May 28, 2009

Bartholomew Ashwood (1622–c.1680) on the Lord's Good-Will for Sinners

Secondly, He hath infinite Pity for his Enemies; Mercy and good will for Sinners, Luke 6:35. This appears,

First, In his bearing with them, and forbearing of them, Rom. 9:22. Endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction: How doth the Lord suffer the vilest of men to live, and that very long? Lo, I have come these three years looking for fruit, Luke 13:17. These forty years have I been grieved with this People, Ps. 95:10. An hundred and twenty years did he bear with that high and uncurable wickedness of the first World, and that after it was come to the full, Gen. 6:3. Four hundred years did God bear with the sins of the Amorites, even after he had given Abraham their Land, Gen. 15:13, 16. How long did the Lord bear with the Ten Tribes after their Apostasy from his pure Service? even the space of two hundred and fifty years; in which time there were Nineteen Kings, and all wicked men, walking in the steps of Jeroboam. O! the slowness of God to Anger, even against his Enemies, that dare him to his very Face, yea, that trample his Glory under foot, and that every day, yea hour; and yet God spares them to old Age many times. Alas! how soon are we angry at our Enemies, and if but slighted a little, ready with the Disciples to call for Fire from Heaven, to consume those that receive us not, Luke 9:54. But the Lord Jesus is not so, he waiteth that he may be gracious, and his long-suffering leadeth to Salvation.

Secondly, His maintaining of them, and that sometimes at the highest rate, giving them Honour and Riches, Prosperity and Favour. Pharoah must have a Kingdom, and yet an Enemy to his People: Nebuchadnezzar, an Empire; Ahasuerus an hundred twenty and seven Provinces; Craesus vast riches, and Sardanapalus delicate Pleasures. All the Creatures are pressed at their Service; the Air, Earth, and Sea are ransacked to satiate their Lusts, Hos. 11:2, 3, 4. He feeds and clothes, helps and prospers his greatest Enemies, and all to heap up Coals of Fire upon their heads.

Thirdly, His affectionate seeking their Salvation. This was his Errand into the World, he came to save Sinners, 1 Tim. 1:15. Lost Sinners, Matt. 18:11. Bloody Sinners, Ezek. 16:6. Blind Idolaters, Acts 17:23. Cruel Persecutors, Acts 9:4. Wicked Sorcerers, Acts 8:9. These the Lord Jesus seeks to save; he sends his Gospel, to invite them to come unto him, Matt. 11:28. Yea, beseeches them, 2 Cor. 5:20. Makes large promises to them, if they will return, Isa. 55:7, Acts 3:19. Yea, how doth the Spirit strive with Sinners, that they may be saved; Reasons with them, Why will you die? Come, let us reason together, Isa. 1:18. Why wilt thou not suffer me to save thy Soul, and to make thee happy to all Eternity? Poor Sinner! I have a real mind to do thee good, an affectionate kindness for thee; I came from Heaven to save such as thee. Behold my hands and my feet, see how my heart bleeds for thee: Behold, how ready my purchase is; yonder is thy fair Estate, if thou wilt be mine. Lift up thine eyes to those Mansions, Crowns and Thrones; all these shall then be thine: See those beautiful Garments, consent to me, and thou shalt wear thy filthy Rags, or lie in those pinching straits no longer; thou shalt lodge no more in those stinking Kennels of thy Lusts: O poor Sinner! why wilt thou stand in thy own light, and slight this offer, which thou mayest never have made thee more? Lo, how my Bowels move towards thee, see how my Arms are opened to thee; Be mine, and I will be thine; My Kingdom shall be thine, my Friends will be thine, my Servants shall be thine: My Angels shall protect thee, yea, attend thee; my Creatures shall maintain thee, my Wisdom shall guide thee, my Faithfulness shall keep thee, my Power shall be laid out for thee, my Love shall delight thee, my Honour shall adorn thee, and my Treasure shall enrich thee: I will be a loving Husband to thee, I will provide all good things for thee; I will rejoice over thee, I will forget the wrongs thou hast done me; I will requite thy Unkindness with Kindness, and draw thee with cords of Love: with cords (saith one) woven and spun out of my very Heart and Bowels. O miserable Caitiff! embrace my Counsels, listen thine Ears to Heaven gate, and bear the melodious Music that is there made by refined Spirits; why, wilt thou rather lie with damned howling Devils, than sing Hallelujah's, and the Song of the Lamb with saved Souls? Accept of me, and unchangeable Glory, unspeakable Priviledges, and Rivers of Pleasures shall be thine. Thus doth the Lord Jesus woo poor perishing Souls to be happy: and is not this Pity indeed?
Bartholomew Ashwood, The Best Treasure, Or, The Way to be Truly Rich (London: Printed for William Marshal, 1681), 162–164. I have modernized some of the spelling. A biographical sketch of B. Ashwood can be read here. The above work has a preface by John Owen.

See also page 139 in the same book for Ashwood speaking of Christ's love of benevolence for all men and His desire for their salvation (citing Ezek. 33:11).


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