December 29, 2010

Jonathan Warne (fl.1731–1742) on the Revealed Will of God

Thirdly, when God doeth offer Grace to Men, he doth not immediately infuse his Grace into their Hearts, but he works it in them by the Use of Means: Now Reprobates, when as God tenders Grace unto them, do always slight, neglect, and vilify the outward Means by which he offers, and conveys his Grace; so that if they miss of Grace, as they always do, they cannot lay the Fault on God; or say, that he intended not to convert them; but they must take the Blame upon themselves alone; because if they had used the Means with Care, with Conscience as they ought, and done all that which was requisite on their Parts; God would have wrought effectually by his Spirit in their Hearts, for ought that they could tell, or think to the contrary.

Fourthly, when God doth seriously invite us to Repentance, to true saving Faith; he doth not always peremptorily promise, much less resolve to work this Faith, or Repentance in our Hearts, for then they should be always wrought effectually in us, because God's purposed, God's resolved Will, is always executed, and cannot be resisted; but he doth only seriously declare what things he doth approve, and require in us, and what Course we ourselves must take, if we will be saved: A King may seriously wish and desire, that such a Subject of his were a rich, or honourable Person; and withal inform him of the Way and Means to purchase Wealth or Honour; but yet he may not purposely resolve to make him such a one. God doth earnestly wish, command and desire, that all Men should repent and turn unto him, that none should offend, or sin against him; but yet he hath not eternally purposed to cause them to repent, or to enable them to convert, and not to sin; for most Men go on in Sin, without Repentance; in many things we offend all; and there is no Man that liveth and sinneth not. God may desire something in his revealed Will, which he hath not decreed to effect in his secret Will: He desires not the Death of a Sinner, but rather that he should repent and live; yet Sinners always die in Sin without Repentance: He desires that all Men should be saved, and that none perish; yet we know, that few are saved, and that most Men perish: Since therefore God may command, desire, and require something in his revealed Will, which he hath not absolutely decreed to effect in his hidden Will, it follows not that God doth therefore resolve to work effectually by his Grace in Reprobates, when as he offers Means of Grace unto them, and so he mocks them not.
Jonathan Warne, The Downfall of Arminianism (London: Printed for T. Cooper, at the Globe in Pater-noster-Row; and S. Mason, Bookseller, over-against Love-Lane in Wood-Street, 1742), 99–100.

Note: Warne was a high Calvinist and gives many replies to objections that are not correct or sufficient, in my opinion, but he nevertheless affirms that God earnestly wishes and desires the repentance and salvation of all men in the revealed will.

December 28, 2010

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) on John Wesley and Doctrinal Regeneration

I would sum up this section like this. One of the greatest proofs of the truth of the doctrines emphasized by Calvin, what is known as 'Calvinism'—though I have already said I do not like these terms—is John Wesley. He was a man who was saved in spite of his muddled and erroneous thinking. The grace of God saved him in spite of himself. That is Calvinism! If you say, as a Calvinist, that a man is saved by his understanding of doctrine you are denying Calvinism. He is not. We are all saved in spite of what we are in every respect. Thus it comes to pass that men who can be so muddled, because they bring in their own human reason, as John Wesley and others did, are saved men and Christians, as all of us are, because it is 'all of the grace of God' and in spite of us.
D. M. Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991), 208.

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December 25, 2010

Nathaniel Vincent (1638–1697) on the Possible Salvation of the Reprobate Drawn from the Son's Incarnation

Thus you have the Properties of the Day of Grace. In the fourth place I am to lay down the Reasons, why such a Day of Grace is granted. Several reasons of this may be assigned.

1. One shall be drawn from the Son's Incarnation, and taking our nature on him. Hence it comes to pass, that unto Man such kindness is expressed. The Apostle says, Verily, he took not on him the nature of Angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, Heb. 2. 16. He was made in the likeness of Men, therefore mankind is the dearer to him. There is a difference put between apostate Angels and fallen Men; I speak even of those, that through their own wickedness and folly miss of salvation. The reprobate Angels never had a remedy provided, nor a Day of Grace afforded; Christ assumed not their nature, but as soon as ever they had sinned, they fell, like lightning, suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, from Heaven to Hell. But Man was not thus dealt with; even those whom the Apostle calls Vessels of Wrath fitted to destruction, are yet endured with much long-suffering, Rom. 9. 22. Their salvation is in it self really possible, I say, in it self, though all things consider'd there is an impossibility of any other event, than the destruction of sinners continuing in their rebellions; and this real possibility of salvation will make them cast the whole blame of their perdition on themselves, that the day of salvation was trifled away, and the salvation of that day was neglected.

This matter may be made more obvious and plain by a similitude. The Apostle Paul, Acts 26. admonisheth the Centurion, who was to conduct him to Rome, that the voyage they were about to make, would be with much damage and hurt, not only of the lading and ship, but also of their lives. Who can deny, that the tarrying in the Haven where they were, and where they might have been in safeguard, was in it self really possible? and they could not reasonably lay the blame of their shipwrack [sic] on God's decree and determination, but upon their own rashness. In like manner sinners are admonished, that if they go on in wickedness 'twill be to their hurt and eternal damage, not only of their lives, but also of their souls. Who can deny, that the abstaining from such and such sins is really possible? therefore God's decree is not to be blamed (which brings no coaction upon the will of Man) but Mans own perversness if he is wrack'd, and miscarries to eternity.

We read of the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards Man appearing, Tit. 3. 4. The Son of God was manifested in the flesh of Man; and upon this score it is that light comes into the world, and shines even upon those dark souls that are unwilling to comprehend it, and salvation is proffer'd also unto them that refuse to embrace it.
Nathaniel Vincent, The Day of Grace in Which the Chief of Sinners May be Turn'd and Healed (Boston: Re-printed for Alford Butler, and sold at his Shop, the lower End of King-Street, near the Crown Coffee-House, 1728), 52–54.

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December 24, 2010

Nathaniel Vincent (1638-1697) on 1 Peter 3:18-20

As I search through Puritan literature for material related to the revealed will of God, I am trying to collect their opinions on this text as well, so here is Vincent's opinion that concurs with Pearse, Howe, Flavel and Burroughs:
"This place [1 Pet. 3:18-20] is wrested, and may seem difficult, but the meaning is plainly this, That Christ was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Ghost, by which Holy Ghost, accompanying the ministry of the ancient Patriarchs, he preached unto the impenitent sinners of the old world, whose spirits are now imprisoned in hell, because in their life time they were disobedient to the Spirits voice, all the while the long suffering of God did wait upon them."
Nathaniel Vincent, The Day of Grace in Which the Chief of Sinners May be Turn'd and Healed (Boston: Re-printed for Alford Butler, and sold at his Shop, the lower End of King-Street, near the Crown Coffee-House, 1728), 40.

Nathaniel Vincent (1638–1697) on Christ's Four-Fold Compassion on Them that Perish

Doct. I. The first Doctrine is this, That Jesus Christ is exceeding full of pity and compassion. The tears which he shed prove this; and if tears will not satisfie, a little after you may behold him shedding of his blood. This compassion of Christ extends it self to them that perish, as well as unto those he saves.

To them that perish, his compassion is seen in four things.

1. In causing the Light whereby he is discovered to shine upon them. 'Tis a mercy that the lost are told of a Saviour, that they are informed how sin hath caused their misery and Christ is sufficient to cure it. Tender mercy appears, that the Day-spring from on high does visit them that sit in darkness, which can guide their feet into the way of peace, Luke 1. 78, 79. They need not say, Who shall ascend into heaven, to understand the means of fallen Man's recovery? The word is nigh, which can give a sufficient information. Twas the great advantage of the Jews, that to them were committed the Oracles of God, Rom. 3. 1, 2. But now those Oracles are pronounced more fully and plainly; and to enjoy them is the priviledge of such, as in [a] Land of light have their lot given them. It was great mercy towards Capernaum, that he was lifted up to Heaven, that such words were spoken, that such works were done in her; and because she improved not the mercy, how does our Lord upbraid her?

