.

Vol. 19 

Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture.Ecclesiastes & Leviticus
Series of Sermons on Ephesians 5:1

Vol. 20 

Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture.
Series of Sermons on: Philippians 3:1
–21; 2 Thessalonians 1;
1 John 2:12–14; 1 John 3.

Vol. 21 

Series of Sermons on: 1 John 3 continued and concluded;
Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture.
Acts 2:37, 38; 1 Peter 1:23; Psalm 19:13; Psalm 131; Ezekiel 18:23.

Vol. 22 

Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture.
Funeral Sermon Preached Upon the Death of Dr. Manton by Dr. William Bates.
Index of Subjects.
Index of Texts.
Index of Principal Texts.

See also C. H. Spurgeon's Illustrations and Meditations: Or, Flowers from a Puritan's Garden (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

October 26, 2007

The Works of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)

The Internet Archive edition is HERE.

More editions of these volumes are on the Internet Archive here (click).
The eight volume edition on Google Books is here:

October 25, 2007

Henry Scudder’s (c.1585–1652) Dualistic View of Christ’s Death

This is one of the clearest expressions of a dualist view that I have seen. The following quotation by Henry Scudder is packed with excellent theological insight.

In 1642, Scudder was "commissioned to be a member of the Westminster Assembly" and "served there faithfully, chairing a committee that reviewed proof-texts for the Confession of Faith" (Beeke, Meet the Puritans, p. 514). John Owen wrote a foreward to this book (The Christian's Daily Walk) and said, "I must say that I find in this [book] that authority and powerful evidence of truth, arising from a plain transferring of the sacred sense of the Scripture in words and expressions suited to the experience of gracious, honest, and humble souls, that the most accurate and adorned discourses of this age do not attain or rise up unto." Richard Baxter also highly praised it.

Scudder, seeking to refute the idea that all men shall be saved (he's using "universal redemption" in that sense in his refutation), wrote:
8. Some others go farther: they acknowledge that God's justice must be satisfied, and they think it is satisfied for them, dreaming of universal redemption, by Christ, who indeed is said to die to "take away the sins of the world." This causeth their conscience to be quiet, notwithstanding that they live in sin.

It must be granted, that Christ gave himself a ransom for all. This ransom may be called general, and for all, in some sense: but how? namely, in respect of the common nature of man, which he took, and of the common cause of mankind, which he undertook; and in itself it was of sufficient price to redeem all men; and because applicable to all, without exception, by the preaching and ministry of the gospel. And it was so intended by Christ, that the plaster should be as large as the sore, and that there should be no defect in the remedy, that is, in the price, or sacrifice of himself offered upon the cross, by which man should be saved, but that all men, and each particular man, might in that respect become salvable by Christ.

Yet doth not the salvation of all men necessarily follow hereupon; nor must any part of the price which Christ paid, be held to be superfluous, though many be not saved by it.

But know, that the application of the remedy, and the actual fruit of this all-sufficient ransom, redoundeth to those who are saved only by that way and means which God was pleased to appoint, which, in the case of adults, is faith, by which Christ is actually applied. Which condition, many to whom the gospel doth come, make impossible to themselves, through a wilful refusal of the gospel, and salvation itself by Christ, upon those terms which God doth offer it.

Upon this sufficiency of Christ's ransom, and intention of God and Christ, that it should be sufficient to save all, is founded that general offer of Christ to all and to each particular person, to whom the Lord shall be pleased to reveal the gospel: likewise that universal precept of the gospel, commanding every man to repent, and believe in Christ Jesus; as also the universal promise of salvation, made to every one that shall believe in Christ Jesus.

Although, in one sense, it is true, Christ may be said to have died for all, yet let no one think to enjoy the benefits of his precious death and sacrifice, without serious diligence to make their calling and election sure. For God did intend this all-sufficient price for all, otherwise to his elect in Christ, than to those whom he passed by and not elected; for he intended this not only out of a general and common love to mankind, but out of a peculiar love to his elect. He gave not Christ equally and alike to save all; and Christ did not so lay down his life for the reprobate as for the elect. Christ so died for all, that his death might be applicable to all. He so died for the elect, that his death might be actually applied unto them. He so died for all, that they might have an object of faith, and that if they should believe in Christ, they might be saved. But he so died for the elect that they might actually believe, and be saved. Hence it is that Christ's death becometh effectual to them, and not to the other, though sufficient for all. Now that many believe not, they having the means of faith, the fault is in themselves, through their wilfulness or negligence; but that any believe to salvation, is of God's grace, attending his election, and Christ's dying out of his especial love for them; and not of the power of man's free-will: God sending his gospel, and giving the grace of faith and new obedience to those whom of his free grace he hath ordained to eternal life, both where he pleaseth and when he pleaseth.

Furthermore, it must be considered that notwithstanding the all-sufficiency of Christ's death, whereby the new covenant of grace is ratified and confirmed, the covenant is not absolute, but conditional. Now what God proposeth conditionally, no man must take absolutely. For God hath not said that all men without exception shall be saved by Christ's death: although he saith, Christ died for all; but salvation is promised to those only who repent and believe.

Wherefore, notwithstanding Christ's infinite merit, whereby he satisfied for mankind; and notwithstanding the universality of the offer of salvation to all to whom the gospel is preached; both scripture and experience show, that not all, nor yet the most, shall be saved, and that because the number of them who repent, and unfeignedly believe, whereby they make particular and actual application of Christ and his merits to themselves, are fewest. For of those many that are called, few are chosen. Wherefore let none ignorantly dream of an absolute, universal redemption, as many simple people do. For though Christ be said to suffer to take away the sins of the whole world, yet the scripture saith, that the whole world of unbelievers and of ungodly men shall perish eternally.
Henry Scudder, The Christian's Daily Walk in Security and Peace (Glasgow: William Collins, 1826), 279–282.

Observe the following points from this quote:

1) Scudder denies the argument that all shall be saved because Christ ransomed all mankind. He doesn't do so by denying that Christ ransomed all mankind; rather, he does so by stating that the new covenant of grace is conditional (not absolute). In the case of adults, only those that believe will obtain the benefit.
2) He grants that Christ satisfied for the sins of every particular man, and associates that truth to Christ's common humanity. That's a classical Christology.
3) The sufficiency of which Scudder speaks is no bare internal sufficiency alone. He's referring to an extrinsic sufficiency whereby Christ bore the sin of all by the intention of God.
4) He grounds God's universal offer upon the fact of that extrinsic sufficiency.
5) Scudder calls God's general saving will an "intention."
6) He associates God's "general and common love to mankind" with Christ's death for all.
7) All men are salvable by virtue of what Christ did. None are left without a remedy. Therefore, those that hear the gospel and perish have only themselves to blame.
8) Faith and repentance are called "conditions" that man must meet (duty-faith), yet the fulfillment of these terms does not arise from free-will, but by the effectual grace of God enabling man to obey.
9) He doesn't use "world" to connote the elect in his scriptural allusions.

Flynn's Citation of Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on Redemption

If you haven't yet seen this quote by Stephen Charnock on the Theology Online blog, you need to. It's from Stephen Charnock, “The Misery of Unbelievers,” in Works, 4:342–343.

A lot more by Charnock can be found HERE.

