November 5, 2014

James Nalton (c.1600–1662) on Christ's Calls and Invitations

A third Use, It is for Exhortation. If Jesus Christ be the blessed Shepherd, as you have heard him described, that hath the greatest care, and love, and power, and reward; oh! what an invitation might this be to every one to come to Jesus Christ, and to stand out no longer: many persuasions have been tendered to you many hundred times, and yet some of you never brought home to Jesus Christ to this day: oh, that this might be that blessed day wherein Jesus Christ and some wandering sheep may be brought together: Consider who calls thee, it is not a Judge, but a Shepherd; and consider why he calls, not to hurt, but to heal thee; not to kill, but to cure thee; not to punish, but to pity thee; oh, think therefore with thyself, that thou hearest the Lord Jesus Christ (to use a homely Phrase) as it were, whistling after thee, as he doth in the ministry of his word; sometimes he comes with secret whisperings, sometimes he comes openly, whistling, speaking, calling, crying in the ears of sinners: Oh, do but think that thou heardest the Lord Jesus Christ calling, and crying after thee, why wilt thou die, and perish? why wilt thou be lost when thou mayest have a Saviour. Oh, but says the poor soul, I fear, I fear Mal. 4. 2. that I am so diseased, that the Lord Jesus Christ will not look upon me: Remember, that this Shepherd is compared to a Shepherd that hath healing under his wings.
James Nalton, Twenty Sermons Preached Upon Several Texts (London: Printed by R. H. and M. S. for Dorman Newman, and are to be sold at his Shop at the Kings Armes in the Poultry, next Grocers Alley, 1664), 70-71. This work has an epistle to the reader by Matthew Poole.

This Nalton quote on the nature of the gospel is also of use against Hoeksemian forms of hyper-Calvinism:
 I, but here it may be objected; does not the Apostle say, that the Gospel is the savour of death unto death, as well as the savour of life unto life. 2 Cor. 2. 16. Now, if the Gospel be the savour of death unto death, then how can it be said to bring Eternal Salvation? To this I answer.

When the Gospel is said to be the savour of death unto death, it is not spoken because the Gospel does kill and condemn simply, and in its own nature; but through the corruption of mens hearts that do not obey it, but do reject it, that do resist it. A King's pardon you know, does not kill any by itself, but by the Contempt of a Malefactor that does reject it, and so the pardon may double the Malefactor's guilt, and bring upon him a more speedy and fearful execution. So here, the Gracious pardon of God that is tendered in the Gospel, does not kill, or condemn any in it self, or in its own Nature, but through the contempt of those that do disregard it, in this regard, not simply, but accidentally, through the Corruptions of mens hearts, and Natures, in this regard, the Gospel may be said to increase a man's curse and condemnation: Whereas now the Law in its own nature, is said to be a killing Letter, because it leaves a man in a state of death, and leaves him under a curse, and does not show him the way at all how to avoid that curse, as the Gospel does; Therefore the Apostle says, The Law is a killing Letter of itself, but the Spirit giveth life. 2 Cor. 3. 6. because in the Preaching of the Gospel, the Spirit of God is conveyed into our souls, which enables us in some acceptable manner, to perform what the Gospel enjoins; and thus you have the Point opened to you, that the knowledge of Life, and Immortality, that Eternal Salvation that is laid up for the Saints in Light, is discovered, and revealed by the Preaching of the Gospel.
Ibid., 36–38.

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Similar to the second quote by Nalton, Martinius said:
...and the gospel, which in itself is a savor of life unto life, becomes to the unbelieving a savor of death unto death, by accident, through their own fault,...
William Fenner said:
It was Christ's primary purpose, and the first end of his coming, to save the world: it is an accidental end, or rather an event of his coming, that the world is condemned.
Calvin, commenting on Romans 1:16, said:
The gospel is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but the power of it appears not everywhere: and that it is the savour of death to the ungodly, does not proceed from what it is, but from their own wickedness.

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