October 29, 2008

More from George Whitefield (1714–1770) on Jesus' Love for All Mankind

"Secondly, Let me apply myself to those who deceive themselves with false hopes of salvation. Some, through the influence of a good education, or other providential restraints, have not run into the same excess of riot with other men, and they think they have no need to receive the Holy Ghost, but flatter themselves that they are really born again. But do you show it by bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit? Do you pray without ceasing? Do you not commit sin? Have you overcome the world? And do you love your enemies, and all mankind, in the same manner, as Jesus Christ loved them? If these things, brethren, be in you and abound, then may you have confidence towards God; but if not, although you may be civilized, yet you are not converted: no, you are yet in your sins. The nature of the old Adam still reigns in your souls; and unless the nature of the second Adam be grafted in its room, you can never see God."

George Whitefield (1714-1770) on Our Love and God's Love

"We know (says St. John) we are passed from death unto life, because we love our brethren." "And by this (says Christ himself) shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one towards another." Love is the fulfilling of the gospel, as well as of the law: for "God is love; and whosoever dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God.

But by this love we are not to understand a softness and tenderness of mere nature, or a love founded on worldly motives (for this a natural man may have); but a love of our brethren, proceeding from love towards God: loving all men in general, because of their relation to God; and loving good men in particular, for the grace we see in them, and because they love our Lord Jesus in sincerity.

This is Christian charity, and that new commandment which Christ gave to his disciples. New, not in its object, but in the motive and example whereon it is founded, even Jesus Christ. This is that love which the primitive Christians were so renowned for, that it became a proverb, See how these Christians love one another. And without this love, though we should give all our goods to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned, it would profit us nothing.

Further, this love is not confined to any particular set of men, but is impartial and catholic: A love that embraces God's image wherever it beholds it, and that delights in nothing so much as to see Christ's kingdom come.

This is the love wherewith Jesus Christ loved mankind: He loved all, even the worst of men, as appears by his weeping over the obstinately perverse; but wherever he saw the least appearance of the divine likeness, that soul he loved in particular. Thus we read, that when he heard the young man say, "All these things have I kept from my youth," that so far he loved him. And when he saw any noble instance of faith, though in a Centurion and a Syrophenician, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, how is he said to marvel at, to rejoice in, speak of, and commend it? So every spiritual disciple of Jesus Christ will cordially embrace all who worship God in spirit and truth, however they may differ as to the appendages of religion, and in things not essentially necessary to salvation.

I confess, indeed, that the heart of a natural man is not thus enlarged all at once; and a person may really have received the Holy Ghost, (as Peter, no doubt, had when he was unwilling to go to Cornelius) though he be not arrived to this: but then, where a person is truly in Christ, all narrowness of spirit decreases in him daily; the partition wall of bigotry and party zeal is broken down more and more; and the nearer he comes to heaven, the more his heart is enlarged with that love, which there will make no difference between any people, nation, or language, but we shall all, with one heart, and one voice, sing praises to him that sitteth upon the throne for ever. But I hasten to a

Fifth scripture mark, Loving our enemies.

"I say unto you, (says Jesus Christ) Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." And this duty of loving your enemies is so necessary, that without it, our righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, or even of the Publicans and sinners: "For if you do good to them only, who do good to you, what do you more than others?" What do you extraordinary? "Do not even the Publicans the same?" And these precepts our Lord confirmed by his own example; when he wept over the bloody city; when he suffered himself to be led as a sheep to the slaughter; when he made that mild reply to the traitor Judas, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss;" and more especially, when in the agonies and pangs of death, he prayed for his very murderers, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

This is a difficult duty to the natural man; but whosoever is made partaker of the promise of the Spirit, will find it practicable and easy: for if we are born again of God, we must be like him, and consequently delight to be perfect in this duty of doing good to our worst enemies in the same manner, though not in the same degree as he is perfect: He sends his rain on the evil and the good; causes his sun to shine on the just and unjust; and more especially commended his love toward us, that while we were his enemies, he sent forth his Son, born of a woman, made under the law, that he might become a curse for us."

October 22, 2008

October 21, 2008

Gottschalk Translated

"Since 2003 Victor Genke and Dr. Francis X. Gumerlock have been working on a collection of translated primary sources on Gottschalk and the strife that he aroused. The book is now finished and will appear in print in the near future. Its working title is Gottschalk of Orbais: Translated Texts from a Ninth Century Predestination Controversy." (Source)

[Credit: langskip]

langskip said:
"The book is planned for publication in 2010 in a US university press."

More Obervations from the Writings of Richard Muller

On the Calvin and Calvinism website, one may find significant quotations from the following writings by Dr. Richard Muller:

Richard Muller, “Divine Covenanters, Absolute and Conditional: John Cameron and the Early Orthodox Development of Reformed Covenant Theology,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 17 (2006), 36-37.

Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 1:76-77, 79-80.

From these writings, one may at least make the following 22 observations.

From the Mid-America Journal of Theology:
1. Salmurian soteriology, covenantalism or federalism indicates continuity with Reformed predestinarianism.

2. Salumurian covenantalism offers an element that presses it away from rather than toward Arminianism.

3. Seventeenth-centuray opponents of Amyraldianism [such as Turretin] recognized that the views of Cameron and his Salmurian successors were not heresy, and that, like it or not, were consciously framed to stand within the confessionalism of Dort.

4. Cameron's covenantal thought ought to be understood as an integral part of the rather fluid and variegated history of early Reformed covenantal thought.

From the Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (1:76-77):
5. The teachings of the Academy of Saumur and the soteriology of Baxter did not cause the Reformed churches to rupture into separate confessional bodies.

6. Reformed churches did not identify a particular theologically defined group [including that of Saumur and Baxter] as beyond the bounds of the confessions.

7. Amyraut was exonerated by several national synods in France, and the debate over his "hypothetical universalism" did not lead to the charge of heterodoxy against himself or others.

