June 22, 2009

Joseph Alleine (1634–1668) on God’s “Soul-Encouraging Call”

I. The God that made thee, most graciously invites thee.

First, His most sweet and merciful nature invites thee. O the kindness of God, his boundless compassion, his tender mercies! As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways above our ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts: "higher than heaven, what can we do? Deeper than hell, what can we know? Job 11:7, 8, 9. "He is full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy." Psa. 86: 15. This is a great argument to persuade sinners to come in, "Turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."

If God would not repent of the evil, it would be some discouragement against our repenting. If there were no hope of mercy, it would be no wonder that rebels should stand out; but never had subjects such a gracious prince, such pity, patience, and clemency to deal with, as you have. "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?" Micah 7:18. O sinners! see what a God you have to deal with: if you will but turn, "he will turn again, and have compassion on you; he will subdue your iniquities, and cast all your sins into the depths of the sea." "Return unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will return unto you." Mal. 3:17. Zach. 1:3. Sinners do not fail in that they are too high thoughts of God's mercies, but in that, 1, They overlook his justice. 2. They promise themselves mercy out of God's way. His mercy is bound beyond all imagination; Isa. 55:9, great mercies, 1 Chron. 21:13, manifold mercies, Neh. 9:19, tender mercies, Psa. 25:6, sure mercies, Isa. 54:8, everlasting mercies; and all is thy own, if thou wilt but turn. Art thou willing to come in? The Lord hath laid aside his terror and erected a throne of grace. He holds forth the golden sceptre: touch and live. Would a merciful man slay his enemy when prostrate at his feet, acknowledging his wrong, begging pardon, and offering to enter with him into a covenant of peace? Much less will the merciful God. Study his name.

Secondly, His soul-encouraging call and promises invite thee. Ah, what an earnest suitor is mercy to thee! how lovingly, how instantly, it calleth after thee! how earnestly it wooeth thee! "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever; only acknowledge thine iniquity. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; return, and I will heal thy backslidings. Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return unto me, saith the Lord." "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Ezek. 33:11. "If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All the transgressions that he hath committed they shall not be mentioned unto him; in his righteousness that he hath done, he shall live. Repent, and turn you from all your transgressions: so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." Ezek. 28:21, 22, 30, 31, 32.

O melting, gracious words! the voice of God, and not of a man! This is not the manner of men, for the offended sovereign to sue to the offending traitorous rebel. O how doth mercy follow thee, and plead with thee! Is not thy heart broken yet? O that "today you would hear his voice!"
Joseph Alleine, An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners (Hanover, NH: Printed by Charles Spear, 1816), 202–205.


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