August 17, 2009

More Quotes from Benjamin Grosvenor's (1675–1758) The Temper of Jesus

II. For what reasons, common to the case of all great sinners, is the Lord Jesus so desirous of their conversion, and that they should know that he is so?
Benjamin Grosvenor, "The Temper of Jesus; or Grace to the Chief of Sinners," in Sermons by Benjamin Grosvenor (Isle of Wight: Printed for the Author by R. Tilling, Newport, 1808), 9.
6. For a standing example of the riches and freeness of the grace of Christ, in the offer of it to the vilest of sinners.

Begin at Jerusalem, and after the saving efficacy of my grace appears there, no one will question the possibility of their own salvation. Shall not a poor penitent sinner be accepted, when the vilest of sinners are courted? Poor sinners of the Gentiles must not question his grace, when they see it offered to his murderers. When they see him willing to have mercy upon those who had no mercy upon him, and desirous of no other reparation for the injuries they did him, but only, that they would not refuse the grace he now offered to them, and that too before all the rest of the world.
Ibid., 12.
Secondly. For what reasons, common to the case of all great sinners, is our Lord so desirous of their conversion, and that they should know that he is so?

That he is willing they should be converted and saved, is very plain: he has not left this to be made out by inference and deduction, but has asserted it in so many words. "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved."

His behaviour towards some of the vilest of sinners, demonstrates to what low degrees of condescension he can stoop, with how much tenderness he will use those upon their return, whom by such indulgent measures he endeavours to reclaim.

I am affected when I read, that God staid till the cool of the day, an emblem of rebated anger, before he comes to deal with fallen Adam; and then follows the sinner with a promise, who was endeavouring vainly to hide himself from a curse, "The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head; what a seasonable relief and stay to a trembling rebel!

Manasseh was proverbial for wickedness, sold himself to work iniquity, and thereby to the devil, and yet God did not suffer satan presently to run away with the purchase; but by a sore affliction brought him to his knees, humbled and reformed him; and if he was not truly converted and saved, still the method God used with him, was the ready way to it.

When Christ came into the world bringing salvation, to whom did he offer it? Was it not to publicans and harlots? Publicans, the worst of men accounted; and harlots, the worst of women? Giving this reason, that "He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." It was with this good design he kept such bad company. And as a specimen of his saving power, he carried about with him several of those notorious converts, as it were with this proclamation—'Behold the mighty things my grace can do, what sinners I can reclaim, what sins I can pardon, and how many devils I can cast out. Look upon these and believe, that I am able to save to the utmost all that come unto God by me; look upon these and believe, that no kind, number, degrees of sins, can keep a man out of heaven, that does not keep him from coming to Christ.
Ibid., 12–13.
The reasons of this merciful conduct towards the vilest and greatest of sinners may be such as these.

1. The desperateness of the case of great sinners makes it needful, that they should have good assurances.

Their danger is more near and imminent. They are upon the very brink of destruction. Their damnation lingereth not, but hastens to meet them, and they at the same time are advancing apace toward that; as Goliah, with large steps, made haste to meet the fatal sling and stone, with which David also ran toward him at the same time. Their sins are a vast number, the cry of them loud for vengeance, the weight and aggravations of them are heavy: satan the executioner has them bound in the chains of lust, under the sentence of a condemning law; the justice of God is whetting its glittering sword to cut them off; and their is but a single breath between them and damnation, which may very easily and suddenly be stopped: so that the mercy is greatly heightened in being offered to such as these in the first place, and with a particular solicitude to win them over: this wine must be given to them that are so ready to perish.

Besides this, it is with great difficulty that great sinners, upon conviction, are even now brought to believe there is mercy for them: it would have been harder still, had there been no instances of extraordinary grace to sinners of an uncommon size.