8. Davenant, Martinius and Alsted had maintained similar lines of argument as Amyraut's concerning the extent of Christ's satisfaction.

9. The Westminster Confession was "in fact" written with this diversity [on the extent of the satisfaction] in view.

10. The Westminster Confession of Faith confessionally encompassed the varient Reformed views on the nature of the limitation of Christ's satisfaction to the elect, just as it was inclusive of the infra- and supralapsarian views.

11. Amyraut is intraconfessional [like Turretin], and stood in agreement with Turretin on the issues of the fundamental articles of the faith.

12. The Formula Consensus Helvetica did not identify the Salmurian theology as heretical, but as problematic teaching.

13. The preface to the Formula specifically identifies the faculty of Saumur as "respected foreign brethren," who stand on the same "foundation of faith."

From the Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (1:79-80):
14. Although some distinctions can be made between the line of Swiss orthodoxy as found in Turretin and Heidegger from that of the line of the Academy of Saumur, they are both "various lines of development within Reformed orthodoxy."

15. There is no justification for identifying the Saumur strain of Reformed thought [or the Bremen theology, the British variety of Reformed thought or that of Baxter] as being outside the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy.

16. Voetius could identify several lines of Reformed thought on the work of Christ in the Saumur theologians.

17. Voetius did not set the Saumur theologians outside of the Reformed Confessions.

18. Turretin consistently identifies the Saumur theologians as Reformed and as "our ministers."

19. Owen and Baxter acknowledged each other's theologies as belonging to "the same confessional tradition."

20. Owen thought highly of Cameron and Amyraut on the issues of divine justice and the doctrine of the Trinity.

21. The Salmurians are a branch of the Reformed tradition standing within the boundaries established by the major national confessions and catechisms of the Reformed churches.

22. Davenant indicated some of his differences with Cameron in his Dissertation on the Death of Christ.

October 19, 2008

Oliver Heywood on God's Will, Christ's Desire and the Spirit's Kind Impulses

"4. It will greatly aggravate wicked men's torment to consider, that this was their own doing. "Their destruction is of themselves;" they can blame none but themselves though they had many incentives and temptations. Neither the devil nor wicked men could ever push them into hell against their will: God saith, "He wills not the death of a sinner." Jesus Christ expressed his earnest desire for their salvation by his death;[1] the Spirit came with his kind suggestions and impulses; pious ministers and christian friends prayed for them, and took pains with them to save them, so that our Lord himself saith, Matt, xxiii. 37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not?" There was God's gathering time of mercy, but that is past: now there is a gathering time of wrath, when the "chaff must be burnt in unquenchable fire." They might have been happy, but would not. "They observed lying vanities, and forsook their own mercies;" now there is no remedy. They chose the things "wherein he delighted not," and now "he will choose their delusions," Isa. Ixvi. 3, 4."


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[1] It is clear in other parts of Heywood's writings that he did not think that Christ suffered for the sins of all humanity, but the above quote does demonstrate his strong belief that God wills the salvation of the wicked who finally perish.

October 18, 2008

Andrew Gray (1634-1656) on Christ's Seriousness and the Great Salvation

"3. Thirdly, Let this consideration provoke you not to slight this great salvation, That Christ is exceedingly serious and earnest that ye would embrace it. And I think that Isaiah xxviii. 23, speaketh out this exceeding seriousness; where four times he beggeth of his hearers, that they would give ear and hear his voice, saying, Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken and hear my speech. What needeth all these exhortations, but that Christ is most serious that they would embrace the great salvation. And O that there were a person here to-day as serious to the bargain as Christ is! But, be who ye will that slight this great salvation, believe me, the day is coming wherein ye shall cry out, Alas! for the slighting of it. Wilt thou therefore think presently with thyself, (O thou slighter of this great salvation) what wilt thou say of thy slighting of it, when the devil shall be leading thee in through the dark gates of hell? O slighter of the gospel! how many alases wilt thou cry, when thou shalt be passing through these dark gates into thy everlasting prison? Wilt thou not then cry out, O me, slighter of the everlasting salvation! Whither am I now going? Alas! now for my slighting of the gospel. And as thou passest through, thou shalt meet with numbers of miserable comforters. There is not one in that prison that can comfort thee; but many dreadful alases shalt thou then both cry and hear, if thou embrace not this great salvation."

October 15, 2008

Davenant on God's Unfeigned Will and Calling

"God's unfeigned will is that will of approbation wherein he maketh known to us in his holy word what he would have us do, and what he would have us not do. God was as far from feigning or simulation when he called Cain and Judas to repenting and believing as when he called David and Peter."

John Davenant, Animadversions (London: Printed for John Partridge, 1641), 257.

October 14, 2008

George Swinnock (1627-1673) on Christ's Death, His Willingness to Save and the "Well Offered" Gospel

"Consider friend, did Christ esteem Regeneration worth his blood, to merit it; and is it not worth thy prayers, and tears, and utmost endeavours to obtain it? Did Christ come to destroy the works of the Devil which is sin, 1 Joh. 3.8. and wilt thou build them up? did the Lord Jesus Come to build up the temple of holiness, and wilt thou pull it down? did Christ think it worth the while to be reproached, condemned, crucified, and all to make thee holy; and wilt thou be such an enemy to the cross of Christ, as by continuing in sin, to deprive him of that which he earned so dearly? Why wilt thou bind thy self to be a slave to Satan, when he redeemed thee with such a vast sum?