Update: Since the Theology Online blog is down, here is the full quote from Charnock as originally posted by David Ponter:
1.) There is no want on Christ’s part. There hath been by him satisfaction enough for the payment of our debts, and merit enough for our restoration to our happiness. He hath done all things necessary for the salvation of the world: he hath expiated sin, which plunged it into misery; he hath presented his death to God as a sacrifice of infinite value, sufficient for all the world, and by opening the throne of grace, hath given liberty to approach to God, and solicit him for the application of the benefit he hath purchased; he hath also purchased the Spirit, sent him into the world to renew his solicitations to men, who seriously calls them to the partaking of this salvation, and declares it to be a thing very agreeable to him, that men should come in to him. He came not intentionally to condemn any man: John iii. 18, ‘For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved;’ to proclaim the riches of the grace of God for the salvation of men [Tarnov, in loc p. 811]. But in regard of the event, indeed he is their judge, to which men provoke him by their obstinacy; whence it is said, John ix. 89, that he came ‘to judge the world,’ i.e. in regard of the event. As the intention of a physician in prescribing sovereign medicines for the mastering the disease is to heal the patient; but if the patient neglects those restoratives, and swallows poison in their stead, this is not the physician’s fault.
The title of our Lord Jesus in his first coming was Saviour, not Judge; he presented men with that which might warrant them from condemnation; but if they will not rejoice in their happiness, they exclude themselves him the benefit; and by not embracing the ransom God hath provided, they expose themselves to pay that satisfaction in their persons which the law exacts. The satisfaction of Christ they cannot plead, because the conditions of it are not embraced; they must therefore pay what the law demands, which would else be insignificant, and the honour of God’s justice would suffer in their safety. When, therefore, every offer of mercy shall accompany men to the tribunal of the judge, and this charge be heard from his mouth: I have redeemed you by my blood, and you have trod it under foot; I have invited you to faith and repentance, but you would rather wallow in the excrement of sin; I have called you by the motions of my Spirit, and you have proved rebellious; I have encouraged you by promises of great reward, but you made no account of them; wherein have I been wanting? With what face can any man now lay the fault upon God? An when a king proclaims pardon to a rebellious city, upon the condition that they yield up themselves to his son; as it is equity that those that surrender themselves should have the promised benefit, so it is just that those that willfully resist so easy and reasonable a condition, should fall under the threatened penalty; they have no reason to large their ruin upon any want of clemency in the king, since the proffer was made to all, but upon their own obstinacy, because they perish by their own folly."
Stephen Charnock, “The Misery of Unbelievers,” in The Works Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865; repr. Edinburgh/Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1985), 4:342–343.


October 23, 2007

John Shower (1657–1715) on Christ's Offers of Life

John Shower was a Puritan and a Presbyterian. He was counseled to preach by Thomas Manton before he was twenty years old. He was also an assistant to John Howe in London (See Joel Beeke's Meet The Puritans (Grand Rapids: RHB, 2006, 531–532.).
Sirs, he now offers you a pardon, as the purchase of his death, on easy, honourable, and advantageous terms; but it will be then too late, and in vain, to beg it. He now warns you of your danger, and tells you that the end of youthful lusts is death, and judgment, and eternal wrath. And then you shall know that he spake in earnest, and his words were true. Now, as a merciful Redeemer, he entreats you to be reconciled; he shall then be clothed with vengeance, and appear, to your confusion, as a terrible Judge.

At first, he came in the form of a servant, to make our peace with God, and was thereupon despised and rejected by men. But he shall shortly come again, to render vengeance to those that would not know him as a prince and a prophet, would not receive his message, and yield obedience to his holy gospel. Now he offers life, eternal life, and begs your acceptance of it; but he will then punish your ungrateful refusal of his offered mercy. Now he entreats you to be happy, and have compassion on yourselves; but then he will be as deaf to your entreaties, as you have been to his; and that, though you should urge him with the greatest importunity possible; though you beseech him by the mercifulness of his nature, by the freeness of his invitation, by the compassion of his death, by the merit of his sufferings, by the kindness of his sacrifice, by the grace of the gospel, &c. Now you will not believe his promises; but then you shall experience the execution of his threatenings. Now you will not hearken to his advice and warning, but you shall shortly feel the sad effects of your contempt and obstinacy. Now you will not be constrained by his dying love; but, ere long, you shall know the power of his wrath, whether you will or not; for, though at present he offers you life, yet upon your refusal, he will shortly pronounce the sentence of eternal death. As yet he invites you to him, but then he will bid you depart: "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

From that God, after whose image you were created, in whose favour stands your life; from that Saviour, who redeemed you by his precious blood; and from that Holy Spirit, who would have sanctified you by his grace.

"Depart from me," and from all hopes of salvation by me: from me, and all the blessed company of saints and angels, that shall live with me for ever. "Depart from me," abandoned to an everlasting curse (of which both souls and bodies shall be the wretched unhappy subjects,) into exquisite torments set forth by fire; and such as were originally designed for the apostate spirits, of whom the Scripture doth suppose one to be the principal ringleader of all rest, and who are therefore termed "his angels."

They who tempted you to sin, shall deride your folly, and triumph in your ruin, and be your constant perpetual tormentors, since the fire is unquenchable, and never goeth out. "The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, as the righteous into life eternal."
John Shower, Serious Reflections on Time and Eternity (Glasgow: William Collins, 1828), 240–242.


October 22, 2007

Ezekiel Hopkins (1634–1690) on Christ Dying for those Condemned on the Last Day


Certainly, this must needs be a dark and gloomy day to them. It is that Christ, whose laws they have broken, whose love they have slighted, whose blood they have spilt, nay whose blood they have trampled on, whose members they have massacred and martyred; it is that Christ, who must then judge them: whom they have contemptuously refused to be their King and Saviour, they shall not be able to refuse from being their Judge. And can you then wonder, that they should call for rocks and hills to fall upon them, and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb? Rev. vi. 15, 16: believe it, rocks and hills, the hardest and the heaviest things in nature, would be but a light coverlet to them, in comparison with that wrath, which shall sit insupportably heavy on them for ever, and sink them down to the bottom of hell. Christ comes now to you as a Saviour, in a meek and winning manner: he urgeth you, by all the arguments that love and pity can use: but, if you refuse him, his next coming will be as a Judge; and then the Lamb, which offered himself a sacrifice for you, will turn Lion, and sacrifice you to his wrath and justice. Now, the voice of a loving Saviour calls sinners to come unto him; but those, who will not come, the voice of a dreadful Judge will then bid to depart from him: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.
Ezekiel Hopkins, "Of the Last Judgment: A Discourse on 2 Cor. v. 10," in The Works of Ezekiel Hopkins, ed. Josiah Pratt (London: C. Whittingham, 1809), 4:136.
2. Unbelievers shall, at the Last Day, be judged by both these laws; both by the Law of Works and the Law of Faith: and, what will be to their inconceivable horror, both will condemn them.

The severity of the Law casts them: the mercy of the Gospel cannot relieve them. When God shall ask them, how they will be tried; by the Law, or by the Gospel: if they say, by the Law, that tells them, Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things, written in it, to do them: tell me, are ye so well persuaded and confident of your own righteousness and innocence, that you will stand to this sentence? will you venture the everlasting state of your souls upon this trial, that you cannot be proved guilty of any transgression? and, if your own consciences now accuse you, will they not much more, think you, accuse you then? Will you appeal to the Gospel? that tells you, He, that believeth not, is condemned already: John iii. 18 : and, He, that believeth not the wrath of God abideth on him: John iii. 36: nay, let me tell you, the Gospel will be so far from relieving you, that it will but add to the condemnation of the Law: the Law sentenceth sinners to hell, for transgressing; but, then, the Gospel lays on more load, and heats the furnace sevenfold hotter for those, who have not only violated the Law, but rejected pardon. He dies deservedly, who, being condemned by the law of the prince, slights his mercy too. This is the case of every unbeliever: they are all condemned, by law: God tenders them a pardon: Christ offers himself for their Saviour, his blood for their ransom; this Saviour they reject: this blood they trample on, and even dare God to do his worst. And, therefore, there is no one sin in the world, that carries so much provocation in it, as this of unbelief doth: it is an injury done to the tenderest of God's attributes, his mercy: it is an affront upon his dearest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; and, therefore, shall be revenged with a most aggravated condemnation. Oh! then, what fears and terrors will encompass them round, who, when the Law hath condemned them for transgression, shall find themselves much more condemned for unbelief! The blood of Christ is not shed in vain: not a drop of it is spilt upon the ground, as water that cannot be gathered up again: it will, certainly, either justify, or condemn; either save, or destroy. And look, of what efficacy it is, to remove guilt from the souls of true believers; of the like efficacy it is, to bring guilt upon the souls of unbelievers: if, therefore, the blood of Christ, applied by faith, be of power to remove the guilt of all the sins which we have committed; the same blood, rejected by unbelief, will bring in a greater and sorer guilt upon us, than all the sins which we have committed besides. Be persuaded, therefore, never to leave praying and waiting, till the God of all grace be pleased to work this precious grace of faith in thee; without which, thou canst neither please him, nor be well-pleasing to him: that so, the blood of Jesus Christ may, in that Great Day, be found upon thy heart, for thy justification; and not upon thy head, for thy condemnation.
Ibid., 4:166.


