March 29, 2017

George Newton (1602–1681) on the Sin of Unbelief, the Father Begging, and the Son’s Death for Mankind

That it is a sin not to believe in Jesus Christ, is evident by that which hath been said, because it is the violation of a Law, the Law of faith. But more than so, it is a very great sin. It is a sin of no ordinary size; no, (my beloved) it is a sinning sin, it is abundantly, and out of measure sinful. It is a sin indeed to violate the Law of works which the Apostle styles Moses’ Law, because it was delivered by the hand of Moses: But it is a greater sin to violate the Law of faith, and that both with relation to the Father and Son.

First for the Father, it is an horrible indignity to him; it is the basest undervaluing and despising of his love that can be; he gives his Son out of his bosom, to suffer shame and death for poor Creatures, and having done it, he sends his Messengers to mind men of the danger they are in without Christ, and to exhibit and propose him to them as the means, the only means of their salvation: and as endeavoring to overcome men with his goodness, he doth in love and pity beg them, and beseech them to accept of it; And what is the event of this? why (my beloved) when he hath abased himself so low, and stooped so much below himself as to become a suitor to them to receive his Son, they carry matters so as if he stood in need of them; as if he came to make a motion to them for his own advantage; as if he knew not what to do, if they should refuse his Son. Is not this good usage? that when he hath descended so in ways of mercy, they should shake him off, and tell him in effect, that his proffered wares stink, and that they do not need him, nor his Son neither: he may go offer him to them that have a mind to him.

Oh what abuse of love is this! Oh what an high dignity! what an unsufferable provocation! even to incense the Lord so far, as to cause him to resolve that he will never stoop so low again; that he will never prostitute his Son again to the disdain and the refusal of a company of base unthankful men; that he will make them rue the time that ever they condemned this mercy to them.

Then for the Son (my Brethren) in the second place, it is an high affront to him, and so in that respect a great sin. It cost him dear to purchase and obtain remission and salvation for a company of lost creatures; indeed his dearest life, his dearest blood. And is it not an horrible indignity to slight and to despise so great salvation? to trample under foot the son of God; to scorn such rich and precious mercy? yet this all unbelievers do, if not in their intention, yet in the issue and event. Truly their sin in this respect, is greater than the sin of Devils, whose nature Christ hath not assumed (he took not on him the nature of Angels, but the seed of Abraham) for whom he never suffered, and to whom he was never offered; They will have something to excuse themselves withal, something to plead before the Lord in the great and dreadful day. Alas, may Devils say, there was no possibility of our recovery; there was no Mediator between God and us, to purchase and obtain our peace; there was no pardon tendered to us; but you had the eternal Son of God to die for you, (for you mankind) to shed his blood, and to lay down his life for you; and yet when all was done, and when he came and brought a pardon to you, sealed with his blood, and besought you to accept it, you even shut him out of doors, you would not look upon him, nor receive him; you baffled him, and dodged with him; Ah, (my beloved) what heart if it be truly touched, can hold from breaking under the sight and sense of such abominable and prodigious wickedness as this is?

And as the sin is great, so in the second place, the misery and condemnation will be great also. There will be no avoiding of it; for how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation! Heb. 2:3. There will be no enduring of it, it will be infinitely heavy; it will be easier for Turks and Pagans in the day of judgement than for such wretches. Alas poor souls, that as if their condemnation were not deep enough already, the incarnation, the passion, and the offer of a Saviour, the richest mercies in themselves, that ever were bestowed upon the Creature, should accidentally increase it. That Christ should die and shed his blood, to sink men deeper into hell, than if he had not died at all (for this is the event and issue of it) this is a lamentable thing indeed.

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 Larkham (Puritan), Thomas Manton (Puritan), John Murcot (Puritan), George Newton (Puritan), John Oldfield (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), Daniel Williams (Puritan), Samuel Willard, Benjamin Wadsworth, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.


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