Did the merciful God send his Son into the world to bless thee, in turning thee from thine iniquity, and canst thou look upon that great blessing as thy bondage? Act. 3.26. Believe it, God had servants enough (even Angels, that are ever ready to do his will) to send ordinary gifts by, surely them twas some extraordinary Present that he thought none worthy to carry, and would trust none with but his only Son. God sent him to bless you, in turning every one of you from your iniquities. I hope, Reader, thou wilt have higher thoughts of holiness, and worse thoughts of sin all thy days: Surely the Son of God was not so prodigal of his most precious blood, as to pour it out for any thing that was not superlatively excellent."
George Swinnock, The Door of Salvation Opened by the Key of Regeneration (London: Printed by A. M. for Tho. Parkhurst, 1671), 171-172.
"Reader, What dost thou think of this third subject of Consideration, The excellency of Regeneration and Holiness, which God requireth of thee for the avoiding of Hell, and attaining of Heaven? Tell me, Doth God require any thing to thy wrong? If God required of thee to live a thousand years on earth, and to spend all thy time in hunger, cold, nakedness, disgrace, pains and imprisonment, or otherwise thou shouldst not escape unquenchable burnings, and enjoy eternal life; thou wert worse than mad if thou didst not accept of, and obey such a command. How hearty and thankful then should thy acceptance be of Jesus Christ to be thy Lord and Saviour, of dying to sin, and living to, and delighting thyself in his blessed Majesty, which is all he desireth of thee! O do not refuse when thou art so well offered."
 Ibid., 177. See this post (click) on Nathaniel Vincent for the same expression.
"Thirdly, I answer, That thine impotency lieth in thine obstinacy. Thou pretendest that thou canst not, but the truth is thou wilt not, Luke 19.41. John 5.40. Thou art resolvedly evil, and then fliest out against God himself, that thou canst not do good, Eccles. 8.11. Jer. 44.16.

Thy disease is deadly and dangerous; the Physician of souls offereth thee his help, and he is both willing and able to cure thee: Now thou wilfully throwest away his Physick, feedest on such things which thou (canst forbear, and) knowest will increase thy disease; and then tellest the world, that thou art not able to cure thy self. Is this honest or rational dealing?"
 Ibid., 236.
Answer me this question, or else never more make this objection: Art thou willing to turn from sin unto God? Art thou willing to take the Son of God for thy Saviour and Lord? If thou art willing, I am sure God is willing; he hath confirmed it with an oath, Ezek. 33.11. Jesus Christ is willing that sinners should live, or he would not so willingly have died such a death; he hath paid the price of thy ransom, and offereth thee an happier estate than that of which Adam deprived thee. If thou art willing to accept of thy freedom, thou mayest have it; if any man will, let him drink of the water of life freely, Rev. 22. and if thou art not willing, why dost thou complain.
 Ibid., 237.

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Note: The Puritans Oliver Heywood, Nathaniel Vincent, James Janeway, Joseph Alleine, Richard Alleine, John Rogers and Thomas Barnes also use the terminology "well-offered."

October 11, 2008

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on the Sufficiency of Christ's Death for All

If Christ did no way die for all men, which way shall the truth of these general promises be made out? "Whosoever will, may take the water of life." What, though Christ never bought it for him? "Whosoever believes, shall be saved." What, though there were no λύτρον, no price paid for him? Surely the gospel knows no water of life but what Christ purchased, nor no way of salvation but by a λύτρον, or price paid. But you will say, that albeit Christ died not for all men, yet are those general promises very true, and that because their truth is founded upon the sufficiency of Christ's death, which hath worth enough in it to redeem millions of worlds. I answer, there is a double sufficiency; sufficientia nuda, consisting in the intrinsical value of the thing, and sufficientia ordinata, consisting in the intentional paying and receiving that thing as a price of redemption; the first is that radical sufficiency, whereby the thing may possibly become a price. Let a thing be of never so vast a value in itself, it is no price at all, unless it be paid for that end, and being paid, it is a price for no more than those only for whom it was paid; because the intrinsical worth how great soever, doth not constitute it a price. Hence it is clear, that if Christ's death, though of immense value, had been paid for none, it had been no price at all; and if it were paid but for some, it was no price for the rest for whom it was not paid. These things premised, if Christ no way died for all men, how can those promises stand true? All men, if they believe, shall be saved; saved, but how? Shall they be saved by a λύτρον or price of redemption? there was none at all paid for them; the immense value of Christ's death doth not make it a price as to them for whom he died not; or shall they be saved without a λύτρον or price? God's unsatisfied justice cannot suffer it, his minatory law cannot bear it, neither doth the gospel know any such way of salvation; take it either way, the truth of those promises cannot be vindicated, unless we say, that Christ died for all men. But you will yet reply, that albeit Christ died not for all, yet is the promise true; because Christ's death is not only sufficient for all in itself, but it was willed by God to be so. I answer, God willed it to be so, but how? Did he will that it should be paid for all men, and so be a sufficient price for them? then Christ died for all men; or did he will that it should not be paid for all men, but only be sufficient for them in its intrinsical value? Then still it is no price at all as to them, and consequently either they may be saved without a price, which is contrary to the current of the gospel, or else they cannot be saved at all, which is contrary to the truth of the promise. If it be yet further demanded, To what purpose is it to argue which way reprobates shall be saved, seeing none of them ever did or will believe? Let the apostle answer, "What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid; yea, let God be true, but every man a liar." (Rom. iii. 3, 4). And again, "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself." (2 Tim. ii. 13.) No reprobate ever did or will believe, yet the promise must be true, and true antecedently to the faith or unbelief of men; true, because it is the promise of God, and antecendently true, because else it could not be the object of faith. Wherefore, I conclude, that Christ died for all men so far, as to found the truth of the general promises, which extend to all men.
Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 164.

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October 10, 2008

William Whately (1583–1639) on the Will of God

Whately, while speaking to the unregenerate, said:
"I call your own souls to witness, and that God, in whose name, and those angels, in whose presence I have spoken these things to you, that God desires not your death; he would have you saved; he offers salvation; he would have you renewed, and he offers the Spirit of renovation; and if you want it, it is only, merely, wholly, because you regard it not, and because you will not take his directions in seeking it.

O thou therefore that are unregenerate, see thine unregeneracie; desire to be regenerate; call upon God for his Spirit of Grace to regenerate thee; ponder upon his Law and his Gospel, the seed of regeneration. Hearken to his voice, speaking in his messengers; and meditate on what thou shalt hear from them, and thou shalt be regenerate."