2. Christ's compassion towards them that perish is seen, in calling and inviting them to come to him: The Marriage-feast is prepared, and the servants are sent into the highways, to invite all to come, and partake of it, Matth. 22. Wisdom cryeth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, she cryeth in the chief places of concourse; How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity? and scorners delight in scourning, and fools hate knowledge? turn ye at my reproof, &c. Prov. 1. 20, 21, 22. And Prov. 9. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. we read, Wisdom hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine, and furnished her table, she hath sent forth her maidens, she cryeth upon the highest places of the City; Whoso is simple let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding, she said unto him, come eat of my bread, and drink my wine which I have mingled; forsake [the] foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding. Thus sinners are called after, and though Dogs, yet the same bread which prepared for the Children is proffer'd them; the same inestimable benefits [of] Christ, as pardon, peace, grace, glory, are tendered to them, which believers have accepted of; with the same eye-salve the eyes shall be anointed, with the same tried gold they shall be enriched; with the same white rayment all their nakedness shall be covered, if they will but come and close with Jesus.

3. Christs compassion towards them that perish is seen, in waiting long that he may be gracious; he knocks at the door, and he stands knocking there, Rev. 3. 20. He stands till his head is filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night. He sees how Satan hath admission at his pleasure, and [unto] Mammon at first approach the door is set wide open to receive him, but against Christ 'tis lock'd and bolted; and yet his love and patience overcomes these indignities, and he waits still to see, if at last sinners will consult their own good, and entertain him. Christ by his Spirit strives long, checkin them from sin, moving them to duty, demonstrating the reasonableness of conversion and obedience, the danger of continuance in their provocations. Christ does not go away at the first repulse, nor curse the Fig-tree for the first years unfruitfulness, but he digs about it and dungs it, and expects a great while, before that sentence be pronounced, Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?

4. Christ's compassion towards them that perish, is seen, in wishing, when for their obstinancy they are given over to themselves, that they would have hearkened and obeyed. Thus he weeps and wishes, that Jerusalem had known what they were ignorant of. And Israel, when for their deafness unto, and refusing of God, they were given up to their own hearts lusts, and suffer'd to walk after their own counsels, the Lord wishes, O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! Psal. 81. 11, 12, 13. Those that perish will have no reason to complain of Christ, but of themselves; he wanted not pity, but to themselves they were unmerciful.
Nathaniel Vincent, The Day of Grace in Which the Chief of Sinners May be Turn'd and Healed (Boston: Re-printed for Alford Butler, and sold at his Shop, the lower End of King-Street, near the Crown Coffee-House, 1728), 8–11.

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December 5, 2010

Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) on Christ's Treatment of His Enemies

(3.) What was he to his enemies? Did he call for fire from heaven when they wronged him? Was he all on a heat? When his poor disciples, being more flesh than spirit, would have fire from heaven, 'You know not what spirit you are of,' saith he, Luke ix. 55. He shed tears for those that shed his blood, 'Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem,' &c., Mat. xxiii. 37, that afterward crucified him. And upon the cross you see there to his very enemies, 'Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,' Luke xxiii. 34. So then if we will be like to Christ, consider how he carried himself to God in devotion and obedience, and how in himself was fully of purity and holiness, unspotted every way; how to his friends, to all that had any goodness in them; and how to his enemies, he prayed for his very enemies.

J. A. Alexander (1809–1860) on Matthew 5:45

The true law of benevolence having been laid down in all its length and breadth and in contrast with the narrow Pharisaic rule and practice, is now shown to be reasonable from analogy. The appeal is a twofold example, that of God and man. The demonstrative power of the first rests not merely on the general principle of God's perfection and authority as the standard and exemplar of all excellence, but also on the filial relation borne to him by all believers, and here obviously assumed by Christ as necessarily belonging to his true disciples. As if he had said, 'In coming to me, you come to the Father, not mine merely but your own; for if you believe in me, you are his children, and the child must imitate the father in all imitable qualities and acts. But he does not confine his rain and sunshine to the good or righteous, i.e. those who are conformed to his will, but gives them also to the wicked and unrighteous.' The implied conclusion is that we are not to regulate our love by the merit of the object but extend it to all. From this it follows that the love here meant is not the love of complacency, involving moral approbation, but the love of benevolence, involving only a desire of the object's welfare. Maketh to rise, an unavoidable periphrasis of one Greek verb (ανατέλλει), which is used both in a transitive and intransitive sense (see above, on 4, 16, and below, on 13, 6), the former of which is applied in the classics to the growth of plants, the rise of water, and the shedding forth of light. Sendeth rain (Tyndale, his rain), on the other hand, might be more simply and exactly rendered rains (or raineth). Evil and good, just and unjust, are not [to] be carefully distinguished, but regarded as synonymous descriptions of one great universal contrast which exists in human character.

November 20, 2010

Tom Ascol on John Gill (1697–1771) and the Modern Question

So well documented is Gill's conviction against offering Christ to the unconverted that one is tempted simply to conclude, on the basis of many witnesses, that Gill recognizes no universal obligation to believe in Christ.53 Such a perspective, though easily supported by various passages in Gill, does not adequately appreciate the presence of a genuine tension within him (at least at the practical level) regarding this point. Fuller, commenting on the "Modern Question" debate, acknowledges that Gill's sentiments seem to lie on the negative side of the question. "At the same time," Fuller further notes,
It cannot be denied that, when engaged in other controversies, he [Gill] frequently argued in a manner favourable to our side; and his writings contain various concessions on the subject, which, if any one else had made them, would not be much to the satisfaction of our opposing brethren. However they may be inclined to represent us as verging toward Arminianism, it is certain that Dr. Gill, in his answer to Dr. Whitby, the noted Arminian, frequently makes use of our arguments.54
Gill's general attitude toward the universalistic ideas in the gospel is governed by his insistence that the integrity of God's unconditional intention and provision of salvation for only the elect be scrupulously guarded. Language which suggests that salvation is in any manner contingent upon human intention or provision is strenuously rejected. Therefore, "that there are universal offers of grace and salvation made to all men," Gill writes, "I utterly deny." He reasons this way not because God discriminates in such offers, but because "offer" is an illegitimate category in which to couch salvation. Not even the elect receive such an offer. Rather, "grace and salvation are provided for them [the elect] in the everlasting covenant, procured for them by Christ, published and revealed in the gospel, and applied by the Spirit." The absolute, unconditional nature of the covenant of grace must always be carefully maintained, even when discussing man's responsibility.55

Many of the "concessions" which evoke Fuller's evaluation of Gill are found in the latter's Cause of God and Truth. This work engages his Arminian opponent in a dialogue for the purpose of first hearing, then refuting published objections to Dortian Calvinism. In Part One Gill expounds sixty passages of Scripture which are integral to the debate. His treatment of Acts 3:19 typifies his reluctance to allow repentance and faith to be regarded as duties. He contends that the nature of the repentance for which this verse calls is legal (external) and not evangelical (internal, saving). For the sake of argument, however, he allows the latter meaning to stand in order to demonstrate that, if saving repentance and faith are duties, his views of the decrees of God and the covenant of grace nevertheless remain unscathed. Were it true that evangelical repentance is the duty of all men, that fact would not contradict "its being a free-grace gift of God; nor its being a blessing in the covenant of grace." Neither does it appear "what conclusions can be formed from hence against either absolute election or particular redemption."56

