June 28, 2010

Richard Vines (1600?–1656) on God's Drawing and Christ's Atonement

That as God sends Christ to us, so he must draw us also to him, or else there can be no salvation: and this may be thus proved. Those that come not to Christ, cannot be saved by him; those of the world that are not drawn by this drawing of the Father, do not come to Christ: therefore they are not saved: The service that this Inference doth, is, this will beat down the thoughts of many thousands that rest in this empty plea: God hath sent Christ to die, and to redeem mankind; it is well, and the plea is good for encouragement to believe; but if this be all the consolation, if this be all you rest upon, Gods act in sending Christ, you are much mistaken; for the great question is, Hath God drawn thee to Christ? Thou pleadest Christs mission: but Canst thou make Gods traction of thee to appear? This is the great point that this doctrine preaches: as if Christ should say, It is true, My Father hath sent me, and I am come to you by his appointment, to shed my blood for you; but you must come to me if you will have life; and come to me you cannot, except you be drawn by the power of him that sent me; for no man can come to me except the Father draw him.

Whether of the two be most necessary to salvation; Gods mission of Christ, or Gods traction of man to Christ, is as I conceive, a trivial question, hardly coming into the Schools, which will tye a knot in any rush; for they are both equally necessary: as the Serpent on the pole in view to be lookt upon, and the eye to see it were both necessary for the recovery of them that were bitten by fiery Serpents: except God send Christ, there is no object of Faith: except God draw you to Christ, there is no act of Faith: And the necessity of the object and of the act, cannot without fondness be compared together; for both are in their kind necessary in the highest degree: the mercy and the grace of God are eminent in both: the Father his sending Christ, and the Fathers drawing of sinners unto Christ, they are both necessary. But yet this sending, and this drawing, are of distinct consideration in divers respects.

First, God sending Christ, sets up to sinful man the object of his faith. For though all the Scripture be the object of that they call the Catholick faith; yet peculiarly, Christ in the Scripture is the kernel and marrow of all the types in the Old Testament: Christ is the object of Faith whereby it justifies: For though the eye that lookt to the brazen Serpent, could see many things besides; yet they could have no cure by the sight of any thing but that; this sets up to man the object of his Faith; Gods drawing, works in man the act of Faith: if Christ had not been sent, there had been no object to be believed on: If God should not draw sinners to him, there would be no faith to believe by: So that it would be as with Israel, if there were either no Serpent on the pole to be lookt unto, or no eye to look up to it, the recovery of those bitten with the fiery Serpents would fail.

Secondly, Gods sending of Christ was in pursuance of his Covenant made with our Mediator: Gods drawing unto Christ, is in pursuance of his Covenant made with sinners in the Mediator. That there is a Covenant of God the Father with Christ Jesus, seems very probable: because there was a Covenant made with the first Adam; therefore also with the second: And this is intimated by Christ himself, in these words, John 17.4. I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do. And in those, Heb. 10.9. Lo I come to do thy will O God. For there is that we call the Law, imposed upon our Mediator, that is the Covenant made with Christ. And Arminius in his Orations De Sacerdotio Christi, confesses this Covenant made with Christ, is very well expresst in these words, Isa. 53.10 When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin; therefore his soul was to be an offering: And the promise of the Covenant with Christ, that he should see his seed: this Covenant of God with the Mediator, what he should perform as Mediator, is pursued and brought to effect by God his sending of his Son: But the Covenant made with sinners in a Mediator, it is this, If you believe in, and come to this Lord Jesus whom he hath sent, you shall be saved: And this part of the Covenant is brought to effect and pursued by Gods drawing us to come to Christ: The want of making distinction between the Covenant with the Mediator, what he shall do, he shall make his soul an offering for sin: And what he shall have, he shall see his seed, he shall divide the spoil, take the captive out of the hands of the Devil: and between the Covenant with the sinner; where there are the same two respects; what he shall do, he shall come unto and believe in the Lord Jesus; and what he shall have, he shall be justified, saved, and recovered out of the hands of hell and damnation: How shall man be able to do this? saith God, I will draw him, for else he cannot come; for, No man can come to me except my Father draw him. I say, the not distinguishing of these two, breeds great confusion in the apprehensions of men about the Covenant.

Thirdly, Gods sending Christ, puts a difference between mankind and the Angels that sinned: But Gods drawing of man unto Christ, puts a difference between the elect and others. The speculation of which point, is of delightful and pleasant consideration. By sending Christ, he puts a difference between mankind, faln and lapsed, and the Angels that fell; there was no cord let down from heaven to them, to draw them out of the pit into which they were faln. By drawing unto Christ, he puts a difference between those that God will save, and those that he will not save; As many as were ordained to eternal life believed, Acts 13.48. To the Angels that sinned, Christ is not sent; there you see the love of God to mankind: And they that are not ordained to eternal life, are not drawn; that makes a distinction of men.

