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.

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