December 27, 2007

The Works of the Rev. Isaac Watts in 9 Volumes

The Works of the Rev. Isaac Watts, D.D., 9 vols. (Leeds: Printed by Edward Baines, 1813).
Volume 1: Google Books, Internet Archive

  • Fourty-Three Sermons on Various Occasions
Volume 2: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • Twelve Sermons on Various Subjects
  • Evangelical Discourses
  • Death and Heaven
  • Doctrine of the Passions
  • Of the Love of God, and the Use and Abuse of the Passions
 Volume 3: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • Self-Love and Virtue Reconciled Only by Religion
  • Humility Represented in the Character of St. Paul
  • Orthodoxy and Charity United
  • A Caveat Against Infidelity?
  • The Harmony of all the Religions God Ever Prescribed
  • The Strength and Weakness of Human Reason
  • Holiness of Times, Places, &c.
Volume 4: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • The Rational Foundation of a Christian Church
  • On Civil Power in Things Sacred
  • Ruin and Recovery of Mankind
  • On the Freedom of the Will
  • The Sacrifice of Christ
  • An Humble Attempt Toward the Revival of Practical Religion Among Christians
Volume 5: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • An Humble Attempt Towards the Revival of Practical Religion Among Christians
  • A Discourse on the Way of Instruction by Way of Catechism
  • A Preservative from the Sins and Follies of Youth by Way of Question and Answer
  • A Large Catalogue of Remarkable Scripture Names
  • A Guide to Prayer
  • Prayers for Children
  • A Short View of the Whole Scripture History
  • Questions Proper for Students in Divinity, &c.
Volume 6: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • An Essay Towards the Encouragement of Charity Schools 
  • The Art of Reading and Writing English
  • The Christian Doctrine of the Trinity
Volume 7: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • The World to Come
  • Logic
  • A Discourse on the Education of Children and Youth
Volume 8: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • The Improvement of the Mind
  • Geography and Astronomy
  • Philosophical Essays on Various Subjects
  • A Brief Scheme of Ontology
  • A Defense Against the Temptation to Self-Murder
Volume 9: Google Books, Internet Archive
  • An Essay on Psalmody
  • The Psalms of David
  • Hymns and Spiritual Songs
  • Divine Songs for Children
  • Lyric Poems
  • Reliquiae Juveniles
  • Remnants of Time

Offer Terminology in Theodore Beza, Jerome Zanchius and William Ames

Update on 12-31-07:

Since one Clarkian hyper-Calvinist has linked to this post and missed the point of it (mainly because he is only doing cursory glances at a few of my posts in a very superficial way), clarification may be necessary. The purpose of this post is not to demonstrate whether or not Beza, Zanchius and Ames held to a "well-meant gospel offer." Rather, it is to demonstrate that each of them called the gospel an "offer." It was not until the time of Davis and Hussey that the term was rejected to describe the gospel. Moreover, one can observe that Beza speaks of God himself offering the gospel, even unto reprobates. That's what is mainly in focus, and not the issue of our need to offer in the sense of preaching the gospel to all.

The reader may wish to consult my subject index on the topics of "The Gospel Offer," "The Grace of God," "The Love of God," "The Will of God," and "The Atonement."

When dealing with the subject of "offer terminology," Curt Daniel says the following in his doctoral dissertation:
2. Beza: "It ought not to seem absurd, that God unto reprobates, living in his Church, doth offer grace in his word and sacraments. For he doth it not to this end, that they may be saved, but that they may have less excuse than others, and at length be more grievously punished" (quoted in Twisse, Riches, Part II, p. 167). This was the aspect of offers emphasized by Supralapsarians, which went beyond the orthodox High Calvinist idea and prepared the way for the Hyperist position. But Beza still used the word. The same state of affairs can be seen with Zanchius, who with Beza was most responsible for introducing the distinctive 'High' elements into Reformed theology (see Chapters IV and IX). There is a passage in his Absolute Predestination which deals with the question: "Thus argued St. Augustine against the Pelagians, who taught that grace is offered to all men alike; that God, for His part, equally wills the salvation of all, and that it is in the power of man's free will to accept or reject the grace and salvation so offered" (p.137, S.G.U. edition). Neither Zanchius nor Augustine are denying that offers should be made to all. Rather, they are saying that grace is offered to all men but not equally to all men. No man can accept the offer unless special grace is given and it is not given to all men, for God wills all men's salvation but not equally for all. Even so, Zanchius felt that the revealed will offers grace.
Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (PhD diss., University of Edinburgh, 1983), 397n2.

Footnote #8 on page 398 also notes the fact that William Ames uses the terminology in The Marrow of Theology (Durham: The Labyrinth Press, 1983), 157–158.

