May 29, 2009

Burroughs on Hosea

Jeremiah Burroughs' Exposition Upon the Prophecy of Hosea is available at the Internet Archive.

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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May 26, 2009

Calvin's Sermons on Genesis

John Calvin's Sermons on Genesis 1-11 are now available from Reformation Heritage Books for $27.00.

Publisher: Banner of Truth
Publish Date: 2009
Cover Type: Hardback
Pages: 888
ISBN: 9781848710382

May 20, 2009

Isaac Ambrose (1604-1664) on God Begging

"3. The Lord doth not only command a poor sinner to come, but when he says, "There is mercy with God, but not for me:" the Lord followeth him still, and sends another cord after him, that if it be possible, he may win him, and woo him to receive mercy. If command therefore prevail not, he entreats and beseeches him to come and receive mercy; and this, methinks, should move the hardest heart under heaven. We, saith the apostle, are ambassadors from Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God. Rather than you should go away from Christ, even mercy itself will come and kneel down before you, and beseech and entreat you, "for the Lord Jesus' sake, to pity your poor souls, and receive pardon for your sins;" a sinner is not able to comprehend this, but he begins to be at a stand:--"What, that the Lord should beseech him? Oh, that thou wouldst receive pardon for thy sins, and be blessed for ever! Good Lord!" saith the soul, "is this possible, that the great King of heaven should come and beseech such a traitor, such a rebel as I am, to take pardon? That a king on earth should proclaim a pardon to some notorious traitor, this were much; but that the King of heaven should lay down his crown, and beseech me, on his knees as it were, to take mercy; this is a thing beyond all expectation. What, shall heaven stoop to earth? Shall majesty stoop to misery? Shall the great God of heaven and earth, that might have condemned my soul, and if I had perished and been damned, might have took glory by my destruction: is it possible that this God should not only entertain me when I come, and command me to come, but entreat and beseech me to come, and receive mercy from him! Oh, the depth of the incomprehensible love of God!" Imagine you saw God the Father entreating you, and God the Son beseeching you, as he doth this day, "Come now, and forsake your sins, and take mercy, which is prepared for you, and shall be bestowed upon you;" would not this make a soul think thus with itself, "What, for a rebel? Not only to have mercy offered, but to be entreated to receive mercy, it were pity, if I will not take it, but I should go to hell, and be damned for ever." The Lord, he complains, Why will ye die? As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner: turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? "Mercy is offered ye, the Lord reacheth out his hand to you;" fain would he pluck the drunkard out of the alehouse, and the adulterer from his whore. Oh! if you break this cord. I know not what to say to you: this is able to break mountains in pieces;--Shake, O mountains, saith the prophet; why? because God hath redeemed Jacob: the redemption of Jacob was enough to break a mountain; let his mercy break our hearts; it is God that begs, the blessing is our own."

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Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729) on God Begging

"And God makes a proposal to you, and gives you liberty to be saved, if you will accept of Jesus Christ. He does not tell you that his heart is hardened against you; but he tells you that you shall be welcome, if you will come to Christ. Rev. xxii. 17. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Yea, he doth beseech you to come for salvation. God is of infinite majesty, yet he intreats you to be saved. He condescends to your infirmity, and stoops so low as to plead with you; he becomes as it were a petitioner to you; he begs of you to come, and urges it as a courtesy to come, with tender-heartedness prays you to come. 2 Cor. v. 20. "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."

May 19, 2009

Raymond Ortlund on God Begging

The Pleading God Offended

I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices. (Isaiah 65:2)

God "spread[ing] out his hands" is God pleading, even begging. He's patient. He gives ample opportunity. But with some people it's a wasted effort. Why? The problem is the human mind. The ESV translates this, "following their own devices." The NASB translates it, "following their own thoughts." That's what Isaiah means by "devices"--the structures we assemble in our thoughts to manage God and keep him at a distance, because seeing him clearly, in his grace and humility, is counterintuitive and threatening.

More from C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) on God Begging

"Many of you have had eternal life set before you as to be received by simply believing in Jesus Christ; and you have refused to believe. Now, my Lord might have said to me, "Go home, you have done your duty with them; never set Christ before them again, I am not going to have my Son insulted." If you offer a beggar in the street a shilling and he demurs, and will not have it, you cheerfully put it into your purse and go your way; you do not stand there begging him to have his wants relieved: but, behold, our God in mercy has been begging sinners to come to him, imploring them to accept his Son. In his condescension he has even come down to this--to be like a salesman in the market, crying, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come buy wine and milk, without money and without price." In another place he says of himself, "All day long have I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying generation." Well, if the Lord of mercy has been refused, and the Lord of love has been despised so long in the sight of you who reverence him, does not some indignation mingle with your pity, and while you love sinners and would have them saved, do you not feel in your heart that there must be an end to such insulting behaviour, and such matchless patience? You cannot always be pleading with those who will not be persuaded, for he that refuseth you refuseth him that sent you. I ask those whose hearts are hard to think of the matter in this light, and if they do not respect the ploughman, yet let them have regard to his Master."