Ezekiel Hopkins was a Calvinist and a Puritan. Volumes 1 and 3 of his Works are also available on Google books.

October 21, 2007

Edward Griffin Quoting Two More Bremen Delegates to the Synod of Dort

Henry Isselburg, another delegate [to the Synod of Dort] from Bremen, says, "Such is the worth and virtue of the passion, death, and merit of Christ, that, by itself and in its own nature, it is abundantly sufficient to atone for and take away all the sins of all men, and to obtain and confer on all and each, without exception, reconciliation with God, grace, righteousness, and eternal life. And therefore the remedy of sin and death, our Lord Jesus Christ, is proposed and offered by the preaching of the gospel, not to certain persons only, or to those alone who are to be saved, but to the elect and reprobate indiscriminately; and all without distinction are invited to a participation or fruition of it, and to eternal life thereby; and all and each are sincerely and seriously commanded to believe in Christ, to live to him, and to come to the acknowledgment of the truth; and they who do not believe in the name of the Son of God are justly condemned. In this sense Christ is rightly said to have died sufficiently for all, as all who believe in him and seek his aid are able and bound to obtain reconciliation, remission of sins, and the inheritance of eternal life; as the sins of no mortal are so great that the sacrifice of Christ cannot suffice to atone for them; as not one of the human race is alien from him in the same sense and degree that Satan and the evil angels are. And this is the will and intention of God from eternity, that the death of Christ should be sufficient for all in such a sense and degree, that God can require no other sacrifice or satisfaction for the sins of men but that one alone, to atone for every evil (permanent impenitence and the sin against the Holy Ghost excepted); and on the other hand, that he may account and esteem it in the highest degree sufficient to merit every salutary good, and that there may be no need of any other merit for men. Wherefore no one of the reprobate can be condemned and perish for want of the death of Christ, or because there was not in him a sufficient remedy against destruction, but each one through his own fault entirely."*

*Acts of Synod, Part II. p. 141, 142.

Ludovicus Crocius, the other delegate [to the Synod of Dort] from Bremen, says, "So great is the worth, price, power, value, and sufficiency of the death of Christ, that it wants nothing at all to the purpose of meriting, acquiring, and obtaining reconciliation with God and remission of sins for all men and every man. It was the counsel, aim, and intention, not only of God the Father in delivering the Son to death, but of the Son also in dying, to acquire, obtain, and merit, by that most precious death and passion, for all and each of human sinners, that if they repent and believe in Christ when they become capable of instruction, they may be able to be reconciled to God and receive remission of sins. Christ having suffered and died according to his own and his Father's counsel, did by his death and passion merit most sufficiently for all and each of human sinners, that if they only repent and believe, they may be able to be reconciled to God, or be restored to his favor and bosom. This doctrine, as being most true as being agreeable to the Scriptures, to the nature of the thing, to the confession of the church (and the church of Bremen expressly), to the better and more common sentiment of the fathers, and of the theologians both ancient and modern, is necessarily (as I believe) to be uncorruptly and sacredly retained and defended in the church of God, as well for the glory of God (which is so illustrated that his truth in calling, his equity in commanding, his justice in threatening, appear to all who seriously contemplate the Scriptures) as for the edification, growth, and consolation of the called in true faith and piety, and finally, for the salutary avoiding and refutation of divers heresies, which like rocks surround this doctrine."*

*Acts of Synod, Part II. p. 150, 151.

All of the Bremen delegates to the Synod were moderate in their Calvinism. They maintained, like the English delegates, that Christ suffered for the sins of all mankind, including the non-elect.

Edward Griffin Quoting Matthias Martinius (1572–1630)

Edward Griffin translated Matthias Martinius, one of the delegates [to the Synod of Dort] from Bremen, as saying:
There is in God a certain common love to man with which he regarded the whole lapsed human race, and seriously willed the salvation of all. The exercise of this love to man appears in the outward call to the elect and reprobate without distinction.—In this call are to be distinguished these things: the historical narrative concerning Christ, the command to believe, the interdiction of unbelief, the promise of eternal life made to believers, the threatening of damnation to the unbelieving. And if any one does not believe, the issue of this call is condemnation, and expressly for this reason, because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3: 18.) But this issue in itself is not intended by God, but follows by accident through the fault of man.—Moreover, this outward call—necessarily requires antecedent to itself these things; the promise and mission of the Son (formerly future, now past), and redemption, that is, the payment of a price to atone for sins, and God rendered so placable as to require no other sacrifice for the sins of any man, content with this only most perfect one, and that for the reconciliation of men there be no need of any other satisfaction, any other merit for them, provided (what in remedies must be done) there be an application of this common and salutary medicine. If this redemption is not supposed to be a common blessing bestowed on all men, the indiscriminate and promiscuous preaching of the gospel, committed to the apostles to be exercised among all nations, will have no foundation in truth. But since we abhor to say this, it ought to be seen to how their assertions agree with the most known and lucid principles, who unqualifiedly deny that Christ died for all. Nor here will it be enough to assert such a sufficiency of redemption as could be enough; but it is altogether such as is enough, and such as God and Christ have considered enough. For otherwise the gospel command and promise are destroyed. For how from a benefit, sufficient indeed, but not designed for me by a sincere intention, can the necessity of believing that it belongs to me be deduced? What, then, shall we call this redemption? This redemption is in the new world what creation is in the old: to wit, as the creation of man is not the image of God, but is that foundation without which the image of God could not have place in him; so, also, redemption is no part of the image of God, but is that in which is founded the whole exercise of the prophetic and kingly offices of Christ, and his priestly intercession. But care must be taken not to carry this comparison too far. This redemption is the payment of a price due for us captives, not that we should go forth from captivity at all events, but that we should be able and be bound to go forth; and in fact we should go forth if we would believe in the Redeemer, acknowledge his benefit, and thoroughly become members of him as the Head. And, therefore, upon whatever man we fall, to him we are the messengers and publishers of this salutary grace (saving, however, to believers only), from the very office of piety and charity.
The Lord even merited grace for all men; but not for all men that grace which depends on particular election. What then? That which is promised on condition of faith. For certainly to all men is promised remission of sins and eternal life if they believe. Here, therefore, it appears that a conditional remission of sins and salvation belong to all, but not a promise to give strength and excite the actions by which that condition is fulfilled. For these things men are bound by the power of a divine command to perform themselves; and they who are not able to do this, are not able through their own fault.
Christ merited the favor of God for all, to be actually obtained if they believe.—This his favor God declares in common in the word of the gospel.
Christ died for all in regard to the merit and sufficiency of the ransom, for believers only in regard to the application and efficacy. In support of which very sentiment many testimonies of the fathers and schoolmen, and more recent doctors of the church, can be cited when there is need.
He who despises the offering of Christ made on the cross loses all the right which he might have had in it, and thereby aggravates damnation to himself: — and the gospel, which in itself is a savor of life unto life, becomes to the unbelieving a savor of death unto death, by accident, through their own fault,
Among the propositions which Martinius pronounces false are the following: "Christ died in no sense for them that perish;" and, "The decree of particular election or reprobation of certain persons, cannot consist with the universality of Christ's death."* [*Acts of Synod, Part II. p. 133–139]