There should be little doubt that Gill tends to obviate the tension between the particular and universal aspects of the gospel by safeguarding the former at the ultimate expense of the latter. The decree occupies the foundational place in his theological system. To allow the full range of any perspective which can potentially erode that foundation is a risk which Gill refuses to take. While there are some obvious, if tentative, concessions to those who maintain the duty of faith and repentance and the attendant obligation to urge sinners as sinners to perform these duties, the thrust of his system serves to mitigate these allowances.57 There is absolutely no hesitancy as he argues: that nowhere does scripture "exhort and command all men, all the individuals of human nature, to repent and believe in Christ for salvation;"58 that the repentance which is enjoined universally is only legal in nature;59 that the scriptural admonitions to turn from wicked ways regard "outward reformation of life;"60 and that ministers ought to exhort only "sensible" sinners [those who are aware of their "state and condition"] to believe in Christ.61 The reluctance of Gill to accord full weight to the universal dimensions of the gospel is absent in classic Federalism, which employs the covenant structure to maintain the dialectic between this and predestinarian particularism.
______________________________
53. Ivimey, History of the English Baptists, 3:272-73; Underwood, History, p. 135; Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1907), p. 240; Robinson, "The Legacy of John Gill," pp. 116-17; Harrison, John Gill and His Teaching, pp. 15-22; Leon McBeth, "Believer's Security Almost Wrecked Denomination," Baptist Message 98 (March 3, 1983):4; idem, "Wrestler Turned Preacher Upsets Doctrine," Baptist Message (March 17, 1983):6; idem, Baptist Heritage, pp. 177-78; Nettles, By His Grace, pp. 84-89.
54. Fuller, Works, 2:422; cf. Robinson, "Legacy of John Gill," pp. 117-18.
55. Gill, Sermons and Tracts, 3:118; cf. idem, Cause of God, pp. 6-7, 34-35, 164, 181; idem, Commentary, 3:989-90; 6:90-91.
56. Gill, Cause of God, p. 35; cf. ibid., p. 159. These concessions are made not because Gill affirms them to be the proper sense of scripture's meaning, but only for the sake of demonstrating how supremely secure is his decretal theology. They are allowed hypothetically as a part of his method of argumentation. In the midst of his reasoning about Acts 3:19, Gill does make the unqualified declaration that "Men are required to believe in Christ, to love the Lord with all their heart, to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit, yea to keep the whole law of God." Yet, immediately he adds, "But it does not follow that they are able of themselves to do all these things" (ibid., p. 35).
57. As has been noted, much historical and theological scholarship has been quick to categorize Gill according to Ivimey's "non-application, non-invitation" scheme, and on that basis to dismiss him as a rigid predestinarian who recognizes no universal obligation to preach or believe the gospel. Such unqualified assessments are not completely warranted by a thorough analysis of Gill's writings and cannot avoid misconstructing his sentiments. Nettles has reacted against this modern tendency by attempting to vindicate Gill from the common charge of being a hyper-Calvinist and opposed to duty faith and duty repentance (By His Grace, pp. 94-107). His work calls attention to genuine concerns which Gill expresses over the nature and extent of gospel blessings and duties Nettles hears Gill speaking loudly where others have judged him mute. In light of the evidence presented in this chapter, it is better to hear Gill speaking on these themes in muffled tones. The implications of his theology of grace ultimately veto "duty-faith." His pastoral practice, however, will not allow him to rest completely in those implications. The resulting tension is not missed by the author of his memoir. John Rippon acknowledges that, while Gill is more "universally consistent with himself" than any other writer of his day, there is a noticeable measure of inconsistency in his views of the "Modern Question." Rippon concludes, however, that Gill is "more decidedly on the high side of the question" (Brief Memoir, p. 47). This opinion is similarly held by Fuller (Works, 2:422)
58. Gill, Cause of God, p. 167. He writes, "I know of no exhortations to dead sinners, to turn and live, in a spiritual manner" (ibid., p. 172).
59. Ibid., pp. 34-35. Gill argues that it is only when they receive the "internal revelation of Christ" that sinners are "called to the exercise of evangelical repentance, and to faith in Christ, as their Saviour and Redeemer." With this call comes the bestowal upon them of grace and power "which enables them to believe and repent" (ibid., p. 166).
60. Ibid., p. 180.
61. Ibid., p. 164; cf. ibid., p. 179.
Thomas Kennedy Ascol, The Doctrine of Grace: A Critical Analysis of Federalism in the Theologies of John Gill and Andrew Fuller (Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1989), 118–122.

November 11, 2010

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) on Simultaneous Love and Hate

This idea of loving and hating a person at the same time but in different respects is very old in church history, at least going back to Augustine. Here's the same idea in Aquinas:
It is our duty to hate, in the sinner, his being a sinner, and to love in him, his being a man capable of bliss. And this is to love him truly, out of charity, for God's sake.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II–II, 25, 6.

See also this excellent quote by the Puritan Thomas Manton on the same idea for a comparison. The slogan "love the sinner but hate the sin" is a distortion of the ancient truth that we are to both love the sinner and hate the sinner at the same time but in different respects.

November 7, 2010

Richard Sedgwick (1574–1643) on the Grace of God

Quest. What things belong to his Kingly Office?

Answ. First, the appointing and instituting of outward meanes for the service of God, and salvation of the elect, Mat. 28.18,19,20. and ministries fitted thereunto, Ephes. 4.11.

Secondly, the bestowing of the graces of the Spirit, both common to elect and reprobate, by which men are qualified to the outward fellowship and service of the Visible Church, and such as are proper unto the elect, Ephes. 4.7,8.
Richard Sedgwick, A Short Summe of the Principle Things Contained in the Articles of our Faith and Ten Commandments (London: Printed by John Haviland, for Fulke Clifton, 1624), 12–13.

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October 27, 2010

Truth and Poetic Language

"Truth does not consist in minute accuracy of detail, but in conveying a right impression; and there are vague ways of speaking that are truer than strict facts would be. When the Psalmist said, 'Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law,' he did not state the fact, but he stated a truth deeper than fact, a truer." ~ Henry Alford

October 20, 2010

Edward Polhill's (1622–1694) Essay on the Extent of Christ's Death

The Internet Archive now has a free copy of Edward Polhill's Essay on the Extent of Christ's Death (an extract from his work on The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees) available in pdf format (click).

Update:

David has now posted excellent material by Robert Balmer, who wrote the preface to this Polhill essay. Balmer's lectures can be obtained here (click), and biographical data here (click). Of particular interest is Balmer's work on the gospel call.

October 19, 2010

Thomas Tuke (1580/81–1657) on the Love of God

There is no man living, which, as a creature, is not loved of God the great Creator; which appeareth in that He is said to be the Saviour of All, and to cause the Sun to shine, and the rain to fall, even on the wicked. He loveth Humanity, but hateth impiety; the Man-head is beloved, but malice in it is detested: He likes well of the Nature, but dislikes the sin: That, which is His, He loves, but that which mars His, He hates: His own Image He loves, but the deformities thereof, made by man, are altogether displeasing in his sight. Now when all men had transgressed, and by transgression had made themselves the children of death, it pleased Him to pass by some, being tied to none, and some others to choose in love unto Eternal Life. But what loved He now? The men, and not their manners; their nature, now under great corruption, but not corruption itself: Their persons, not their prevarications. And why loved He them? What moved Him to make that difference? Surely nothing but His own good Will: Mere mercy in Him, no merit at all in them; His free Dignation, and no dignity or deserts of theirs: His free favour to them, and no foreseen faith in them. But God, that had nothing to love in a sinner but his Humanity, in a true Saint hath also Christianity: then Nature, but now Nature and Grace too: In Generation the Human Nature, in Regeneration a certain Divine Nature. If the devil hate all men, but especially all Saints; then we may be sure that God loves all men, but especially all holy men: And if the devil hate and pine at the graces of God in men; then questionless God loves all His graces, in whomsoever He finds them.
Thomas Tuke, New Essays (London: Printed by N.O. and are to be sold by William Bladon, at his Shop in S Pauls Church-yard, at the signe of the Bible, 1614), 113–115.
The Love of Christ unto the creature, is general or special. His general love, is either that whereby he loveth all his creatures, as they are his creatures, and declareth it by continuing their kinds, by preserving their natures, and by saving them from many dangers; and according to this kind of love, God is said to be good to all, to be merciful to the unjust as to the just, and to be the Saviour of all men: or else that whereby he loved Mankind in generally, by taking upon him the nature and name of man, and not the nature of Angels, nor of any other creature whatsoever. His special love (understood in this place) is that whereby he loveth the elect & faithful people of God, and is so well affected towards them, as that he is wanting in nothing to them, which is convenient for them. And in this respect he is called the Saviour of his (mystical) body, and is said to love the Church.
Thomas Tuke, The Treasure of True Love (London: Printed by Thomas Creede, and are to be sold by Thomas Archer, 1608), 4–5.

