November 5, 2006

John Howe (1630–1705) Exhorting Unbelievers

You cannot please him, because the bent of your carnal mind lies cross to his saving design; you are enemies in your mind to him, for your mind is most opposite to his mind; he is for saving you, you are for self-destruction; you hate him, as you love death, Prov. viii. 36. Therefore also they that love this world, the love of the Father is not in them, I John ii. 15. He would have them do his will, and abide in a blessed state for ever; but while they love this world, their hearts are set upon a vanishing thing; for the world and the lust thereof must pass away and be gone, v. 17. They cannot love him, while in mind, and will, and design, they so little agree with him. And hereupon is the friendship of this world said to be enmity against God, and he that will be a friend of this world, makes himself an enemy to God, James iv. 4. The design of his amity with you is disappointed and lost, therefore he can look upon you no otherwise than as enemies to him.

And now, if this be the temper of your mind and spirit, how easily, by looking into your own hearts, might you discern it? "Know you not your ownselves?" 2 Cor. xiii. 5. As if it were said, it is a reproach to be ignorant or without this knowledge! What is so near you as yourselves? Do you not know your own minds; whether you had rather have your portion for ever on earth, or in heaven, whether you more value a heavenly treasure or the treasures of this earth? If you chiefly mind earthly things, how can you but know it? Do but take an account of yourselves, where are your hearts all the day from morning to night, from day to day, from week to week, from year to year? What thoughts, designs, cares, delights are they that usually fill your souls? Are they not worldly, carnal, earthly? Trace your own hearts: how canst thou say, I am not polluted? see thy way, (Jer. ii. 23,) mark thy own footsteps, see what course thou hast held, years together, even under the gospel; and when though hast been so often warned, even by him who bought thee by his blood, to seek first the kingdom of heaven, to strive to enter in at the strait gate; and told how precious a thing thy soul is, even more worth than all the world; and how fearful a bargain though wouldst have of it, if thou shouldst gain the whole world, and lose thy soul! And if all the neglects of his warnings and counsels have proceeded from the worldliness, earthliness, and carnality of thy heart and mind, and all this is declared to be enmity against God; then cast thyself down at his foot, and say to him, "Now, Lord, I yield to conviction; I now perceive I have been alienated, and an enemy in my mind by wicked works, though I never suspected any such thing by myself before." And know that till then the gospel of reconciliation will do thee no good; thou wilt never be the better for it, though thou livest under it all thy days; all exhortations to be reconciled to God, and to get this dreadful disease of enmity against God cured, will avail no more than physic, or a physician, to one that counts he is well, and feels himself not at all sick. All thy Redeemer's calls will sound in thine ears, as if he called the righteous, and not a sinner, to repentance.
John Howe, “Of Reconciliation Between God and Man,” in The Works of John Howe (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1990), 1:433–434.


John Howe, a very prominent (but much-neglected) Puritan theologian and chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, is indiscriminately telling unbelievers (even the non-elect) in this writing that Christ is their Redeemer and bought them with his blood. He clearly held to a classical Calvinist form of universal redemption.

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