April 7, 2009

George Swinnock's (1627–1673) "Well Offered" Gospel

Having spoken in another treatise to this particular, I shall here only offer two or three things to thy serious thoughts, and proceed to a third exhortation.

1. Consider, what is offered thee, when the incomparable God is offered thee for thy portion. And truly, to explain this head fully, would require the pen, yea, exceed the skill, of an angel. None can tell what God is, but God himself. All the sheets in the explication of the doctrine speak somewhat of him, but not the thousand thousandth part of that excellency that is in him. Reader, I may tell thee, when God is offered thee, the greatest good that ever was, that ever will be; that ever can be, is offered thee; there never was, or can be, the like offered thee; more than heaven and earth, than both worlds, than millions of worlds, is offered thee. This God who is offered thee is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the God of gods, the blessed and glorious potentate, the first cause, the original being, self-sufficient, all-sufficient, absolutely perfect, incapable of any addition or diminution. This God who is offered thee is the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity every moment, to whom a thousand years, yea, millions of ages, are but as one day, as one moment, whose duration is incapable of the least accession, who is boundless in his being, omnipotent in his power, unsearchable in his wisdom, inconceivable in his grace, and infinite in all his perfections. He dwelleth in that light that is inaccessible; before him angels, the highest of creatures, vail their faces; to him the whole creation is less than nothing, and vanity. This God who is offered thee made all things of nothing, supports all things, influenceth all things, and is all things, and infinitely more than all things. He is so needful a good that thou art undone without him. This was the misery of the heathen on earth, Eph. ii. 12, and of the damned in hell, Mat. xxv. 41, the very hell of hell. He is so plentiful a good that thou art perfectly happy in him. Ps. cxliv. 15, thou needest no more. He is the heaven of heavens, Ps. xvi. 11, the safest refuge. O friend, what dost thou think of having this God for thy portion? Is it not worth the while to have this God for thy God? wilt thou not say, 'Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great: who would not fear thee, O king of nations'? Jer. x. 6, 7. Again, the God who is offered thee is the well of salvation, the Lord of life, the God of all consolation, a hive of sweetness, a paradise of pleasure, a heaven of joy. He is the richest grace, the dearest love, the surest friend, the highest honour, the vastest treasure, the exactest beauty, the chiefest good, and the fullest felicity. He is one that can enlarge and suit all thy faculties, relieve and answer all thy necessities, fill up and satisfy all the capacities of thy heaven-born soul. God is a good which Christ died to purchase for thee, Eph. ii. 13; 1 Pet. iii. 18. And surely if Christ thought him worth his blood, he is worthy of thine acceptance. God is a comprehensive universal good, not one, but all good; riches, honours, pleasures, friends, relations, health, life, earth, heaven, this world, the other world, all the good of both worlds, and infinitely more; and art thou not covetous of such wealth, that is better worth than both worlds? Phil. iv. 19; Ps. xxiii. 1; Gen. xvii. 1. God is an everlasting good, a good that will stand by thee, and abide with thee when all other good things shall fail thee, 1 Tim. vi. 7; Ps. lxxiii. 25. He is that good which thou wouldst have if thou art well in thy wits: he is that good which thou shouldst have if thou answerest the end of thy creation; he is that good which thou must have, if thou art not eternally miserable; he is the only suitable satisfying good, which hits the nature, and fits the desire of the rational creature. O reader, I say again, what dost thou think of having this incomparable God for thy God? Surely by this time thy heart may well melt into astonishment that he will allow thee to seek so matchless a portion. Well, what sayest thou to him? Is it not worth the while to have him for thine, to whom thou wilt call in the day of distress, to whom thou wilt cry in a dying hour, when thy soul stands quivering on thy lips, ready to take its flight into the unknown regions of the other world, when devils will be waiting to seize it, as soon as ever it leaves the body, to hale it to the unquenchable flames of hell, when thy friends and relations shall be weeping and wailing by thee, but unable to afford thy dying body the least cordial, or thy departing sould the least comfort? Ah, friend, what wilt thou do in such an hour, which is hastening on thee, without the incomparable God? Believe it, though thou mayest live without him, thou canst not die, without an infinite horror, without him. Is it not worth the while to have him for thine, to whom thou must stand or fall for ever, from whose mouth thy sentence of eternal absolution or condemnation must come, and who shall judge thee to thine unchangeable state of life or death? Though thou mayest think thou canst do well enough at this day with the world for thy portion; yet what wilt thou do at that day, when the world shall be in a flame, if God be not thy portion? Art thou willing or not, to have this God for thine? What sayest thou? Canst thou find in thine heart to deprive thy precious soul of such an inestimable treasure, and to leave it naked in the other world to the cruelty of devils, and the dreadful curses of the law? Methinks, though I have spoken little, yet I have said enough, to one that will but let his reason judge, to draw out thy most earnest desires after this incomparable God.

2. Consider upon what terms thou mayest have this God for thy God. You may possibly think that so boundless a good must cost you very dear, and the price must be vast of a pearl that is so matchless; but lo, to thy comfort, all the condition which God requireth of thee is only to accept him heartily and thankfully in his Son. Canst thou have anything cheaper? wouldst thou desire him in his terms to fall lower? nay, is it possible so to do, and make thee happy? Nor can he be thine unless thou receivest him for thine. It is a poor favour that is not worth acceptance. Do but take him for your happiness, and you shall have him for your happiness.