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October 18, 2010

Andrew Kingsmill (1538–1569) on Christ's Question to Judas

Even as that lamentable question [imposteth? sp.], Judas, betrayest thou the sonne of man with a kiss? Which was to say, thou whom I have chose of many a thousand, one of my twelve familiars, thou upon whom I have bestowed so many good turns, to whom I have given freely so many good lessons, upon whom I have wasted so many words, thou that eatest bread with me, thou that dippest in one dish with me, dost thou lift up thy heel against me, and tread me under thy foot? thou that providest for the sustenance of my body, art thou become the betrayer of my soul? whose salvation I have sought by so many means, doest thou thirst my blood? for whom I am content to lay down my life, art thou become my hangman? Commest thou unto me with the face of a friend, and givest me up to mine enemies? Callest thou me master, and wishest me the curse of the cross? Givest thou me a kiss, and woundest my heart? These sighs no doubt came up with that question.
Andrew Kingsmill, A View of Man's Estate, Wherein the Great Mercie of God in Man's Free Justification by Christ, is Very Comfortably Declared (London: H. Bynneman, for Lucas Harison and George Bishop, 1574), 62. [no pagination, pages numbered manually from the beginning of the treatise, some spelling updated and modernized]

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September 30, 2010

Christopher Blackwood (1606–1670) on the Outcries of Wicked Men Against Fallen Saints

The great triumphs and outcries wicked men make when any of Gods children fall into scandalous sin (I say, when any of Gods children, for properly a scandal cannot be given but by Gods children, or by them that profess the truth) when such are overtaken, though the wicked themselves be a thousand times worse, they are apt to triumph, Psalm 38.16 When my foot slippeth (though I did not actually fall) they magnifie themselves against me. As things that fall from on high make a great sound, so the falls of persons that are high in profession are heard afar off. Wicked men hunger and thirst after the falls of godly men, and if at any time they fall into evil, like hungry Dogs they muzzle in their Excrements, like Horse Flies that passing by many precious Flowers fasten upon Dung. The wicked pass by the graces of Saints, and fasten upon their infirmities.
Christopher Blackwood, Exposition Upon the Ten First Chapters of the Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Matthew (London, Printed by Henry Hills, for Francis Tyton, and John Field, and are to be sold at the Three Daggers, and at the Seven Stars in Fleetstreet, 1659), 201.

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August 27, 2010

On Obama and A Popular False Either/Or Dilemma

To posit that EITHER 1) Obama is a Muslim OR 2) Obama is a Christian is a false either/or dilemma since there is a tertium quid; namely, the option that 3) Obama is sincere in his profession to be a Christian but sincerely wrong about that, which is actually the case with millions of Americans to varying degrees.

While the consideration of the third option may offend some people, they should rather take this constructively as an opportunity to examine themselves by Apostolic standards for a change (2 Cor. 13:5).

August 26, 2010

Donald Davis Grohman on the Doctrinal Differences Between the Saumur Theologians and Francis Turretin

Also, it should be pointed out again that the doctrinal difference between the Saumur theologians and Turretin do not involve any of the fundamental tenets of the Reformed faith. Turretin himself mentions this fact in a letter to Jean Claude which we shall consider later in this thesis. As we have seen various times in this chapter, Turretin refers to the Salmurians as fellow Reformed pastors and theologians, and the Salmurians certainly view themselves as being within the Reformed tradition. In fact, Amyraut goes to great lengths in attempting to prove that the orthodox Reformed theologians are in agreement with him. Thus, even though this controversy was a serious and lengthy one, nevertheless it was entirely an internal dispute within the Reformed churches concerning nonfundamental matters.

It might seem that in a sense the doctrinal differences between the Salmurians and the orthodox theologians are only theoretical. The "universalism" of the Saumur theologians is merely hypothetical, and in the final analysis, the Salmurians accept the particularism of the Reformed doctrine of predestination: namely, that only the elect are granted faith and salvation. In fact, since hypothetical universalism was basically intended to be a new way of presenting the doctrine of predestination so as to make it seem less objectionable, it was often called a new method rather than a new doctrine. However, if one examines the arguments on both sides, it becomes apparent that there are certain real differences between the two positions.
Donald Davis Grohman, The Genevan Reactions to the Saumur Doctrines of Hypothetical Universalism: 1635–1685 (Th.D. thesis, Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, 1971), 120–121.

These statements concur with Richard Muller's perspective as seen here and here.

August 21, 2010

Richard Muller on Permissio and Permissio Efficax

permissio: permission; specifically, permission as distinct from active or effective willing. The concept of a divine permissio was denied by Calvin* but accepted by virtually all later Reformed theologians, including Beza and Zanchi, as a means of explaining the origin of sin and the continuing instances of sin in the course of human history. God does not will positively that sins occur but permits creatures to exercise their will in a sinful way. The concept appears also in the Lutheran scholastic systems, though Lutheran opposition to the doctrine of a decretum absolutum, or absolute decree, of predestination rendered the origin of sin and the continuing presence of sin less of a problem for Lutheran than for Reformed orthodoxy.

permissio efficax: effective permission or willing permission; especially, the providential concursus (q.v.) underlying evil acts of human beings; a concept typical of Reformed theology, which will not allow a bare or ineffectual permission on the part of God and which will acknowledge no realm of activity outside of the will of God. God therefore is viewed as positively willing to permit the free agency of human beings and as supporting their acts with his providential concursus even when those acts go against his revealed will.
Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 222.

See also David's posts on Divine Permission of Sin.

*I question whether Muller is correct that Calvin denied the concept of divine permission. Certainly he denied the concept of an unwilling divine permission, but not the concept as such. He probably followed Augustine on the idea. See some Calvin sources here (click).

August 16, 2010

William Perkins (1558–1602) on the Love of God

Object. Election is nothing else but dilection, or love: but this we know, that God loves all his creatures; therefore he elects all his creatures.

Answer. I. I deny that to elect is to love, but to ordain & appoint to love. Rom. 9.13. II. God doth love all his creatures, yet not all equally, but every one in their place.
William Perkins, "A Golden Chaine," in The Workes of that Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins (London: Printed by John Legatt, 1626), 108.
Which loved us. That is, the Churches of Asia, and by portion all other Churches, being parts of the true Church.

The love of Christ hath three degrees: the first is called a general love, whereby he loves all his creatures, as they be his creatures: and this love is common to all his creatures.

The second degree is the love of mankind, in that he was content to become a redeemer for mankind, not for any other creature, no not for the Angels, which fell as well as man.

The third degree, which is most principle, is that whereby he loves his elect and chosen children, which is that love whereby he accepts of them to life everlasting.
William Perkins, Lectures Upon the Three First Chapters of the Revelation (London: Printed by Richard Field for Cuthbert Burbie, and are to be sold as his shop in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the Swan, 1604), 39–40.
Now see the meaning: I love. Christ loveth the creatures two ways: first, as a Creator: secondly, as a redeemer. As he is a Creator, he loveth them with a general and common love, whether the creatures be reasonable or unreasonable. As Redeemer, he loveth them with a special and peculiar love, not common to all, but to that part of mankind only which is elected and chosen to salvation. And of this last love he speaketh here: as if he should say, As many as I love, communicating with them my righteousness and life eternal: I rebuke.
William Perkins, Lectures Upon the Three First Chapters of the Revelation (London: Printed by Richard Field for Cuthbert Burbie, and are to be sold as his shop in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the Swan, 1604), 326.