Fourthly, God in sending Christ doth not look at mans faith as antecedent, or required of man before God sends him: But Gods drawing man to Christ, works that faith whereby man is saved. Gods sending Christ, doth not look to faith at all, because Christ is sent to man yet resting in his unbelief; but that faith that is required to salvation, is wrought by Gods drawing, whereby he moulds the heart of man to Christ; as by a familiar comparison may be instanced: The eye looking up, was not required to the setting up of the Serpent upon the pole: by Gods command it was set up, whether any man was stung or no; but looking up was required to the recovery of the person stung.

Fifthly, If God should have sent Christ, and required it of mans power, or left it to mans power, to come in and to receive him, there would not have been a man, as I conceive, saved. And his sending, which is Gods act, would have faln short of its effect, without Gods drawing; because there would not have been faith found to have received and believed in him; for No man can, &c. and so Christs Kingdom had not been set up and built; there had no members been planted into this head. But the gift of Christ to and for men, being seconded by a power of bringing men in to Christ, gives effect and success; and therefore you shall find in the Gospel alwayes, Gods giving of Christ to man, is seconded by the giving of the Spirit; that as we are redeemed, reconciled, and justified by Christs merit and blood; so we must also be enlightened, regenerate and sanctified by Gods Spirit; the one of these accompanies the other: And this power of the Spirit doth so certainly go along with Christs merit, as the the salvation of any man, that it is said, Have one, have both. For he that hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of his, Rom. 8.9. Because though Christ be sent by the mission of God, yet without this Spirit there is no drawing, no traction of man to be a partaker of Christ, as we have some adumbration or shadow. In Israel they are delivered from the destroying Angel by blood sprinkled on the door posts: And from the Egyptian slavery by a mighty hand; shewing these two works in the delivery of man out of the slavery under which he lay: there is the work of Redemption, by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon him: and he must march out, be drawn out of sin by an out-stretched arm and mighty hand: these two must go together.

Sixthly, There is a general encouragement: you may call it Comfort, that arises to us from Gods sending Christ. For where there is no hope, there is no motion; where there is no encouragement to believe, there a man hath little heart: From Gods sending Christ to save you, there is encouragement; but the present Comfort, the special Consolation of a mans salvation, arises from the second particular of the two, that God hath drawn man to Christ Jesus; there is, I say, an encouragement that God hath sent Christ; that is, there is a salvability; men are made saveable from the curse and condemnation of the Law, under which they are involved: But the special comfort that they have to themselves in particular, must arise from this, that God hath drawn, and by converting grace, made them to believe in Christ: For this faith, this drawing of man to Christ, is both a pledge of salvation for the future, and a token of his election before-hand. And that which as it were doth couple both the poles together, the election of God, and the salvation of man; the one as a pledge because future; the other as a mark, or sign, because past; this is a comfortable point indeed. But certainly the point of sending Christ to make atonement for all, or of universal redemption, (let it be supposed) doth neither speak salvation nor election to any one in particular more then another; and therefore such silly souls, whether they be drawn by others, or through their own ignorance of the point, are mistaken and deceived, that do build the comfort of their salvation upon that, that God hath sent Christ for an encouragement to believe, & therefore they shall be saved; they do but build Castles in the air, that must be in the faith, and Christ must be in you, except you be reprobates, 2 Cor. 13.5. It is this drawing you to come to Christ that strikes the stroak; this teaching of God which teaches you to believe, that gives you the particular assurance of salvation. And therefore though God have sent Christ, yet there are thousands of reprobate and rejected persons in the world. It is Christ in you, and you in him by Faith, that strikes the stroak.

Seventhly, The point of Gods sending Christ affords sweet meditation; but the sense of Gods drawing they soul unto Christ, affords sweet consolation. In the one thou mayst see the love of God to the world; for God so loved the world, John 3.16. By the other thou mayst see his special love to thee; concerning which you find it written by the Apostle, Gal. 2.20. He loved me, and gave himself for me: No man can say this word me, until he be drawn unto Christ...
Richard Vines, God's Drawing and Man's Coming to Christ (London: Printed for Abel Roper, at the Sun against St. Dunstans Church in Fleet-street, 1662), 187–191.

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June 23, 2010

Henry Hickman (bap.1629–d.1692) Responds to Pierce on Universal Redemption

Obj. The Church of England is for universall redemption; the Calvinists that are Antiarminian are against it.

