December 23, 2014

William Perkins (1558–1602) Distinguishing Between Restraining Grace and Renewing Grace

Again, grace must  be distinguished: it is twofold, restraining grace, or renewing grace. Restraining grace I term certain common gifts of God, serving only to order and frame the outward conversation of men to the Law of God, or serving to bereave men of excuse in the day of judgement. By this kind of grace, heathen men have been liberal, just, sober, valiant. By it men living in the church of God, have been enlightened, and having tasted of the good word of God, have rejoiced therein, and for a time outwardly conformed themselves thereto. Renewing grace is not common to all men, but proper to the elect, and it is a gift of God's Spirit, whereby the corruption of sin is not only restrained, but also mortified, and the decayed Image of God restored.
William Perkins, A Graine of Musterd-seed, Or, the Least measure of grace that is or can be effectual to Salvation (London: Printed by Thomas Creed, for Ralph Jackson and Hugh Burwell, 1597), 15–16. [Some spelling updated and modernized]
First, that we may put a difference between Christian and Heathen virtues. For, howbeit the same virtues in kind and name, are and may be found, both in them that profess Christ, and those also that are ignorant of the true God; yet they are in them after diverse manner. For in Heathen men they are the gifts of God, but not parts of regeneration and new birth: but in those that be true Christians, they are indeed not only the gifts of God’s spirit, but also essential parts of regeneration.

That we may the better yet conceive this difference, we must understand, that the grace of God in man, is two-fold; restraining, and renewing.

Restraining is that, which bridleth and restraineth the corruption of men’s hearts, from breaking forth into outward actions, for the common good, that Societies may be preserved, and one man may live orderly with another. Renewing grace is that, which doth not only restrain the corruption, but also mortifieth sin, and renews the heart daily more and more. The former of these is incident to Heathen men; & the Virtues which they have, serve only to repress the act of sin in their outward actions: but in Christians, they are graces of God, not only bridling and restraining the affections, but renewing the heart, and mortifying all corruption. And though those virtues of the Heathen be graces of God, yet they are but general and common to all: whereas the virtues of Christians, are special graces of the Spirit, sanctifying and renewing the mind, will, and affections. For example, chastity in Joseph as a grace of God’s spirit, renewing his heart; but chastity in Xenocrates was a common grace, serving only to curb and restrain the corruption of his heart. And the like may be said of the justice of Abraham, a Christian, and of Aristides, a Heathen.
William Perkins, The Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience, Distinguished into Three Books (London: Printed by John Legat, Printer to the University of Cambridge, 1606), 471–472.
Now as concerning grace: I say, that this is diversely distinguished. For first, it is either restraining or renewing. The restraining grace is that, whereby the inbred corruption of the heart, is not thereby utterly diminished and taken away, but in some restrained more, in some less, that it break not violently forth into action: and it is given only for a testimony unto man, and to preserve society: and for this kind of grace is general, that is, belonging to all and every man, amongst whom some do exceed othersome in the gifts of civil virtues: and there is no man, in whom God does not more or less restrain his natural corruption. Now renewing or Christian grace (as ancient writers do usually call it) is that whereby a man has power given to believe and repent, both in respect of will, and power: and it is universal in respect of those who believe.

Secondly, Grace is either natural, or supernatural: as Augustine himself teaches. Natural grace is that, which is bestowed on man together with nature: and this is either of nature perfect or corrupt. Perfect, as the image of God, or righteousness bestowed on Adam in his creation. This grace belongs generally unto all because we all were in Adam: and whosoever he received that was good, he received it both for himself and his posterity. The grace of nature corrupted is a natural enlightening (whereof John speaks: ‘He enlightens every man that comes into the world [Joh. 1:9]), yea and every natural gift. And these gifts truly by that order which God has made in nature, are due and belonging unto nature. But that Grace which is supernatural, is not due unto nature, especially unto nature corrupted, but is bestowed by special grace, and therefore is special. This the ancient writers affirm. Augustine says: “Nature is common to all, but not grace,” and he acknowledges a twofold grace: namely that common grace of nature, whereby we are made men: and Christian grace, whereby in Christ we are again born new men.
William Perkins, A Christian and Plaine Treatise of the Manner and Order of Predestination, and of the Largenes of Gods Grace (At London: Printed for William Welby, and Martin Clarke, 1606), 106-110. Or see "A Treatise of Predestination," in The Works of that Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge, M. William Perkins (London: Printed by John Legatt, and are to be sold by James Boler, George Lathum, John Grismond, Robert Milbourne, and John Bellamie, 1631), 626. Originally posted by Ponter here (click).

In several places he also uses the expression "common grace." He uses it in The Reformation of Covetousness. Written upon the 6. Chapter of Matthew, from the 19. verse to the end of the said Chapter. (Imprinted at London, for Nicholas Ling, and John Newbery, 1603), 205; A godlie and learned exposition upon the whole epistle of Iude (London: Printed by Felix Kyngston for Thomas Man, dwelling in Pater noster row, at the signe of the Talbot, 1606), 126; and in A Christian and plain treatise of the manner and order of predestination and of the largeness of Gods grace (London: Printed by F. Kingston for William Welby and Martin Clarke, 1606), 108.


December 21, 2014

Anthony Burgess (d.1664) on the General and Peculiar Love of God

Fifthly, Although we cannot conclude grace by outward mercies, yet thus way doth give many a man outward prosperity and wealth, for his diligence, industry, upright and honest dealing in the world. Thus Solomon saith, The hand of the diligent maketh rich, and truth and justice in our way is blessed by God to increase. Thus Austin [Augustine] attributed all the temporal greatness that the state of Rome came to, unto the justice of the common-wealth, but this comes only from a general Love of God, not from that peculiar love which belongs to his people: it doth not come from the same fountain that mercy and pardon comes; Therefore it's a fruit of providence, not of election: it argueth upright dealing, but not an heart made pure and upright to God: what then though thou sayest, God hath blessed my diligence, my honest dealing? yet thou canst not say, this is the fruit of my conversion and regeneration, being turned unto God.
Anthony Burgess, Spiritual Refinings: In Two Parts. Delivered in CLXI. Sermons. The Second Edition. (London: Printed by J. Streater, for T.U. and are to be sold by Tho: Johnson, at the Golden-Key in St. Pauls Church-Yard, 1658), 1:183. 

Note: On page 115, Burgess also speaks of a "common love love of God," as distinguished from "such a love which is vouchsafed unto his own people in a peculiar manner." In several places in this work he also refers to God's "common grace" (14, 38-39, 62), and that these "common gifts and graces are sometimes bestowed upon reprobates," such as Judas (203).
First, We grant, that notwithstanding our original sinne, yet God loveth mankind, and demonstrateth much mercy to men, even because they are his creatures. And it must be granted, That the Scripture doth often celebrate this mercy of God to man, though in a sinfull condition: But then we must distinguish between the general love of God, and his special love, between his love of benevolence and love of complacency, as some express it. God doth love all mankind with a general love, or love of benevolence, so as to do good in a liberal manner to them. This love of beneficence is demonstrated both to the good and the bad; yet this doth not remove the guilt of sinne, we may be children of wrath for all this. Therefore there is the other special love and grace of God, a love of complacency and acceptance of us in Christ; and this is only to some of mankind, as the Scripture in many places doth shew: And yet we must adde, that when any are damned, we cannot say it is for any defect of Gods particular love and grace, as if the fault were to be laid there, but upon the original and actual sinfulness of the person so condemned; for every mans perdition is of himself.
Anthony Burgess, The Doctrine of Original Sin (London: Printed by Abraham Miller for Thomas Underhill at the Anchor and Bible in Pauls Church-yard, near the little North-door, 1659), 540–541.


Thomas Shelton (1601–c.1650), Richard Sibbes (1577–1635), and John Robotham (fl.1654) on the Beams of God's Love

61. Efficacy of God's Love

The Sun casts light and heat upon all the world in his general course: but his beams being concentrate in a burning glass, it sets fire upon the object. So God in the creation looked upon all his works with a general love, but the beams of his love to his elect, shining through Christ enflames their hearts.
Thomas Shelton, A Centurie of Similies (London: Printed by John Dawson, 1640), 38–39.

But besides this, when Christ saith "my love," he shows, that as his love goes and plants and seats itself in the church, so it is united to that, and is not scattered to other objects. There are beams of God's general love scattered in the whole world; but this love, this exceeding love, is only fastened upon the church.
Richard Sibbes, "Bowels Opened: Sermon VII," in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, 7 vols. (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1862), 2:76–77.

