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.

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