Answ. Mr. P. [Pierce] indeed is hugely confident that if we grant him universall redemption the cause is yeelded to him: But I am allmost as confident, that to grant him universall redemption is to grant him just nothing at all; for what though Christ did so far die for all as to procure a salvation for all, upon the conditions of faith and repentance, what's this to the absolutenesse of Gods decrees, or to the insuperability of converting grace, or to the certaine infallible perseverance of Gods elect after conversion. King James understood these controversies far better than either Mr P. or I. and yet he even at that very time when he sent his Divines to the Synod of Dort, to determine against the Arminianisme that was then growing in the Low Countries, gave it them in charge not to deny that Christ dyed for all, as I my self was told by Bishop Usher, the first time I had the happinesse to have any personall discourse with him; who also further then told me, that he gave in his own judgement to Dr Davenant for universall redemption, but with all added, that there were a certaine number upon whom God absolutely purposed to bestow his Spirit, taking away the heart of stone, and giving them an heart of flesh... Dr P. H. a bird of the same feather [with Pierce], who also took his flight from the Angel in Ivy-lane, will needs have Bishop Usher to differ from the Church of England in the point of universal redemption; mark his proofe. p.102. Of his Respondet Petrus. The Church of England doth maintaine an universal Redemption of all mankind, by the death & sufferings of our Saviour. Well, and so doth the deceased Primate, p.103. We think not that all mankind is so perfectly reconciled to Almighty God, as to be really and actually discharged from all their sinnes, before they believe, but that they are so far reconciled unto him, as to be capable of the remission of their sins, in case they doe not want that faith in their common Saviour which is required thereunto. Well, and so thought the Primate too.
Henry Hickman, “Preface to the Reader,” in Patro-scholastiko-dikaiōsis, or A Justification of the Fathers and Schoolmen (Oxford: Printed by A. Litchfield, for Joh. Adams, and Edw. Forrest, 1659), C1ʳ–C3ʳ.

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June 22, 2010

Thomas Doolittle (1630–1707) Pleading with Sinners

Poor Sinner! Will the Devil save thee? Christ would. Will he help thee into the favour of God, or up to Heaven? Tell me, what dost thou in thy Conscience think, doth Christ or the Devil most desire thy real good? Did the Devil suffer for thee? Christ did. Did the Devil dye for thee? Christ hath. Hath the Devil any love unto thee? Christ had so much as to shed his Blood, that if thou wilt hearken to him, thou mightest be saved by him. Why then, when Christ, the World and Satan, are striving for thy heart and love, dost thou open to the World and Satan, and shut it against the Lord Jesus Christ?
Thomas Doolittle, Love to Christ, Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming (London: Printed for Tho. Cockerill, at the Three Legs in the Poultrey, over against the Stocks-Market, 1692), 113–114.

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Some biographical facts:

1. Converted by the preaching of Baxter.
2. Called Baxter his "father in Christ."
3. Baxter encouraged Doolittle to enter the ministry.
4. Doolittle was tutored by William Moses, an ejected minister.
5. He received Presbyterian ordination.
6. He was ejected for Nonconformity in 1662.
7. Thomas Vincent was his assistant.
8. Matthew Henry and Edmund Calamy (and many others) were among his pupils.
9. Buried in Bunhill Fields.
10. He was the last of the ejected London clergy to die.

This information is in Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 180–183.

Hugh Knox (c.1733–1790) on Moral and Natural Inability

The distinction between natural and moral inability, I have ever thought an important and useful one, when well stated and explained. My worthy and excellent friend president Burr was the first who ever gave me an idea of this distinction. He did it in three sermons preached from Joshua xxiv. 19. "Ye cannot serve the LORD; for he is an holy GOD," &c. He acknowledged they were the substance of Mr. Edwards' book relative to that subject, and expressed a pretty strong desire of having them printed, as some of the most useful and important he had ever preached. All the world I suppose are agreed in the idea of natural inability; and were I to define moral inability, it would be in terms like these; "A natural and contracted disinclination or aversion to the exercises of piety and moral virtue, which becomes faulty and criminal by our resisting motives which would have overcome it, and wilfully neglected to apply to GOD, thro' the REDEEMER, by prayer and the other instrumental duties of religion, for those influences of his HOLY SPIRIT (freely offered to all who seek him) by which it would have been totally subdued, and our volitions and actions engaged on the side of piety and moral rectitude.
Hugh Knox, A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Jacob Green, of New Jersey, Pointing out some DIFFICULTIES in the CALVINISTICK Scheme of Divinity, respecting FREE WILL, DIVINE DECREES, PARTICULAR REDEMPTION, &c. and requesting a SOLUTION of them (London: printed for G. Keith, J. Johnson, E. Englefield: and sold by J. Gore, in Liverpool; P. Broster, in Chester; W. Pine, in Bristol; Newton, Clarke, and Harrop, in Manchester; and the princip alsic booksellers in Leeds, 1770), 39.

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June 20, 2010

Paul Hobson (d.1666) Affirming Christ's Death for Every Man

As you read the following, keep in mind that Hobson was a leading London Particular Baptist and evangelist, who signed the 1644 and 1646 Confessions. Thomas Gower wrote a preface to this book.

So now to my Affirmation, which is, that Christ died for every man, but not for all alike.