William Whately, The New Birth: or, A Treatise of Regeneration (London: Printed by the assignes of Ioane Man and Benjamin Fisher, 1635), 131–132. I have modernized some of the english.

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Henry Scudder's Extracts from the Life and Death of Mr. William Whately
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October 9, 2008

Norman Douty on the Double Payment Argument

4. If satisfaction has been made for all, how can any go to hell?

Answer: Though God has provided atonement for all, He has also stipulated that none get the good of it, except through repentance and faith. Deliverance from doom was not contingent on the atonement itself but on the reception of it. Men can starve in the presence of a free feast, if they refuse to partake of it.
Norman F. Douty, Did Christ Die Only for the Elect? (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1998), 129.

My comments:

Douty is arguing, like other Calvinists on the same subject, that Christ's satisfaction does not ipso facto liberate all for whom it was made. Though Christ suffered sufficiently for all, the promise of deliverance--on the legal basis of that satisfaction--is conditional. One must repent and believe in order to benefit by it unto eternal life. If a gospel hearer refuses to repent and believe into Christ, they will ultimately perish and suffer for their sins in hell.

None of this entails that the condition of faith is meritorious, or that the unregenerate have the moral ability to believe. Also, just because God gives the elect the gift of faith [in the sense of granting them moral ability by the Spirit], it is still their act and their responsibility.

The gospel not only sincerely promises life to the unbelieving elect and unbelieving non-elect on the condition of faith, but it also sincerely threatens them both with hell if they do not believe, despite the fact that Christ suffered sufficiently for their sins. The double payment argument not only entails that the non-elect cannot, with any consistency, receive well-meant offers by God through the external gospel call, it also entails that the unbelieving elect are not receiving sincere threats by that same gospel message. Consequently, God would not only be giving counterfeit offers to the non-elect, but He would also be merely pretending to threaten the unbelieving elect with perishing. The argument entails a double blasphemy that its advocates do not want to own.

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on the Unmortified Man for Whom Christ Died

An unmortified man, that is under the power of his lusts, is in no fit capacity to suffer for Christ: he is a part of that world that lieth in wickedness; the world will love him as a part of itself, and he will comply with the world as a part doth with the whole; a little particle of water will, if it be possible, fall into a' round drop, that it may answer to the figure of the great ocean whereof it is a part; and an unmortified man will be à-la-mode, and of the same figure (be it Pagan or Popish idolatry) with the corrupt world, whereof he is a part; his compliance will be such that he will have no occasion for sufferings, neither is it imaginable for what he will suffer from the world: will he suffer, as good men do, to avoid that greatest of evils, sin? That is it which he allows and indulges in himself, that is the darling of his soul, the joy of his way, the current of his life, the only element in which he converses; and may he suffer to avoid such a thing as that is? or will he suffer to avoid the greatest of punishments, hell and death? No, surely; in willing his lusts, he virtually wills hell, and the torments of it; in acting his sin, his feet go down to death, and all the wrath that is to come; or will he suffer for God, out of love to him, and respect to his glory? It is not imaginable, that he should suffer for God whom he serves not, or love him with the idol in his heart, or respect his glory against whom he is in arms, and whose laws and honour he treads down under his feet: or will he suffer for Christ his Saviour, who died to wash away his sins in his own blood? It is not credible that he should suffer for a Christ whom he never yet received, or take up the yoke of the cross when he casts off the yoke of the command; he cannot be saved in his sins, no, not by Christ himself; the atoning blood will not wash him that wallows in those corruptions that are the price of it; or will he suffer for the Gospel; he turns a deaf ear to the calls; violates the sacred commands, casts away the precious offers of it, and it is not to be thought, that he will suffer for that Gospel which he so despises. Indeed, it would be a very strange thing for him to suffer; in so doing he must part with all this world, in which his portion and total sum of happiness lies; he must suffer the spoiling of his goods when he hath no enduring substance in Heaven; be a reproach among men when he hath no honour with God; and cast away a temporal life when he hath no title to an eternal one. We see by these things that an unmortified man is not in case to suffer for Christ.
Edward Polhill, Armatura Dei; Or, A Preparation for Suffering in an Evil Day (London, 1682; Re-Printed for Mssrs. Hatchard and Son, 1824), 49–51.

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John Davenant (1572–1641) on Romans 8:32

Objection 11. The death of Christ is not applicable to those for whom he did not die, or was not offered up. But there are numberless persons for whom he did not die, or was not offered up, namely, all those who were not written in the book of life of the elect, before the foundation of the world. From thence they endeavor to confirm the minor, that the Apostle broadly asserts that God would freely give all things to those for whom the Son died, Romans viii. 32, He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? But he does not freely give all things to all men: Therefore Christ did not die for all: Therefore his death is not applicable to all.

Reply 11. I willingly grant that the death of Christ can in no true sense be said to be applicable to those for whom God did in no wise will that he should die. For the death of Christ is not a remedy applicable to expiate the sins of any one, except according to the ordination and acceptation of God. And for this reason, although the ransom paid by Christ to God the Father is in itself of sufficient and superabundant value to take away the sins, not only of men, but of fallen angels, yet, on account of the want of its ordination and acceptation as to angels, we deny that Christ ought to be said to have died for them in any way. The same thing might also be declared respecting men, if there were any alienated and excluded from all possibility of the aforesaid redemption on account of the same want of Divine ordination and acceptation. But as it was said, the major being granted, let us proceed to the minor. I answer therefore, That there is no one who is a partaker of the same human nature which the Redeemer deigned to assume, for whom Christ did not deliver up himself as a price as a price of redemption, applicable according to the ordination and acceptation of God, for remission of sins, to be obtained by faith in his blood. Nor does the Apostle contradict us, whose whole discourse in Romans viii. is not designed to console any description of persons in any condition, but the elect; nor the elect merely as such, but the elect now called, justified, sanctified, that is , as he says Coloss. i. 13, now delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, Nor does he simply and universally affirm that God freely gives all things to all men for whom Christ died, but to all of us to whom the present discourse relates, that is, to all the predestinated who are believing in Christ, for whom not only Christ died, but to whom moreover Christ is now given in an especial manner, that is, is united and communicated with the infinite treasure of his merits. Therefore this consolatory argument of the Apostle derived from the death of Christ is efficacious; but only if it is accommodated by him, namely, in this manner, Thou, who from thy effectual calling, justification, and sanctification, canst now know and perceive that thou are predestinated, and that for thy special and effectual redemption, God willed not only that his Son should be offered up to himself, but also communicated to thee; why canst thou not trust him with the rest, that he will freely give thee all other things necessary to accomplish thy salvation? But if any one desires to apply the aforesaid reasoning to any persons whatsoever setting aside the consideration of predestination, calling, and justification, in this manner, Christ died for you, or Christ gave himself a ransom or sacrifice to God to expiate your sins, and therefore God will freely give you all things, I say, that he extends the argument beyond its limits, contrary to the mind of the Apostle, who confined it to certain persons, namely, the predestinated, and to them as placed in a certain condition, namely, of justification and adoption.
John Davenant, A Dissertation on the Death of Christ (London, 1832), 386–387.