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July 20, 2010

George Walker (1581–1651) on the Death of Christ

This Westminster divine said the following:
Quest. How can the sufferings of one man satisfy for all men, and the righteousness of one be able to justify all that are to be justified?

Answ. The man Christ as he fulfilled the Law, and suffered in our nature, so his righteousness and satisfaction is human, and is proper only to mankind, for as man sinned, so man satisfied. But as this man Christ, is also God in the same person: So his righteousness and satisfaction is Divine of infinite value and worth, even the righteousness and suffering of God; and that is more than if all men had suffered eternal death, and fulfilled in their own persons every jot and tittle of the Law, and all the righteousness thereof.
George Walker, The Key of Saving Knowledge (London: Printed by Tho. Badger, 1641), 47. Some spelling has been updated. Notice that Walker seems to grant the premise in the question that the sufferings of the one man [Christ] satisfies for all men,” and then goes on to argue how that can be the case.

He also connects NT ransom language to all mankind, using 1 Tim. 4:10. Walker said:
Quest. Doth not Christ as well make Intercession for all, as he died for all mankind?

Answ. Though Christ died and fulfilled the Law for a common benefit to all man-kind and his ransom is sufficient to save all; yet he never purposed to redeem all men by his death. For he knew that many were already damned, and past all hope of redemption before he died, and that Judas was a son of perdition, and therefore he did not purpose to give himself a ransom for them. Besides he himself testifieth that he did not pray for the world, but only for his Elect given to him by his father out of the world, Joh. 17.9. Therefore he did much less die with an intent, purpose and desire to redeem and save them.
Ibid., 49–50. Some spelling has been updated.
Quest. You have well shewed that Christ both in respect of his Person and Offices, is an all sufficient Redeemer and Saviour, and is able by the infinite worth of his Mediation to save all men: Now then tell me why all men are not saved?

Answ. Though Christ [in] his ransom and satisfaction is able to save and redeem all that are partakers thereof, even all mankind, if they had grace to receive and apply him and all his merits by Faith, Yet because none have spiritual communion with him, but only they whom God hath chosen to eternal life in him, and predestined to be effectually called, according to his purpose, to the state of grace, and to be made conformable to his image: Therefore many who are not elect, follow their own evil ways, and have no will nor care to repent of their sins, and believe in Christ, but run willfully into destruction and perish.
Ibid., 52–53. Some spelling has been updated.
Quest. Doth the benefit of Christ the Mediator, and Redeemer reach only to the Elect?

Answ. Though the saving virtue of Christ belongeth only to the elect; yet there is a common benefit of Christ, whereof reprobates are partakers, which reacheth also to all the world. For he is said to preserve man and beasts, that is, to keep them in life and being, Psal. 36.6 and to be the Saviour of all, especially of them that believe, 1 Tim. 4.10 and to give himself a ransom for all, 1 Tim. 2.6. and by him all things are said to consist, Coloss. 1.17.
Ibid., 55. Some spelling has been updated.
But yet all this while Redemption both promised & undertaken and also actually performed is the same common ground of the holy weekly Sabbath: And Christ is the same Redeemer to all mankind, and the only mediator and Saviour. Yesterday, and to day, and the same for ever. Heb. 13.8. And the duty of keeping an holy weekly Sabbath is grounded on him throughout all ages, who is the common Saviour, and Redeemer of all mankind. Therefore all men of all ages are bound to this duty, & none exempted from it, in any nation age or generation.
George Walker, The Doctrine of the Sabbath (Printed at Amsterdam: [By Richt Right press], 1638), 103–104. Some spelling has  been updated.
Thirdly, all mankind even the most barbarous and savage nations, as they have their being, and all gifts of nature, from God’s creating hand and power. So they have all these things continued unto them by the mediation of Christ, and by a common and universal virtue of him the Redeemer, they are upheld in life and health and strength in this world: And Christ as Mediator procures all these things to them, after a secondary manner for his elect’s sake, which are either to spring after many ages out of their loins, or to receive benefit of their labors in subduing the earth, making it habitable and fit for his people to dwell in, and so preparing a place for his Church, or the like. In this respect God is called the Saviour of all men, but especially of them that do believe. Of all, in as much as he preserves them in natural life, but of the faithful, fully and perfectly in that he saves them from eternal death, and hell, and brings them to life eternal. And hereupon it is, that all things are said to be and to consist in, and by, and for Christ. Coloss. 1.17. and he is said to be a ransom for all men, that is reaching to all in some measure, manner, and degree, even to infidels to obtain common gifts for them, and to the elect perfectly to redeem them. Now they who partake the benefit of the Christ the blessed seed promised to Adam, they are bound to the duty which God requires in thankfulness for it, and for a continual commemoration thereof. Therefore all mankind even the most barbarous are bound to the duty of keeping an holy sabbath weekly, though they do not know that which binds them to it, and leads them to the performance thereof.
Ibid., 108–109.

Walker does, however, limit the “world” to the elect in John 3:16, 2 Cor. 5:19 and 1 John 2:2:
Sometimes [the ‘world’ is used of] the elect, who are the chief ones of the world, and of mankind, as John 3.16. and 2 Cor. 5.19. and 1 John 2.2. 
George Walker, The History of the Creation as it is Written by Moses in the First and Second Chapters of Genesis (London: Printed for John Barlet, 1641), 22.

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July 19, 2010

Thomas Ford (1598–1674) on the Death of Christ and the Sinner's Self-Condemnation

This Westminster divine wrote the following:
But the chief design of this Discourse being to shew, How inexcusable they are, who have the light of Gospel-truth, but do not walk in it; [I] shall proceed to enquire into the case of these, that turn the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ into wantonness, some way or other receiving it in vain. For these (I say again) do not perish for want of a Remedy, but only for not applying it.

For proof hereof, I appeal to John 3.16, God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him, should not perish. Here's enough said, to shew, That God is not wanting to me, but that they are wanting to themselves. There's provision made such, and so much, as none can perish, but they who refuse to make use of it. Whosoever believeth on him, shall have everlasting life. What can be said or done more on Gods part? What constructions are made of this Scripture are many, I shall not mention, but shall give the sense of Calvin upon it. "The Love of God here testified (saith he) respects Humanum genus, mankind; and a note of universality is added, to invite all promiscously to the partaking of this life, and to cut off all excuse, observe that, from such as believe not. For this purpose (saith he) the word [WORLD] is used, to shew, that though there be nothing in the World worthy of Gods love and favour, yet to shew himself gracious to the whole World, he calls all without exception to the Faith of Christ." Indeed he saith too, "That life eternal is offer'd unto all, so as notwithstanding Faith is not of all." And in this he confesseth, the special grace of God to some particular persons.

Let it also be considered, That the word [WORLD] cannot rationally be taken in any other sense. For in the next Verse, it is meant of the World, whereof some are saved, and some perish, (as Reverend Davenant observes) and that they who perish, perish only because they believe not on the Son of God. I shall not debate, what advantage the coming of Christ into the World brought to such, as make no use, reap no benefit by it. Certainly it states the question beyond all dispute, That as Faith only saves, so Unbelief only condemns, which is all I have to prove. For there's not the least hint of any defect on Gods part, but all the fault is said on man alone, in not believing on the Son of God sent into the World, not to condemn, but to save it. And here let Calvin speak what he thought in this case: Certium quidem e, non omnes ex Christi morte fructum percipere: Sed hoc ideo fit, quia eos impedit sua incredulitas. In Ep. ad Heb. cap. 9. v. 27 [28]. 'Tis only by Infidelity, that all are not partakers of the benefits of Christs death.

