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.