Christ loves all his creatures with a general love, and lets the beams of his goodness scatter out to them, because there is some beams of his excellency in every creature; but his Spouse is his beloved in a more peculiar and eminent way then any other: and though the beams of his general love, are scattered out to all his creatures, yet his especial love is united and fixed only upon his Church. See this more largely opened in Chap. 1. 9. Christ cannot but love what he sees of himself in us, he loves his own Image.
John Robotham, An Exposition on the Whole Book of Solomons Song, Commonly Called the Canticles (London: Printed by M.S. and are to be sold by George Eversden, at the golden Ball in Aldersgate street: and An: Williamson at the Queens Arms in Pauls-Church Yard: And L: Chapman at the Crowne in Popes-head-Alley, 1652), 550–551.
The general love of Christ is scattered and branched out to all creatures in the world; but his special, his exceeding great and rich love is fastened only upon his Church.
Ibid., 172.


December 20, 2014

John Robinson (c.1575–1625) on God's Hate and General Love

For first, it is true, that God hateth nothing that he hath made [Wis. 11:24], so far as it is his work: but as sin, coming in, hath destroyed the work of God, though not in respect of the nature, or being, yet of the integrity, and holy being of the creature; so God, through his unchangeable holiness, hating sin, doth, also, most fervently hate and abhor from the sinful creature, in whom it reigneth, in respect of it, as the Scriptures do expressly and plentifully teach, Mal. ii. 3; Psa. v. 5, 6; Prov. xvi. 5; Tit. i. 16. And God loving himself and his own holiness in the first place and most, and the creature and his good, but in the second place, the love of the creature must give way to the love of himself, and so he, necessarily, hate the obstinate sinner. And this it is most needful for all men firmly to believe, and continually to bear in mind, that they may always bewail their sins, and nourish in themselves the hatred of that which God so hateth, and for it, the creature; and for which he punisheth it with most horrible curses, and punishments for ever.

And yet, even in the very execution of his most fearful vengeance upon the reprobate, men and angels, he retaineth the general love of a Creator; and out of it, preserveth the being of the creature, which in itself, and in respect of the universal is better than not to be, though not so in the sense of the person: and also moderateth the extremity of that torment, which he both could, and might in justice, inflict.
John Robinson, "On Religious Communion, Private and Public," in The Works of John Robinson, 3 vols. (London: John Snow, 35, Paternoster Row, 1851), 3:253–254. Also in John Robinson, Of Religious Communion, Private, & Publique (Printed Anno, 1614), 112.
But the Scriptures teach us a further thing, than these ungrateful persons will acknowledge; which is, that besides, and above the offer common to both, God gives the increase, 1 Cor. iii. 7, to some, without which, all preaching is nothing: even by opening of the heart to attend unto it, as he did the heart of Lydia. Acts. xvi. 14. And as persons receive the Word of God into their hearts by his opening them first, so in that his gracious work in them, he makes them which were before alike, in spiritual consideration, to become unlike, and better than others; and so more beloved than others for the godly qualities, as they call them, which he hath wrought in them. Neither doth the Lord hate only the works of wicked men, as they say; but also the workers of iniquity, Psa. v. 5, 6: not with a passion of the mind, as hatred is in man, but with a holy will to punish the violation of his righteous law. And though with a general love of the Creator to the creature, he always, after a sort, loves the persons of men, as being his generation, yet he loves, as is meet, the honour of his holiness, more than the happiness of his creature, having violated and profained it without repentance.
John Robinson, "Defense of the Doctrine Propounded by the Synod of Dort," in The Works of John Robinson (London: John Snow, 35, Paternoster Row, 1851), 1:388–389.


December 17, 2014

John Diodati (1576–1649) on Deuteronomy 33:3 and God's Common Love

"V. 3. Yea he loved] The Ital. Though thou loved: viz. O Lord, though thou through common love, causest all men to feel some effects of thy goodness, yet thou bearest thy People a special affection, whom thou hast sanctified, and taken as proper to thy self, to have them under thy care and protection."
John Diodati, Pious and Learned Annotations Upon the Holy Bible: Plainly Expounding the Most Difficult Places Thereof, 2nd Edition (London: Printed by Miles Flesher, for Nicholas Fussell, 1648), 131.


December 16, 2014

Benjamin Keach (1640–1704) on Abusing Offers of Love and Preparation for Death

And that I might enforce this word upon you, let me lay before you a few Motives and awakening Considerations.

First, Consider what a great favour and mercy it is that God hath let you and I live so long. Others are long ago cut down and sent to the grave; he hath not [willed that] it may be given [to] many half of those days which thou hast had: Look upon this as a mercy indeed, considering thy life was forfeited before thou wert born.

Sirs we came into the World with the Sentence of death upon us; and if Jehovah had cut us down in our sins many years ago, it would have been but a piece of Justice. And what is the end of God in sparing of us, but that we might be fitted for the place whither we are going. Oh how unwilling is God to strike the fatal blow, to cut men down before they are prepared for death. He is not willing they should perish, and that is the reason of his patience, longsuffering, and forbearance, sinners lay it to heart.

Secondly, Consider what dreadful provocations you and I have given him to take us away, and command death in his name to arrest us. Have we not grieved, burdened, yea even wearied him with our iniquities? Nay, have we not pierced him? May he not cry out, as  being pressed as a Cart is pressed that is full of sheaves, Amos 2.13. Is it not a sad and most lamentable thing, thus to deal with a loving and gracious God?

Thirdly, How often hath the Lord called you, and yet you have rebelled? Hath not he stretched out his hand all the day long, and yet you have not hearkened; but have rejected his counsel and cast his word and reproofs behind you; yea, and often resisted his Holy Spirit in the common motions and workings thereof? Have you not many of you refused his Grace, Son, and divers sweet and precious Calls and Offers of Love. And certain I am, you have had many of these in this place. Nay, how many warnings have you had of the near approach of death? Nay, awakening summons to prepare for the grave, as you would answer it before the dreadful Judge of Heaven and Earth; by my dear Brother that is fallen asleep [John Norcot]; whom we shall hear no more? Oh what pains did he take with some of you, that so you might be ready? Have not you and I notwithstanding all this hearkened to a base deceitful heart, and enticing and tempting Devil? Have you stouted it out against all Pains and Endeavours used for Spiritual awakenings, and are you yet alive? Then consider how much this calls upon you to be ready to die. Will any dare, that are sensible of the worth of their Immortal Souls, neglect this concern any longer?

4. Consider, That the abuse of Mercy and Goodness will greatly aggravate thy misery in the day of wrath: Oh remember what it is to sin against Light, Love, and Patience. Shall the goodness of God, that should lead to repentance, encourage and harden thee in thy iniquity? How dost thou think to escape the Judgement of God? Or despisest thou, as saith the Apostle, the riches of his goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds, Rom. 2:4-6. Sentence is past against a sinner, but because it is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of men are fully set within them to do wickedly, Eccl. 8.11. Christ knocks at the door and yet sinners will not hear. Christ may speak of sinners as God speaks of Israel of old, My people will have none of me, Psal. 81. 11. Oh what have you to answer for abused mercy and favour! What will you do hearafter, when Christ, who waits upon you now to save you, will then turn his face from you in the day of your calamity, and plead against you to condemn you? see Prov. 1. 28.
Benjamin Keach, A Summons to the Grave. Or, The Necessity of a Timely Preparation for Death (London: Printed for Ben. Harris at the Stationers Arms in Sweethings Rents, near the Royal Exchange, 1676), 23–27.