First, that he died for every man, for the proof of that see 1 Tim. 4.10. he is the Saviour of every man, but especially, so there is a common salvation by Christ intended to all. This truth is also made good in 2 Pet. 2.1. where he declares some men to be men of destruction, and tells them that they had denied the Lord that bought them; so that wicked men and men of destruction were comprehended in the purchase of Christ, further see Heb. 2.9.

Now I shall shew you what I do intend in it, and my Grounds for it, besides what already hath been said, consider, all men were comprehended in Adam, according to Scripture, Rom. 5.12. And what God speaks as to blessing and cursing, when he speaks to Adam, Gen. 2.17. saying, In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death; now Adam when he eat fell, all men fell in him and came under this curse, according to these Scriptures Rom. 5.12,15,17. 1 Cor. 15.21, 22.

Now what the Lord saith must be true and exactly performed, which was in the very day when he eat, he must die, which word [death] doth comprehend death, in every sense. Now had not Jesus Christ been brought forth by the Lord to step between the pronunciation of the curse and the act meriting, and the execution of the curse, man must immediately have died, or else God had not been exact in his Word, but we know he is: Now Christ was brought forth to bear the wrath of the Lord, and the satisfaction of his Justice, in that great breach and gap that man had made, and so Christ was the Saviour of every man from the execution of that curse, and they have some time to live here in the world, or else their destruction had been in their conception, either of all or so many as Christ did not undertake for, for Gods Word is exactly true in all things. So that in the first sense, Christ is the Saviour of all men from the execution of that curse, at which time, and in which purchase, the world is no longer Gods upon the old account; but as it is the inheritance of Jesus Christ, according to Psal 1.8. Heb. 1.5,6. Matt. 22.3,8. applied to the 42. where God hath given the utmost part of the earth and Nations of the Heathen to Christ for his portion: so it comes to pass that mercy is extended according to these Scriptures both to the just and unjust, Matth. 5.45: Psalm 145.9. Eccles. 9.2. Psalm 36.6.

Secondly, Christ by his Death doth not only free the Creature from the immediate execution of that curse, but he hath also taken them from under the dreadfull killing power of that state which man was in when he fell, which was to lie under the fire and killing appearances of God, in that killing Law, nothing standing between God as fire, and they as stubble, but he hath brought them into a state and under the authority of himself, wherein there is a cessation from that fiery appearance of God, and they are now under the tender of life and salvation by Jesus Christ, according to these Scriptures Matth. 13.38. chap. 24.14. chap. 26.13. Mark 10. ch. 14.9. chap. 16.15. Rom. 10.18. Col. 1.6. And this is to be done for the gathering out the chosen of God from the world, till Christ hath brought his Enemies under his feet, and then resign up the Kingdom to his Father, and God become all in all, 1 Cor. 15.24,25.

Besides the Scriptures which I have brought, which are sufficient to prove what I affirmed, yet for your further satisfaction minde my Reasons, to prove that every one hath the benefit of Christ's Death in those two things before exprest.

The first Particular.

First Reason, that which was included in the curse must needs be in the immediate execution prevented by Christ. But the immediate execution of a temporal death, must needs be included in the curse, therefore,

The Major is not questionable, the Minor Proposition is proved by this Reason.

Reason. That which was a fruit of sin must be comprehended in the curse, but a natural death is a fruit of sin, therefore

The Major Proposition none will deny, the Minor is proved from these Scriptures, 1 Cor. 15.21,56. 2 Kings 14.6. 2 Chron. 25.4. Job 24.19. Rom. 6.23. ch. 8.10. Besides these Scriptures I prove the Minor Proposition thus:

Reason. If any thing that is a part of a temporal death be a fruit of sin, then is the whole; but afflictions and pains in men and women, which is a part of a temporal death is a fruit of sin, therefore,

None can deny the Major, the Minor is proved from these Scriptures, Gen. 3.16. 1 Kings 8.33,35. Psal. 38.3. Jer. 8.14. Isai 3.10. Jer. 50.7.

Now as the freedom from any thing of this temporal misery is a fruit of Christ, so what comes instead of that, as the enjoyment of life with other mercies of this world, with the Sun shining and the Rain falling upon the just and unjust must needs be a fruit of Christ which extends to all, Matth. 5.45. Eccles. 9.2. Psalm 145.9. & 36.6.

Now my Reasons to prove this second thing, to wit, that all men are by Christ brought, under the authority and power of Christ, and discoveries of Life by him, are these:

Reason. First, that which the Scriptures declares to be a truth we must believe, but that all men in that state are under the power and authority of Christ, and discoveries of Life by him, the Scriptures declare; therefore a Truth.

The Major Proposition none can deny, the Minor is proved from these Scriptures, Matth. 28.18. John 17.2. Mark 2.10. Luke 5.24. Ephes. 1.19.