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on the Extent of the Gospel Commission and the Death of Christ

But if Christ no way died for all men, how came the minister's commission to be so large. They command men to repent that their sins may be blotted out for whom Christ was not made sin? They beseech men to be reconciled to God, but how shall they be reconciled for whom Christ paid no price at all? They call and cry out to men to come to Christ that they may have life, but how can they have life, for whom Christ was no surety in his death? If then Christ died for all men, the ministry is a true ministry as to all; but if Christ died only for the elect, what is the ministry as to the rest? Those exhortations, which as to the elect are real undissembled offers of grace, as to the rest seem to be but golden dreams and shadows. Those calls, which as to the elect are right ministerial acts, as to the rest appear as extra-ministerial blots and erratas. Those invitations to the gospel feast, which as the elect are the cordial wooings and beseechings of God himself, as to the rest look like the words of mere men speaking at random, and without commission; for alas! why should they come to that feast for whom nothing is prepared? How should they eat and drink for whom the Lamb was never slain? Wherefore, I conclude that Christ died for all men, so far as to found the truth of the ministry towards them.
Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 165.

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October 7, 2008

George Whitefield (1714-1770) on God Begging

"Paul says, "We beseech you as ambassadors of Christ, that you would be reconciled unto God;" this is to be the grand topic of our preaching; we are to beseech them, and God himself turns beggar to his own creatures to be reconciled to him: now this reconciliation is brought about by a poor sinner's being brought to Jesus Christ; and when once he sees his enmity and hatred to God, feeling the misery of departing from him, and being conscious that he is obnoxious to eternal wrath, flies to Jesus as to a place of refuge, and expects only a reconciliation through the blood of the Lamb; without this, neither you nor I can say, God is my God: "there is no peace saith my God, to the wicked."

October 6, 2008

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on God's Will of Salvation and the Death of Christ

1. I argue from the will of God. God's will of salvation as the fontal cause thereof, and Christ’s death, as the meritorious cause thereof, and are of equal latitude. God's will of salvation doth not extend beyond Christ's death, for then he should intend to save some extra Christum. Neither doth Christ's death extend beyond God's will of salvation, for then he should die for some whom God would upon no terms save; but these two are exactly co-extensive. Hence it is observable, that when the apostle speaks of Christ's love to the church, he speaks also of the giving himself for it, (Eph. v. 25), and when he saith God will have all men to be saved, (1 Tim. ii. 4), he saith withal, Christ gave himself a ransom for all, (v. 6). Therefore, there cannot be a truer measure of the extent of Christ's death, than God's will of salvation, out of which the same did issue; so far forth as that will of salvation extends to all men, so far forth the death of Christ doth extend to all men. Now then, how far doth God will the salvation of all? Surely thus far, that if they believe they shall be saved. No divine can deny it, especially seeing Christ himself hath laid it down so positively, "This is the will of him that sent me, saith he, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life," (John vi. 40). Wherefore, if God will the salvation of all men thus far, that if they believe they shall be saved; then Christ died for all men thus far, that if they believe they shall be saved. But you will say, that promise, Whosoever believes shall be saved, is but voluntas signi, and not voluntas beneplacitii, which is the adequate measure of Christ's death. Unto which I answer; If that promise be voluntas signi, what doth it signify? What but God's will? What will but that good pleasure of his, that whosoever believes shall be saved? How else is the sign of the true God a true sign? Whence is that universal connexion betwixt faith and salvation? is it not a plain efflux or product from the decree of God? Doth not that evidently import a decree, that whosoever believes shall be saved? Surely it cannot be a false sign; wherefore, so far God's will of salvation extends to all men, and consequently so far Christ's death extends to them.
Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 163–164.

October 4, 2008

Polhill (1622-1694) on the Universal Terms in Relation to Christ's Death

"7. I argue from the general and large expressions in scripture touching Christ and his death: Christ died for all, (2 Cor. v. 15), for every man, (Heb. ii. 9); he gave himself for the world, (John vi. 51), for the whole world, (1 John, ii. 2); he is styled the Saviour of the world, (I John, iv. 14); and his salvation is called a common salvation, (Jude, ver. 3), a salvation prepared before the face of all people, (Luke ii. 31), and flowing forth to the ends of the earth, (Isai. xlix. 6); the gospel of this salvation is to be preached to all nations, (Matth. xxviii. 19), and to every creature, (Mark xvi. 15); there is χάρις σωτήριος, grace bringing salvation to all men, (Tit. ii. 11); a door of hope open to them, because Christ gave himself a ransom for all, (1 Tim. ii. 6); I know not what could be more emphatical to point out the universality of redemption. But you will say, all these general expressions do but denote genera singulorum, some of all sorts, the world of the elect, or the all of believers.

In answer to which I shall only put two queries.

