March 17, 2015

Andrew Willet (1562–1621) on Romans 2:4

Quest. 6. Of the reasons why the Lord useth patience and forbearance toward sinners.

1. The Apostle useth three words, χρηστότης, goodness, bountifulness, which is seen in the general benefits, which God vouchsafeth to the wicked, as in granting them the Sunshine and rain, and such other temporal blessings: άνοχή, patience and forbearance, which is in bearing with the wicked, and not punishing them in their sins: μακροθυμία, longanimitie, and long sufferance: when God still deferreth his punishments, though men heap sin to sin: the first and chiefest cause of this long sufferance in God, is the expectation of men's repentance, that they should thereby come to amendement of life, as S. Peter saith. 2. Epist. c. 3.9. God is patient toward us, and would have no man to perish, but would have all men come to repentance. 2. As God's mercy and goodness herein appeareth, so also the malice of men, in abusing the Lord's patience, and their more just condemnation in the end is made manifest, as the old world was most justly destroyed, after they had been warned an 120 years by the preaching of Noah. 3. God taketh occasion by the malice, impenitencie, and hardness of heart in the wicked, to show his powerful and wonderful works, as Pharaoh's hardness of heart gave occasion to the Lord, to show his wondrous works in Egypt. 4. While the impenitent abusing God's long animitie, are more hardened in their sins, others in the mean time make good use of the divine patience, and are converted unto repentance: as in Egypt, though Pharaoh became worse, yet many of the Egyptians were humbled by these plagues, and were turned unto God, and joined unto his people. 5. God useth patience toward some, for the ensample, encouragement, and confirmation of others, that they should not despair of the goodness of God: as S. Paul saith, that Jesus Christ might first show on me all long suffering, unto the example of them, that in time to come, shall believe in him to eternal life, 1. Timoth. 1.16.

Quest. 7. Whether the leading of men to repentance by Gods long sufferance, argueth that they are not reprobate.

It will be here objected, that seeing the long sufferance of God calleth all unto repentance, and whom he would have repent, he would have saved: it seemeth then, that none are rejected or reprobate, whom the Lord so inviteth and calleth unto repentance.

Answer. 1. Such as are effectually called unto repentance by God's patience and long suffering, are indeed elected: for the elect only are effectually called to repentance, but such as abuse God's patience, and are impenitent still, may notwithstanding be in the state of reprobation: for though the same means be offered unto them to bring them to repentance, yet they have not the grace: the decree then concerning the rejecting of such impenitent persons, and the offer of such means, as might lead them unto repentance, may very well stand together: because it is of their own hardness of heart that the means offered are not effectual. 2. And thus also another objection may be answered, that if it be God's will, that such should come to repentance, whether the malice of man therein can resist the will of God: for, if it were God's absolute will and good pleasure, that such should come unto repentance, no man could resist it: God is able to change and turn the most impenitent and hard heart, if it pleased him: But here we must distinguish between effectual calling, which always taketh place and none can hinder it, and calling not effectual, yet sufficient if men did not put in a bar by their own hardness of heart: God's absolute will then is not resisted, when men come not to repentance: for his will is to leave such to themselves by his just judgement: and not to give them of his effectual grace, Faius. Now hereof no other reason can be given, why God doth not give his effectual grace to all, but his good pleasure, as our Blessed Saviour saith, Matth. 11.26. It is so Father, because thy good pleasure is such.
Andrew Willet, Hexapla: That Is, A Six-Fold Commentarie upon the most Divine Epistle of the holy Apostle S. Paul to the Romans (Printed by Cantrell Legge, Printer to the Universitie of Cambridge, 1620), 104–105.

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Andrew Willet (1562–1621) on the Common and Special Grace of God

Controv. 9. Whether by the light of nature only a man may do anything morally good.

Bellarmine hath this position, that a man, if no tentation [sic] do urge him, without faith, or any special assistance from God, may by his own strength do something morally good, ita ut nullum peccatum in eo admittat, so that therein he shall not commit any sin, lib. 5. iustificat. c. 5.

That the falsitie of this assertion may the better appear, 1. We must distinguish of the light that is given unto man, which is threefold: 1. There is the light of nature, which Christ giveth unto every one, that cometh into the world, as he is their Creator, Joh. 1.9. this is given unto all by nature: they are endued with a reasonable soul, and in the same by nature is imprinted this light. 2. There is beside this natural light, an other special light and direction concurring with that natural light, which though it be not so general as the other, yet it is common to many unregenerate men, that have not the knowledge of God, as the Lord saith to Abimelech, Gen. 20.6. I kept thee that thou shouldst not sin against me: this common grace many of the heathen had, whereby they were preserved from many notorious crimes, which other did fall into. 3. There is beside these the grace of Christ, whereby we are regenerate, and enabled to do that which is acceptable unto God through Christ: of this grace we mean, that without it the light of nature is not sufficient to bring forth any good work.
Andrew Willet, Hexapla: That Is, A Six-Fold Commentarie upon the most Divine Epistle of the holy Apostle S. Paul to the Romans (Printed by Cantrell Legge, Printer to the Universitie of Cambridge, 1620), 139–140.
 20. Controv. Whether a reprobate may have the grace of God, and true justice?