Daniel also wrote:
It cannot be debated that the word was employed with all regularity throughout the Puritan era. It was used by a host of theologians representing all the main schools of Reformed theology. It was used by Low Calvinists, including the Neonomians and Amyraldians. Mainstream Federalists employed it often, as well as Supralapsarians. Moreover, even the Antinomians (forerunners of the Hyperists) had it in their vocabulary. Throughout the period up to the end of the seventheenth century we find the word nearly everywhere and almost always with the same basic meaning, though with various emphases according to different writers. But none of them explicitly rejected it. Some, of course, may not have used it; but to argue from this that they actually dismissed the word would be a gross argumentum e silentium. In all our researches we have not found a single instance in which the word was explicitly rejected by any Reformed divine or preacher previous to the year 1700.

Similarly, the word has enjoyed a continued usage down to the present. In the eighteenth century it could be found in all the most important Reformed literature, with the exception of the Hyper-Calvinist books.
Ibid., 398–399.

December 25, 2007

Christmas Thoughts on Immanuel

The God of Genesis 1...

NKJ Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

was the babe in the Gospel of Matthew.

NKJ Matthew 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

NKJ Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Praise the Lord.

NKJ Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

I hope that my readers and friends have a Merry Christmas, as you remember and think about the significance of our Lord's wonderful and everlasting incarnation!

December 21, 2007

A Striving Patience

This is a subtle but significant point. When listening to some self-described "Calvinists" today, one is left with the impression that God is merely patient with the unbelieving non-elect in the world because he is waiting to gather in all of his elect. The non-elect receive a "bare patience," as it were. It's as if God is merely putting up with them because of his singular interest in saving the elect (They even twist Romans 9:22-23 to support that viewpoint, without taking into consideration Romans 2:4 and Romans 10:21). On the contrary, notice what Charnock says:
"(2.) His patience is manifest in long delaying his threatened judgments, though he finds no repentance in the rebels. He doth sometimes delay his lighter punishments, because he doth not delight in torturing his creatures; but he doth longer delay his destroying punishments, such as put an end to men's happiness, and remit them to their final and unchangeable state; because he 'doth not delight in the death of a sinner'. While he is preparing his arrows, he is waiting for an occasion to lay them aside, and dull their points that he may with honour march back again, and disband his armies. He brings lighter smarts sooner, that men might not think him asleep, but he suspends the more terrible judgments, that men might be led to repentance. He scatters not his consuming fires at the first, but brings on ruining vengeance with a slow pace: 'Sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed,' Eccles. viii. 11. The Jews therefore say, that Michael, the minister of justice, flies with one wing, but Gabriel, the minister of mercy, with two. A hundred and twenty years did God wait upon the old world, and delay their punishment all the time 'the ark was preparing,' 1 Peter iii. 20; wherein that wicked generation did not enjoy only a bare patience, but a striving patience: Gen. vi. 3, 'My Spirit shall not always strive with man, yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years,' the days wherein I will strive with him; that his long-suffering might not lose all its fruit, and remit the objects of it into the hands of consuming justice."

Stephen Charnock, "On God's Patience" in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:491.

According to Charnock, the wicked generation in Noah's day received a "striving patience," in order that they might be led to repentance. The Holy Spirit was striving with them in order to have mercy upon them, even upon those that finally perished. He cites Genesis 6:3 to that effect.

This is the truth:

1) God wills the salvation of all (even the non-elect that perished), but He only efficaciously wills the salvation of the elect (Noah and his family).

And not this:

2) God only wills the salvation of the elect, so he merely puts up with ("bare patience") with the non-elect for a time until all the elect come safely to salvation.

December 18, 2007

My Historical Documentation

For those who don't know already, I have been documenting the thoughts of the Puritans and other Calvinistic thinkers on the subject of the revealed will of God for quite some time. I am seeking to show that they held to the following:

1) God's general love for mankind is expressed in a universal will to save, and the benefits of common grace are granted to move men to repentance and salvation.

2) God himself gives well-meant offers to all through the gospel call.

All of the Puritans and Calvinistic thinkers on my blog held to the above two propositions. However, even though they affirmed the content of these two propositions, they were of two sorts:

Type A: Christ suffered for the sins of all mankind

Type B: Christ suffered only for the sins of the elect

This may be illustrated as follows:

Since I am in the Type A category (i.e., classic or moderate Calvinism), I have particularly focused on documenting historical Calvinists in this group. Nevertheless, I respect and recognize as orthodox those who are within the Type B tradition (i.e., high Calvinists), so long as they do not reject the above two propositions. As for those who reject the two propositions above (i.e., hyper-Calvinists who are not within the Type A or Type B groups), they often accuse me of taking men out of context. They not only fail to demonstrate how this is, but they do not even interact with my primary source documentation. How could they? This is about all I expect from what I am documenting. If my critics can only deny my claims without proving their case historically, or even interacting with my sources, then they are successfully refuted, at least in terms of historical matters. What they surely do not have is "a Puritans mind," despite their self-descriptions.