See Edward D. Griffin, "An Humble Attempt to Reconcile the Differences of Christians Respecting the Extent of the Atonement," in The Atonement. Discourses and Treatises (Boston: Congregational Board of Publication, 1859), 370–372. Some of what Martinius said is also translated by in Laurence Womock:
Martinius giving in his Suffrage, upon this Article, doth resolve thus. There is a certain Philanthropy of God, whereby he loves all mankind fallen, and seriously would have them all to be saved. Acta Syn. Dor. page 103. Thes. 1 & Thes. 8. If this Redemption be not supposed as a common benefit bestowed upon all: that indifferent and promiscuous preaching of the Gospel committed to the Apostles to be performed amongst All nations, will have no true foundation (Et thes. 9.). And seeing we abhore to say this; it is to be considered, how much they speak against most clear and known principles, who, at their pleasure, do plainly deny, that Christ died for all men. Thes. 10. Neither will it satisfy to propose such a sufficiency, as might be enough; but such as is altogether enough in God’s and Christ’s account. For otherwise the command and promise of the Gospel will be overthrown.

For (Thes. 11.) from a benefit, that is sufficient indeed, but not designed for me by a true intention, how can there be deduced a necessity of my believing it, to belong unto me? And Thes. 26. he gives the chief Reasons which induced him to be of this opinion, which are three.

1. That the Scriptures might be reconciled without wresting.

2. That the Glory of God’s truth, mercy and justice, in the commands, promises and threatenings of the Gospel, might be preserved; lest by these God should be thought to will and do something otherwise than the words signify.

3. That it may be manifest, that the blame of the destruction of the wicked may be in themselves, not in the defect of a remedy, by which they might be saved. Thus Martinius sent to the Synod of Breme, Act. Syn. Dord. part. 2. pag. 104. &c.
Laurence Womock, Arcana Dogmatum Anti-Remonstantium. Or the Calvinists Cabinet unlock’d. (London: Printed for Richard Royston, at the Angel in Ivie-lane, 1659), 60–61.


Martinius was a moderate Calvinist, much like John Davenant. I consider myself Martinian in my views, but prefer to be called a classical Calvinist, in terms of my soteriology.

October 20, 2007

Robert Rollock (c.1555–1599) Making the “Bold Proclamation”

The saints find in experience, that it is not an easy thing to find a familiar access to God in prayer. Except our consciences first be purged, we can have no access to God; therefore, whosoever would draw near to God, let him seek to follow the counsel of the Apostle in the 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the 22d verse, where he saith, "Let us draw near with a true heart in an assurance of faith, sprinkled in our hearts from an evil conscience." No flesh can have a favourable access to God, except his conscience be first purged from guiltiness; yea, that which we speak of the guiltiness of sin, we speak also of sin itself, that except it be quite taken away out of his sight, that he will not look favourably upon us. And this is that which the prophet saith here, "If thou, O Lord, straitly markest iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" For, as guiltiness of sin stayeth us to behold God, so sin itself stayeth God from beholding us, miserable wretches, with the eyes of his compassion. So long, therefore, as thy conscience is not purged, when thou goest to present thyself before his majesty, if thy conscience be wakened, thou wilt find God marking thy sins, laying them to thy charge, and wilt find him as a terrible judge, compassed about with burning wrath, ready to destroy thee: and if he mark thee, thou hast no standing, and if thou appear not clothed with the righteousness and perfect satisfaction that Jesus, through his blood, hath purchased for thee, thou darest not presume to approach, for then his fierce wrath shall be poured out upon thee.
Robert Rollock, "Sermon XII: Psalm cxxx. 1–4," in Select Works of Robert Rollock, ed. William M. Gunn (Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1844-1849), 1:464.
In all this railing out against him, ye see the extreme humiliation of Jesus Christ for our sins. He is made of no reputation; no, he is trod on as a worm; and no question that extreme torment of body was not so grievous to him as was this railing on him. They speak to him as a very reprobate, and so far as lay in them, they endeavoured to make him to despair of all help. So ye may see this railing was a thing most grievous to him. And David being his type, he complains on this shame that they heaped on him, in the xxii. Psalm. All this lets us see how dearly the Lord hath bought our life and salvation; and we are more than miserable if we see not this. And also, it lets us see what should have become of us if he had not satisfied for us, and what should become of thee, if thou be not in Christ in that great day. And it tells thee, seeing all this is for thy sin, that thou shouldst have a sad heart to have such a Redeemer made such a spectacle, and thou shouldst groan under the burden of sin; and when thou readest of the cross, thine heart should be sorrowful that ever thou shouldst have moved the God of glory to such vengeance of his dear Son for thee. Think not that every man shall be relieved of his sin by him; no, only those who learn to groan under the burden of their own sins, by the which they have pierced him, and turn to the Lord unfeignedly, and get favour. So, if thou learnest not at one time or other to groan under the burden of thy sin, thou shalt never be relieved by him.
Robert Rollock, "XVI. The Crucifixion, continued" in Select Works of Robert Rollock, ed. William M. Gunn (Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1844-1849), 2:188–189.


By the "Bold Proclamation," I mean that Rollock is indiscriminately telling all of his unbelieving listeners that Christ suffered and died for their sins, etc.

Update on 10-22-07:

David posted his findings in Robert Rollock on the Calvin and Calvinism blog (or even better, HERE).

October 18, 2007

Ezekiel Culverwell (c.1554–1631) on Kosmos

Ezekiel Culverwell (a 17th century English Puritan) said:
I profess I cannot find any one clear place where [the World] must of necessity be taken for the Elect only.
Ezekiel Culverwell, A Brief Answer to Certain Objections against the Treatise of Faith (London: Printed by John Dawson, 1646), A7v; or p. 12. [no pagination; pages numbered manually from the title page] Also in Ezekiel Culverwell, A Brief Answer to Certaine Objections against the Treatise of Faith, made by Ez. Culverwell. Clearing him from the errors of Arminius, unjustly laid to his charge (London: Printed by I. D. for William Sheffard, and are to be sold at his Shop at the entrance in cut of Lumbard streete into Popes-head Alley, 1626), A7v.

This quote is also found in Richard Baxter's Universal Redemption of Mankind (London: Printed for John Salusbury at the Rising-Sun in Cornill, 1694), 295.

It is reported that Culverwell agreed with his friend James Ussher's True Intent and Extent of Christ's Death. See Jonathan Moore's English Hypothetical Universalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 175–176, 183–84n56, 191n97, 212.

October 17, 2007

A Meditation on God's Presence in Hell

When most people think of hell, they think about the bodily pain one will have to endure in a lake of fire. However, I agree with Jonathan Edwards. He argues that the chief torment in hell will occur in the soul, just as the greatest amount of anguish occurred in the soul of Christ when he was upon the cross.

When one reads the bible, one notices what happens when God appears to men. They immediately see themselves for what they really are. God's presence in heaven will be a chief cause of joy to the believer because they will forever see themselves as united to His beloved Son, i.e., as forgiven sinners who are accepted in Him. On the other hand, God's presence in hell will be a chief cause of torment to the damned. They will forever see themselves as loathsome in the eyes of their creator. God will make them see themselves for what they really are, forever, and this is one of the ways in which his Holy presence will torment them.

