February 18, 2016

Arthur Hildersham (1563–1632) on the Revealed Will of God

Look thou, & enquire thou into the revealed will of God, and there thou shalt find enough to encourage thee to turn unto him, and to assure thee that thou needest not doubt to find mercy, and grace with him, if thou canst now seek it.

First, God hath revealed in his Word, that he doth not desire nor take pleasure in the destruction of any wicked man; no not in his temporal destruction. He gave the old World warning of the Flood, an hundred and twenty years before it came, that by their repentance, they might have prevented it, as you shall see by comparing. 1 Peter 3.20. with Gen. 6.3. He gave Pharaoh, and the Egyptians warning of the plagues they enforced him to bring upon them, that by their repentance they might prevent them. And in giving them warning of the fiery hail, he expressly saith, he did it to that end that they might save their servants, and their cattle from that destruction. Exod. 9.19. Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field, &c. When his people had so deeply provoked him, to bring them into miserable captivity, and he had assured them by his Prophets, that he would do it; yet how oft was his heart turned within him, and his repentings kindled together? as the Prophet speaketh, Hosea 11.8. How oft, and how earnestly doth he warn them of it? How many means doth he use to persuade them, that by their repentance they would prevent it; See for proof of this, Jeremy 26.2, 3. And 36.2, 3, 6, 7. And if he take no pleasure in the destruction of the bodies of wicked men, is it possible he should delight in the destruction, and damnation of their souls? No, no, hearken how deeply he protesteth against this, Ezekiel 33.11. Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Yea, he protesteth this so deeply, even for this very purpose, that he might encourage every poor sinner to turn unto him. I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth saith the Lord God, Ezekiel 18.32; wherefore turn your self, and live ye.

Secondly, God hath revealed in his Word, that he doth earnestly desire the repentance and salvation of the most wicked man, and taketh great pleasure in it; and therefore earnestly seeketh to reclaim them, Ezek. 33.11. As I live saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in his death, but that he turn from his way, and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die O house of Israel. And this thou hadst heretofore, and hast this day experience of in thy self. How earnestly, and how mightily hath God laboured with thee this way? Yea, he beseecheth thee, and prayeth thee to be reconciled to him. 2. Cor. 5.20. Yea, there is nothing would so much delight him, as to see thee repent; as is set forth in the father of the prodigal, O what mirth and joy made he when he returned to him? Luke 15.23, 24.

Thirdly, God hath revealed in his Word, that Christ with all his merits, should be in the ministry of the Gospel offered unto all that feel themselves to be sinners (as the brazen serpent was lifted up, for all to look upon that were stung, Num. 21.9.) unto thee as well as unto any other is he offered, and thou art commanded to believe he died for thee. Mar. 16.15. Preach the Gospel to every creature. And what is it to preach the Gospel to him? Surely, to say to him as Lu. 2.11. Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. So Christ inviteth all. Joh. 7.37. Jesus cried saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. And of his invitation of sinners in this sort, the Lord saith, Isa. 45.19. I said not in vain seek ye me, I the Lord speak righteousness. If a poor sinner being thus invited, should come to Christ for grace, would he reject him? No, in no wise. Joh. 6.37. All that the father giveth me, shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.

Fourthly, God hath not in words only, but really given thee cause to feel by manifold experiments, that he loveth thee, and wisheth thee well. Even this is an argument of his love, that he hath preserved thee from so many dangers, Ps. 41.11. By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me; that he feedeth and cloatheth thee, Deut. 10.18. He loveth the stranger in giving him food and raiment; that thou sleepest so safely, and quietly on nights, Psal. 127.2. He giveth his beloved sleep. Thou wilt say, these are but common mercies.

I answer. True, yet concerning them, observe four things. 1. That to the faithful, these are pledges of his special love, as these places have proved. 2. That they are arguments of his goodness, even towards all men that enjoy them. For so saith the Apostle, Rom. 2.4. And if any man should have done this for thee, saved thy life but once, when thou wert in danger to have lost it, delivered thee out of debt, and danger, maintained thee with food, and raiment all thy life, thou wouldest not doubt but he loved thee unfainedly. Thou wouldest count it a foul sin to suspect or doubt of his love, or to entertain such a thought, O but for all that he hath done this for me, I doubt I have not his heart, I doubt he hath purposed in himself to be my destroyer in the end. And is it nothing for thee to suspect this of God? 3. Though these be but common mercies, yet it is a great sin to despise or set light by them. Rom. 2.4. Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering? 4. Thou depisest them if thou be not by them led, and encouraged to repent, and turn unto God Rom. 2.4.


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