1. If those general expressions denote only the world of the elect, or the all of believers, why is it not said in scripture, that God elected all and every man, the world and the whole world? In that sense it is as true that God elected them all, as it is that Christ died for them all; why, then, doth the Holy Spirit altogether forbear those general expressions in the matter of election, which it useth in the matter of redemption? Surely it imports thus much unto us, that redemption hath a larger sphere than election; and therefore, the scriptures contract election in words of speciality only, whilst they open and dilate redemption in emphatical generalities.

2. If those general expressions denote only the world of the elect, or the all of believers, why doth the scripture use such very different language in the same thing? Sometimes Christ is called the Saviour of the body; sometimes it is said, that Christ died, or gave himself for all, or for the world, and sometimes it is said that he died, or gave himself for the church, or for his sheep. Who can imagine that such words of universality, and such words of speciality should be of the same latitude? that one and the same thing should be imported in both? Moreover, the scripture doth make a signal distinction; when it speaks of his giving himself or dying for all, it says only that he died for all, or gave himself a ransom for all. But when it speaks of giving himself for his church, it says that, "He sanctified himself that it might be sanctified through the truth," (John, xvii. 19); and that "he gave himself for it, that he might purify to himself a peculiar people," (Titus, ii. 14); and that "he gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the word, and present it to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle," (Eph. v. 25, 26, 27). Never in all the scripture, is it said that he gave himself for all, or for the world, that he might sanctify or cleanse it, or make it a peculiar people, or glorious church; which yet might have been truly said, if the all were no more than all of believers, or the world than the world of the elect; wherefore, to me it seems clear from those various expressions and the observable distinctions in them, that the all for whom Christ died is larger than the all of believers; and the world for whom Christ gave himself, larger than the world of the elect."

Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 166.

The Works of Edward Polhill was first published in 1677.

For a similar argument, see this post by Wardlaw.

O. Palmer Robertson on the Noahic Covenant and 2 Peter 3:9

God's commitment to maintain a universal witness to the whole of humanity through the ordering of creation later plays a significant role in the missionary mandate of the apostle Paul. In establishing that the gospel should be proclaimed among all nations, he appeals to the universal witness borne by God through creation (cf. Rom. 10:18 in its reference to Ps. 19:4). The world-wide scope of the testimony of creation provides the foundation for the universal proclamation of the gospel. The God who has commissioned the witness of himself to the ends of the earth through creation also has shown himself to be "Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon him" (Rom. 10:12).

This universal witness of the ordering of creation roots deeply in the covenanting word to Noah. By the provisions of the Noahic covenant God committed himself to a course of universal testimony. Creation's witness of grace toward sinful man still provides the platform from which the universal proclamation of the gospel should be launched.18
________________
18. II Pet. 3:3–10 also appears to establish its base for the universal proclamation of the gospel on the covenant with Noah. Sinners may mock the word of new covenant prophecy concerning a consummating judgment (vv. 3, 4). But Noah's flood indicates the certainty of God's ultimate intentions (vv. 5, 6). As "by the word of God" (τω του θεου λόγω) the world first came into being, so "by the same word" (τω αυτω λόγω) the present universe is being sustained for the judgment of fire (vv. 5, 7). The reference to the "same word" refers broadly to the word of God which had been manifested so powerfully at creation. But it also appears to refer more specifically to the covenanting word spoken to Noah. On the basis of this post-diluvian word, the earth continues to be maintained to the present.

The longsuffering of God, who does not wish any to perish (v. 9), manifests itself in the context of this covenanting word that God will maintain the whole of creation until the judgment of fire (vv. 7, 10). In the cosmic context of these verses, describing the purposes of God respecting the whole of creation (vv. 6, 7), the "desire" of God that "all" should come to repentance should be interpreted universally. The fact that God may "desire" what he has not explicitly "decreed" simply must be taken as one of those areas of God's purposes that cannot be comprehended by the finite mind. The context would not favor the limitation of this desire to the "elect," despite the possibility that "longsuffering to you" could be interpreted as meaning longsuffering to the believing recipients of Peter's letter. The point of the text is not that God is longsuffering toward the elect, not willing that any of the elect should perish. The present delay of judgment on the world indicates his longsuffering to the whole of humanity, despite the fact that ultimately not all shall be saved. Cf. John Murray and N. B. Stonehouse,
The Free Offer of the Gospel (Phillipsburg, n.d.) pp. 21–26
O. Palmer Roberson, The Christ of the Covenants (Phillipsburg: NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1980), 122–123.