Had the Gospel taken a large round before it had come to Jerusalem, the proffers of mercy would not have been so easily believed, as when they came so fresh from his own lips, whose anger they had much more reason to fear, than to hope for his mercy; but the unparalleled grace of sending it to them first, was superior to all objection. This sets it as much above all doubt and scruple, as it was beyond all example or expectation. Indeed, before sinners are awakened to a sense of their sins, and of God's justice, they are very confident of his mercy; the mercy of God is infinite, say they, goodness is his nature, he never made any creatures to do them any hurt, and it is an easy thing enough to entertain the hopes of salvation through the merits of Christ, and the mercy of God. But how suddenly is the style altered, upon a deep conviction of conscience, and the opening the eye to the number, nature, and aggravation of their sins, together with the law, the holiness and justice of God arming against them? Then, is there mercy for such a wretch as I? Is it possible for me to be saved? Can so black a soul as mine be washed into purity, and so much guilt as I have contracted be removed? They, who before thought sin but a trifle, are now ready to think it all unpardonable; they, who a little before were ready to say, there is no fear, are now ready to conclude, there is no hope: they now do as much need the encouragement of such an instance as this, as before they were ready enough to abuse it.
Ibid., 16–18.
The offer of salvation, is, indeed, amazing grace; but mercy merely offered saves no man, without acceptance of the grace, and compliance with the method of salvation. It is to as many as received him, that power is given to become the sons of God. What is included in this acceptance of mercy; how the grace of God works it in us, what we can do, or cannot do in it, belongs not to me at present to inquire. But the absolute necessity of the thing itself, is what appears from this text, against all presumption whatsoever: because, there is nothing in heaven or earth provided in the room of faith and holiness, nor can any one stand forth and say, that the grace of the Gospel has made provision of any thing, either in God, Christ, or the Spirit of God, to stand in the room of faith and holiness; for without faith I have no part in God nor Christ. And further, because these sinners of Jerusalem, who did not repent and believe, according to this commission, were afterwards, notwithstanding the grace of the offer, finally destroyed. In a word, the immense goodness of this offer forbids all despair, and yet at the same time doubles the damnation of such as dare sinfully presume upon it on the one hand, or refuse it on the other.
Ibid., 26.
5. The infinite sufficiency of the merits of Christ's death and sufferings is seen in this offer. The ancients used to say, if you would see the Trinity, you must go to Jordan; where the Son was baptized in the river, the Holy Ghost descending upon him, and the Father's voice was heard, saying, "This is my beloved Son." I may say, if you would see the infinite sufficiency of the merits of Christ, and the exceeding riches of his grace, you must go to Jerusalem, and see to what sort of people he does in the first place open the treasures of mercy. "The unsearchable riches of Christ;" unsearchable indeed, since Jerusalem's sins could not exhaust them: "Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you, forgiveness of sins, and by him, all that believe, are justified, from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Ibid., 28–29.
8. This obliges all that have obtained this grace, to be of a like merciful and forgiving spirit. To be implacable is to be like a devil; to be a Christian is to be like this Jesus, who, upon a cross, prayed for his enemies, "Father forgive them." Like this Jesus, who, after his resurrection, courted these murderers into the salvation purchased by his death and blood; who gladly bestowed it upon all that would accept it, and waited forty years upon the rest, that they might have time and space to repent.
Ibid., 30.
How must those who are weak in the faith be received? Who though perhaps mistaken in differing from us, yet are not therefore enemies; are not viler for mistaking the mind of Christ, than Jerusalem sinners for killing the person. Will it please him, who has forgiven thee, and them, so many talents, to see thee take thy brother by the throat for a few pence; and they too not borrowed by him, but imposed upon him by thee? Will perpetual worrying of thy brother suit the temper of that Jesus, who was no sooner got down from the cross, in a manner, but contrives how to save them that nailed him to it?
Ibid., 31.
Think once more, to whom it was this offer was going to be made: they had spit in his face, in whose presence angels cover theirs, raptured with delight and joy, and have no sweeter extasies than to behold his beauty. They had blindfolded his eyes, which had so often wept over them and their children, and so often turned up to his Father in heaven for them; they struck him, buffeted, scourged him; they mocked him, despised him, and exposed him to the most contrived indignities, that ever attended a crown of thorns, and adismal cross; he forgave it all, to everyone of them that would but repent.
Ibid., 33.
Well, in the last agonies of his life, he calls some friends about him, and says to this purpose—'I am dying of the wounds they have given me; I had reason to expect a kinder return: however, I forbid all revenge upon any of those that relent upon it, and, before I die, I order that there be an act of grace forthwith drawn up, and proclaimed for the pardon of my murderers, upon condition only that they be sensible of what they have done, that they acknowledge their fault ; and to give them assurance that they may depend upon it, I will have it subscribed, and sealed, with some of that very blood which they have drawn.
Ibid., 33–34.

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