Let me now argue a little further, Why do we persuade all men, without exception, to believe on Christ, with a promise of Salvation by him, if they believe? Is it reasonable to do so, if we are not persuaded, there is sufficient provision made, so as nothing is wanting, if there be Faith to receive it? As I take it, we should not perswade men to believe on Christ, by telling them, If they believe, then Christ died for them: Rather, as I suppose, we may safely tell them, That Christ died for them, and thereupon perswade them, to believe on him. We are bound to believe, that the thing is true, before we can believe our share in it. The Object is in order of Nature, before the Action. My believing makes not a thing true; but it is true in it self and therefore I believe it. And this is the method of Scripture, as farr as I know. The Feast was first prepared, and the Guests were invited: All things are ready, come unto the Marriage, Matt. 22.4. The Jews, who are the guests there invited, refus'd to come: But were they not cast utterly off, and put into that condition, wherein they abide unto this day, upon this account, That the Son of God came to his own, and his own received him not? How could they refuse, if there were no provision made for them? Or justly perish only for refusing? I am very willing to believe, That Christ was offer'd for me, before he was offer'd to me; and that if I dye in my sins, it is only for my not receiving Christ offered to me. Sure I am, that Scripture never layeth the death of Sinners, upon the want of a λύτρον, or Price of Redemption; but always upon unbelief, disobedience, neglect of, and setting light by Christ, and the things of Christ. And this is enough to serve my turn, That Scripture never hints any impediment to mens Salvation, more than en evil heart of unbelief. For the intention of God, and Christ, what is that to me, or any man else, seeing it is secret? The revealed things belong to us; and we shall (for certain) be question'd one day only, Why we did not accept Christ, when he was tendered to us? It will not then excuse us, to say, We could not tell, whether we were of those, whom Christ intended to save. Once we have the command of God, to believe on the Son of God; and we have a sure promise, if we believe, to be saved. And this, and nothing else, will be the condemnation of the World, viz. That they disobeyed Gods command, and believed not his promise.

Thus all Gods Messengers have a Warrant to invite all men to believe. But not to invite the Devil, though they had an opportunity to speak with him, as any man may speak to another: Yea, I am bold to think, it would be any mans sin, to promise Salvation to the Devil, upon his believing in Christ. It were indeed a belying the Lord, and saying, He saith, what he hath not said. And it were a deceiving the Devil, in telling him, that which is not so. For the consequence of this Hypothetical [if you believest on the Son of God, thou shalt be saved] is true, as to any man, without exception: But as to the Devil, it is (for ought I know) false in the connexion, as well as in the parts of it; because he is none of those, to whom God hath promis'd Salvation, upon condition of believing on Christ, John 3.16. For the Command of God to believe, and his Promise of Life upon believing, is all the ground-work upon which our Faith is built; and this foundation the Devil hath not, for his warrant and encouragement to believe on the Son of God. For the Son of God took not on him, or took not hold on, or helped not the Angels, Heb. 2.16. but the Seed of Abraham. Where [Abrahams Seed] notes not the Jews only (as all will grant) but the Gentiles also; and that expression is used, to shew, that Christ was the same, that was promis'd to the Fathers; and sets out the benefit of Redemption, as belonging to mankind, but not (if I may so speak) to Devil-kind.

Beside, It is not the Devils Sin, not to believe on Christ, or not to receive him: He hath sins enough besides, both for number and nature; and questionless is a greater sinner, than any man can be; having sinn'd himself out of the greatest happiness (and that in actual possession) that a Creature is capable of, and sinn'd against that Light, which no man on earth can attain unto. But Unbelief is not his sin, because there is no command obliging, nor any promise inviting him to believe on Christ. But Unbelief is the sin of men, yea it is in a manner all sin, as it seals upon a man his other sins, and causeth the wrath of God to abide upon him, John 3.36. Yea, it is the great aggravation of all sins in this respect, that they might have been all pardon'd, on such easie terms, as Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We may now bespeak sinners, as Naamans servants bespake him: If the Prophet had commanded thee some great matter, wouldst thou not have done it, &c. So, if God had not requir'd some great matter of us, for our Salvation, should we not willingly have done it? But 'tis a very easie thing, that he requireth us to do. The Word is nigh us, as the Apostle shews, Rom. 10.8. We have nothing to do, or suffer, for the appeasing of Gods Wrath, or for the satisfying of his Justice, or for purchasing the heavenly inheritance. The Son of God, in our flesh, hath done and suffered all; and we have nothing to do, but to receive him, as he is freely tendred and offer'd to us. The Feast is prepared, without any cost or care of ours; and we are call'd to partake of it, with a sure promise of welcome.

All this while I forget not, what a controversie there is among the Learned, about the extent of Christs death, but I dare not touch with it; and the rather, because it no way concerns me, in the main design of this discourse. I have no controversie, but with the frowardness and willingness of sinners, who are willing to make God the Author, both of their sin, and condemnation; and pretend, That if all men would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, as they are requir'd, they should not however be saved. These are the men I now deal with, and these I desire to try, (whatever is controverted amongst the more Learned) whether this be not a truth, viz. That Christ hath satisfied so farr, as they shall be saved, if they believe: And to these I say, if they dye in their sins, it is not upon the account of Christs not dying for them, but only for their not-believing on him. And for this I appeal to the whole tenor of Scripture, and in particular to John 3.16. where the gift of Christ is common, but the efficacy of it limited to believing. And good cause why, since Christ dyed for none, to save them whether they believe or not.

'Tis neither my design, nor desire, to dispute with any, but with unreasonable and wicked men. And therefore I shall take no notice, to what is commonly said, viz. That Christ dyed in the stead, and sustain'd the persons of all; unto whom the benefit of his Death was intended. Only I say, If a sum be paid, sufficient to redeem so many more poor Captives, provided they shall all their days serve him that is their Redeemer; are they not all redeem'd, thou some should refuse the condition, and choose to be Slaves still? However, this I affirm, The extent of Christs Death is such, and so great as I never read, or heard of any one, that perished in his sin, because Christ had paid [not?] price for his Redemption. For the tenor of the Gospel, I gave it before, and I have never learnt any other, than, That he that believeth shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned. Let others dispute, for whom Christ dyed, (I cannot hinder them) I am sure Christ never suffered or satisfied for any, so as they shall have the saving benefits of his death, without laying hold on him by a lively Faith. And I shall be as sure, on the other side, That whosoever shall believe on the Lord Jesus, with all his heart, he shall be saved by him. And this I take to be sound Doctrine, that may be safely preached to all, and every one, without exception, viz. Thou, O man, whoever thou art, Christ dyed for thee; and if thou believe on him, with all thine heart, as God hath commanded thee, thou shalt be saved. In this we preach the tenor of the Gospel, as you have it before; and he that thus preacheth Christ, will give little encouragement to sinners, except to repent, and turn to God; and so all sinners should by all means be encouraged. But here is no encouragement to impenitency, or unbelief, because there's no promise of any benefit by Christs death, but only to true believers, and penitents. This then I resolve, That if I, or any other, dye in our sins, it is only, because we believe not on the Son of God. For of a truth, I know not how to clear and justifie God, (as I desire to do) if any thing done, or not done on his part, be it, that shuts us out from having eternal Life. I am (I confess) altogether for this, That a wicked, proud, filthy, evil heart of unbelief, and nothing else, stands in the way of mens Salvation; and if that be once taken away, there will be no other hinderance. I have such thoughts of God, as I cannot think, be he hath done his part, so as nothing will be wanting, if we are but heartily willing to do ours.

I could indeed say (what is sufficient in this case) That no man knows, or can know, (supposing Christs death to be so confin'd, as some will have it) Whether he be one of those, for whom Christ dyed not. And therefore if it were an adventure, a man had better run the hazard, than do worse, by willful shipwrecking himself, through final impenitency and unbelief. As a man (one would think) should not refuse to cast the Dice for his Life, though he knew for certain, that some or other must dye; and he cannot be sure, that he shall not be one of them Only (I say still) there's no hazard in believing on Christ.