December 15, 2014

James Rawson (d.1673) on God's Love and Hate in Romans 9

Sir, for the resolving of your question, and satisfying of the scruple, I must tell you, first, that God is said to have hated Esau before he was born, or that he had done either good or evil; that is called hatred, comparatively, in respect of that love he showed unto Jacob; he may be said to hate him because he loved him less than he did Jacob: Thus Leah was said to be hated by Jacob, comparatively with the love showed to Rachel, because she was less beloved than Rachel: so he that serves two masters, will hate the one, and love the other, (i.e.) will love him less than the other: And thus God loves the reprobates less than he does the elect; but it cannot be concluded, that the Lord doth absolutely hate any creature of his own making, for they were all good, yea very good: and Wisd. 11.24. thou lovest all things that are, and abhorrest nothing that thou hast made. Tis true God hates sin, because he made it not, and this hatred hath an influx upon the sinner, as he is a sinner, because God made him not so: But God hates not a non-elected person, or a reprobate, as he is a reprobate, neither does he condemn him, or decree to condemn him, for his negative reprobation, which is God's act, but for his sin, which is man's act.
James Rawson, Gerizim, Election, and Ebal, Reprobation. Or, the Absolute Good Pleasure of Gods Most Holy Will to All the Sons of Adam Specificated, viz. to Vessels of Mercy in their Eternal Election, and to Vessels of Wrath in their Eternal Reprobation (London: Printed by John Owsley, for Henry Shephard, and are to be sold at his shop under St. Swithins Church in Canning street near London-Stone, 1658), 170.

Note: I only post this to show that Rawson, a high Calvinist, believed God, in a sense, loves the reprobate, not that I entirely agree with his interpretation of the love/hate contrast in Romans 9. I prefer to see the contrast in terms of a love of election vs. a hatred of preterition, which may or may not be compatible with Rawson's view. Also, I think he should have said, "God hates not a non-elected person, or reprobate, as he is God's creature," instead of saying, " he is a reprobate." That seems to be Rawson's point anyway, as he references the Book of Wisdom, and distinguishes between God's love for a person as His creature and God's hate for that same person as he is a sinner. I think he was using the term "reprobate" in this context in the sense of one merely passed over (and therefore "loved-less") in God's decree, or for the non-elect as such, not in the sense of a person existing in a state of sinful rebellion.

James Rawson was a high predestinarian and eventually a nonconformist. He may have also been a presbyterian.

December 10, 2014

Samuel Willard (1640–1707) on God's Good Will in the Gospel Offer

"And what greater discovery of good will could there be?

3. In the free offers that he maketh of it to men. He hath not only made way for it, by the Obedience of his Son, who paid the price for our Redemption, but published it in the Gospel, and tendered it to all that come within the sound of that Proclamation: And there are two things that set forth his readiness to apply this forgiveness to Sinners.

1. That he maketh offer of, and invites Sinners to accept it. He hath ordered that man be told that he hath forgiveness, and that they be bidden to come for it. He doth not wait till miserable Sinners cry to him for it; which yet would be a rich favour, if so they might find it at his hands, but because they sought it not, nor ever would have done so, he sends them an Embassy about it, Isa. 65:1, 2. 2 Cor. 5:20. And would he do so, did he not delight in pardoning?

2. That he offereth it freely. And if he did not do so, the Sinner must forever go without it, for he had nothing to purchase it with. The Gospel Invitations come as freely as can be supposed, Isa. 55:1. Rev. 22:17. If it be here objected; you teach that there are Gospel Conditions on which it is only to be had; how then can it be said to be free? it may readily be replied; there are no other Conditions required in the Gospel, but what among men are required in order to receiving and being invested with the freest gift that can be: there is nothing but acceptance of this gift, and acknowledgment of the kindness of the bestower; faith is the hand that receiveth it, whereas unbelief puts it away; and is it not meet that he who would have the benefit of a gift, do accept of it? or doth such acceptance derogate from the grace of the Giver? and what is our Obedience, but our thankfulness to God for so unspeakable a gift? and shall any say the gift was not free, because I was thankful for it? the Sinner was worthy of death, and deserved no pardon, and yet he may have it for receiving, and is not God willing
3. In the urgent entreaties he useth with men to accept of this forgiveness. He not only offers it, but pleads and is very urgent and importunate with them, as if it were a kindness done him to take it of him, as well as to them in their having it; he useth all sorts of arguments to persuade them by; he tells them what need they stand in of it, that their eternal welfare depend upon it, that they are condemned and going to Execution, and must need perish, if they be not pardoned, and therefore how much they will stand in their own light, and be guilty of their own blood if they refuse it, Ezek. 33:11. He acquaints them how much it cost his own Son to purchase it, else they had been hopeless; and hence how great an affront it will be to all that kindness of his, to despise it: It will be to trample on that precious blood, and to make their escape desperate, Heb. 2:3. He urgeth on them the consideration of the vanity of all other objects, and course[?] from saving them from the Wrath to come, and that these refuges of lies will leave them naked and exposed to God's Indignation: he telleth them how acceptable it will be to him, if they take hold of this offer, and make their peace with him, and how much his grace will be illustrated thereby: he puts them in mind how gracious and merciful he is, Jer. 3:13. Obviates all the discouragements that Satan and a misgiving heart offer to throw in the way to make them despair of obtaining pardon: and he doth all this with greatest urgency, beseeching them to be reconciled, 2 Cor. 5:10."
Samuel Willard, The Truly Blessed Man (Boston in N.E.: Printed by B. Green, and J. Allen, for Michael Perry, 1700), 254–257.


December 7, 2014

Richard Baxter (1615–1691) Answers the Double Payment Question

Cont. 28. Is it not unjust to punish him that Christ died for, even one sin twice? 

Ans. No, Unless it were the same person that suffered, or the very same punishment that was due (and all that was due) were expected again; and unless it were against our mediators will. But all is contrary in this case. 1. The Law bound no one to suffer but the offender. 2. Therefore Christ suffering was not the same punishment which the Law did threaten, but it was Satisfaction instead of it; which is the Tantundem, not the idem quod debitum suit, but redditio æquivalentis alias indebiti, as the Schoolmen call it. For noxa caput sequitur; the Law threateneth not a surety, but only the sinner, and ubi alius solvit, simul aliud solvitur. 3. And Christ himself never satisfied with any other intent; and therefore it is according to his will, that they that tread under foot the blood of the Covenant wherewith they were Sanctified, as an unholy thing, and do despite to the Spirit of Grace, should suffer the far sorer punishment, Heb. 10. Yea it is Christ himself that will have it so, and that doth so judge, them, and inflict this punishment for the contempt of grace.

And it is his will that his own members be punished by correction, notwithstanding his sufferings: As many as he loveth he doth rebuke and chasten: And Christ doth not wrong himself: The end of his suffering never was to execute the redeemed from all suffering, nor to make believers lawless.


Thomas Larkham (1602–1669) on God Begging and Yearning Over Lost Mankind

Learn then we may hence, that there is no want of mercy in God: sooner can the Sea want water, and Hell want fire, and torments for ungodly men; than God can want mercy. If ye be not all saved (O ye sinners) it is not out of any defect in God: His bowels yearn over lost mankind: Ye are self-murderers; if ye come not all to Heaven. He persuades you, entreats you, begs you and complains of you; that ye will not come to him, that ye might have life. And what would ye have more? I say again, if any of you be damned, tis not God, but yourselves that cause it. See what God hath done to others: men saved already next the devils, have been greatest objects of pity that could be, because vile sinners and enemies to God in their mind by wicked works; bloody Manasseth, persecuting Saul, abominable Mary Magdalen, and the Thief upon the Cross, even dropping into the jaws of Hell. And for Saul who I named but just now, when he was breathing out threatenings and slaughters against the disciples of the Lord: Even then was God breathing out his mercies upon him. These are glorious suns that shine in the crown of our merciful God. He hath mercy of all sorts, for all conditions: and nothing displeaseth him more, then when men take up narrow thoughts of his infinite bowels.
Thomas Larkham, "The Mercy of God," in The Attributes of God Unfolded, and Applied. Divided into Three Parts (London: Printed for Francis Egelsfield, and are to be sold at the Mary-gold in Pauls Church-yard, 1656), 1:133.

And [2 Cor. 5] ver. 19, 20. of [God] stooping so low, and honouring man so much as to send Ambassadors, or rather Petitioners to beg, beseech and pray us to be reconciled to him.
Thomas Larkham, The Wedding-Supper (London: Printed, and are to be sold by Giles Calvert, at his shop at the black spread Eagle, neer the West end of Pauls, 1652), 15.