Wardlaw on the Extent of the Atonement


He writes:
"By pleading for the universality of the atonement, we are neither, on the one hand, obliged to grant the universality of pardon and salvation, nor, on the other hand, to deny sovereign electing grace. We can, with perfect consistency, disown the one, and embrace the other.—If the atonement and the remission of sins were necessarily coincident in their extent,—so that atoned or expiated sin must necessarily be pardoned and cancelled sin;—it surely is a remarkable fact, that the same terms of universality are not used alike with regard to both. The force of the following questions ought, I think, to be acknowledged. It will be by every candid mind.—"If, after all, it be true, that by such expressions as these,—'the world,' 'the whole world,' 'all men,' 'every man,'—God means only the elect, how comes it to pass that equally extensive terms" (that is, with those used respecting atonement) "are not employed in speaking of election and justification? If these two and the atonement be really co-extensive, how do we never read that God elected 'the world,' and 'the whole world,' and 'all men,' and 'every man,'—and justified 'the world,' and 'the whole world,' and 'all men,' and 'every man?' Limitarians allow that the one might be said as well as the other:—and how comes it to pass, then, that it is never said?—Not only must this be accounted for, but on the face of the case there appears so plain and palpable a difference between the extent of atonement and the extent of election and justification, and the sudden identification of these is so preposterous, that, unless a solid and decisive demonstration be given of their co-extensiveness, the system of limitation falls to the ground, and the universal atonement comes to be received as a matter of course. There is so vast a difference between the language that describes atonement, and that which describes election and justification, in point of extent; and the general easy unstrained meaning of Scripture teaches so plainly the unlimited propitiation by Christ's blood, that it can never be displaced except by solid and irrefragable proof of direct limitation."*—I confess myself unable to see any possibility of satisfactorily answering such questions as are thus put, on the ground of atonement and justification being necessarily co-extensive.—But by admitting the universality of the atonement, and the sovereign restriction of justification to them who believe, and who are the objects of God's gracious choice,—the difference in the language on the one subject and on the other is at once accounted for. It is precisely what we perceive it must have been, supposing it to have been constructed on this principle. Is not this, then, the truth?—The more restricted terms which are used in regard to actual forgiveness, or justification, are in correspondence with the restrictive character of God's electing love, and of his published determination to justify sinners only through faith. There is a limited purpose to save. The atonement is the ground on which this purpose to save rests. But the purpose to save on the ground of the atonement does not, and cannot, enter into the essence of the atonement itself. The purpose, and that on which the purpose rests, can, in no respect, be the same thing. But still, there existed in the divine mind, both in providing and in making the atonement, this sovereign purpose to save,—this sovereign purpose that, while made for mankind,—made for the indefinite design of glorifying God in the forgiveness of sin and the acceptance and salvation of sinners,—it should take actual effect in the salvation of some, while others remained inexcusably guilty in their rejection of it. And surely the existence of such a purpose gives quite a sufficiency of peculiarity to those texts which use the terms of limitation,—without supposing limitation in the atonement itself; a supposition which gives rise to superlative difficulty, and to every kind of unnaturalness and straining, in the interpretation of those other passages in which the terms are universal, and in which they cannot be understood otherwise than in their universal sense, without rendering them, especially in some of their occurrences, self-contradictory."

*Difficulties connected with the doctrine of a limited atonement.--By Robert Morison, &c.


or in my edition:

Ralph Wardlaw, Discourses on the Nature and Extent of the Atonement (Glasgow: James Maclehose, 1844), 225-228.

For a similar argument, see this post by Edward Polhill.

October 3, 2008

The Wooing Note

In the Foreward that John J. Murray wrote [on November 30th, 2004] to David Silversides book dealing with the free offer of the gospel, he makes these interesting comments:
Although brought up in the Reformed heritage, I came to a personal appropriation and appreciation of the doctrines of grace in the mid 1950's. The godly preachers I was privileged to hear in my youth held firmly to the doctrines of grace but at the same time preached a full and free gospel and pleaded with sinners.

Over the intervening years we have witnessed a widespread recovery of the doctrines of the Reformed Faith throughout the UK and further afield. During that time, although the gospel offer has not been consciously denied, the wooing note of former times has been lacking. Critics accuse Reformed men of not being able to preach the gospel effectively to sinners.
David Silversides, The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed (Glasgow, Scotland: Marpet Press, 2005), 4–5.

The "wooing note" diminishes or disappears [along with "pleading with sinners"] when gospel preachers are not persuaded that God really wants all of their unbelieving hearers to believe and be saved. My blog thoroughly documents the strong "wooing note" that is present in the Reformers and in the Puritans. So long as that note is lacking today, we will not see Reformation or Revival in the United States, in the UK, and elsewhere. It was certainly strong in the evangelism of George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd and Andrew Fuller. May Christ give his church a renewed understanding of his revealed will. This is my prayer, and to that end I labor on this blog.

A George Whitefield (1714–1770) Gospel Invitation

"O do not put a slight on infinite love: what would you have Christ do more? Is it not enough for him to come on purpose to save? Will you not serve God in your souls, as well as with your bodies? If not, you are only deceiving yourselves, and mocking God; he must have the heart. O ye of little faith, why are ye fearful lest he should not accept of you? If you will not believe me, sure you will believe the Lord Jesus Christ; he has told thee that he will receive you: then why tarry ye, and do not go to him directly? Does he desire impossibilities? It is only, "Give me thy heart:" or, does he want your heart only for the same end as the devil does, to make you miserable? no, he only wants you to believe on him, that you might be saved. This is all the dear Saviour desires, to make you happy, that you may leave your sins, to sit down eternally with him, at the marriage supper of the Lamb."

Ralph Venning (1621–1674) on God's Offers, Grace, Goodness, Patience and Mercy

"(vi) They witness against the sinfulness of refusing the offers of the Gospel and of grace. There is a saying, Who but fools refuse gold when it is offered them? But there are such fools as refuse Christ and heaven and happiness when they are offered them, and will not be entreated to be reconciled that they may be saved. But they are set against the glory of God and their own salvation. Against these the stones of the street and the dust of the apostles' feet bear witness (Luke 19.40; 9.5; 10.10, 11). Indeed there is not a sin which the creation as a whole and in its various parts does not bear witness against. The very dullest and worst-natured creatures, the ox and ass have excelled man. Even Dives's dogs had more humanity than Dives himself, and were witnesses against his cruelty. In short, whatever duties the creatures teach they thus convince of and bear witness against the sins which are contrary to those duties, and whatever sins they convince of, they teach the duties contrary to them."
Ralph Venning, The Sinfulness of Sin (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993), 142–143.
"(1) The patience and long-suffering of God with sinners is wonderful

If sin is so exceedingly sinful, that is, contrary to and displeasing to God, then surely his patience is exceedingly great, his goodness exceedingly rich, and his long-suffering exceedingly marvelous, even such as to cause wonder! That God should entreat sinners, his enemies, to be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5.20), that God should stand at a sinner's door and knock (Revelation 3.20), that God should wait on sinners to be gracious to them (Isaiah 30.18) is not after the manner of man, but of God. Truly, it is a characteristic of the God of grace and patience, and to be admired for ever! It was a wonder that in the beginning God should think thoughts of good and not of evil, of peace and not of wrath, but visit man in the cool of the day. Yet when he had imparted and commended his heart's love to us through his Son (Romans 5.8) and both were rejected, that he should still continue to offer and call and wait is a miracle of miracles. What shall we say? It is God who is the God of grace and patience (Romans 15.5) and rich in both (Romans 2.4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 1.13–16). He is as his Name is (Exodus 34.16; Numbers 14.18; Psalm 86.15), and as he was yesterday so he is today. We are all living monuments and examples of his goodness and patience. It is of the Lord's mercies that all of us are not altogether and utterly consumed, and that in Hell (Lamentations 3.22).

