November 30, 2007

The Revealed Will in Nathaniel Vincent's (1638–1697) The Conversion of a Sinner: Part 2

Hereby He shows His gracious nature, that He delights not in the death and destruction of His creatures. Indeed, death will be inflicted upon them upon their obstinate continuance in evil, but showing mercy and giving life are the things that please God. Therefore He calls the most obdurant to conversion.
Nathaniel Vincent, "The Conversion of a Sinner," in The Puritans on Conversion, ed. Don Kistler (Ligonier: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990), 113.
The Lord calls upon us to turn to leave the obstinate without excuse who will not turn, who will not come to Christ that they might have life. Of Israel He said, "All the day long have I stretched forth My hand to a disobedient and gainsaying people," Rom. 10, but their disobedience rendered them without apology. When the unconverted fall into God's revenging hands, they are the less to be pitied. They can have nothing to plead because God stretching forth His hands by way of instruction in the gospel was in vain. These sinners against their own souls, whose neck is an iron sinew, who will neither be terrified by menances nor mollified by the expressions of the greatest kindness and mercy, when they are summoned to the bar, how will they be struck speechless having not one word to say against their condemnation!

They were called unto grace and glory but they would not hearken. They were told of their danger but they would not seek to prevent it. They were informed of the ways of sin and were warned against them, nay, wooed and entreated with the most passionate earnestness not to be cruel to themselves by giving way to such a cursed thing, yet they would not be content to be freed from sin and become the servants of righteousness. And surely their mouths must be stopped, or, if they say anything when sentence is passed upon them, it must be to side with the justice of God against themselves, to acknowledge the equality of His ways and the inequality of their own.
Ibid., 115–116.
4. Consider who it is that calls upon you to turn and what is His design in it. You are undone wretches who have neither skill, nor will, nor power to save yourselves. And He that calls after you is a God to whom power and mercy belongs, and His design is to make His power and mercy known to you. His aim is to bring you near that He might manifest Himself to you as He manifests Himself unto the world, to shield you from danger, to supply your needs according to the riches of His glory, to deliver you from every evil work, and to preserve you to His heavenly kingdom, and is there any harm in all of this?
Ibid., 148.
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, "God 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.
Ibid., 149–150.
8. Consider, as yet it is not too late to return to God. Though hitherto stupid, if now you will awake; though hitherto refractory, if now you will yield yourselves to the Lord; though hitherto you have shut the door to keep sin in and to keep Christ out, if now at last you will open at the knock of the gospel and consent that your lusts should be expelled and the Lord Jesus enter, He is ready to receive you into grace and favor, and all former denials, affronts, and repulses shall be forgotten and forgiven. The scepter is still held forth, the Lord is not removed from His mercy-seat. Mercy and grace may now be had if you will come for it. But if you will not know when you are well-offered, and are resolved not to cease from your stubborn way, an oath may soon be sworn in wrath that you shall never enter into rest. God may say, "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. He that is joined to the profits and pleasures of the world which he makes his idols, let him alone. He that despises the offer of grace shall not have another offer; he who now refuses to be converted shall never be a convert.
Ibid., 150–151. Vincent also spoke of the gospel being "well offered" in A Present for Such as Have Been Sick and are Recovered, Or, A discourse concerning the good which comes out of the evil of affliction being several sermons preached after his being raised from a bed of languishing (London: Printed by T.S. for Tho. Parkhurst, 1693), 93.

For Part 1, click HERE


Brief Bio:
Nathanael Vincent was born in Cornwall to John and Sarah Vincent. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1656 and a Master of Arts in 1657. He was then appointed chaplain of the Corpus Christi College.

Vincent was ordained at age twenty-one and became rector of Langley Marish, Buckinghamshire. Ejected by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, he spent three years as a private chaplain to Sir Henry Blount before moving to London in 1666. In 1672, Vincent was licensed as a Presbyterian preacher.

While Vincent’s ministry was marked with appreciation by those who came to hear him preach, the government’s non-tolerant approach to nonconformity inflicted persecution and multiple imprisonments on him. Vincent’s imprisonments left him so weak that for some time he was unable to preach, and resorted to writing. Most of his fourteen books were written in prison. His books reflect a warm, experiential piety. His love and concern for the body of Christ is evident in every book.

Vincent died suddenly in 1697, at age fifty-eight; he was survived by his wife, Anna, and six children. He was buried in the nonconformists’ burial ground at Bunhill Fields.

1 comment:

Tony Byrne said...

George Swinnock also uses the expression "well-offered" here.