Other men within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following:

Augustine (Early Church Father), Hugh Latimer (Early English Reformer), Isaac Ambrose (Puritan), Daniel Burgess (Puritan), Jeremiah Burroughs (Westminster divine), Richard Baxter (Puritan), Joseph Caryl (Westminster divine), Thomas Case (Puritan), Stephen Charnock (Puritan), John Collinges (Puritan), John Flavel (Puritan), Theophilus Gale (Puritan), William Gearing (Puritan), Andrew Gray (Puritan), William Gurnall (Puritan), Robert Harris (Westminster divine), Thomas Manton (Puritan), John Murcot (Puritan), George Newton (Puritan), Anthony Palmer (Puritan), Edward Reynolds (Westminster divine), John Richardson (Puritan), Samuel Rutherford (Westminster divine), John Shower (Puritan), Richard Sibbes (Puritan), Sydrach Simpson (Westminster divine), William Strong (Westminster divine), George Swinnock (Puritan), John Trapp (Puritan), Ralph Venning (Puritan), Nathaniel Vincent (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Puritan), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

December 6, 2014

Richard Baxter (1615–1691) on the Arrogancy of Some in Believing Half-Truths

"4. Another expression of this Arrogant Ignorance is, When men will not believe the several truths of God, because they are not able to reconcile them, and place each one in its own order, and see the Method and Body of Truth in its true Locations and Proportion: Nay, perhaps they will believe none, because they cannot discern the harmony.

What abundance of seeming contradictions in Scripture do rise up in the eyes of an Ignorant Infidel? as strange apparitions do to a distracted man; or as many colors do before the inflamed or distempered eye. These self-conceited ignorant Souls, do imagine all to be impossible which exceedeth their knowledge; and because they cannot see[?] the sweet consent of Scripture, and how those places do suit, and fortify each other, which to them seemed to contradict each other, therefore they think that no one else can see it; no not God himself. They are like an ignorant fellow in a Watch-makers shop, that thinks nobody can fix[?] all the loose pieces together, and make a Watch of them, because he cannot. When he hath tried many ways, and cannot[?] hit it, he casts all by, and concludeth, that it's impossible.

And upon this account many cast away particular truths, though they will not cast away all. Some cannot reconcile the efficiency of the Spirit, with that of the Word, in the Conversion and Confirmation of sinners; and therefore some exclude one, and some the other, or own by the empty names; some cannot reconcile the Law, and the Gospel: And too great a part of the Teachers, in the Christian World, have been so troubled to reconcile God's grace, with man's free-will, that of old, many did too much exclude the natural liberty of the will, upon a supposition of the inconsistency; only the names of both were still owned.

Many cannot reconcile the sufficiency of Christ's satisfaction, with the necessity of man's endeavors, and inherent righteousness; and therefore one must be strained or denied. Many cannot reconcile common love and grace, with that which is special and proper to the Elect; and therefore some deny one, and some another. The like might be said of many other cases, wherein the Arrogancy of man's wit hath cast out God's truth: If both parts be never so express, yet they are upon this unbelieving questioning strain, [How can these things be?] How can these agree together? How can both be true? when yet it is evident, that God hath owned both.

It is certain, that the Truths of God's Word are one perfect well-jointed Body; and the perfect symmetry or proportion, is much of its beauty: It is certain, that Method is an excellent help in knowing Divine things: and that no man can know God's truths perfectly, til he see them all as in one Scheme or Body, with one view, as it were, and so sees the Location of each Truth, and the respect that it hath to all the rest; not only to see that there is no contradiction, but how every Truth doth fortify the rest. All this therefore is exceeding desirable, but it is not every man's lot to attain it, nor any man's in this world perfectly, or near to a perfection: It is true, that the sight of all God's frame of the Creation, uno intuitus, in all its parts, with all their respects to each other, would acquaint us with abundance more of the glory of it, then by looking on the Members peace-meal we can attain: But who can see them thus, but God? at least, what mortal eye can do it? And we shall never in this life attain to see the full Body of Divine Revealed-Truths, in that method and due proportion, as it necessary to the knowledge of its full beauty. It is a most perfectly melodious Instrument; but every man cannot see it in tune, so as to perceive the delectable harmony.

What then? because we cannot know all, shall we know nothing, or deny all? Because we cannot see the whole frame of the world, in its junctures and proportion, shall we say, That there is no world, or, that the parts are not rightly situated: or feign one to be inconsistent with the rest? we must rather receive first that which is most clear, and labor by degrees to see through the obscurities that beset the rest. And if we first find from God, that both are truths, let us receive them, and learn how to reconcile them after, as we can: And if we cannot reach it, its arrogancy therefore to think that it is not to be done, and to be so highly conceited of our own understandings."
Richard Baxter, The Arrogancy of Reason Against Divine Revelations, Repressed. Or, Proud Ignorance the Cause of Infidelity, and of Mens Quarrelling with the Word of God (London: Printed by T. N. for Tho. Underhil, 1655), 21–24. Some of the English has been updated.


December 5, 2014

Lazarus Seaman (d.1675) on God's Common, Special and Peculiar Love

By all which there is a lively demonstration, that besides the common love of God to mankind, and his special love towards his Church and children, there is a singular and peculiar love wherein he abounds towards some according to his good pleasure.

And this serves first to manifest and magnify the exceeding riches of his grace, Eph. 2:7.

As also, secondly to quicken us unto a holy emulation amongst our selves, that each of us may strive to be better than other[s], and to do and suffer more for Christ, because God can make us more than a proportionable recompence, even in point of love.

It serves also, thirdly, to show the reason of that variety which is found in God's providence towards his own children; some rich, some poor, some noble and fitting among Princes, others are made the dung and offscouring of all things, & yet all equally chosen in Christ, called according to his purpose, justified, adopted, sanctified, and heirs of glory.

And yet further, fourthly, to reprove our slothfulness for neglecting God, as usually we do. This singularity of his love is no matter of discouragement, as some may think, but rather an invitation and incitement unto all. We have every one of us a full breast of consolation in the promises, Ask, and it shall be given you, &c. Matt. 7:7. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it, saith Christ our advocate. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we aske anything according to his will he heareth us. We have also the spirit to help our infirmities. The spirit of supplication and grace. God doth every day new and strange things for his people. And which of us have not some blessing or other which we must needs acknowledge to be our own peculiar?
Lazarus Seaman, Solomons Choice (London: Printed by E. G. for J. Rothwell, and are to be sold at his shop at the signe of the Sun, in Pauls Church-yard, 1644), 5–6.


Thomas Watson (c.1620–1686) on God's Choicest and Common Love

2. God is in the midst of his Church, because of the entire live which he bears to it. Ps. 132:13, 14, 15. The Lord hath chosen Sihon, he hath desired it for his habitation, this is my rest for ever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it. God loves his people with the choicest of his love, they have the spirits of his love distilled; and to show this, he calls them by those Titles which denote love; the apple of his eye, Deut. 32:10. The dearly beloved of his soul, Jer. 12:7. His Treasure, Ps. 135:4. His Turtle-dove, Ps. 74:19. His Spouse, Cant. 5:2. His Orchard of Pomgranates, Cant. 4:13. His glory, Isa. 46. ult. God loves the World with a more common love, his Church hath the cream of his love: 'Tis one love wherewith a man loves his Bird, and another wherewith he loves his Child; and God cannot but love his people, because he sees his own image shining in them. They are adorned with the graces of his Spirit, as a chain of pearl: And as they have the beauty of inherent holiness, so they have an interest in the unspotted holiness of Christ. God's love to his Church is vehement, like the Coals of Juniper, or the Sun-beams contracted in a burning Glass, which are more intense and ardent; and because he loves Sion, therefore he is in the midst of it, to defend and bless it. Zeph. 3.17. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty, he will save, he will rejoice over thee, he will rest in his love.
Thomas Watson, ΠΑΡΑΜΥΘΙΟΝ: Or, A Word of Comfort for the Church of God (London: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the three Crowns at the lower end of Cheapside, 1662), 6–7.


William Strong (d.1654) on Mere Common Love Ending in Everlasting Hatred

2dly. The greatness of the gift is seen in the love of the giver. There was a love manifested in the first Covenant; but yet it was not such by which he did intend that any of the Sons of men should be saved: He has said, That by the works of the law shall no man be justified; and the inheritance is not by the law, &c. But the second Covenant did proceed from God's electing love, which is exactly suited thereunto; for Eph. 1:3, 4. he doth observe the same order in the benediction, that he did in election: And the more difficulties love breaks through, the greater it is, Cant. 8:7. Now our Covenant-breaking might provoke God to withdraw his love; and yet the greatness of his love is seen in the duration of it: The first Covenant was broken, and thereby that love was turned into hatred, and God became our enemy, as common love will end in everlasting hatred; but this [New Covenant] is from his everlasting love, and therefore it is an everlasting Covenant.
William Strong, A Discourse of the Two Covenants (London: Printed by J. M. for Francis Tyton at the Three Daggers in Fleet-street, and for Thomas Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns at the lower end of Cheapside near Mercers Chapel, 1678), 148. This work is also available at the Westminster Assembly Project.