Pererius, as he denieth constancy and continuance in grace to the elect, so he affirmeth, that some which are ordained unto everlasting condemnation, may be for a while right good men, & Dei gratia praeditos, and endued with the grace of God: which he would prove, 1. by the fall of the Angels, who were created with grace. 2. By the example of Saul, and Judas, who were at the first good men, and had the grace of God. 3. So Solomon had the spirit of God, and yet in the end was a reprobate and cast-away. Perer. 27. disput.

Contr. 1. We must distinguish of grace: there are common graces and gifts of the spirit, which may be conferred upon the reprobate: as the Apostle sheweth, that they may be lightened, be partakers of the holy Ghost, and taste of the good word of God, &c. Heb. 6.4, 5. and yet fall away: that is, may have these things in some measure: but there is the lively sanctifying grace of God's spirit, whereby we are truly enlightened, which is not given to any, but unto the elect: which grace was promised unto S. Paul, 2. Cor. 12.9. My grace is sufficient for thee: so then we answer, that the Angels which fell, received in their creation an excellent portion and measure of grace, but not the like powerful and effectual grace which the elect Angels had.

2. Saul king of Israel, and Judas one of the Apostles, had many goodly gifts and graces of the first sort, but true justice, piety, and grace they never had.
Ibid., 400.
The Lord saith to Abimelech king of Gerar, who had taken Abraham’s wife into his house, I kept thee also that thou shouldest not sin against me, therefore suffered I not thee to touch her, Gen. 20:6. Abimelech was not preserved by his own power from the sin of adultery, but by God’s general grace, which yet is much different from the grace of renovation and sanctification: for as Abimelech here, so divers of the heathen had this general grace of restraint, whereby they were kept from notorious sins, as of oppression, injustice, adultery, murder, and such like, though they wanted the true work of regeneration. David by a greater gift and grace confesseth that the Lord kept him from laying his hand upon the Lord’s anointed. 1 Sam. 24:7; 26:11.
Andrew Willet, Thesaurus ecclesiæ: that is, the treasure of the church consisting of the perpetuall intercession and most holy praier of Christ, set forth in the 17. chapter of the Gospel by S. Iohn: which in this treatise is plainly interpreted, with necessarie doctrines enlarged, and fit applications enforced (London: Printed by Iohn Legat, printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge [and R. Field] And are to be sold at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Churchyard, by Simon Waterson, 1604), 104.

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March 5, 2015

Richard Alleine (1611–1681) on the Lord's Wish for the Salvation of the Lost

Brethren, My hearts desire for you all is, that you may be saved; and if there be any persons, that bear evil will to me, my particular wish for them, is, The Good-will of him that dwelt in the Bush be those Men's Portion forever.

These are some of my Wishes for you; will you join your Wishes with mine: Will you turn your Wishes into Prayers, and let this  be your Prayer; The Lord Grant thee thine hearts desire, and fulfill all thy Mind.

Brethren, Do I wish you any harm in all this? If not, if it be to be wished, that the Word of Christ were rooted in your Hearts, and your Souls thereby rooted in your Hearts, and your Souls thereby rooted in the Grace of God; if it be to be wished, That your Lusts were rooted out, your sins dead and dried up, your foot gotten out of the Snare, your Souls brought into the Fold, your Fruits of Righteousness and Holiness abounding, and growing up unto Eternal Life: If all this to be to be wished, then give in your Votes with mine; wish and pray, pray and press on, press on and wait for the accomplishment of this Grace in you all. I tell you again, I wish you well; and not only I, but the Lord God that hath sent me to you: The Lord Jesus wishes you well; he wishes and wooes, wooes and weeps, weeps and dies, that your Souls might live, and be blessed for ever: He hath once more sent me to you, even to the worst amongst you, to tell you from him, that he's unwilling you should perish; that he hath a kindness for you in his heart, if you will accept it: He hath Blood and Bowels for you; Blood to expiate your guilt, to wash away your filth; and Bowels to offer you the benefit of his Blood; with this Wish, Oh that it were theirs! Oh that they would hearken and accept! Only I must add, That the Lord hath two sorts of Wishes concerning sinners: The first is, Oh that they would hearken! Oh that they would come in, be healed, and be saved, Deut. 5.29. This Wish is an Olive Branch, that brings good Tidings, and gives great hopes of Peace and Mercy.