Thou givest more for thy bread, thy clothes, thy house, for the needful comforts that are for the support of thy frail body, than thou needest give for the great, glorious, incomprehensible, incomparable God. Thou payest money for them, but thou mayest have him without money and without price. One would think that the equity of the condition should both amaze thee and allure thee. Consider, I say, God doth not require of thee things impossible to thee; he does not say, If thou wilt remove mountains, dry up oceans, stop the course of nature, create worlds, I will then be thine, as great as I am; he doth not say, If thou wilt satisfy my justice, answer the demands of my law, merit my love and favour, then I will be thy God. No; he himself hath done all this for thee by the death of his Son; all he desireth is, that thou wouldst accept him in his Son for thy God. Nay, he doth not require of thee anything that is barbarous or cruel, as the heathen deities did, by the devil, of their worshippers. He doth not say, If you will lance and mangle your bodies, as Baal's priests did; if ye will go barefoot in sackcloth long and tedious pilgrimages, as the papists do; if ye will offer your children in the fire, and give the fruit of your bodies for the sins of your souls, as some did, then I will be your God. Again, he doth not require of thee things that are chargeable, to offer the best and chief of thy flock daily in the sacrifice to him; nor, as he once did of the young man, to sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor; nor, as idolators, to lay down such a part of thy estate for thy portion; but he only requires that thou wouldst take the Lord for thy God; and wilt thou not do it? Canst thou deny him and thy poor soul so reasonable, so equitable a request? As the servant said to Nama, 'If the prophet had commanded thee some great thing, wouldst not thou have done it? how much more then when he only saith, Wash, and be clean?' So say I to thee; if God had commanded the greatest things imaginable, wouldst thou not to thy power have done them, that thou mightest enjoy the blessed God for thy eternal portion? how much more then when he only saith, 'Thou shalt have no other God before me'? O reader, do but observe that first command, which contains the sum both of thy duty and felicity, and thou art made, thou art a blessed man for ever. Take the true God in Jesus Christ for thy God, prize him as thy God, love him as thy God, honour him as thy God, and obey him as thy God, and he will be thy God for ever. Do but as much for the true God as the covetous man doth for his wealth, which is his god, as the intemperate man for his belly, which is his god; they give their highest esteem, their choicest affections, and their greatest service to that which they take for their god. And surely the true God is more worthy hereof, and will requite thee best for them.

3. Consider for what end God offereth himself to thee. I would not have thee mistake, because God out of his infinite pity to his miserable creatures, is instant and urgent with them to accept of him, to think therefore that God hath any need of thee, or seeketh his own happiness therein; I tell thee, if thou hadst no more need of God than he hath of thee, thou mayest let him alone. No; it is purely for thy good, for thy real and eternal good, that he offereth himself to thee; he needeth thy service no more than he doth the service of the damned, of the devils; and he knoweth how to make use of thee for his own glory, as he doth of them, if thou foolishly rejectest his offer of himself. Thy righteousness will not help him, Job xxii. 2, 3, nor thy wickedness hurt him, Job xxxv. 2. He offereth himself to thee, not that he may be blessed by thee, but that he may be bountiful to thee. It is thy good, not his own, that he looks at; the felicity of accepting him is thine own, and the misery of neglecting him is thine own, Prov. ix. 12. Men call customers to them, press them with many arguments and entreaties to buy, that they may enrich themselves by their customers; but God calls men to buy of him, not to enrich himself--he is as rich, and perfect and happy as he can be--but to enrich themselves; I counsel thee, saith Christ to his lukewarm church, to by of me gold. Why? that he may get somewhat by her, and enrich himself? No; that thou mayest be rich; that thou, not I, mayest be rich. Now, reader, ponder it seriously, it is wholly for thy own good, that thou mayest escape wrath and death, and attain heaven and life, that God is pleased once more to offer himself to thee. What is thy mind about his offer? Wilt thou have him for thy portion or no? Is there anything unreasonable in his desire or demands? Doth not thy eternal felicity depend on thine acceptance of him? What sayest thou? Wilt thou have God for thy portion, or wilt thou have the devil for thy portion? Thou shalt have eternal portion, good or bad. The worldlings portion of good things is but for this world, and the godly man's portion of evil things is but for this world; both have immortal souls, which will abide in the other world for ever; and their souls must have immortal portions to abide with them there for ever. Therefore, reader, consider what thou doest, either thou must take God, in and through Christ, for thy portion for ever, or hell and death and wrath and devils for thy portion for ever; one of the two is the portion of all the sons and daughters of Adam. If thou wilt still prefer the world before God, and love the creature above God, and please thy flesh more than God; when once thou appearest in the other word, God will rain on thee 'fire and brimestone, and a horrible tempest: this will be the portion of thy cup,' Ps. xi. 6. But if now thou acceptest him in his Son (for there is no making God thy friend but by Christ) for thy chiefest good and happiness, when all thy friends shall leave thee, and dearest relations forsake thee, yea, when 'thy flesh and thy heart shall fail thee, God will be the strength of thine heart, and thy portion for ever.' O friend, consider what I have said in this use, and the Lord give thee understanding, thou mayest know when thou are well offered, and be wise on this side [of] the other world."
George Swinnock, "The Incomparableness of God," in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1992), 4:493–497.


Note: Nathaniel Heywood (1633–1677), Oliver Heywood (1630–1702), Nathaniel Vincent (c.1639–1697), James Janeway (c.1636–1674), Joseph Alleine (1634–1668), Richard Alleine (1611–1681), John Rogers (c.1572–1636; in The Doctrine of Faith [1627], 90), Solomon Stoddard (1643–1729; in The Efficacy of the Fear of Hell [1713], 125), and Thomas Barnes (fl.1622–1626; in Sions Sweets [1624]) also, when speaking to the lost, tell them they are "well-offered" in the gospel.

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