William Strong (d.1654) on the Rich Young Ruler, God's Restraining Grace, and Common Love

Seeing that all men are sinners in Adam alike, and sin in one man is as much improved as in another; that all men are not alike sinful in this life, and alike miserable in the life to come, (for there be degrees of wrath;) and that all men do not sin against the Holy Ghost, and are not by Satan hurried on to the great Transgression; it is not thanks to the man but merely to restraining Grace! So in Mar. 10:21 the young man that came to Christ, Christ is said to love him; he was proud, and stood upon his own righteousness, and was covetous, and did part with Christ to reserve to himself an Estate, and went away from him as being offended at his Doctrine, and never returned again; and yet it is said that Christ loved him; what was there lovely in such a man? Here Interpreters distinguish [1] of the act, [2] of the object. [1] Of the Act, they say there is a double love of Christ, so Cartwright; a Human and Divine; a Divine love, that is to Salvation; so he loves only the Saints; but there was a human love, and so he loved his friends and kindred according to the flesh, who yet did not believe in him. And some say there is a double love of God, and of Christ as God; there is a peculiar and fatherly love, and this he bears only to his own people; but there is also a common love, whereby he loves whatever is of his own in any of the Creatures. So Beza* and Calvin. But I should rather call them the common works of the Spirit of Christ, dispensed unto unregenerate men under the Gospel. [2] They distinguish of the Object, he loved the remainder of his own Image, or rather the works of his own Spirit in him, though they were common, that he was preserved unchangeable, in tanta morum corruptela, where there was such a general and universal overspreading of wickedness; and this was Donum Dei gratuitum naturale illam pravitatem non quidem immutantis, sed in quibus illi placet paulatim reprimentis, Bernard. i.e. Not mortifying but restraining sin. So that all this was grounded upon the restraining Grace of the Lord did vouchsafe unto him [the rich young ruler] in his younger years; for to be preserved is a good thing, a great gift, it is a great mercy not to be tainted with the common corruption, and not to wallow in the common mire of the times, nor to be given over thereunto.
*Quia illi grata est humani generis conservatio, ideoque politicas virutes amare dicitur Tenues & paulatim per se evanescentes imaginis suae relinquias. - Beza
William Strong, A Discourse of the Two Covenants (London: Printed by J. M. for Francis Tyton at the Three Daggers in Fleet-street, and for Thomas Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns at the lower end of Cheapside near Mercers Chapel, 1678), 101. This work is also available at the Westminster Assembly Project. For Beza on the love of God for all creatures as such, see the primary source here: Theodore Beza, Ad acta Colloquii Montisbelgardensis Tubingae edita (Genevae: Johannes Le Preux, 1588), 212–213; or a secondary source here (click).


William Strong (d.1654) on the Motions of the Spirit, Offers of Grace, and Kneeling Mercy

[4] All the motions of the Spirit of God: as the giving of the Spirit doth belong to the second Covenant: This is the Covenant says the Lord, that I will make with them, my Spirit that is upon them, &c. And it is the Gospel that is the ministration of the Spirit, for it is Christ the Prince of the Covenant that doth send the Spirit: and what is the end of the Spirit's coming? it is only to advance the Covenant of Grace: He shall take of mine, says Christ, and show it unto you: that he may bring you into Union with Christ, and so into Covenant with God by him: and therefore it is the Spirit of the second Covenant, and the healing motions, and strivings, and impressions of the Spirit of God with man, are all to this end, to bring them within the bounds of the Covenant: and though they may receive many gifts, and common graces, and common works; yet the Spirit is grieved, resisted, and quenched, if this great work be not wrought, that the spirit may become a spirit of adoption; and all those glorious works of the Spirit as a witness, as a seal, and as an earnest, they do all come under the second Covenant, and belong to the spirit as the spirit of the Gospel.

[5] If thou be not translated into the Covenant of Grace, thou art left in a remediless condition: for thy first Covenant being broken does bring thee under a curse, and there is but one remedy against the sting of the Serpent, and that's the brazen Serpent: there's no avoiding the curse of the Covenant but by being translated out of it; and this translation thou wilt not accept of, therefore thou art in a helpless condition: for thy disease is mortal of itself, and thou wilt not accept of a remedy, and so thou art left to the punishment of the first Covenant's curse, John 3:33, He that believes not, the wrath of God abides upon him; not comes upon him only, but abides upon him. There is ira transiens, and ira permanens, transient wrath, and permanent wrath. All sin brings a man under wrath, but there is no sin leaves a man under wrath but unbelief, because a man will not accept of peace, and reconciliation that is made to him. And let me tell thee, O soul, whoever thou art in such a condition, thy misery will be so much the greater, that thou hast had a second Covenant offered, and yet despisest it, and in this Sodom and Gomorrah will come in against thee, and will condemn thee; for if they had had the offers that thou hast had, they would have accepted of them, yet thou hast rejected them: nay, the Devils themselves will be brought in against thee for thy condemnation; and in this as thy sin is greater; so will thy judgment be, for they never had an offer of any terms of peace made to them; they found themselves shut up under wrath without hope, but thou hast had offers and hopes all thy days; and this will be matter for that never-dying worm to feed upon at the last and great day, when the soul shall reflect seriously upon its by-past life: I neglected hopes and possibility, and it's now unrecoverable, thou there was a time that the offers of mercy were made to me, and treaties of Grace made with me, by the common works of the Spirit of God, which I rejected; mercy was upon her knees to me, and I had as great possibility and probability to have found mercy as any other: there are some that lived under the same Ordinances and offers of Grace with me, and many of them had never the opportunities that I have had, and yet I see them sit down with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God, and I have left out. And this will be the great misery of many, I may say of most of the children of the Kingdom, they that live in the Church at the last and great day.
William Strong, A Discourse of the Two Covenants (London: Printed by J. M. for Francis Tyton at the Three Daggers in Fleet-street, and for Thomas Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns at the lower end of Cheapside near Mercers Chapel, 1678), 71. This work is also available at the Westminster Assembly Project.