Their minds will be made fully aware of their sins, even if they quickly forget their guilt while in this world. The innumerable amount of their sins will then appear in their consciences like the stars in the darkest night. They will not only remember all the sin they quickly put out of their consciences here and now, but they will feel in their souls the full weight of the guilt for all the sin, which they had never perceived before. They would much prefer extinction or annihilation (as opposed to consciously reflecting on their nature in light of God's nature), so it's no wonder that scripture speaks of some crying to the rocks and mountains to fall on them in order to hide them from the face of Him that sits upon the throne (Rev. 6:6).

Cursed are the impure in heart, for they too shall see God, and, consequently, themselves as well.

Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on Christ Weeping and Bleeding for the Sins of the World

2. It was our Saviour's practice. As he had the highest love to God, so he must needs have the greatest grief for his dishonour. He sighed in his spirit for the incredulity of that generation, when they asked a sign, after so many had been presented to their eyes: Mark viii. 12, 'He sighed deeply in his spirit.' And the hardness of their hearts at another time raised his grief as well as his indignation, Mark iii. 5. He was sensible of the least dishonour to his Father: Ps. lxix. 9, 'The reproaches of them that reproached thee, fell upon me.' I took them to heart. Christ pleased not himself when his Father was injured; as the apostle descants upon it, when he applies it to Christ, Rom. xv. 3. His soul was more pierced with the wrongs done to God, than the reproaches which were directed against his own person. His grief was inexpressibly greater than can be in any creature, because of the inimitable ardency of his love to God, the nearness of his relation to him, and the unspotted purity of his soul. Christ had a double relation: to man, to God. His compassion to men afflicted him with groans and tears at their bodily distempers; his affection to his Father would make him grieve as much to see him dishonoured, as his love to man made him groan to see man afflicted. This grief for sin was one part of Christ's sacrifice and suffering; for he came to make a full satisfaction to the justice of God by enduring his wrath, to the holiness of God by offering up an infinite sorrow for sin, which it was impossible for a creature to do. We cannot suppose that Christ should only accept the punishment, but not bewail the offence which those sins, had not been acceptable; it had not been agreeable to the purity of his human nature. He wept at Jerusalem's obstinacy, as well as for her misery, and that in the time of his triumph. The loud hosannas could not silence his grief, and stop the expressions of it, Luke xix. 41. It was like sorrow for men's displeasing the holiness of God, it is surely our duty, as his members, to imitate the afflictions of the head. He is unworthy of the name of Christ, who is not afflicted as Christ was, nor can call Christ his master, who doth not imitate his graces, as well as pretend to believe his doctrine; he cannot see that God, who hath distinguished him from the world, dishonoured, his precepts contemned, but he must have his soul overcast with a gloomy cloud. It is our glory to value the things he esteemed, to despise the things he condemned, to rejoice in that wherein he was delighted, and to grieve for that which was the matter of his sorrow and indignation. Thus was he afflicted, though he had a joy in the assurance of his Father's favour, and the assistance of his Father's power. The highest assurance of God's love in particular to us, ought not to hinder the impressions of grief for the dishonour of his name. Did Christ ever look upon the swinish world without melting into pity? Did he bleed for the sins of the world, and shall not we mourn for them?
Stephen Charnock, "A Discourse of Mourning for Other Men's Sins," in The Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1997), 5:385–386.


There is no effort to limit the "world" here. Charnock affirms that Christ bled for all those sinners he weeps over.

October 16, 2007

Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on God's Importunate Entreaties

(2.) God hath been importunate in entreaties of us. God offers not only truce, but a peace, and hath been most active in urging a reconciliation. Can he manifest his willingness in clearer methods, than that of sending his Son to reconcile the world to himself? Can he evidence more sincerity than by his repeated and reiterated pressing of our souls to the acceptance of him? God knocks at our hearts, and we are deaf to him; he thunders in our ears, and we regard him not; he waits upon us for our acceptance of his love, and we grow more mad against him; he beseecheth us, and we ungratefully and proudly reject him; he opens his bosom, and we turn our backs; he offers us his pearls, and we tread them under our feet; he would give us angels' bread, and we feed on husks with swine. The wisdom of God shines upon us, and we account it foolishness. The infinite kindness of God courts us, and we refuse it, as if it were the greatest cruelty. Christ calls and begs, and we will not hear him either commanding or entreating. To love God is our privilege, and though it be our indispensable duty, yet it had been a presumption in us to aspire so high as to think the casting our earthly affections upon so transcendent an object should be so dear to him, had he not authorised it by his command, and encouraged it by his acceptance. But it is strange that God should court us by such varieties of kindness to that, wherein not his happiness but our affection does consist; and much stranger, that such pieces of earth and clay should turn their backs upon so adorable an object, and be enemies to him, who displays himself in so many allurements to their souls, and fix their hatred upon that tender God who sues for their affections.

Consider that God is our superior. An inferior should seek to a superior, not a superior to one below him. There is an equality between man and man, but an infinite inequality between God and us. God is also the party wronged, and yet offers a parley. And consider further, that when he could as well damn us as court us, he wants not power to rid his hands of us, but he would rather shew his almightiness in the triumph of his mercy, than the trophies of his justice; he would rather be a refreshing light than a consuming fire.
Stephen Charnock, "Man's Enmity to God," in The Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1997), 5:521.


October 15, 2007

The Revealed Will in Nathaniel Vincent's (1638–1697) The Conversion of a Sinner: Part 1

Nathaniel Vincent was the younger brother of Thomas Vincent (one chosen to be the catechist to John Owen). In 1672, Nathaniel was licensed as a Presbyterian preacher. He was one of the ejected ministers of 1662, but returned to London after the fire of 1666 and preached to large multitudes in the ruins of the city. He spent many years in prison and under persecution for his nonconformity. He died at the age of 53 on June 21, 1697, and was buried in Bunhill Fields in London, the non-conformist's burial ground.

The Conversion of a Sinner
Explained and Applied
from Ezekiel 33:11,
"...Turn ye, turn ye, from your
evil ways, for why will ye die,
O house of Israel?"

by Nathaniel Vincent,
Minister of the Gospel

(First Published in 1669)

Oh, let Your special love be more generally manifested! Let Your healing and Your saving grace run in a much broader channel and let your tents be enlarged and let them stretch forth the curtains of Your habitation!
Nathaniel Vincent, "The Conversion of a Sinner" in The Puritans on Conversion, ed. Don Kistler (Ligonier: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990), 72–73.
Conversion is a nail which the prophets of old were hammering upon perpetually. Our Lord and His apostles endeavored to drive this nail home, and God of late has not only sent His ministers to ply this business but has taken the hammer of judgments to make this nail to enter. Now the stronger the resistance is that we make, we must expect more strokes from this hammer. We have seen lately days of great calamity and affliction, and yet they have, in some sense, also been days of grace. Therefore, temporal judgments have been sent that spiritual mercies might be prized and eternal judgments might be prevented.

