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.


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