December 4, 2014

Several References to God Begging in John Murcot's (1625-1654) Works

"I will but add one word more, and that is this; It is no indifferent thing, whether you close with this invitation or no? there is a necessity lies upon you to come to the Marriage-feast, except you resolve upon it to perish for ever; God was wroth, and sent forth his armies to destroy, &c. Ah what gnashing of teeth will  there be to poor sinners in hell, when they shall see their neighbors, who heard this Gospel with them, sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the table of Christ in his kingdom, and themselves cast out! Ah brethren, I beg for you a believing heart, you must either feast with Christ, or starve forever with Satan and his Angels, and then not a drop will be had to cool your tongues; now flagons are tendered you, now wine and milk without money and price, now rivers of pleasures at God's right hand, and fulness of joy is promised you, is held out to you, cometh a begging to you; Ah then, then brethren, shall you beg for a drop, and shall not have it; rivers of burning brimstone will be your bathing, when the Saints are swallowed up of those rivers of pleasure at his right hand; then will you be chewing upon your gall and wormwood, then will you be breaking your teeth upon your gravel, when the Saints are drinking this new wine in the kingdom of their Father with Jesus Christ. Ah think of it brethren, think of it; you have now your good things, many of your eyes stand out with fatness, you spend a world upon your lusts, live like Epicures, wantonizing in the abundance of your enjoyments; how woeful will that sentence be! Son, remember, thou in thy life time hadst thy good things, and now thou art tormented; hadst thy wine and drinking unto drunkenness, now the stings of it abide upon thee; the Saints have their worst first, and the best kept until the last; but you have your consolation in this world, and the wine of astonishment will be your portion for ever, if you will not be persuaded. Therefore take your choice brethren, I set life and death before you, and consider of it, How will you escape, if you neglect this great salvation? you may now be received to the Feast, the door stands open, it will not always be so, it will be shut against you. O how will you answer it another day before the Lord Jesus, if you now trample under foot his blood, and precious offers of his Grace, though by the hand and mouth of a poor worm like yourselves?"
John Murcot, "The Parable of the Ten Virgins," in Several Works of Mr. John Murcot (London: Printed by R. White, for Francis Tyton, at the three Daggars in Fleet-street, near the Inner-Temple Gate, 1657), 357-358. This work was published by Mr. [Samuel] Winter, Mr. [Robert] Chambers, Mr. [Samuel] Eaton, Mr. [Joseph] Caryl, and Mr. [Thomas] Manton.
"Thirdly, It may serve to convince us of our folly herein: folly is a thing we cannot endure the imputation of: But what greater folly is it, then brethren, to dis-join the end from the means, specially where the end is so necessary to be had to happiness, and the means so absolutely necessary to that end? surely then this is gross folly: he is a fool that would have health and strength, and yet will not eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor recreate, will not use the means: well, brethren,  you would have heaven, every one of you, you would have this blessed state after death, we are carried to it with a natural impetus, the end is necessary, we must enter or perish forever. 2. This means is as absolutely necessary to come to Jesus Christ, when the door stands open, while his bowels and bosom are open and ready to receive us, for when the door is shut, there is no remedy; we may enter, if we come while the door is open, afterward we cannot. Now is not he a fool in grain, that will trifle when the door stands open, and even goeth a begging to poor sinners, and yet think to enter when the door is shut? Ah Brethren, this folly fills every sinner's heart: What is the reason else so few are persuaded, while it is called today, to come, to seek him early, that they may find him? You are wise for the world, and men will speak well of you, if you do well to yourselves; but you are fools in God's account, in the account of Saints and Angels, they speak not well of you; witness the Fool in the Gospel, that spent himself for vanity, and neglected his soul, which that night was to be taken from him. O that the Lord would so convince us, that we might not dare to linger and trifle away our day of Grace, lest when we come to cry, the door be shut against us."
Ibid., 390-391.
"Secondly, In that the Lord Jesus like a Son of righteousness indeed, doth not stay until the poor sinner, the patient do send for him, do come to him, but he is the first in the motion; you know physicians of eminency and worth, do not use to go up and down to bespeak their patients, to proclaim it up and down who hath any work for them; no, they are too hi[blot on page] that: if any will have to do with them, let them find the[blot on page] out, let them wait upon them; Mountebanks use to do so, they must hang out a bush, else it will not be known that they profess they can do anything; pardon the comparison, for our Saviour compareth his coming to the coming of a Thief; and if a Mountebank be no better, yet the comparison is tolerable by that of our Saviour himself, I say, he will rather come to sinners then that they shall miscarry[?]; he came to seek and to save that which was lost: for alas, the lost creature never will seek him, but wander, and loseth itself more and more, therefore we are compared to wandering sheep, We all like sheep have gone astray, yea, the very Saints themselves when once they have been found, yet will lose themselves again, as David, I have gone astray like a lost sheep, seek thy servant; else we should never find the way to Christ again; dogs and such kind of creatures, if lost, will find the way home again, but a sheep will not; so when we are utterly lost, Repent, for the Kingdom of God is come unto you, saith our Saviour; O repent and turn, for the Gospel, and the grace of the Gospel is come to you; the Kingdom of heaven goeth a begging, as I may say, cometh and knocketh at this door, and that door; at this family and that, to see if they will give entertainment to Jesus Christ, whether they will be healed, this day is Salvation come to thine house, saith the Lord to Zacheus; it came to him before he came to Christ; though he did indeed run a little for curiosity sake before Christ, to see his person, yea, our Saviour inviteth himself to him, he invited himself to come to his house; so, did not the Lord Jesus come to seek Paul, and where did he find him but in blood, up to the ears, even the blood of the Saints? may we not set to our seals to the truth of this? That he is found of such as never sought him; may we not say truly, that alas, our own souls, and our own families were poor, dark, ignorant, hard-hearted creatures, that never thought of Jesus Christ, until he first came and brought healing to us; the Son doth not stay until he be called up, but he riseth of his own accord upon the world; Brethren, the Lord Jesus this day, though by the mouth of a Babe, and uncircumcised creature in heart and lips, doth invite you, all is ready, and then he calls, this is a part of the message I have from Christ this day, and it is a sweet one, to invite every poor wounded Sinner, very poor diseased creature to come to Jesus Christ for healing; and O that I could bespeak you, as he himself would bespeak you, were he upon earth, with such a melting heart and sense of your condition. O why will ye die? is the expostulation of the Lord Jesus; why will you die of your wounds, of your plague-sores? here is balm for you, here is healing for you, if you will but accept of it; O do not slight it, do not run away from the Physician; Hath the Lord Jesus been all this pains to procure a medicine, and shall we cast it away, and slight it?"
John Murcot, "Christ the Sun of Righteousness, Hath Healing in His Wings for Sinners," in Several Works of Mr. John Murcot (London: Printed by R. White, for Francis Tyton, at the three Daggars in Fleet-street, near the Inner-Temple Gate, 1657), 458.


Other men within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following:

Augustine, Hugh Latimer (Early English Reformer), Isaac Ambrose (Puritan), Daniel Burgess (Puritan), Jeremiah Burroughs (Westminster divine), Richard Baxter (Puritan), Joseph Caryl (Westminster divine), Thomas Case (Puritan), Stephen Charnock (Puritan), John Collinges (Puritan), John Flavel (Puritan), Theophilus Gale (Puritan), William Gearing (Puritan), Andrew Gray (Puritan), William Gurnall (Puritan), Robert Harris (Westminster divine), Thomas Manton (Puritan), George Newton (Puritan), Anthony Palmer (Puritan), Edward Reynolds (Westminster divine), John Richardson (Puritan), Samuel Rutherford (Westminster divine), John Shower (Puritan), Richard Sibbes (Puritan), Sydrach Simpson (Westminster divine), William Strong (Westminster divine), George Swinnock (Puritan), John Trapp (Puritan), Ralph Venning (Puritan), Nathaniel Vincent (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Puritan), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

Edward Reynolds (1599–1676) on the Lord's Salvation Begging and Suing for Acceptance

3. In that the Lord doth send forth the gospel of Christ out of Sion into the world, we may further observe, that the gospel is a message and an invitation from heaven unto men. For to that end was it sent, that thereby men might be invited and persuaded to salvation. The Lord sendeth his Son up and down, carrieth him from place to place; he is set forth before men's eyes, he comes, and stands, and calls, and knocks at their doors, and beseecheth them to be reconciled. He setteth his word before us, at our doors, and in our mouths and ears. He hath not erected any standing sanctuary or city of refuge for men to fly for their salvations unto, but hath appointed ambassadors to carry this treasure unto men's houses where he inviteth them, and entreateth them, and requireth them, and commandeth them, and compelleth them to come unto his feast of mercy. And this must needs be an unsearchable riches of grace, for mercy, pardon, preferment, life, and salvation to go a begging, and sue for acceptance; and very unsearchable likewise must needs be the love of sin, and madness of folly in wicked men, to trample upon such pearls, and to neglect so great salvation when it is tendered unto them. Oh what a heavy charge will it be for men at the last day, to have the mercy of God, the humility of Christ, the entreaties of his Spirit, the proclamations of pardon, the approaches of salvation, the days, the years, the ages of peace, the ministers of the word, the book of God, and the great mystery of godliness, to rise up in judgment, and to testify against their souls!


Other men within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following:

Augustine, Hugh Latimer (Early English Reformer), Samuel Rutherford (Westminster divine), Thomas Manton (Puritan), Jeremiah Burroughs (Westminster divine), John Trapp (Puritan), Sydrach Simpson (Westminster divine), Joseph Caryl (Westminster divine), Robert Harris (Westminster divine), Theophilus Gale (Puritan), William Gearing (Puritan), Richard Baxter (Puritan), Isaac Ambrose (Puritan), Stephen Charnock (Puritan), John Richardson (Puritan), John Flavel (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Puritan), Thomas Case (Puritan), George Newton (Puritan), Nathaniel Vincent (Puritan), Richard Sibbes (Puritan), Anthony Palmer (Puritan), John Shower (Puritan), John Collinges (Puritan), William Gurnall (Puritan), Andrew Gray (Puritan), George Swinnock (Puritan), Ralph Venning (Puritan), Daniel Burgess (Puritan), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

George Newton (1602–1681) on Common and Special Love

Doth not God the Father love believers as his chosen, even as he loves Christ? Then surely he will never cast them off again, as he will never cast off Christ. There are some whom God chooses out of a common love, to common privileges and advancements, whom in the issue he rejects again: he repents that he hath chosen them to such a dignity, place, and office, and so he even casts them off again. And thus he dealt you know with Saul and Judas. But he chose Christ out of a special and peculiar love, never to be reversed again. And just so he chose us in and by and through Christ, out of the very same love, and with the very same intentions (in reference to revocation) that he chose Christ. And what will God cast away his people, whom he hath foreknown from everlasting? whom he hath chosen in his Son Christ, before the foundation of the world was laid, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. 1:4. No, no: his choice of us, is as unalterable as his choice of Christ himself. And when he casts away Christ, then and not til then (my brethren,) will he cast away us.
George Newton, An Exposition with Notes, Unfolded and Applied on John 17th (London: Printed by R. W. for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold at the Crane in Pauls-Church-yard, 1660), 488.


