March 28, 2017

John Oldfield (c.1627–1682) on God’s Pathetic Begging, Philanthropy, and Willingness to Pardon

1. Will not God, think you, be most ready to do that which best pleases, and most honours him? and what’s that but pardoning the Penitent, embracing returning Prodigals? Do you question this? A great part of Scripture, yea, the very scope of the Gospel may convince you. Read Jer. 9:24; Mic. 7:18; Ex. 34:6–7; Isa. 55:7; Joel 2:12–13. Will you believe God upon his word? He hath told you, Ezek. 18:32 that he hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth: will you have his Oath? Ezek. 33:11. As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; [herein he hath pleasure:] turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, &c. If neither Word nor Oath will serve, yet I hope his Actings, and gracious Dispensations towards the sons of Men, towards yourselves, may pass for a Demonstration: Had God delighted in the Destruction; yea, had he not had unspeakably more delight in the salvation of poor sinners, would he have sent his Son? Would he have published the Gospel? Would he wait, and beseech, and so pathetically beg your souls? 2 Cor. 5:19. And for they own case, could not God have thrown thee into Hell so soon as thou wast born, if that had pleased him? Would he have been at so much cost and pains with thee? Or if thou now returnest, will he not accept thee; yea, meet thee while yet afar off, fall upon thy neck, and kiss thee, who hath been so long waiting that he might be gracious unto thee? And then for the honour of God; ‘tis true, he can get it in thy destruction, but he had rather thou wouldest give it him in thy Salvation: Such is his Philanthropy, and love to man, that he esteems that his greatest honour, which consists with his creatures greatest happiness. Let me speak a serious word; Which do you think will make the sweeter melody in God’s Ear? whether the eternal howlings and yellings of the damned, blaspheming, and tearing his Name in pieces; or the incessant Blessings and Hallelujahs of glorified Saints, singing Praises to him that sits upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever? And for you to whom I am speaking [Prophane sinners]. How singularly pleasing will it be to God? How delightful to the Angels, &c. to entertain you into their heavenly society? (to entertain you, I say, not such as now you are, but washed in the blood of the Lamb, clothed with white linen, which is the Righteousness of the Saints) read, and read again those three Parables of the Prodigal son, the lost goat, and lost Sheep, Luke 18. They tell you there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repents, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance; and for the glory of God, he will both get more by you, (for the Physician’s skill is commended by the desperateness of the disease he cures) and you will (at least endeavour) give him more than others: If we may imagine an holy strife and emulation among the glorified Saints, to excel each other in praising God; surely they that have exceeded others in sinning here, will in singing hereafter: they to whom most is given, will love most, admire most, and labour to rise highest in their praises: So that this may be helpful against any discouraging fears of being rejected; ‘Tis singularly pleasing and honouring to God that you should come in; you cannot suppose God unwilling to receive you upon your serious return, but you suppose him also false in his word, his oath deceitful in his actings, and unfaithful to the great interest of his own glory: all which is no less then blasphemy to imagine.
John Oldfield, The First, Last. Or, the Formal Hypocrite further from Salvation, (as to the Way of God's ordinary working) than the Prophane Sinner (London: Printed for R. Boulter, at the Turks-Head, in Cornhill, 1666), 95–98.


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), 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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