May 17, 2009

Pierre Du Moulin (1568–1658) on Faith as the Act of Man

We therefore say that the act of believing and repenting, is so far the act of man, in as much as man himself believeth and repenteth, and not God; and in as much as no man believeth and repenteth, but he doth it willingly. But we say, that the grace of God alone, doth create and give the first being to faith in us, and that it is the gift of God, and by the power of the regenerating Spirit, that we do willingly and freely believe and repent. For the question is not who believeth, whether man or God; but what doth bring forth faith in man, and whether it be in the power of free-will, helped with grace, to believe or not to believe, and to use grace or not to use it.
Pierre Du Moulin, The Anatomy of Arminianism (London: Printed by T. S. for Nathaniel Newbery, 1620), 291. Some changes in spelling have been made.

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May 15, 2009

Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) on the Sufficiency of Christ's Atonement

It is a fact that the Scriptures rest the general invitations of the gospel upon the atonement of Christ.* But if there were not a sufficiency in the atonement for the salvation of sinners without distinction, how could the ambassadors of Christ beseech them to be reconciled to God, and that from the consideration of his having been made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him? What would you think of the fallen angels being invited to be reconciled to God, from the consideration of an atonement having been made for fallen men? You would say, It is inviting them to partake of a benefit which has no existence, the obtaining of which, therefore, is naturally impossible. Upon the supposition of the atonement being insufficient for the salvation of any more than are actually saved by it, the non-elect, however, with respect to a being reconciled to God through it, are in the same state as the fallen angels; that is, the thing is not only morally, but naturally impossible. But if there be an objective fulness in the atonement of Christ, sufficient for any number of sinners, were they to believe in him; there is no other impossibility in the way of any man's salvation, to whom the gospel comes at least, than what arises from the state of his own mind. The intention of God not to remove this impossibility, and so not to save him, is a purpose to withhold not only that which he was not obliged to bestow, but that which is never represented in the Scriptures as necessary to the consistency of exhortations or invitations.

I do not deny that there is difficulty in these statements; but it belongs to the general subject of reconciling the purposes of God with the agency of man; whereas, in the other case, God is represented as inviting sinners to partake of what has no existence, and which therefore is physically impossible. The one, while it ascribes the salvation of the believer in every stage of it to mere grace, renders the unbeliever inexcusable; which the other, I conceive, does not. In short, we must either acknowledge an objective fullness in Christ's atonement, sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him; or, in opposition to Scripture and common sense, confine our invitations to believe to such persons as have believed already.

* 2 Cor. v. 19-21; Matt. xxii. 4; John iii. 16
Andrew Fuller, "Conversations Between Peter, James, and John: Conv. II. on Substitution," in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 2:691–692.

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HT: David Allen

S. Lewis Johnson on George Ladd and the Spiritualization of the Prophetic Scriptures


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May 8, 2009

Frans Pieter Van Stam on the Origin of the Pejorative Label "Les Hypothetiques"

Another sign of the hardening of the conflict is the rise, a half year after the national synod of Charenton, of a designation for the adherents of Saumur that was intended to be unfavorable. The expression in question is "les hypothetiques," the "hypotheticals." In the later history of dogma the theology of Saumur would be known as "hypothetical universalism,"[72] a phrase in which the pejorative element occurs as adjective. The Reformed in France adopted the concept "les hypothetiques" as a fixed designation for the theologians of Saumur while the Swiss Reformed before 1650 described them as "universalists."[73] The term "les hypothetiques" was a reference to the problem in Amyraut's theology that on the one hand it declared that God willed to save all and on the other hand it acknowledged that this is not realized in all. Amyraut's intent was to make plain that whoever believes may rest assured that God will save him or her and has in fact elected that person. But his opponents objected that he made God's will to save all people "frustratoire." It was a reduction to absurdity of a small part of Amyraut's total point of view and the expression "hypothetical universalism" is therefore ill-suited to serve as a summary of the core of Amyraut's theology.