George Newton (1602–1681) on Christ Begging and Beseeching

All unbelievers do dishonor Christ exceedingly in this respect, that they do not close with him; That when he is proposed and offered to them in the Gospel, they do not take him, and receive him on the terms that he is offered, but put him off with a denial. This is a great dishonor to the Lord Christ. It is no less than an implicit scorning and despising of him. As if he were so poor a gift that he were not worth the taking. Ah, my beloved, do but think upon it, that after Christ hath undergone so much as he hath done for our salvation, and after comes a begging to our own doors, beseeching us that we will entertain him, and receive him, and accept of him, and that not for his own advantage or profit that accrues to him, but merely for our own good; That he should stoop so low, even by entreaties to impose himself upon us, and we should be inexorable to him, and basely thrust him quite away from us, and refuse to meddle with him. Oh what a horrible indignity is this to Jesus Christ? What an unspeakable debasing of him! Yet thus all unbelievers use him. All, I mean where Christ is preached. And that may be applied to them which the Evangelist affirmeth of the Jews, John 1:11. He came unto his own, his own friends, his own Kindred, his own acquaintance, his own nation, yea people of his own Country: But though they were his own, they would not own him nor embrace him. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. And so he comes to these men, and that with obsecrations, and entreaties too, and they clap the door against him, and shamefully give him the repulse. They tell him in effect that he may go to those that need him, and look after him, or care for him. For their parts, they will none of him, then which there cannot be a viler, or more ignominions usage in the world.
George Newton, An Exposition with Notes, Unfolded and Applied on John 17th (London: Printed by R. W. for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold at the Crane in Pauls-Church-yard, 1660), 38–39.


Other men within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following:

Augustine, Hugh Latimer (Early English Reformer), Samuel Rutherford (Westminster divine), Thomas Manton (Puritan), Jeremiah Burroughs (Westminster divine), John Trapp (Puritan), Sydrach Simpson (Westminster divine), Joseph Caryl (Westminster divine), Robert Harris (Westminster divine), Theophilus Gale (Puritan), William Gearing (Puritan), Richard Baxter (Puritan), Isaac Ambrose (Puritan), Stephen Charnock (Puritan), John Richardson (Puritan), John Flavel (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Puritan), Thomas Case (Puritan), Nathaniel Vincent (Puritan), Richard Sibbes (Puritan), Anthony Palmer (Puritan), John Shower (Puritan), John Collinges (Puritan), William Gurnall (Puritan), Andrew Gray (Puritan), George Swinnock (Puritan), Ralph Venning (Puritan), Daniel Burgess (Puritan), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

Nathaniel Vincent (c.1639–1697) on Pardon and Glory Begging in the Gospel

There are these Five things that will exceedingly aggravate the loss of life to the ungodly.

1. This life was proffered often to the ungodly in the Gospel. The Fountain of living waters was not a Fountain sealed, but 'twas set open; and yet this Fountain was forsaken for the sake of broken Cisterns. The Spirit and the Bride say come, the Ministers of the Gospel say come, and the sinners pressing necessity and want says Go, and drink of the waters of life, since thou mayest do it freely, Rev. 22:17. and yet he refuseth to accept the invitation. Pardon goes as it were a begging, and Glory a begging in the Gospel, and yet neither are accepted, though offered upon terms most just and reasonable. Oh how will it torture the damned to reflect upon this, that they would not come to Christ, though life was assured upon their coming, John 5:40.
Nathaniel Vincent, A Covert from the Storm (London: Printed in the Year 1671), 134.


Other men within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following:

Augustine, Hugh Latimer (Early English Reformer), Samuel Rutherford (Westminster divine), Thomas Manton (Puritan), Jeremiah Burroughs (Westminster divine), John Trapp (Puritan), Sydrach Simpson (Westminster divine), Joseph Caryl (Westminster divine), Robert Harris (Westminster divine), Theophilus Gale (Puritan), William Gearing (Puritan), Richard Baxter (Puritan), Isaac Ambrose (Puritan), Stephen Charnock (Puritan), John Richardson (Puritan), John Flavel (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Puritan), Thomas Case (Puritan), Richard Sibbes (Puritan), Anthony Palmer (Puritan), John Shower (Puritan), John Collinges (Puritan), William Gurnall (Puritan), Andrew Gray (Puritan), George Swinnock (Puritan), Ralph Venning (Puritan), Daniel Burgess (Puritan), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

December 3, 2014

Michael J. Lynch on “Early Modern Hypothetical Universalism: Reflections on the Status Quaestionis and Modern Scholarship”

The Junius Blog has posted the following:

Earlier this year [2014] Michael Lynch, a PhD student at Calvin Theological Seminary, presented at a Junius Institute Colloquium on the topic, “Early Modern Hypothetical Universalism: Reflections on the Status Quaestionis and Modern Scholarship.
Here is the audio on YouTube:

Lynch also recently spoke at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society held on November 19-21, 2014, in San Diego, CA. His subject was "In Mediis Tutissime Ibis": An Examination of Robert Lewis Dabney's View of the Extent of Christ's Satisfaction (click for audio). He blogs here (click). Regarding his thesis, Lynch wrote:
Robert Lewis Dabney is generally regarded as the preeminent Southern Presbyterian theologian of the nineteenth century. His published writings extend to all sorts of subjects including politics, philosophy, biography, and, of course, theology. His most controversial writings from a contemporary point-of-view are those where he defended southern slavery, but in his own time he also caused quite a stir vis-à-vis the nature of imputation and Christ’s satisfaction.

At the 1863 General Assembly of the Old School (OS) Southern Church, a committee including Dabney was formed to discuss the prospect of reunion with the New School (NS) Southern Church. The OS concern against this proposed reunion was the supposed lack of doctrinal fidelity in the NS Church to Westminsterian orthodoxy. During the reunion debates, OS theologians Benjamin Palmer and A. A. Porter charged Dabney with denying confessional orthodoxy by teaching an indefinite atonement. At one point Dabney responded to Porter, “he demands that we shall say Christ was only the elect’s substitute, and bore the guilt only of the elect’s sins. We reply, show us the place where either the Bible or Confession of Faith says so.” Dabney’s writings on the nature and extent of the satisfaction demonstrate substantial disagreement with traditional OS opinion. This essay will argue that Dabney taught a middle-way position on the extent of the atonement occupying an area between that of limited satisfaction on the one hand, and the Wesleyan doctrine of universal redemption on the other.

In defense of this thesis, I will analyze Dabney’s magnum opus, Lectures on Systematic Theology, as well as his more occasional writings touching on the atonement. Chief among these occasional writings is Dabney’s argument for the plan of union between the OS and NS South—especially his defense of the plan’s doctrinal declaration in an OS newspaper, The Southern Presbyterian.