Secondly, if mens sins be aggravated by the abuse of the mercies they enjoy, in being under the authority and discoveries of Christ, then to be under the authority and discoveries of Christ must needs be a benefit; but mens sins are aggravated by their abusing of mercies that they enjoy under the authority and discoveries of Christ; therefore,

The Major is proved by this Reason.

Reason. Sin is never aggravated, but either by the extent of a Law, or discoveries of Love; and if sin be aggravated, as before exprest, then it must be either by by the extent of the Law, or discoveries of mercy; and if either it discovers the truth of the Major, to wit, that they are under the authority and discoveries of Christ, by whom now all Law and Love is handed out to poor creatures, they being all under his power: the Minor Proposition is proved from these Scriptures, John 15.22,24. Matth. 11.21,22,23.
Paul Hobson, Fourteen Queries and Ten Absurdities About the Extent of Christ's Death, the Power of the Creatures, the Justice of God in Condemning Some, and Saving Others, Presented by a Free-willer to the Church of Christ at Newcastle, and Answered by Paul Hobson a Member of Said Church (London: Printed by Henry HIlls for William Hutchison Book-seller in Durham, 1655), 6–14.
Christ tasted death for every man, and to deny it is heresie...
Ibid., 101.

Edward Pearse (1633?-1674?) on Christ's Offers of Grace and Loving Invitations

"4. A change from the offers of Grace, to the Revelations of Wrath: Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave, or they faithfulness in destruction (saith the Psalmist) in that 88 Psal. 11. True in the 1 Pet. 3.19, 20. we read of Christ's preaching by his Spirit to the Spirits in Prison, that is, to Souls in Hell: But mark, when was it that he preach'd to them? not when in prison, but in the days of Noah, when they lived in the world. There is never an offer of grace and love made to souls in the Grave; while life lasts, the soul hears the joyful sound: And O the sweet offers, the gracious tenders, the loving invitations, that are made to him of Christ, of Grace, of Eternal Life and Love! O the wooings, the meltings, the entreatings, the allurings of Divine Love to and over the soul! but when death comes, farewell all these, farewell all the sweet offers of Christ, and all the blessed motions of the Spirit; then there's nothing but wrath revealed, and wrath shall come on the neglecting soul to the uttermost.

5. A Change from fair probabilities to utter Impossibilities of Life and Salvation; a sad change still: Now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation; now, and not hereafter, 2 Cor. 6. 2. Now there is a fair probability of the worst of Sinners to be saved, if they will look after Salvation, and mind their eternal Concerns; Christ is both able and willing to save: To save was the end of his coming into the World, and of all he did and suffered here, 1 Tim. 1. 15. Now they are besought and entreated to be reconciled to God, 2 Cor. 5. 19, 20. but when Death comes, that changes these fair probabilities into utter Impossibilities of Life and Salvation. Therefore mark: Now (saith the Apostle) is the day of Salvation; that is, now whilst Life lasts, and while the Gospel is preached."
Edward Pearse, The Great Concern, or A Serious Warning to a Timely and Thorough Preparation for Death (London: Printed for J. Robinson, at the Golden Lyon in St. Paul's Church-Yard; and B. Aylmer at the three Pigeons in Cornhill, 1674), 73-75.

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Edward Pearse (1633?–1674?) on Common Love

"Indeed there are common Gifts, and Gifts of a meer outward Calling, which God, out of a common love and bounty, gives to men; and these many times he recalls, they not improving them..."
Edward Pearse, A Beam of Divine Glory (London: Printed by J. D. for Jonathan Robinson, at the Goldon Lion in St. Pauls Church-yard; and Brabazon Aylmer at the three Pigeons in Cornhil, 1674), 33.

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June 19, 2010

Curt Daniel on the Connection Between the "All" of the Atonement and the "Revealed Salvific Will of God"

We call attention to Calvin's warning that if one limits the 'all' of the atonement, then one limits the revealed salvific will of God, which necessarily infringes on the preaching of the gospel and diminishes the "hope of salvation" of those to whom the Gospel is preached. Both High and Hyper-Calvinists fell prey to Calvin's warning. The former limited the atonement and opened the door to limiting the revealed will that all be saved. Hyper-Calvinists went through that door and logically diminished the Gospel ministry and content.
Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1983), 603.

