April 2, 2013

Nicholas Darton (1603-1649?) on God's Desire for Sinners to Return

"The first encouragement, I say, why thou shouldst not despair, though thou hast most grievously run astray from the fold of Christ, is taken from the absoluteness of God's call, calling thee by all manner of means to come away speedily to the fold again. 
Never did the Heart desire more after the water-brooks, then doth God desire at this present that thou should return again unto him: Ho (saith he) every one that thirsteth come to the waters, and you that have no money, come notwithstanding, buy and eat, yea come buy whine and milk, &c. And again, as if he did extremely long for the conversion of all that are astray, he divulges his desire thus, [cast away all your transgressions, and make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die O house of Israel? as if he should have said thus, I do not desire that any one should perish in his going astray, I had rather that he would return and keep the fold, for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord, wherefore saith he, turn your selves and live for ever. And again, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Oh think not then that God doth not call thee because thou art so sinful, so foul and ugly, and so generally abounding with the practice of all crying crimes, for be assured that it is most true, because thou art so, therefore doth he out of his mere grace and favour call thee that thou shouldst return again unto him. For illustrations sake, had not David his call to return again unto the fold, after that his hands were bathed in blood? had not Rehaboam and Manassah their call from heaven, after they had committed most grand idolatries? Father, had not Mary Magdalen her call from heaven, after she was possessed with seven devils? Nay, had not Saint Paul his effectual calling too, after he had practiced persecution upon the Saints? Wherefore be not dismayed by reason of they heinous sins, as if thou were past all hope that thou should never see the Shepherd of thy soul again, and that thou canst never come to the sheepfold any more at all, for [magis proprium est Deo misereri pro bonitate quam irasci pro justitia] It is more usual with God to take pity upon a poor straying sheep for his mercies sake, than to reject him forever for his justice sake, and therefore he invites all to come for comfort [saying, Come unto me all that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Oh then hearken to God's call, and obey his voice, lest thine impenitency and ungodly courses provoke the great Shepherd here and Bishop of our souls, at the latter day to reject thee, indeed, and as upon the foolish Virgins to shut the door upon thee, [saying, Non novi vos,] I know you not, depart from me ye workers of iniquity."
Nicolas Darton, The True and Absolute Bishop (London: Printed by Tho. Badger, for Humphrey Mosley, and are to bee sold at his Shop at the Princes Armes in Saint Pauls Churchyard, 1641), 15-16. Some spelling updated.


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