April 29, 2012

John Collinges (1623–1690) on Heaven Begging

And from hence let us be instructed, upon what sad terms every child of the devil is damned, and such especially as live in places where the Lord Jesus Christ is preached; they will be damned for not receiving Christ, for not opening the door of their hearts, and stretching out their hearts in the desires and pantings after Christ, for not closing with an offered Christ and promise; your damnation will not be (Sirs) for not meriting Christ; No, God never required that at your hands. God never required you should earn him, he requires nothing but that you should receive him, that you should be willing, and your hearts should be open to let in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you should hunger and thirst after him, and close with him, not pay a penny, only take, and that freely. Ah Lord! upon what ill terms will the men of this generation go down to hell? Men think to lay their damnation another day at God's door; and to say, Lord, we could not believe, thou never elected us, nor gave us faith, and Christ, &c. But friend, God will let thee know that thy damnation is of thyself. Mr. Fenner has noted that in that chapter of Ezekiel, 18. cap. God hath freed his three wills from the damnation of any. 1. His secret will; I have no pleasure (saith he) in the death of him that dieth. 2. His revealed will; God says, Repent and turn, so shall not iniquity be your ruin. 3. His permissive will; Make you (saith God) a new heart and a new spirit. And finally, he casts all the fault of their damnation upon their own rebellious wills; Why (saith he) will you die O ye house of Israel. Friends! Is there any of you before me this day that have no part nor portion in the Lord Jesus Christ? For the Lord's sake let what you have heard sink upon your thoughts. Perditio [spelling is unclear] tua ex te, O Israel. Sinners, your damnation is of yourselves: if you will be saved you may. Heaven goes a begging this day, whosoever will let him drink of the water of life freely; it may be some of you have been great sinners, some of you old corrupted sinners: yet if you will, I say, if you will, you may be the Sons of God, heirs, joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. You that are children of wrath, if you will, you may be heirs of grace. Behold Christ stands at the door and knocks: this day he knocks once more; he cries, whosoever will. Whosoever hath ears to hear, let him hear, if you will not hear, it is not because Christ wants a heart, but because you want ears: Christ calls, Ho every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat: yea, come buy wine and milk without money, and without price; hearken diligently unto me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me, hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David, Isa. 55. 1, 2, 3. Remember (Sirs) Jerusalem might have been gathered, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but she would not; if you will not, Christ hath washed his hands of your blood: your damnation is of yourselves. And ah! think, (poor creatures) think what bad terms these are to be damned upon: what a gnawing upon your conscience in hell another day will it be to think, If I would I might have been saved; Heaven and glory might have been mine if I would, but now I am tormented, and shall be so for ever, because I would not have the Lord Jesus Christ; this makes damnation the heavier, to think, there is no more required but only to open the door to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. I say it makes it the heavier as well as the juster.
John Collinges, "A Cordial for a Fainting Soul: Serm. IX," in The Works of John Collings, Vol. 1 (London, Printed for Richard Tomlins at the Sun and Bible in Pye-corner, 1655) 151–153. [some spelling modernized]
Behold! he stands at the door and knocks: he is willing, he is willing, he stands at the door: thy opening is after his knocking; he knocks this day, he calls to thee, (Ah Lord! Break open the door that will not open!) thou are prevented with love, he stands at the door, and knocks before thou canst have the least thought of opening; Hark (sinner!) hear him knocking; Turn, turn, why will ye die O house of Israel? hear him calling, Drunkard, Vain person, Swearer, Sabbath breaker, turn, open the doors of your hearts.
Ibid., 154.


Collinges is one among many sovereign grace advocates that I have documented who have used this begging metaphor. The other names include Augustine, Hugh Latimer, Samuel Rutherford [Westminster divine], Thomas Manton, Jeremiah Burroughs [Westminster divine] John Trapp, Sydrach Simpson [Westminster divine], Robert Harris [Westminster divine], Theophilus Gale, Isaac Ambrose, Stephen Charnock, John Flavel, Richard Sibbes, John Shower, William Gurnall, George Swinnock, Ralph Venning, Daniel Burgess, Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Andrew Gray, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse and John MacArthur.

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