But in this I desire to be resolv'd, Whether he that believes not on Christ offered in the Gospel, doth not refuse a fair offer of somewhat that he might have had, if he had believed? This is no Position, but only a Quære. If it be answered, That Unbelievers are damn'd for not obeying Gods Command, and for not believing his Promise, I grant, it is so, and their condemnation, upon that account, is most just. Only give me leave to think still, That such refuse, what they might have receiv'd, and so are guilty, as they were, who made light of the invitation, Mat. 22.5. and went their ways. They might have shar'd in the wedding Feast, as well as others, if they would have come. And therefore I wish all, whom it may concern, to be very wary, that poor ignorant Souls, who are too much bent, and set upon undoing themselves, may have no occasion given them of so doing. For what danger can there be, in saying indifferently, what Scripture saith often in terminus, and so pressing all to believe on him? Herein they will remove a stumbling-block which otherwise many will set up, to cast themselves down. But there is no occasion of stumbling, unless they preach and teach, what they never learn'd from Scripture, viz. That Christ gave himself a ransome for all, live as they list, and do as they please, their Redemption is purchas'd and they are sure to be saved however. This indeed would be a false Doctrine, with a witness, yea, and a vengeance too upon many. But no poor Souls will ever complain of their Ministers, for telling them the good news of Christs dying for them, so long as they tell them withall, How the Death of Christ will be effectual to them, and not otherwise, viz. by a sound, and a working Faith.

For the Question about absolute and conditional Redemption, I am not wholly ignorant of it: But I still resolve to wave all controversies of that nature, and only reason the case with poor Souls, that they may not cast themselves away in their perverse disputings, about they know not what; and in their wilfull neglecting of that Salvation, which they are sure to obtain, in a way of believing, and obeying God, and not otherwise. To these I say again, that which is the Word of God, who cannot lye: Let them repent of their unlawful deeds, deny all ungodliness, and worldly lusts, lead sober, and righteous, and godly lives; and therein give a sure evidence and proof of their reall closing with, and accepting of Christ by Faith, that they shall be as certainly saved, as any that are not in Heaven. For this is indeed Gospel, and this is the Word of Grace, as they may easily read, if they will but open their Bibles. But they may turn over their Bibles long enough, or ever they find any Text to this purpose, That Christ dyed to save them, though they never believe. Paul and Silas told the Jaylor, Act. 16.31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. They never scrupled, Whether he were one of them, for whom Christ dyed; but preached to him the Gospel, as they had received it of the Lord: And he doing, as he was commanded, had forthwith as much as he desired, or needed.

Before I close up this, I shall add one thing more. Is there any man alive, of whom any other can, or dare say, This is one of them, for whom Christ dyed not? If there be not, then make no difference, where thou knowest none; but be wise according to that which is written. This we may all safely resolve upon, We shall never suffer at Gods hand, for our ignorance, or neglect of any thing, that God hath not revealed in his Word. The things that are revealed, belong unto us, &c. These we are to believe, and obey, and so live. And if there be any man excepted in the Act of Pardon, except Unbelievers, and that only for their unbelief, it is more than I ever read of, or could learn by reading the Bible.
Thomas Ford, Autokatakritos, or, The Sinner Condemned of Himself (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold by Giles Widowes, at the Maiden-head, over against the Half-Moon, in Aldersgate-street, near Jewen-street, 1668), 46–56.

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July 8, 2010

Robert Jenison (c.1584–1652) on the Death of Christ and God's Will

4. Christ is made Redemption, but is that of all? no.―Thou wast slaine and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and Nation. Revel. 5.9. Not all nations, but some out of all, according to that of Paul, explaining whom hee meanes by Vessels of mercy, which God had afore prepared unto Glory, even us (saith he) whom hee hath called, not of the Jewes onely, but of the Gentiles: he saith not all us Jews, or all us Gentiles, but us of the Jewes and Gentiles.

Objection. This is against the doctrine of our Church, which tells us that the offering of Christ made upon the crosse, is a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. I answer, no: The Church indeed useth the phrase of Scripture, but not against the sense of Scripture, whose meaning therefore is the same with that of the Scripture; for our Church doth tell us, that (as it is not lawfull for the Church to ordaine any thing that is contrary to Gods Word, so, neither) may it so expound one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another. Therefore our Church useth not the Scripture phrase so as to bee repugnant to those other places named, or yet to itselfe which (besides much more that might bee said) in the 17. article, tells us, That God hath decreed by his Councell secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind. So that, seeing to deliver from curse and damnation is the effect of Christs death according to the everlasting purpose of God. Therefore Christ hath not redeemed all mankind, so as to deliver them from curse and damnation, seeing his everlasting purpose and constant decree was to deliver from curse & damnation, not all Mankind, but those whom hee hath chosen in Christ out of mankind. Redemption, in Gods purpose and intention, reacheth not beyond the decree.

Our Church then doth not deny universal redemption: for we truly say with it and with Scripture, Christ died for all. Yet it denies that equall and universall Application of this redemption, whose event is suspended, & hangs either on the libertie of mans will, or on any condition in man (which God will not work.) We deny not, but say that Christ paid a price for all, but such as is to bee applied to each by the meanes of faith, which is not of all, and not by the very act or fact of his oblation, so that, faith being presupposed, & comming betweene, all and each are capable of salvation, and they are such as, beleeving, shall be saved.

Objection. But doth not the Scripture invite all, and make promises to all, and that truly, not fainedly? Math. 11.28. 1 Tim. 2.4. Rom. 11.32:

I answer, there is none but may truly and seriously be invited to partake of the pardon of sinne and of life by Christs death, upon the condition of Faith. Bee it knowne unto you, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sinnes, And by him all that beleeve are justified &c. And elsewhere, To him give all the prophets witnesse, that through his name, whosoever beleeveth in him, shall receive remission of sinnes. Now this is grounded on the merit of Christs death: wee being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousnesse for the remission of sins &c.

In this regard and upon this ground, if I were among the Barbarous heathen, among Jewes, Turks and Infidells, I (if I could speake to be understood of them) would first endeavour to let them know Christ and his benefits, and then I would seriously invite them all to beleeve on him, yea and would assuredly in Christs name, promise unto all true penitents and beleevers among them, pardon of sinne and life eternall, having (though I be no Apostle) warrant for the same from our Saviour himselfe, saying, Go yee into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, hee that beleeveth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that beleeveth not shall bee damned. And I would ground such exhortations and promises upon the merits of Christs death, the fruit whereof doth actually belong to such onely as beleeve, as is said: So Gods word doth teach us, whose will (as wee see in his word) doth immutably tye and conjoyne together repentance and pardon, faith and salvation, and contrariwise. It excludes from pardon the impenitent, and from salvation the unbeleever, upon which ground I say, if Pharaoh obey and beleeve, he shall be saved: If the Ninevites beleeve they shall not perish. There's no falshood nor mockery here, seeing the promise is conditionall.

And though it be said by some, that God inviting all, such is his heart inwardly as he hath manifested himselfe outwardly, and that he beares the same mind to us, which hee shewed to us in his sonne Christ, who is the image as of his essence, so of his will, and that wee must not thinke he shewes himself kind outwardly, and yet inwardly hates us.

I answer, Men must not be too bold to inferre that God should equivocate and deale hypocritically with men, whilest hee invites and calls them to that whereunto hee effectually works not. Though Jesuiticall equivocations and Reservations doe falsify and destroy the Proposition uttered, yet Gods secret decrees never destroy or falsify his will revealed; seeing as is said, Gods will in his word doth connexe and tye together the end and the meanes, repentance and pardon, faith and salvation, life (eternall) and Godlinesse, glory and vertue (Both wuch and all things pertaining to both, his divine power doth give unto us.) Neither is the truth of this connexe by any decree of God, or sinne of man broken.