June 17, 2010

Abraham Taylor (fl.1727–1740) on Duty-Faith

Mens going into the notion, that an offer of Christ is not to be made in general, or that there must be no general tender of Christ to sinners, has run them into a farther absurdity, that unconverted sinners are not to be exhorted to believe in Christ, or to seek after that repentance which is to salvation, and that it cannot be the duty of such to believe in a Saviour. The pretence is, that a sinner has no power of his own, to believe and repent: I freely own, that I am firmly settled in my adherence to this, as an evangelical truth, that it is not in the power of fallen men, to contribute any thing towards working saving faith or repentance to life, in himself; but to say, that it is not the duty of a poor perishing soul, to cast itself on Christ, to trust in him for righteousness, or to fly to him for refuge from the wrath to come, looks to me to be an assertion little short of blasphemy, which I cannot but earnestly press you to be cautious of. God has commanded such as would not perish in their sins, to believe in Christ, and he requires men of all sorts, every where to repent; and will any venture to say, that it is not the duty of unconverted sinners to do what he commands and requires? can it, with any justice, be said, that he loses his right by the creature having render'd itself impotent to all that is good? The Spirit has made use of exhortations from the word, to trust in Christ, as the only Saviour, and to turn from sin, as means to begin a good work, in thousands, and ten thousands of holy souls; now if these exhortations had not been used, he could never have worked by them; and unless they had been to be made, he never would have honour'd them so far, as he has done, in causing them to be ordinances for good. I must freely confess to you, that as long as I find, that my great master address'd himself to a mixt multitude, saying, "repent and believe the gospel," I shall look upon the maxim, that unbelieving sinners are not to be exhorted to saving faith and evangelical repentance, to be a rude and insolent attempt to find out a better method of preaching, than that which lies in imitating the practice of the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls.
Abraham Taylor, An Address to Young Students in Divinity, By Way of Caution Against Some Paradoxes, Which Lead to Doctrinal Antinomianism (London: Printed for John Oswald, at the Rose and Crown in the Poultry, near Stocks-Market, 1739), 15–17.

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June 13, 2010

Edmund Calamy (1671–1732) on General and Special Grace

For tho' 'tis through special Mercy, that any are recover'd and sav'd, yet the Mercy of God is so far exerted towards all, that he's ever before hand with them, and never stops the Current of his Favour towards them, till they obstinately reject the Grace he offers, and wilfully abuse that common Grace which had been afforded to them.
Edmund Calamy, Divine Mercy Exalted: Or, Free Grace in its Glory (London: Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and 3 Crowns in Cheapside; J. Robinson at the Golden Lion in St. Pauls Church-yard, and J. Lawrence at the Angel in the Poultry, 1703), 40.
2. Let us put things together, and take Notice, that General Grace and Special are very reconcileable: For God may be so far willing of the Salvation of all, as to be ready to shew Mercy to them if they Repent and Believe; from which they are hindred by nothing but their own wilfulness: And yet he may be so much farther intent on the Salvation of some, as to use effectual means to bring them to Repent and Believe, to will and run, that so they may be secur'd within the Compass of his Special Mercy. The Scripture appears clear as to both; and where's the Inconsistency? why must we deny General Grace to exalt that which is special? or deny and depress special Grace, to advance that which is General? Is not the Honour of God's special Grace and Mercy sufficiently secur'd by our Acknowledging that 'tis that that brings any of the fallen Race of Adam to will and run, and so makes the Difference between them and the rest of the World, who live and die in their Unbelief and Impenitency? and is not this very consistent with our Owning that God so loved the World in general; as that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but might have everlasting Life? And on the other side, is not General Grace sufficiently secured by our maintaining God's Love to the World, and his willing the Salvation of all Men, on Condition they turn to him? And is not this consistent with our owning that a special Divine excitation alone can bring any that are in a state of Corruption, to will and run in the ways of God? And that he takes away the Heart of Stone, and gives an Heart of Flesh to all that become his real People? And why then should we go about to Dash these Truths against each other which are fairly Consistent, and agree well together? Let us beware of Extreams: and stand upon our Guard, least for fear of one Error, we fall into another.
Ibid., 44–45.

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William Carey (1761–1834) Appealing to Sinners

A somewhat lowring morning, read a Sermon of Flavel's on those Words, Now if any man be in Christ he is a new Creature, but felt scarcely anything: In the afternoon I was much cheered by a considerable number of Natives coming for instruction and I endeavored to discourse with them about divine things, I told them that all men were sinners against God, and that God was strictly just, and of purer Eyes than to approve of sin. I endeavored to press this point, and to ask how they could possibly be saved if this was the Case. I tried to Explain to them the nature of Heaven, and Hell, and told them that except our Sins were pardoned we must go to Hell; [They said that would be like the Prisoners in Dinajpur Jail - I said, no, for in Prison only the Body could be afflicted, but in Hell, the Soul; that in a Year or two a prisoner would be released but never freed from Hell, that Death would release them from Prison, but in Hell they would never die;] I then told them how God sent his son, to save Sinners, that he came to save them from Sin, and that he died in Sinner's stead, and that whosoever believed on him would obtain everlasting life, and would become Holy. They said they were all pleased with this; but wished to know what sin and Holiness are. I told them that there were Sins of the Heart, the Tongue, and the Actions, but as a Fountain cast out its Waters, so all sin had its source from the Heart; and that not to think of God, not to wish to do his will, not to regard his Word; and also Pride, Covetousness, Envy, &ct. were great Sins, and that Evil, and abusive Language was very Sinful, that not to be strictly upright in their dealings, was very Sinful; I told them that God was under no obligation to save any Man, and that it was of no use to make Offerings to God to obtain pardon of Sin, for God had no need of Goats, Kids, Sheep, &ct. for all these are his at all times, and that if God forgave them it must be from his own Will; but that he was willing to save for the sake of Jesus Christ. After this part of the 5th Chapter of Matthew was read by Munshi, and explained to them, and they went away, promising to return next Lord's Day - and my Spirits were much revived.