Bates on God's General and Special Love

"2. The next general consideration is this; the glory of God is that which will bear a proportion to that love of God which he hath to his people. It shall be a noble expression of that love, and suitable to it. Now to make you a little to understand the force of this: God hath a general love to his creatures, and a special love to his children, to those who are his friends and favourites.

1.) There is a general love that God bears to mankind in this lower world, as they have the title of his creatures: that love hath declared itself in making this world so pleasant an habitation for man as he is in his natural state. Now pray consider with yourselves; God hath made a thousand things in this world, which are not absolutely necessary for the support of our lives, but for the refreshment, and comfort, and pleasure of them; and this is from his general love to mankind. How many stars are there that adorn the firmament in the night? which are a most pleasant spectacle, but are not so absolutely necessary for lights. And how many things are there which are for pleasure and delight, which are not necessary for the support of life.

2.) God hath a peculiar love to his children, and that love he hath designed to glorify in heaven: therefore you shall find, Eph. 1. 6. the great work of redemption, both as to the accomplishment of it, and the actual bestowing the fruits thereof upon us; the great end of it is said to be to the praise of the glory of the grace of God; the glory of his love; that love which warmed his breast from eternity with thoughts of compassion towards man; this love he will glorify in heaven; and he hath prepared such glory and joy for them, that they shall know he will love them like a God in an infinite and inconceivable manner. Do but a little ascend in your thoughts thus; 'Hath God made a beautiful world, so full of comforts and refreshment; hath he made this, and given it to rebellious contumacious sinners, those that live in open defiance of his laws and government? What then hath he prepared for those that love and serve him, in the kingdom above?'"

December 16, 2007

William Bates (1625–1699) on God's Earnest Offer

1. God is very willing that men should be saved and partake of his glory. For this end, "he has brought life and immortality to light in the gospel." The Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, has dispelled the darkness of the Gentiles, and the shadows of the Jews, and rendered the blessed and eternal state so clear and so visible, that every eye may see it. Our assurance of it is upon infallible principles. And though the excellent glory of it is inexpressible, yet it is represented under variety of fair and lovely types to invite our affections. Besides, God makes an earnest offer of life to us in his word; he commands, counsels, excites, urges, nay entreats and beseeches with infinite tenderness, that men will accept of it. Thus the apostle declares, "now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead be reconciled to God." Is it not evident then beyond the most jealous suspicion, God is desirous of our happiness? Can we imagine any design, any insincerity in his words? Why should heaven court a worm? It is his love to souls that expresses itself in that condescending compassionate manner, to melt and overcome the perverse and hardened in sin.

And as his words, so his works are a convincing argument of his will: his most gracious sustaining and supporting of sinful men, his innumerable benefits conferred upon them, in the provision of good, and preservation from evil, are for this end, that by the conduct of his merciful providence they may be led to repentance, and received into his favour. And the temporal judgments indicted on sinners, are medicinal in their nature, and in his design to bring them to a sight and abhorrence of sin, to prevent their final ruin: if they prove mortal to any, it is from their obstinate corruption. The time allowed to those who are obnoxious to his justice every hour, is not a mere reprieve from torment, but a space of repentance to sue out a pardon: they are spared in order to salvation. "The Lord is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Pet. 3. 9.

But, above all his other works, the giving of his Son to be a sacrifice for sin, is an incomparable demonstration how much he delights in the salvation of men. Since God has been at such cost to put them into a capacity of obtaining the kingdom of unchangeable glory, far transcending the earthly paradise that was forfeited by sin, we have the strongest assurance that he desires their felicity. And how guilty and miserable will those sinners be, that when Christ has opened heaven to us by his blood, refuse to enter into it? When Brutus, the most noble Roman, propounded to a philosopher his design to restore Rome to liberty, he replied, that the action would be glorious indeed, but that so many servile spirits that tamely stooped under tyranny, were not worthy that a man of virtue and courage should hazard himself to recover that for them, which they did so lightly esteem. The redemption of mankind is without controversy the master-piece of God's works, wherein his principal attributes appear in their excellent glory. But how astonishing is the unworthiness of men, who wretchedly neglect salvation, which the Son of God purchased by a life full of sorrows, and a death of infinite sufferings? Blessed Redeemer! May it be spoken with the humble, affectionate, and thankful sense of thy dying love, why didst thou give thyself a ransom for those who are charmed with their misery, and with the most foul ingratitude disvalue so precious a redemption? How justly shall they be for ever deprived of it? "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish."
William Bates, The Whole Works of the Rev. William Bates (London: Printed for James Black, 1815) 3:470–472.


