April 1, 2011

Increase Mather (1639–1723) on the Nature of Sinning Against the Gospel

The light of Nature is but a dark glimmering light, and the light of the Law was dark, compared with that of the Gospel; but now the Gospel is the most Clear, Divine, Spiritual, Glorious Light that ever shone into the hearts of men. Hence if men despise it, their sin, guilt and danger is most fearful; yea, and such persons do not only sin against the clearest Light, but against the highest Love that ever was. It was a wonderful Evidence of Divine Philanthropy, even the love and kindness of God towards mankind, Tit. 3.4. that he should find out a way for sinful men to come unto Salvation, and by the Gospel he discovers this way. Now to slight the kind offers of God, must needs be heinously evil. God shewed special favour to that people, upon whom he bestoweth the Gospel and Ordinances therefore, Psal. 89.15. Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound, they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance: The silver Trumpets under the Law, by which the people were called together, at the times appointed for Sacred and Solemn Assemblies, did typify the Gospel and holy Ordinances thereof. It is a blessed thing to be often hearing the joyful sound, which is made by the silver Trumpet of the Everlasting Gospel; such have the light of Gods countenance towards them, God from Heaven seems to look on them with a pleasant, favourable countenance. Now then to slight this favour, that is dangerous, Rom. 2.4.5. Despisest thou the riches of his goodness―After thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up to thy self wrath, against the day of wrath. They that live impenitently under the Gospel, they despise the riches of Divine goodness; therefore cannot expect other, but that treasures of wrath will be laid up against them, and one day laid out upon them. In a word, this sin of slighting the Gospel, is virtually and causally all sin; for all a mans other sins would be forgiven, if this were not superadded to the rest. If men did embrace the Gospel, they should also receive the Remission of sins. Unbelief is the greatest sin that ever any of you were guilty of in your lives: This binds the guilt of all sins against the Law, upon a mans Conscience for ever: Now by Unbelief is not meant, the doubting whether our sins are forgiven, but the refusing of the motion of the Gospel, when the Gospel freely offers Christ and Pardon; Life and Heaven with him: to prefer the World, or it may be a base Lust, before the blessed Son of God, this is that Unbelief which provoketh God more than transgressions of the Law doth.
Increase Mather, Some Important Truths About Conversion (London: Printed for Richard Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in Pauls Church-yard, 1674), 63–64. This work has a preface to the reader by John Owen. Elsewhere Mather says all are "fairly offered."


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