June 10, 2010

John Corbet (1620–1680) on God's Will and Grace

5. Though God doth not simply will the Event of the Conversion and Salvation of all to whom the Gospel is made known; yet he wills it so far, and in such a manner, as doth abundantly declare his good will towards men; and doth assure the diligent of good success in their indeavours; and doth convict the negligent of being inexcusable despisers of his Grace towards them.
John Corbet, A Humble Endeavour of Some Plain and Brief Explication of the Decrees and Operations of God about the Free Actions of Men: More Especially of the Operations of Divine Grace (London: Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercers-Chappel, 1683), A2r. This is referenced in David P. Field's Rigide Calvinisme in a Softer Dresse: The Moderate Presbyterianism of John Howe, 1630–1705 (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 2004), 144. Field argues that John Howe and Corbet (both puritans) agree on this subject.
6. God hath given us all some help of grace, more or less, in order to our Spiritual Recovery. The said help may be improved by us to the obtaining of more, And it is not God's ordinary way to deny more help, or to withdraw what is given, but upon the abuse of what is given, and the resisting of what is offered, and for our not doing not only what we ought, but what we might do.
Ibid., A3r.
13. A Stock of Grace is ordinarily given in unequal Proportions and arbitrarily.

Though every one hath some stock of Divine Grace to be improved, yet I conceive that it is God's ordinary way to give the same in unequal proportions and arbitrarily, according to that distribution of the Talents in the Parable, Mat. 25. without respect to antecedent different worthiness. But as the Lord did arbitrarily distribute the Talents, so he did it according to discretion. In like manner doth the Wisdom of God guide him in the free distribution of the different Measures of his Grace. Herein the depth of the Riches of the Wisdom and Knowledge of God is wonderful, his judments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out. There are unconditional Favours, and in the arbitrary bestowing of them in unequal Measures, God proceeds most agreeably to his own Absolute Dominion, as also to the state of Sinful Man, who can merit no such favour from him.
Ibid., 36–37.

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June 8, 2010

William Bridge (1600–1670) Describing Augustine's Atonement Views

Bridge and Brinsley were both high Calvinists and puritans. While I think Bridge rightly describes Augustine's position in what follows, I believe he strains in the context to find continuity between Augustine and some later thinkers on this subject where there is none, such as with Gottschalk, Beza, Whitaker, Rivet and Ames. In other words, while I think Bridges' historiography is generally bad in this preface, he still manages to get Augustine right. Here's how he describes Augustine's atonement views:
And whereas he was charged by the Pelagians with denying that Christ suffered for the Redemption of all men, he plainly gave his sense therein thus. As for the greatness and sufficiency of the price, the blood of Christ is the Redemption of the whole world; but they that die without Faith and Regeneration, are aliens from Redemption. All men (saith he) are rightly said to be redeemed in respect of one nature of all, and the one cause of all, which the Lord did truly take upon him, and yet all are not delivered from captivity. The propriety of Redemption without doubt belongeth unto them out of whom the Prince of this world is cast, who are not vessels of Satan, but the members of Christ. And herein Prosper doth totidem verbis concur with him. This ergo was the sense of the Orthodox (for by Augustin's judgment you may measure the rest) in those times.
From William Bridge's "To the Reader" in John Brinsley's Gospel-Marrow, the Great God Giving Himself for the Sons of Men (London: Printed by S. Griffin for Richard Tomlines, and are to be sold at the Sign of the Sun and Bible near Pye-Corner, 1659), vii–viii. [No pagination; pages numbered manually from the beginning]

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John Stalham (d. 1681) on Paul Testard's (1594–1650) Atonement Views