And as for Gods will, whereof Christ is both the Image and the interpreter, we may see it declared by himselfe, in these words. First, saith hee, All that the Father giveth mee, shall come to mee: and him that commeth to mee, I will in no wise cast out; then hee ads immediately, for I came down from heaven, not to doe mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up againe at the Last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Sonne and beleeveth on him may have everlasting life. Lo, Gods will in Christ is not to save any but such as beleeve (I speake not know of infants) & all such he will save; God then wills mens salvation in willing their faith and Repentance: and so he wills not (yea and sweares hee wills not, or hath no pleasure in) the death of the wicked, in that hee wills not their sinne and impenitency: Therefore its said, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turne from his way and live: (thats it especially which God hath pleasure in.) Therefore it is added, Turne ye, turne yee from your evill wayes, for why will yee die O house of Israel? as if he had said, if ye will not turn, yee must assuredly dye: I have inseparably conjoyned these two together, impenitency (persisted in) and death. The truth is, in that place of Ezekiel, The people conceiving that evills did befall them not for their owne, but for their parents sinnes, saying The Fathers have eaten soure grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edg, the Lord there Ezek. 18. Where this same doctrine and point is handied, sweares that―the soule which sinneth shall dye (whether the soule of the Father or of the sonne) and then the sonne shall not beare the iniquitie of the Father―but if the wicked will turne from all his sinnes―hee shall surely live, and not die. And then it followes, have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should dye? and not that hee should return from his wayes and live? cast away from you all your transgressions--for why will ye die, O house of Israell.

God therefore answering their objection, who thought themselves punished for their parents sins, denies the same, and tells them it is for their owne sinnes; and whereas they thus spake, if our transgressions and our sinnes bee upon us, and we pine away in them, how should wee then live? The answer in effect is, by repentance; unto which God accordingly exhorts them, saying and swearing, as I live, I have no pleasure &c. as formerly; so he sweares, he had rather they should repent and live (seeing these two are inseparable, and without repentance, no life) then persist in impenitency (whilest they shuffled off their sinnes to their Fathers) and so perish: (which two also are inseparable:) so that if they persist in impenitency, his will then is they shall perish. God doth truly will the death of impenitent sinners, who will deny it? and when he wills not their death, it is as much as if hee had said hee will not their sinne and impenitency: but if they would goe on in sinne, hee must and did will their death. Therefore he saith, turne ye, turne yee, why will ye dye? i. Why will ye run upon your owne death? and yet hee assures them by oath they dyed not but for their sinne, though they thought otherwise.

So, on the other hand, God wills mens salvatiō, in willing their faith and repentance, & so he wills that all men should be saved; and so wills the salvation even of such as perish; but how? first by approving it if it were done, but not by decreeing the extent, not yet so as to worke it by speciall and effectuall grace. The obedience and faith, suppose of Pharaoh, had beene a thing pleasing to God: but it was not a thing to bee given by God from Gods decree. But for those that are saved hee so wills their salvation that hee decrees the same, and according to his decree, infallibly produceth that same, according to that of Christ, All that the father giveth me, shall come unto me, and of God, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, Therefore with loving kindnesse have I drawne thee. The one is according to his will revealed, his signifying will, the other according to his secret will, or the will of his good pleasure; which ancient distinction of the shooles must not bee so sleighted, or so easily cryed downe; and our Church doth hold it, whilest in the 17. Article it useth first these words, hee hath constantly decreed by his Counsell secret to us: and these againe in the end of that article, In our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God. So that it would not impertinently be thought on what God wills by the will of his precept, and what hee wills by the will of his decree: what Gods will is to mee concerning that hee would have me doe, and what he wills with himselfe in his owne secret Counsell; what hee wills at my hand as my duty, what hee will bestow upon me freely as a blessing. God seriously wills me to doe my duty, and shewes me what would bee acceptable to him, as namely to pray for all men; and to make no exception of any, but to further, every mans salvation: but, saith Austen [Augustine], if the Church were certaine who (in particular) were predestined to goe into everlasting fire with the devill, It would as little pray for them (though yet living on earth) as it doth for him.

2. God so farre wills the salvation of all, that hee seriously exhorts sinners to repent, and accordingly in his Gospell gives them so much grace, knowledge and good motions and so far enables them thereunto, that there is a true fault in them that repent not; that is, there is either contempt or neglect of the Gospell, and so indeed, besides their other sinnes, a new fault against the Gospell, whence their condemnation becomes the greater, and the condition of such as never heard of Christ more tolerable at the day of judgement then theirs. Therefore (besides that God gave men power sufficient in Adam to doe what he requires and that men have disabled themselves to doe that which hee otherwise hath right to require) I say God, upon the forenamed ground, may seriously invite all, exhort all, & require of them that, which hee gives them so much grace to performe, that it is out of their owne deficiency if they performe it not: & withall may punish them justly for not doing it their perishing is of themselves: Man is never punished but for his owne sinne. Onely God gives not that powerfull grace to them (as hee is not bound) by which (as depending on his election) infallibly they might convert.

Here is then the mystery: Though God invite all, and promise life to all upon the condition of faith, and that promise be grounded, as is granted, upon the merits of Christs death, yet the fruit of Christs death doth actually belong only to such as beleeve. The price paid for all, and which shall certainely bee to the salvation of beleevers, yet profits not all, because faith is not given to all (as not the meanes of faith) but to the Elect onely.

We therefore preach and teach that Christ dyed for all, so as that all and each, may by the vertue of Christs death, through faith (the Gospell once comming to them) may I say obtaine remission of sin and life; and so Christs death hath purchased a possibility of salvation for all men, if all men can beleeve.

But wee say againe that Christ so dyed for the Elect that, by vertue of the merit of his death (which was specially intended for them according to Gods eternall decree) they not onely might, but should infallibly attaine faith here, and obtaine life eternall hereafter, and that without any co[m]pulsion of their wills.

Hence it comes to passe (though the particularitie of Gods promises be objected as an odious doctrine and comfortlesse) that the promises of the Gospell are of two sorts. 1 Conditionall, and of the end which is salvation, requiring faith and repentance; and so Gods promises are generall, and hee seriously invites all, and mocks none who performe the condition. 2. Absolute, and of the Meanes: whereby, as he absolutely, (and without condition required of us) promised Christ himselfe, Gen. 3.15. so also both the outward, and also inward effectual Meanes, as the working of faith, writing his Lawes in our hearts, putting his feare in our hearts that wee depart not from him, &c.

Which, as they depend not on any condition in man, but only on Gods free, absolute and immutable decree, so doe they particularly and specially belong to the Elect, and not to all. Let any shew me a promise in Scripture whereby God hath promised to give faith universally to all without exception. But who these in particular are, the effects of Gods eternall love, manifested in time on and in them, doe and will shew and declare.
Robert Jenison, Two treatises: the first concerning Gods Certaine performance of his conditional Promises, as touching the Elect, or, A Treatise of Gods most free and powerfull grace. Lately published without the Authours privitie, and printed corruptly, by the name and title of Solid Comfort for Sound Christians. The second, Concerning the extent of Christ's death and love, now added to the former. With an Additionall thereunto. (London: Printed by E. G. for L. Blaikelocke at his shop at the Sugar-Loafe next Temple-Bar in Fleete-streete, 1642), 213–235.

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Men of Mark
In his 1625 preface to Jenison's book [The Christian's Apparelling by Christ (London: 1625), xii], [Richard] Sibbes referred to Jenison as a "godly Minister, whom for his soundnesse in Judgement, faithfulnesse in friendship, painfulnesse in his calling, & integrity of his life, I have much esteemed ever since our first acquaintance in the Universitie.
Quoted in Mark E. Dever, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2000), 54.