Sin is so sinful, contrary and displeasing to God, and has made man so much God's enemy, that it is a miracle that he should find his enemies and let them go away safely. God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity looks on the sin of men. His eyes so affect his heart as to grieve him. It tempts and provokes him to anger, wrath and hatred. And yet God keeps his anger, which is like burning coals in the bosom; he does not let out all his wrath and ease himself of his burden by avenging himself on his adversaries, but he woos and waits on sinners. Such is the power of his patience, the infiniteness of his mercy and compassion, and the riches of his unsearchable grace! God sees sin. He is not ignorant. God is sensible of it and concerned; for it grieves and vexes him. God is able to avenge himself when he pleases; yet he forbears and is patient. Wonder at it!"
 Ibid., 190–191.
"But if you do not believe in Christ Jesus, though you repent of sin and live, as touching the law, a blameless life, as Saul of Tarsus did (Philippians 3), though you enjoy the reputation of a saint and may seem too good to go to Hell, yet without Christ and faith in him you will not be good enough to go to Heaven. Though there is a Christ to be believed in who has died for sinners, yet if you do not believe in him you may die and be damned notwithstanding that. Come then, come to and close with Christ, not with an idle and dead, but with an effectual and lively faith. Receive a whole Christ; not only Jesus, but Lord; not only Saviour but Prince (Colossians 2.6). Be as willing to die to sin as he was to die for sin, and as willing to live to him as he was to die for you. Be as willing to be his, to serve him, as that he should be yours to save you. Take him on his own terms, give up yourself wholly to him. Forget your father's house, depart from all iniquity, and become wholly and entirely his. Let your works declare and justify your faith, by purifying your heart (Acts 15.9), by sanctifying you (Acts 26.18), by overcoming the world, both the good and evil, the best and worst, the frowns and flatteries of it (1 John 1.4,1). This Moses and the rest did by faith (Hebrews 11). Thus come, and thus make good your coming to and believing in Christ."
 Ibid., 221.
"5. Obs. That God doth not strike without warning. God doth not surprise his creatures, nor fall upon them at unawares, but he gives them notice of his coming, before he comes; and he admonisheth before he threatens. Remember, (saith he) or else I will come. God doth not take advantage against poor sinners, nor deal with them according to their iniquities; for then, who could stand? but God, though he may use his Sword, will yet use his Word, and therefore gives them notice before-hand; and this is the very reason given by Peter, why God makes not haste to destroy the world, because (saith he) God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance; Repent, or else I will come, &c."
Ralph Venning, A Warning to Backsliders: Or, A Discovery for the Recovery of Fallen Ones (London: Printed by A. Maxey, for John Rothwel, at the Fountain and Bear in Goldsmiths Row, in Cheap-side, 1657), 5.
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Ralph Venning (c.1621–1674) on God Begging

Thus sin is the work of the Devil, which is a great witness against it. I may add at this point that in some ways the sin of man is more horrible and heinous than that of devils. I do not mean the first sins of either, but the sins since the time when God revealed his pleasure concerning the disposal of devils and men. The devil has some sort of gratification in tempting man, for it is a kind of victory or revenge; but men only wrong and torment themselves. Moreover the devils are past hope and have grown desperate, being rejected of God (2 Peter 2.4); for Christ Jesus did not take them on him (Hebrews 2.16). They are hardened against God who punishes them, and have grown so envious that they will be avenged on man seeing they cannot be on God. If only they had a door of hope opened, it is probable they would not be so wicked as they are. When there is no hope, persons are more resolute (Jeremiah 2.25). But for men to sin whom God has spared, for whom indeed he spared not his own Son, whom he calls and woos and even begs to be reconciled and happy--for these men to sin, what horrible ingratitude is this! What an aggravating and inexcusable sin it is! It is worse than the Devil's sin, for devils do not sin against second mercy and offers of grace as men do.
Ralph Venning, The Sinfulness of Sin (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993), 160–161.
4. They Taste of his grace in that he not only commands, but invites and entreats them to come, to Repent and Believe that they may live; That God should condescend so far as to beseech and go a begging to them (as the word is) that they would be reconciled, gives them a Taste that the Lord is gracious, 2 Cor. 5:19, 20.

5. They Taste it in this, That God encourageth them to come by many great and precious promises, Isa. 55:1, 2, 3. Matth. 11:28-30, &c. Yea he swears to them as he lives that he delights not in the death of a sinner, but that he should return and live.
Ralph Venning, Christ's School (London: Printed for John Hancock, Senior and Junior, at the Sign of the three Bibles in Popes-head Ally, over against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill, 1675), 164.
The great God is so good, that he not only condescends and humbleth himself to behold the things that are in Heaven and in Earth, Psal. 113.6. but which is the wonder of wonders, he doth beseech and even beg men to be reconciled, to receive his grace and favour, 2. Cor. 5.20. and surely, they will do very little for God, who will not be entreated by him to be happy themselves.
Ralph Venning, Things Worth Thinking On; or Helps to Piety (London: Printed for Robert Duncombe, at the Golden Falcon in Cateaten street, over against St. Lawrence Church; and for John Handcock, at the end of Popes-head Alley next Corbil, 1665), 62.

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October 2, 2008

Enriching Bruises

I think this is a remarkable analogy for believers to consider:
"If a man should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it should hurt him a little and raise the skin, he will not take it unkindly, but will look upon it as a fruit of love. Just so, when God bruises us with affliction, it is to enrich us with the golden graces and comforts of his Spirit. All is in love."