John Stalham (d. 1681) was a high Calvinist and he described the moderate views of Paul Testard as follows:
I had thought here to have taken breath, espying no enemy in the field; but presently there meets me a Champion Authour, one who is for peace and sweet harmony of truth, and hath happily cleared it in many particulars; yet in this controversie of universall Redemption, his musick jars, and he holds up the weapons of an unhappy warre, and thinks to carry all before him, because he is not point blanke of Arminius' judgment, in the stating of the Question: For he maintaineth that Christ died for all, and every singular, but he will not assert, that he died æque or alike for every one; Christ died (he saith) for all, to prepare an apt and sufficient remedy, and for the elect, to apply to them, what he had prepared for all. Nor did he die only that God might enter a Covenant with mankinde upon any condition, but that he might most surely covenant with Christ the Surety, under the condition of (the Elects) uniting and growing up, by faith in him; nor that salvation might only be possible for all, but certain for some; a seed to whom Christ's bloud should be applied; so as all are redeemed, but not alike redeemed: Christ died pro omnibus & singulis, that every one might be redeemed from the necessity of perishing, for the infringed legall-covenant of nature (in Adam) and the want of satisfaction, &c. And that some certain ones, beloved, in God's good pleasure, above the rest, might be actually freed, &c. still for more, then for the sheep of Christ, he would have Christ to die, out of a more general intention; which he endeavours to prove, from the generall expression [World] Joh. 3.16. from the Parable of the Feast, Math. 22. from 1 Tim. 2.6. & 2 Pet. 2.1. & 1 Joh. 2.2. to all which places alleadged and improved by Samuel Oates, we have given our answer long before Paulus Testardus came to our view; what he writes in this case, and how much wiser and more soundly he hath improved those Scriptures; and what greater strength there is in his Arguments, I shall leave to the full examen and censure of able judgments, and learned Pens: But may I pass my vote, without offence of the weak or strong, it is this, Amicus Testardus, in his pursuit of peace and truth, and in many excellent notions and harmonicall notes of free effectual grace, &c. but in this plea, Magis amica veritas, for while he pleadeth that Christ's death is for all, and every singular, he doth, as I understand the Scripture and him, nec sibi, nec Scripturæ constare, neither agree with himself, nor the Scripture.
John Stalham, Vindiciæ Redemptionis (London: Printed by A. M. for Christopher Meredith, at the Sign of the Crane in Pauls Church-yard, 1647), 52–53.

June 3, 2010

D. A. Carson on the Love and Will of God

On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 on Iron Sharpens Iron, Chris Arnzen interviewed D. A. Carson (full audio also here) on the topic of "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God." I called in with a question. Here is the audio of my call with the first part of Carson's remarks:

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My Remarks and Question:

"My question concerns the connection between God's love of benevolence and His willingness to save. I'm glad that in your book you're not only seeking to correct the Arminian mistakes where they flatten out [or equalize] God's love but also to confront certain higher forms of Calvinism. What we're seeing today is sort of a fusion between [the theology of] Herman Hoeksema, Gordon Clark and John Gill, such that some people are saying that, "Yes, God loves all but He doesn't desire their salvation, or the salvation of any of the non-elect." And so, [on the other hand] people like [J. I.] Packer, for instance, could say "God in the gospel expresses a bona fide wish that all may hear, and that all who hear may believe and be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-6; cf. 4:9-10). This is love in active expression."

Could you talk about the necessary connection between God's love of benevolence and God's desire to save all men in the revealed will?"

Dr. Carson's Reply:

"Well, when I lay out the five that our host has asked me to do, then I will try to make the distinction [see his second response below]. I don't want to universalize about who's in what camp. Many of these positions are in fact pretty subtle. Some people say the same thing in different terminology. My own approach in these matters is to focus on what the bible actually says and use biblical language in this respect so that the God of the bible is presented, as we will see in a few moments, as the one who does have an electing love. One shouldn't deny that. But on the other hand He's also the God who says, "Turn! Turn! Why will you die? The Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked." When the bible says God so loves the world that He gives His Son, "world" is not meant so much to be taken as a big place, but as in John's usage of the word "world" it really means the whole human moral order in defiance of Him. And in 1 John 2 that can extend with an adjective "the whole world." There is a potential that is bound up in God's thrust toward the world and His honest invitation to the world, even while there is an element in the biblical use of language that is reserved for His own sovereign choice. I want to preserve both of those strands and be careful how I word things so that I don't build in an unnecessary and unsanctioned contradiction."

Dr. Carson's Later Remarks:

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"And then there is a third: a kind of yearning, inviting, pursuing love toward His own image bearers, human beings, who nevertheless want to go independent of Him, who want to create their own idols, who dethrone Him, who de-God Him. But still, He's the God who displays Himself in remarkable love in many, many different ways. There is the remarkable prophecy of Hosea, about 8th century B. C., for example, where God actually dares depict himself as a kind of almighty cuckold, a betrayed husband who nevertheless still pursues those who actually rightly deserve His wrath. And in the same way this is the God who cries, "Turn! Turn! why will you die? The Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked." This despite the fact that the bible, something like 600 times in the OT, nevertheless does speak of the righteous wrath of God. So this isn't sentimentalism; yet there is a tough-minded yearning love in which God seeks out people and entreats them, commands them, warns them, invites them to be saved. "'Come, now, let us reason together,' says the Lord" "Repent, for the remission of sins" There's so many different ways in which God Himself addresses human beings and displays this yearning, warm-hearted, sweeping invitation."

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Dr. Carson also made some remarks about Christ's atonement and John 3:16. Here is the audio for those comments:

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