God has had a design of love at the bottom of all His severities.
Ibid., 77.
But the Lord, besides whom there is no Saviour, may call, and call with frequency, with earnestness, yet call in vain. Their hearts are dull, their ears are deaf, they will not hearken to Him.
Ibid., 79.
It seems there was a controversy about at whose door the destruction of sinners was to be laid. The house of Israel very peremptorily and boldly laid the blame on God, saying that the way of the Lord is not equal. But the God of mercy and truth vindicates Himself from that undeserved imputation, professing that if sinners were not perversely ben on their own ruin, destruction would be escaped. By His life, He swears that the death of the wicked pleases Him not. Therefore in the text, His voice is loud and doubled, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways," and the saddle is set upon the right horse. Men's own wills are the cause of their own woe, "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" The words express a very pathetic and serious call...
Ibid., 80–81.
There are several paths in the broad way, but in death, the second death, they all conclude and meet. Therefore, the Lord is brought in, pitying sinners and pleading with them.
Ibid., 81.
How often have I sent My prophets that you might be brought to believe, to repent, and to obey? But still your neck is an iron sinew. You are resolved to rush on in sin. If you perish, you may thank yourselves. If you are destroyed, it is because you choose destruction.
Ibid., 82.
Besides, the Lord presents Himself to a sinner if he will forsake his evil ways and thoughts. Now if the sinner rejects that offer and prefers not only the empty world but the vilest lusts before the blessed God, let reason judge if it is not just that he should be eternally separated from Him. And this loss of God is properly the death spoken of, it is the very hell of hell.
Ibid., 85.
They cannot plead, either, that they knew not their Master's will, or that they were ignorant of the penalty following their rebelling against it. How often have those that enjoy the light of the gospel been informed that it is the will of God that they should sorrow and rend their hearts for sin? That it is the will of God that they should believe in His Son? That it is the will of God even their sanctification, I Thess.4? Nay, how often have they been foretold of the many stripes that must be endured by those that continue in willful disobedience? It is not unequal, then, since they made the Lord a liar by their unbelief, that He should vindicate His truth and cause them to feel those plagues and torments which thousands of times they were warned of but had no faith or fear concerning them.

C. As sinners are threatened because of their evil ways, so they are shown which is the way of life and peace and are very much preferred to walk in it. Assisting and strengthening grace is presented to them, but if neither that glory and immortality at the end of the way nor that help and grace which they have in the way are regarded, but the paths of destruction and misery (as they are called), Rom.3:16, are preferred, they indeed wrong their own souls. But God is righteous in destroying them.
Ibid., 85–86.
How often has the Lord called but you have refused? How often has He stretched forth His hand all the day long, but all the day long you have been disobedient and contrary? How speechless will this make you when He comes to judge the world in righteousness?...The offender that refuses a pardon offered justly, nay doubly deserves to have judgment executed, both because of his offense and because he slights mercy.
Ibid., 95.
How many millions have died and been taken away in their iniquities that were as fully resolved upon repenting hereafter as any that are now alive? Take heed of this rock upon which so many have split and have been cast away forever. God's will is for the present. He says, "Today if you will hear My voice, harden not your hearts," Heb.3:7-8. But if now, when God is willing to give you life, you are unwilling, He may be hereafter unwilling when you would have it. When death and destruction come upon you as a whirlwind, He has threatened that you shall call upon Him for life and salvation, but it shall be far from you. "You shall seek Him early, but you shall not find Him, if now you have knowledge, and do not choose the fear of the Lord," Prov.1:28-29.
Ibid., 97–98.
A. Judge yourselves because of your nature of perverseness. Until you are sensible of this, you cannot be humbled in a right manner. That you have sinned so much, so long, should very much affect and afflict you before God, but that you have a will to sin ten thousand times more, were it not for the restraints of grace, nay, to sin unto eternity, oh, what confusion and sorrow should this cause!
Ibid., 99.
1. He calls upon them from Mount Ebal. That was the Mount from whence the curses were denounced. He tells them in His Word of the cursedness and woe of the unconverted state. He sends the Law as a schoolmaster to teach them a sad lesson, that because of their frequent transgressions, they are just upon the brink of eternal misery. And His design is that thereby they may be awakened and stopped in their destructive way and not flatter themselves with hopes of peace, though they still walk on after the imagination of their own heart.

This voice of the Lord by the Law is loud and terrible, uttered on purpose to rouse and startle them that are dead asleep.
Ibid., 100–101.
Satan, by tempting us to sin, has taken away our blessing from us, yet we ought not to despond for the Lord has more than one blessing. That which the first Adam forfeited, the second Adam was sent to restore, Acts 3:26, "God having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you in turning every one of you from iniquity." The Lord takes sinners up, as it were, into Mount Gerizzim. He shows them His kingdom and the glories of it. He tells them of His store of blessings, of the inestimable benefits which His Son has purchased: justification, adoption, sanctification, glory, and assures them that all shall be theirs if they will but turn indeed. And truly, these are other kinds of offers than Satan ever did or possibly can make.

3. God calls upon sinners to turn by the most passionate pleadings and pressing expostulations. His design in expostulating is to make them sensible of their unreasonableness in pursuing deceitful vanities, fulfilling their defiling lusts, and refusing to convert unto Him who can both sanctify them from their defilements and satisfy them with His all-sufficiency. He expostulates the matter with Judah, Is.55:2-3, "Why will you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which cannot satisfy? Since upon your coming to Me, the Life of your souls and the sure mercies of an everlasting covenant may be obtained."

The Lord pleads with the ungodly by the ministry of the Word after this manner: "What! Though you are told of sin's deceitful, defiling, and damnable nature, will you still embrace and hold it fast to My dishonor and your own destruction? Though you are forewarned of the heat and heaviness of My anger, will you not flee from it? Though you are informed so often how little hell will be for your ease, will you run thither and burn there forever? Though you are told of a kingdom that cannot be moved, will not you be moved with desire after it, will you not be persuaded to strive for it? Are grace and glory of no worth at all? Is not a Saviour to be prized by them who, by sin, have enslaved and lost themselves, and are in danger of being lost unto eternity? Consider these things, and show yourselves men, oh, you transgressors." Thus the Lord pleads that He may prevail with sinners for their own good.
Ibid., 102–104.
5. God calls upon sinners to turn to Him by the internal voice and motions of His Spirit. The Spirit often suggests concerning the sinful and false way, "This is not the way, and therefore turn out of it." But concerning the way of holiness which leads to God, "This is the way, and therefore turn unto it," and without declining, "walk in it," Is.30:21. All the other calls will be to little purpose unless the Spirit accompanies them. Without His conviction, the denunciation of curses will not awaken. Without His illumination, the blessings proffered will be undervalued. Without His setting an edge upon them, the most pathetical expostulations will not have the least efficacy to persuade. The loudest words will be no more regarded than if they were a whisper. Unless the Spirit joins His teaching and instruction, the rod will be mute and insignificant. Nothing will be learned, either by personal affliction or by national judgments. it is dangerous, therefore, to be heedless of, and resistant to, the Holy Ghost, since the efficacy of all depends upon Him.

There is a twofold call of the Spirit: more common and more special.

1. More common, and so many are called which never are thoroughly converted. It was the common work of the Spirit which made Felix tremble, which brought Agrippa within a step of Christianity and caused Herod to do many things. Multitudes of unregenerate ones have felt the waters stirred, the Holy Ghost moving them to conversion, and have readily proffered His aid and assistance, and perhaps, for awhile, they have been led by Him. But then they have refused to let go of some lust or vanity which He has bid them abandon. They would not turn their spiritual sloth into serious diligence about the concerns of their immortal souls, and so by disregarding His motions, and by slighting His help, they have made the Spirit to go away in grief who came in love to work upon them.

2. There is a call of the Spirit which is more special and efficacious, and when He moves them to turn to God, sinners are not only almost, but altogether, persuaded.
Ibid., 105–107.

One can clearly see the universal saving will of God, the universal love of God, common grace and the well-meant offer (a "serious call") in Vincent. All of these things are interrelated in his theology.

For Part 2, click HERE.

October 13, 2007

Revelation 18:7 and Degrees of Punishment

I am reading a sermon by Nathaniel Vincent and he just used this verse to suggest varying degrees of punishment in hell:

NAU Revelation 18:7 "To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.'