Biographical Information from Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans (Grand Rapids: RHB, 2006), 56–58:
William Bates was once of the most popular and esteemed preachers among the Nonconformists...he represented the Presbyterians as a commissioner at the Savoy Conference, where one purpose was to review public liturgy, including the identification of weaknesses in The Book of Common Prayer...In 1662, Bates was one of 2,000 ministers ejected by the Act of Uniformity...Bates labored for the next ten years, often with men like Thomas Manton, Edmund Calamy, and Richard Baxter, for the inclusion of nonconformists within the Anglican church and for toleration of other churches...In 1672, he was licensed as a Presbyterian teacher and was appointed to lecture at Pinner's Hall (later called the Ancient Merchants lecture)...Bates remained a leading Puritan until the end of his life, often being invited to preach at the funerals of close Puritan friends, including Richard Baxter, Thomas Manton, Thomas Jacomb, and David Clarkson...Bates died in Hackney on July 21, 1699, survived by his second wife, Margaret. The sermon at Bates's funeral, preached by John Howe, a close friend of more than forty years, was a rich testimony to his godly life and diligent study.

December 14, 2007

God's Power Seen in His Patience

"The end why God is patient is to shew his power: Rom. ix. 22, 'What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endureth with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?' to shew his wrath upon sinners, and his power over himself, in bearing such indignities, and forbearing punishment so long, when men were vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, of whom there was no hopes of amendment. Had he immediately broken in pieces those vessels, his power had not so eminently appeared as it hath done, in tolerating them so long, that had provoked him to take them off so often. There is indeed the power of his anger, and there is the power of his patience, and his power is more seen in his patience than in his wrath. It is no wonder that he that is above all is able to crush all, but it is a wonder that he that is provoked by all doth not, upon the first provocation, rid his hands of all. This is the reason why he did bear such a weight of provocations from vessels of wrath, prepared for ruin, that he might γνωρίσαι τό δυνατόν αύτου, shew what he was able to do, the lordship and royalty he had over himself. The power of God is more manifest in his patience to a multitude of sinners, than it could be in creating millions of worlds out of nothing; this was the δυνατόν αύτου, a power over himself."

Stephen Charnock, "On God's Patience," in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:482.

I must admit that I never thought about this before, i.e., how God's power is more manifest in his patience than in his wrath or in his ability to create many worlds out of nothing. Not only is God uniquely showing his grace in this age to the astonishment of the angelic hosts, but he is uniquely showing his power as well in the display of his patience.

The Whole Works of William Bates (1625–1699)

Google books has finally put up all four volumes of the works of William Bates. Here they are:

I have posted some quotes from Bates here:

Sprinkle publications has reprinted all four volumes of his works, and RHB has it available for $75.


Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on 2 Peter 2:1

Had not Christ interposed to satisfy the justice of God, man upon his sin had been actually bound over to punishment, as well as the fallen angels were upon theirs, and been fettered in chains as strong as those spirits feel. The reason why man was not hurled into the same deplorable condition upon his sin, as they were, is Christ's promise of taking our nature, and not theirs. Had God designed Christ's taking their nature, the same patience had been exercised towards them, and the same offers would have been made to them, as are made to us. In regard of the fruits of his patience, Christ is said to buy the wickedest apostates from him: 2 Peter ii. 1 'Denying the Lord that bought them;' such were bought by him as 'bring upon themselves just destruction, and whose damnation slumbers not,' ver. 3; he purchased the continuance of their lives, and the stay of their execution, that offers of grace might be made to them.
Stephen Charnock, "On God's Patience," in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:482.

Stephen Charnock, "On God's Patience," in The Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 2:509.


December 8, 2007

William Gurnall (1617–1679) on God Begging

In a word, though thou like a wretch hast undone thyself, and damned thy soul by thy sins, yet art thou not willing God should have the glory of pardoning them, and Christ the honour of procuring the same? Or art thou like him in the gospel, Luke xvi. 3, 'who could not dig, and to beg was ashamed?' Thou canst not earn heaven by thine own righteousness, and is thy spirit so stout that thou wilt not beg it for Christ's sake, yea, take it at God's hands, who in the gospel comes a begging to thee, and beseecheth thee to be reconciled to him?