The term "les hypothetiques" surfaced in the available documents for the first time in a letter written by Guillaume Rivet in July 1645. He wrote his brother that he had learned from Vincent that "our hypotheticals" were unhappy with the national synod's condemnation of De la Place's ideas.[74] A few weeks later he again used the expression.[75] It occurs in three more letters from Guillaume Rivet to his brother.[76] It is probable that Guillaume Rivet was the first to employ the term as a label for the theologians of Saumur. Four months after G. Rivet had begun to use the term in the documents left us it also occurred, in a somewhat altered form, in a letter from Vincent.[77] At the end of that year it also surfaced in the Dutch Republic. Anna Maria van Schurmann employed it in a letter to André Rivet.[78] In the case of André Rivet himself the expression first occurred in a letter to Spanheim dated in May, 1646.[79] Thus the term proves to have become popular among the opponents of Saumur, enabling them to show their aversion for certain fellow believers without having to argue their case any more.
_________________
72. See for example A. Adam, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, II, Mittelalter und Reformation, Gütersloh 1968, p. 398 and R. Seeberg, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, IV, 2. Tl., Die Fortbildung der reformatorischen Lehre und die gegenrefomatorische Lehre, 5Leipzig 1959 (Nachdruck der 3. Auflage), pp. 704ff. Seeberg distances himself from this term: "fördert das Verständnis der Absicht Amyrauts nicht," p. 704.
73. In the next chapter this will become even more evident.
74. "Vincent m’escrit aussi du mescontentement de nos hypothetiques touchant l’article de l’imputation du peché d’ Adam," see his letter dated July 9, 1645, at Leyden UB, BPL 287, II, 84f.
75. "les hypothetiques," see his letter to A. Rivet dated July 23, 1645, ibid., 86.
76. See his letters to A. Rivet dated Aug. 6, Oct. 1, and Oct. 15, 1645, ibid., 87f., 91, 92. Later, too, the expression returns in his writing, see, e.g., his letter to A. Rivet dated July 9, 1646, ibid., 112.
77. "Nous attendons l’ouvrage de Monsieur Spanheim, qui tient fort nos Hypothesites," see his letter to A. Rivet dated Nov. 4, 1645, at Leyden UB, BPL 274, 35f.
78. "Quod autem scribis Gallicanas ecclesias inter se etiamnum digladiari, et Hypotheticos conari omnem in te invidiam derivare, hinc facile collingimus diabolum nihil adeo moliri quam ut nostros inter se committat," see her letter dated Dec. 25, 1645, to A. Rivet in The Hague, KB, 133 B8, n. 46. About A. M. van Schurman, see B. L. G. N. P., part 2, Kampen 1983, pp. 396-399.
79. "Monsieur Sarrau ne me dit un seul mot de nos hypothetiques," see his letter dated May 19, 1646, at Munich Bayer. Staatsbibl., lat. 10,383, 46.
Frans Pieter Van Stam, The Controversy Over the Theology of Saumur, 1635-1650 (APA-Holland:  University Press, 1988), 277–278.

Note: This is historically quite typical. The modern label "hypothetical universalism" is not one that the Saumur theologians adopted for themselves. Rather, it was a biased label that Amyraut's staunch opponents used to describe his views. It's yet another scarecrow. As Van Stam documents, Guillaume Rivet and André Rivet (brothers) were very hostile to Amyraut, and they were constantly at work behind the scenes attempting (unsuccessfully) to manipulate the decisions of the Synod of Alençon and the Synod of Charenton so as to condemn Saumur theology. One can clearly see from the letters that their behavior was despicable, and that their claims were inconsistent. Both of these national synods exonerated Amyraut.

May 3, 2009

Van Stam on the Synod of Alençon and Amyraut's "Conditional Decree"

In a following article the synod [of Alençon] declared that, though Amyraut and Testard had referred to a "conditional decree" of God, both viewed this expression as an anthropomorphic way of speaking: faith and repentance are demanded of man in order that the promise of God's decree may be realized. It was definitely not the intent of Amyraut and Testard to ascribe to God "ignorance about the outcome, or powerlessness in the execution, or lack of firmness in his will. For the will of God always remains firm and unchangeable in itself, in accord with the nature of God in which there is neither change nor shadow of turning." The synod therefore took explicit steps to protect Amyraut and Testard from the criticism of Pierre Moulin. At the same time, and in the same article, there is the insistence that from now on the expression "the conditional, defeasible or revocable decree" should no longer be used, but the term "will" be employed rather, since they were dealing with the revealed will of God.
Frans Pieter Van Stam, The Controversy Over the Theology of Saumur, 1635-1650 (APA-Holland University Press, 1988), 132.

Earlier Van Stam wrote:
Sometimes Arminians also referred to the "conditional decrees of God". When Amyraut was later criticized for his use of some such expression, he admitted he also had his reservations about it but had used it in his discussions with Arminians.
Ibid., 55n108.