There are a number of verses that suggest it, but this is the first time this one has been brought to my attention.

Soon after referencing this verse, Vincent says:
"It will be no comfort there to have companions in your misery, but rather among the damned there will be a torturing grief and indignation at the sight of one another to consider what incarnate devils they were to one another's souls, and helped forward one another's condemnation. Upon this score, it might be that the rich man of Luke 16 was so unwilling that his brethren should come to the place of torment, because if he were damned for those sins which he in his lifetime had been accessory to, their company with him in hell would have but added to his woe. We used to say here, "The more, the merrier," but there it will be, "The more, the sadder." When God has all of His enemies in one place together and none of His people mingled with them, then all His wrath will be stirred up and all the vials of His fury poured down upon them."

Nathaniel Vincent, "The Conversion of a Sinner" in The Puritans on Conversion, ed. Don Kistler (Ligonier: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990), p. 88–89.

October 11, 2007

Nathaniel Vincent on Romans 2:4, God's Goodness, Mercy and Love

"7. Not only His Word and ministers and Spirit, but also His providences call upon you to turn to God. Both His mercies and His judgments press this exhortation to conversion. The streams of goodness that continually run towards you, and which sometimes swell and overflow abundantly, signify that it is your wisdom to forsake the broken cisterns and come to the fountain of living waters. His mercies speak this language, that it is good to return to, and obtain an interest in, the Father of them. Then these mercies will be in mercy. Cords of love are cast about you on purpose to draw you unto the God of love and peace. Oh, that you would run to Him! The riches of His goodness are unlocked and discovered that hereby you may be led unto repentance, Rom.2:4.

His judgments, likewise, are inflicted in pursuance of the same design. That is the voice that's uttered by them, "Go return unto the Lord, for He hath torn and He will heal you; He hath smitten, and He will bind you up," Hos.6:1. The fire of London calls upon the inhabitants of it, and of the whole land (since they have not only heard of God by the hearing of the ear, but their eyes have seen Him marching out so dreadfully against them), to abhor themselves and to repent in dust and ashes. Those many thousands that were cut off by the plague of pestilence, although they are dead, they still speak, and that which they say is this, "Oh, you who are alive, return unto the Lord your God, for after death it will be too late to do it."

Nathaniel Vincent, "The Conversion of a Sinner," in The Puritans on Conversion, ed. Don Kistler (Ligonier: Soli Deo Gloria, 1990), pp. 149–150.

Observe: The Father's "design" in showing "goodness" and "mercy" to all, and using "cords of love" in "providence," is "purposely" to "draw" all sinners to "conversion," i.e., to "turn" them. Vincent associates universal goodness, mercy and love with Paul's point in Romans 2:4. I will quote more from this work to show that Vincent does the same regarding the grace of God. This is classic Puritan theology on common grace.

October 8, 2007

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–1843) on Isaiah 48:18

NKJ Isaiah 48:18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Inference.—God wishes men to be saved. God sometimes pleads with men to be saved for His own pleasure: it would be pleasant to Him; it would make Him glad; as in the parable of the lost sheep. Sometimes He pleads for His own glory. (Jer. xiii. 16; Mal. ii. 1.) But here it is for the happiness of sinners themselves. So Ps. Lxxxi. 13. Once more, He pleads with men, because unwilling that any should perish (2 Pet. iii. 9).
Andrew Bonar, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M'Cheyne (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1995), 512. This can also be read online HERE.


Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–1843) on Christ's Love for Judas and Those Like Him

My friends, there may be some within these walls with a heart as hard as that of Judas. Like Judas, you are about to partake of the most moving ordinance the world ever saw; like Judas, your heart may grow harder, and your life more sinful than ever. And you think, then, that Jesus is your enemy? But what does the Bible say? Look here: he that once shed his blood for you, now sheds his tears for you. Immanuel grieves over you. He wept over Jerusalem, and he weeps over you. He has no pleasure that you should perish - he had far rather that you would turn and have life.

There is not within these walls one of you so hard, so cruel, so base, so unmoved, so far from grace and godlines, so Judas-like, that Jesus does not grieve over your hardness, that you will still resist all his love, that you will still love death, and wrong your own soul. Oh! that the tears which the Saviour shed over your lost and perishing souls might fall upon your hearts like drops of liquid fire; that you might no more sit unmelted under that wondrous love that burns with so vehement a flame, which many waters cannot quench, which all your sins cannot smother - the love which passeth knowledge. Amen. Larbert, August, 1836
R. M. McCheyne, "Melting the Betrayer," in From the Preacher's Heart (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1993), 69. Originally published in 1846 with the title Additional Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne.

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–1843) on Christ's Love for Judas

Question: What could be Christ's reason for so often and so solemnly speaking of his betrayer?
Answer: I can see no other reason for it but that he might make one last effort to melt the heart of his betrayer.
Doctrine: Christ is earnestly seeking the salvation of those unconverted persons who sit down at his table.

There are two arguments running through the whole of this scene, by means of which Jesus tried to melt the betrayer. First, his perfect knowledge of him. As if he had said: I know that thou hast always been a thief and a traitor; I know that thou hast sold me for thirty pieces of silver; I know all thy plans and all thy crimes. In this way he tried to awaken the traitor - to make him feel himself a lost sinner. Second, his anxious love for him. As if he had said: I love thee, Judas; I have left the bosom of the Father just for lost sinners like thee; I pitied thee before the world was; I am quite willing still to be a Savior to thee. In this way he tried to win the traitor—to draw him to himself.
R. M. McCheyne, "Melting the Betrayer," in From the Preacher's Heart (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1993), 63. Originally published in 1846 with the title Additional Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne.


October 6, 2007

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on the Misery of the Damned Remembering God’s Love

After describing the anger of God working in the misery of the damned in Miscellany #232, Jonathan Edwards said:
And all this will be aggravated by the remembrance, that God once loved us so as to give his Son to bring us to the happiness of his love, and tried all manner of means to persuade us to accept of his favor, which was obstinately refused.
Jonathan Edwards [1722], The "Miscellanies [232. Misery of the Damned]": (Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500) (WJE Online Vol. 13), ed. Harry S. Stout.


John Gerstner noted this about Edwards on God's love:
If God’s love is known by what it hates, it is also known by what it loves or inclines toward. First, in a sense, it extends to all creatures. All creatures have some good from God.136 Even the wicked share in this benevolence. “God is kind to the unthankful and evil.”137 Man is now naturally contrary to God and positively evil, but the Luke 6:35 sermon shows that God still loves him in some ways. Indeed, Edwards goes on to say in another sermon: “even in damnation.”138 Yet, fundamentally, “holy persons love holy things for their holiness.”139
136. Unpublished MS sermon on Ps. 145:15–21, “All creatures in heaven and earth have their good things from God,” p. 1, St. Ind., Nov. 1, 1753.
137. Unpublished MS sermon on Lk. 6:35.
138. Unpublished MS sermon on Eph. 4:15–16, “In a company of Christians among whom Christianity has its genuine effect, love is the beginning and love is the middle and love is the end of all their affairs,” p. 2, May 1743.
139. Unpublished MS sermons on Ps. 119:40.
John H. Gerstner, The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards, 3 vols. (Powhatan, VA: Berea Publications; Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 1993), 2:38.

Note: John Bunyan sounds similar to what Edwards says above when he wrote:
I gave my Son to do you good,
I gave you space and time
With him to close, which you withstood,
And did with hell combine.
—from "One Thing Needful," in Works, 3:734.

In this part of Bunyan's poem, God is speaking to the damned, i.e. to the non-elect.

Compare also Thomas Manton here (click) and George Swinnock here (click).

Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691–1747), in his sermon on Matt. 23:37, said:
How does this heighten your criminality; how will it aggravate your condemnation, that the Lord would gather you, that he long bore with you, so often would have taken you under his wings, but “ye would not!”—that he invited and you refused, stretched out his hands, but you opposed; rejecting his counsel, not willing that he should be King over you. (Prov. 1.) Oh! if there is aught that will render the worm of conscience exquisitely tormenting and intolerable, it is above all, that the dear Saviour would have gathered you, “and ye would not!

October 5, 2007

Robert Letham on the Moral Influence Theory

The claim that the atonement was principally a demonstration of the love of God, its power residing in a moral and subjective change in us as we contemplate what Christ did, is most frequently described as the moral influence theory. Peter Abelard (1079-1142) has been identified as its founder. This is false on two counts. First, a purely exemplary cast had been suggested for atonement long before Abelard. Clement of Alexandria (c. 155 - c. 220) had taught that Christ was an illuminator whose task involved the impartation of knowledge (Protrepticos 11, 114, 4, GCS 12,, 80-81; Paedogogus 1, 5, MPG 8, 261-280; Stromatum 2, 22, MPG 8, 1079f.). Second, the claim for Abelard rests on one passage in his writings, in his Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, in particular his comments on Romans 3:19-26. In fact, the case rests on just one sentence, which states that redemption is 'love in us'. Earlier in the selfsame context, however, Abelard has unequivocally spoken of redemption by the blood of Christ, which he sees as his death. He rejects a ransom paid to Satan for it is properly paid to God. Hence, the atonement is in reality a Godward phenomenon and not a subjective moral change in us. Recent scholarship has recognized this to be so.[16]

The real genesis of the idea appears to be in Enlightenment Germany. In Britain, Hastings Rashdall attempted belatedly to popularize it in 1915 but by then it was too late, for the First World War was to shatter optimism about the nature of humanity and to encourage a recovery of the idea of sin and depravity. This indeed was the Achilles heel of the theory. Its basic predicate was that human beings have the power to improve themselves morally. The doctrine of original sin and any ensuing depravity was viewed as intolerable, hence the attempt to empty the atonement of ideas of a divine transaction concerning sin, wrath and judgment. That this was a naively complacent view of human nature was demonstrated beyond question by the horrors of the decades after Rashdall. Two world wars, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and countless revelations of human wickedness have rendered the position untenable. Of course, Christ's death does produce a subjective moral change in those who contemplate it in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. Where the theory goes wrong is in seeing this change as the atonement.
16. R. E. Weingart, The Logic of Divine Love: A Critical Analysis of the Soteriology of Peter Abailard (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970), pp. 78–96, 125–126; R. O. P. Taylor, 'Was Abelard an Exemplarist?', Theology 31, 1935, pp. 207–213; Alister McGrath, 'The Moral Theory of the Atonement: An Historical and Theological Critique', SJT, 38, 1985, pp. 205–220.
Robert Letham, The Work of Christ (Downers Grove: IVP, 1993), 166–167.

In a recent phone conversation, I heard an Abelard myth repeated again, so the Letham quote above came to mind. How many times has it been said that Abelard held to a moral influence theory? Why has it been so often repeated? Well, if Letham's (as well as Weingart, Taylor and McGrath) assessment of Abelard is correct, then it must be because many people, even scholars and teachers, are merely reading unreliable secondary sources. How often are myths like this repeated about other men of the past? I leave that for you to decide as you check out primary sources for yourself. Ad Fontes!

October 2, 2007

Various Commentators on Isaiah 45:7

KJV Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

NKJ Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.'

NRS Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the LORD do all these things.

NIV Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.

ESV Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

This is the conclusion of the whole oracle (cf. the link with 44:24 and the introductory note above) but in particular to verses 2–6. The review of the Cyrus period, with its stress on the sovereignty of God, is undergirded by this magnificent monergistic statement. Light and darkness are well established metaphors for the pleasant and the unpleasant; they are, of course also the regular sequence of things, and either can be the meaning here. The Lord is executively behind all the diversities of experience which life contains; he also ordains the order in which things happen, the course of experience. Prosperity is ´peace´, which, of course, includes well-being, prosperity, fulfillment, etc. (9:6‹5›), all that makes life rich and rewarding. The older translations made needless trouble by rendering ´I create evil´; the NIV correctly has create disaster. Out of about 640 occurrences of the word ra‛ (which ranges in meaning from ´nasty´ taste to full moral evil) there are 275 instances where ´trouble´ or ´calamity´ is the meaning. In every case the context must judge. In this passage, full of historical calamities coming on people through Cyrus, this is what ra‛ means. Light and darkness are typically Zoroastrian themes, and some have seized on this as evidence of a Persian milieu for this verse. But there is no ground for finding a reference to Zoroastrianism here, and in any case the texts on which Zoroaster based his light/darkness dualism go back to about 1200 BC. If Isaiah is attacking anything it is the inherent dualism of polytheism or the sinful dualism of the human heart, which both longs for the security of one only God and yet jibs at the rigour of saying with Job, ´Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble [ra‛]?´ (Jb. 2:10). Isaiah's intention is, however, not polemical but rather credal and comforting. This God, who is solely and sovereignly, determinatively and executively, in charge of everything and is the God who made all (44:24) and makes all (45:7), is the Holy One and fashioner of Israel (44:24), the redemptive Next-of-kin (45:1) of his people.
J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1993), 359.
The form in which this claim was cast in the old King James version could well prove disturbing, when it is said: "I make peace and create evil," although the Hebrew would allow for such a translation. But it is not the morally good and the morally evil that are being attributed to Yahweh, but things good and bad are said to lie totally in his power, as far as their physical aspects and consequences are concerned. The RSV version does full justice to the issues involved when it says: "I make weal and create woe." Note similar statements in Amos 3:6b; and Isa. 14:24-27. "I am the Lord who does all these things" aptly sums it all up, and obviously ties back to 44:24—obvious evidence of careful composition.
H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971), 2:122.
But we must not misinterpret this majestic statement by understanding it to mean that God is the cause of sin and moral evil. The word ra, used here, does not mean sin but the result and punishment of sin, i.e., sorrow, oppression and misery. In this sense Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:38, "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?" And does not Cyrus ask in the same sense: "Shall there be evil in the city which the Lord worketh not?
Harry Bultema, Commentary on Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1981), 443.
Light and darkness can be interpreted to be phenomena in nature that God created (Gen 1), but there is no indication in the creation account that God created darkness. Therefore, it may be best to relate these two phenomena to the realm of history where God is understood as the Lord of what happens on each new day and every night. The other comparative contrast is between the spheres of “peace” (šālôm, NIV “prosperity”) and “disaster” (rā‘, NASB “calamity”; KJV “evil”). These are not abstract philosophical statements but practical claims about God’s control of everything that happens in history. The good times that bring peace, prosperity, and well-being are controlled by God and so are the terrible times when war, calamity, natural disasters, and death come upon people. God claims that he is the power and the director who “does, makes” all these things happen.
Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 40–66: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (NAC 15B; Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 258.
The Hebrew word ra‘ has a wide range of meanings, much like the English word “bad.” Like “bad” it can refer to moral evil (“Hitler was a bad man”) or to misfortune (“I’m having a bad day”) or merely to that which does not conform to some potential, real or imagined (“That’s a bad road”). This is not the case with the common English equivalent for ra‘, “evil,” which almost always refers to moral wickedness. Thus if we read “I . . . create evil” (AV), we conclude that God causes people to make morally evil decisions. That this is not the correct translation of ra‘ in this circumstance is shown by the opposite term used, which is šālôm, “health, well-being, peace, good relations, good fortune.”
John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, 2 vols. NICOT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 2:204.