His last Wish is, Oh that they had hearkened, that they had accepted, Psal. 81.13. Oh that my people had hearkened to me. Luk. 19.42. Oh that thou hadst known in this thy day, the things that concern thy peace. This Wish hath nothing but Dread and Death in it: it is the Black Flag hung out, that proclaims Eternal Wars. The sense is, Israel had once a fair time of it; a time of Love, a time of Grace, a time of Peace: Oh that they had hearkened then, that they had known the Things that concern their peace! But woe, woe to them, 'tis now too late, the Door is shut, the Season is over, the Day is past; But now they are hid from thine Eyes.

There are three deadly darts in this Wish [oh that thou hadst] it includes in these three cutting words,

Thou hast not.
Thou mightest.
Thou shalt not for ever.

1. There is this in it, [Thou hast not.] What have I not? why, thou hast not known the things that belong to thy peace. Thou hast had the door of Glory, the Gate of Heaven open to thee, and hast been called for, and invited in, but thou hast lost the opportunity. Thou knewest not when thou wert well offered, nor would'st take notice what a day was before thee, what a price was in thine hand; thy peace, the Gospel of peace, the Prince of peace, a Kingdom of peace was set open, offered, and brought home to thy doors, but thou hadst so many other matters to look after, that thou tookest no notice of it, but hast let it slip. There's one Dart. [Thou hast not known.] There's a Gospel cone, there's a Christ gone, there's a Soul, a Kingdom lost.

2. There is this in it, [Thou mightest.] Oh that thou hadst! why, Might I? yes thou might'st, if thou wouldst thou mightst. Thy God did not mock thee, when he preached peace to thee; he was willing and wish'd it thine; if thou wouldst, thou mightest have made it thine own; but whilest he would thou wouldest not.

There's another Dart [I might have known.] I have none to thank but myself for the loss, mine undoing was mine own doing. There are no such torments, as when the Soul flies upon itself, and takes revenge on itself; oh the gashes that such self-refluctions make. Soul, how camest thou in hither, into all this misery? Oh 'tis of myself, myself, that my destruction is. The door was open, and I was told of it, and was bid come in, but I would not. That I am lost and undone, was not my Fate, which I could not avoid, but my Fault and my folly. It seems to give some ease of our torment, when we can shift off the fault. It was not I, but the Woman, said Adam, It was not I, but the Serpent, said the Woman; if that had been true, it would have given ease, as well as serve for an excuse. This thought ['Twas mine own doing] tears the very caul of the heart. Oh I have none to blame but myself, mine own foolish and froward heart. This is my ignorance, this is my unbelief, this is my wilfulness, my lusts, and my pleasures, and my Idols, that I was running after that, have brought me under this dreadful loss. 'Twas my own doing.

3. There is this in it, [Thou shalt not forever.] Oh that thou hadst! why, may I not [yet?] Is there no hope of recovering the opportunity? not one word more, not one hour more, may not the Sun go [one] degree backward? No, no, 'tis too late, too late; thou hast had thy day; from henceforth no more forever. There's the last Dart, [Times past] there's the death, the Hell, the anguish, the Worm that shall gnaw to eternity.

This one word [Time's past] sets all Hell a roaring; and when its once spoken to a sinner on Earth, there's Hell begun. Go thy way wretch, fill up thy measure, and fall into thy place. The Gospel hath no more to say to thee, but this one word, Because I have called, and thou refusedst, I have stretched out my hand, and thou regardedst not, but hast set at nought all my Counsels, and wouldst none of my reproofs; I also will laugh at thy calamities, and mock when they fear cometh; when thy fear cometh as desolation, and thy destruction cometh as a Whirlewind, and when distress and anguish cometh upon thee; then shalt thou call, but I will not answer, thou shalt seek me early, but shalt not find me.

Beloved, my hopes are, and I am not able to say, but that you are yet under the first wish; Oh that they would. Christ is yet preaching you to faith, and sends his Wish along with his Word, Oh that they would believe. Christ is yet preaching Repentance and Conversion to you, and wishes, O that they would repent, that they would be converted; and to this wish of my Lord, my Soul, and all that is within me, says Amen.

Brethren, will you yet again say [to] your Lord nay? shall Christ have his wish? shall your Servant for Jesus sake, shall I have my wish? will you now at last consent to be sanctified, and to be saved? let me have this wish, and I dare promise you from the Lord, you shall have yours, even whatever your Soul can desire.

Brethren, this once hear, this once be prevailed upon; be content that your lusts be rooted out, and your Lord planted into your Souls. Be content to be pardoned, content to be converted, content to be saved. This once hear, lest if ye now refuse, ye no more be persuaded with, oh that they would! but be forever confounded with, oh that they had! Lest all our wishes, and wooings of you, be turned into weepings, and mournings over you; this once hear; oh that you would.
Richard Alleine, The Godly Man's Portion and Sanctuary Opened, in Two Sermons (London, n.p., n.d., 1663?), 166–170.

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Note: Oliver Heywood, Nathaniel Vincent, James Janeway, Joseph Alleine, John Rogers and Thomas Barnes also, when speaking to the lost, tell them they are "well-offered" in the gospel.