Richard Eedes (d.1686) on Christ as a Willing Advocate

"But if you may yet be prevailed with before your breath be stopped, and the pit shut her mouth upon you, to embrace Christ whom you have long slighted, and accept of that mercy which you have unworthily refused, and receive the Gospel which you have neglected, there is yet hope in Israel concerning this: O for the Lord's sake, and for your Souls sake, stand out no longer, refuse not mercy that may yet be had, be not accessory to your own everlasting undoing, do not tire a long-suffering God out of patience, and provoke him that swears he takes no delight in the death of a sinner, to swear in his wrath that you shall never enter into his rest. Do not make him your judge who is willing to be your advocate, nor turn the Lamb of God into a Lion Rampant. O grieve not the Spirit, which would be your comforter, and remember who said, when he was waiting upon a rebellious people, My spirit shall not always strive with flesh, O send not back Christ's Ambassadors to their master to tell him with tears that you will not believe their report, and put them not upon that diabolical employment to be your accusers to God, and swift witnesses against you at the bar of Christ; make not the word be the savour of death, which was ordained to be the savour of life to the heirs of Salvation. Let not the Sermons, that you have heard, and the books that you have, or might have read, and this that you are now reading rise up in judgment against you: what should I say more, the Lord knows how willing I am to say all that I can possibly invent that may win upon you, and all that he shall put into my mouth, if he will open your ears and hearts to counsel, who opens and none can shut, this may be enough to prevail with you that hath been already spoken; but if he will shut, or will not open, though I could speak with the tongues of men and Angels, I should be but as a Sounding brass or a tinkling Cymbal. O consider this and the Lord give you understanding in all things."
Richard Eedes, Great Salvation by Jesus Christ Tendered to the Greatest of Sinners (London: Printed by T W for the Author, 1659), 155-156. This work has a forward by Richard Baxter.


November 30, 2014

Anthony Palmer (c.1618-1679) on Christ Begging

"Shall God's Free-grace, his Christ, go a begging this day, and will not a sinner come up to his terms? Old sinners, that are going into the grave and Hell too, will not you accept of Free-grace, for Christ, the Spirit, this day? that are upon the brink of the grave and everlasting burnings, and have many a thousand sins yet unpardoned?"
Anthony Palmer, The Gospel New-Creature (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, at the Crane in Pauls Church yard, 1658), 122.


Other advocates within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following men:

Augustine, Hugh Latimer (Early English Reformer), Samuel Rutherford (Westminster divine), Thomas Manton (Puritan), Jeremiah Burroughs (Westminster divine), John Trapp (Puritan), Sydrach Simpson (Westminster divine), Joseph Caryl (Westminster divine), Robert Harris (Westminster divine), Theophilus Gale (Puritan), William Gearing (Puritan), Richard Baxter (Puritan), Isaac Ambrose (Puritan), Stephen Charnock (Puritan), John Richardson (Puritan), John Flavel (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Puritan), Thomas Case (Puritan), Richard Sibbes (Puritan), John Shower (Puritan), John Collinges (Puritan), William Gurnall (Puritan), Andrew Gray (Puritan), George Swinnock (Puritan), Ralph Venning (Puritan), Daniel Burgess (Puritan), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

Anthony Palmer (c.1618-1679) on God's Design and Willingness to Save Sinners Freely

"3. If God hath so laid the Design to save a Sinner freely, then how great, how just is the Condemnation of guilty sinners that will not hasten in unto it: how could the Lord have laid it more freely then he hath? Oh that any sinner, for ever condemned to Hell without it, should withstand it! Why sinner? Shall the Blessed God, that might have much glory in condemning thee to all Eternity, be willing to save thee freely; and wilt thou not come and bow unto him, & accept of it? All the contempt of God, in all his Holy Commands, is not like this, to turn the back upon Free-Mercy, Free-Salvation: This will be the Worm that never dies to any of your Souls that shall not come into, and rightly accept of Gospel-salvation, that you might have been saved freely, have had grace, remission of sins, Jesus Christ, the Spirit, Eternal Life freely, and yet turned your backs upon it?"
Anthony Palmer, The Gospel New-Creature (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, at the Crane in Pauls Church yard, 1658), 115-116.


Anthony Palmer (c.1618–1679) on Mistaking Common Grace for True Grace

Take you heed also, that you take not that which is called Common-Grace, which is Common to Reprobates, for true grace. There's a false faith, a false Repentance, a false Hope, and so of the rest, in which you may assuredly go to Hell; you may have a harmless conversation, and do some good works of Charity and yet perish for ever, you may have nothing of the New-Creature in you; and yet give all your goods to the poor.

In a word, you may leave outward gross sins, have convictions of wrath to come, have purposes, (such as they are) to be better, take up to New-Duties, have common grace, think you have faith, repentance, hope that you are humble, patient, have a good conversation, and do good works; and yet not be New-Creatures in Jesus Christ, as we shall further evince.
Anthony Palmer, The Gospel New-Creature (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, at the Crane in Pauls Church yard, 1658), 198–199. He also affirms common grace on pages 183, 191, 203, and 204–205.


Note: By "true grace," the Puritans mean a grace that is lasting, or that special grace of God that changes the heart unto eternal life. Here is how the Puritan Elnathan Parr explains the difference:
There are three sorts of men [that] go to Hell: 1. Such as continue in sin; a man need no great skill to read their doom. 2. The second are such, who have only a show of Religion, these are Hypocrites. 3. Such who have true grace, but it is temporary and continues not. A man may have true grace without salvation, but no true saving grace. True grace is then saving when it continues.

This distinction of grace is gathered out of the Hebrews, where Paul saith, That a man may be enlightened, partake of the Holy Ghost, and taste of the good word of God, and of the powers of the life to come, and yet be a cast-away. Now such graces were true, but temporary: So the stony and thorny ground had true grace, but not continuing, which is the note of good ground.
Elnathan Parr, A Plaine Exposition Upon the Whole Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelth Chapters of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans (London: Printed by George Purstowe for Samuel Man, dwelling in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Swanne, 1620), 421–422.


Martin Luther (1483–1546) on the Will of God and Matthew 23:37

The Diatribe is deceived by its own ignorance in that it makes no distinction between God preached and God hidden, that is, between the Word of God and God Himself. God does many things which He does not show us in His Word, and He wills many things which He does not in His Word show us that He wills. Thus, He does not will the death of a sinner--that is, in His Word; but He wills it by His inscrutable will. At present, however, we must keep in view His Word and leave alone His inscrutable will; for it is by His Word, and not by His inscrutable will, that we must be guided. In any case, who can direct himself according to a will that is inscrutable and incomprehensible? It is enough simply to know that there is in God an inscrutable will; what, why, and within what limits It wills, it is wholly unlawful to inquire, or wish to know, or be concerned about, or touch upon; we must only fear and adore!

So it is right to say: 'If God does not desire our death, it must be laid to the charge of our own will if we perish'; this, I repeat, is right if you spoke of God preached. For He desires that all men should be saved, in that He comes to all by the word of salvation, and the fault is in the will which does not receive Him; as He says in Matt. 23: 'How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not!' (v. 37). But why the Majesty does not remove or change this fault of will in every man (for it is not in the power of man to do it), or why He lays this fault to the charge of the will, when man cannot avoid it, it is not lawful to ask; and though you should ask much, you would never find out; as Paul says in Rom. 11: 'Who are thou that repliest against God?' (Rom. 9.20).
Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. by J. I. Packer & O. R. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 2003), 170–171.
Here, God Incarnate says: 'I would, and thou wouldst not.' God Incarnate, I repeat, was sent for this purpose, to will, say, do, suffer, and offer to all men, all that is necessary for salvation; albeit He offends many who, being abandoned or hardened by God's secret will of Majesty, do not receive Him thus willing, speaking, doing and offering. As John says: 'The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not' (John 1.5). And again: 'He came unto His own, and His own received Him not' (v. 11). It belongs to the same God Incarnate to weep, lament, and groan over the perdition of the ungodly, though that will of Majesty purposely leaves and reprobates some to perish. Nor is it for us to ask why He does so, but to stand in awe of God, Who can do, and wills to do, such things. I do not think anyone will raise the quibbling objection that this will, of which it is said: 'How often would I!', was displayed to the Jews even before God was incarnate, inasmuch as they are accused of having slain the prophets before Christ, and of resisting His will thereby. For it is well known among Christians that all that was done through the prophets was done in the name of the coming Christ, Who had been promised, that he might become God Incarnate. Thus all that has been offered to men through the ministry of the Word from the beginning of the world may rightly be called the will of Christ.
Ibid., 176.


Rightly did Muller say:
Luther thus juxtaposes almost paradoxically the assumptions that all things come to pass necessarily by the decree of God's eternal will, that all human beings are foreordained to salvation or damnation, that God nonetheless genuinely wills (as scripture states) the salvation of all people, and that those who are rejected by God are rejected for their unbelief.
Richard A. Muller, "Predestination," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 3:333. One wishes that Muller would speak just as clearly and explicitly about Calvin believing the very same thing, since Calvin is just as clear as Luther on God's revealed desire for the salvation of all men.