June 13, 2008

Thomas Cartwright (c.1535–1603) on God's Earnest Desire

Adam where art thou? so that two things may we learn from hence; the one from the matter, the other from the form or manner of this reproof.

1. That God does earnestly desire the repentance and life of the sinner, and therefore he checks him in the career of his sins, and puts him in mind how if he do not stop his course, he will quickly run headlong into the bottomless pit.

God goes but slowly when he goes about to punish, that so the sinner repenting of his sins may escape his judgments; like a tender father he inquires after his prodigal son, when he had lost and forgot himself, and having found him puts him in mind of the ruin into which his riot will bring him, and if he will be woo'd to a return, he will meet him halfway and embrace him. When the sinful offspring of Adam do like their forefathers run from God, he is pleased in mercy to follow them; and to draw nigh to them, that so they may no longer estrange themselves from him, and to put them in mind of the right way, that so they may no longer run on in their erroneous courses.
Thomas Cartwright, God's Arraignment of Adam (London: Printed for John Baker, 1659), 19. [pagination corrected and spelling modernized]
But consider in this your day that he does once more stretch forth his hands to a gain-saying, and rebellious people: He now calls upon you as a judge, to try whether you can acquit yourselves of the whole, or excuse yourselves in part of these crimes, these crying sins that are laid to your charge. Does he not sometimes cause your consciences to read you that sentence of condemnation under which you lie, that so if my any means possible he might move you to repentance: Does he not mitigate the severity of a judge with the tenderness of a father, and show how unwillingly he is to disinherit you; and how desirous rather that you should return and live? Does he not like a physician make a search into your disease, the sad condition in which your souls lie? That so having made you sensible of your distemper and danger you may be desirous of a cure. Does he not call to you in pity, and show you how you are even upon the brink of destruction, so that there is hardly a hairs breadth between you and misery?
Ibid., 23.