April 3, 2011

Francis Rous (1579–1659) on Christ's Sufficient Ransom for All

"But the same men that are so hard against the Saints, yet they are very kinde to the Reprobates, and they that will not allow a particular grace to give unto the Saints a sure salvation, will allow a general grace to give unto all, (Reprobates and all) an uncertaine salvation; Yea, to speake the truth under the shew of a generall salvation, they give no salvation at all. For man fallen will not stand, by that grace wherein man perfect did fall: so that if effectuall grace be taken away, salvation is taken away. But what say they? Christ dyed for all. True, but what of that? Therefore all men have grace to be saved by Christs death. A miserable inconsequence. There can be nothing follow but this, Therefore Christ gave himselfe a sufficient ransome for all. The ransome is sufficient for all, it is offered to all, but all men doe not receive it. Man by his fall hath deprived himselfe of grace, by which hee may accept the promises of grace, so that his owne incapacity, hinders him from accepting this general remedy. A King at his Coronation gives a general pardon; yet this doth not prove that all men are able particularly to apply this general pardon. There are some that thinke themselves rectos in Curia, and that they neede it not, some are negligent and carelesse of their estates; and a third sort are ignorant of it, and a fourth is poore and cannot sue it out. So in the generall pardon offered in Christ Jesus, there are some justificiaries, as the Scribes and Pharises that thinke they neede it not, there are some that with Esau despise it for carnall prophanenesse, there are some that are hardned and blinded being ignorant of Gods Righteousnesse in Christ Jesus, though they have it Preached, yea though they have a zeale of God and such are Jewes; and they cannot sue out a pardon by beleeving in him of whom they have not heard. But this is the summe of the truth: Man being wholly fallen by Free-will though assisted with a generall and sufficient grace, lost his Free-will, grace and life eternall. God in his mercy gives a Saviour with a sufficient ransome for all the sinners of the world, that of all the world he may take whom hee pleaseth, and by effectuall grace joyne them to Christ in an eternall union of blessed felicity. If Christ had not dyed for all, God could not of all have saved whom he pleased. If hee had given effectual grace to all, all would be saved; and then God had been all Mercy, and no Justice; if hee had given effectuall grace to none, none would be saved, and then God would have been all Justice, and no Mercy. But God purposed to shew, both Mercy and Justice, leaves some in the state of the fall, to which man voluntarily cast himselfe, and by effectuall grace joynes others to Christ unto eternall salvation. His Justice cannot be accused, but his Mercy ought to be magnified: And wee are infinitely more bound to God for his sure Mercyes in that Effectuall Grace, by which hee certainly saveth millions, then to Arminians for their generall grace, by which they goe about certainly to damne all."
Francis Rous, The Truth of Three Things, Viz, the Doctrine of Predestination, Free-Will, and Certainty of Salvation, as It is Maintained by the Church of England, Wherein the Grounds of Arminianism is Discovered and Confuted (n.p., 1633), 70–72.

Also in Testis Veritatis: The doctrine of King James Our Late Sovereign of Famous Memory. Of the Church of England. Of the Catholic Church. Plainly Shown to be One in the Points of Predestination, Free-will, Certainty of Salvation. With a Discovery of the Grounds Both Natural and Politic of Arminianism (London: Printed by W.I.[Jones?], 1626), 85–87.

"When the Westminster Assembly was set up, 12 June 1643, he was nominated one of its lay assessors, and on 23 September 1643 he took the Solemn League and Covenant."

George Petter (d.1661) on Christ's Love for the Rich Young Ruler

Quest. How could Christ love him [the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21], seeing he was a close hypocrite, and addicted to couvetousnesse, as he afterward shewed himself to be, by going away sorrowful, &c.

Answ. 1. It is not to be understood simply of love to his person; but of his love, liking, and approbation of those good things which he saw to be in him: as, his care to seek after eternal life, his reverent estimation of Christ's Person, his zeal and fowardness in the outward profession of Religion, and care to keep the Commandments (according to his knowledg of them) even from his youth: as also his teachableness, in that he asked, What more he lacked? Matth. 19.

In respect of these good and commendable properties which he saw to be in him, he is said to have looked lovingly upon him: though otherwise, as he was an hypocrite and covetous, he could not truly love his person, but did rather hate and abhor the same.

2. There is a two-fold love of Christ, 1. Common to all men, even to the profane and wicked, as they are men. This moved him to do good to all that came or were brought to him; curing them, &c. 2. Special to his Elect and faithful Disciples and Servants. Here the former is meant.

Observ. 1. That even in mere natural and unregenerate men void of true grace, there may be some good and amiable qualities and properties found: such qualities, vertues, and good things, as may procure love from God and men; I say, not only from men, but from God, and from Christ Jesus the Son of God; that is to say, a kind of common and general love, such as our Saviour here shewed to this young Ruler for the good things he saw in him: as, for his religious care and forwardness not only to know, but to keep the Commandments of God from his Youth, yea, from his Childhood; his civill life and care to refrain gross sins; as also his tractableness and readiness to learn of Christ, &c. These and the like good, and amiable qualities, and Civill or Moral vertues may be, and often are, found in such as are but meer natural men, void of all truth of sanctifying grace, yea, in such as are profane and wicked. In some of the wicked Kings of Israel were some good things found; which were in themselves pleasing to God: as in Ahab, his outward humiliation of himself by Fasting, &c. upon the Prophets threatning of him. 1 King. 21. 29. So in Jehu, there was a kind of zeal in Gods cause, in cutting off the whole Idolatrous house of Ahab. See 2 King. 10. 30. In the Scribes and Pharisees there were many civill vertues, and good things to be found; as their zeal and forwardness, and strictness in outward duties of Religion, and their care to refrain gross sins before men; as we may see by him, Luke 18. 11. In wicked Judas there were many good properties and vertues, else our Saviour would never have chosen him in to the number of his Apostles. So in Herod, Mark 6. 20. yea, who knows not, that even amongst the Heathen were many which excelled in some Moral and civill vertues, of external Justice, Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, Chastity, &c. as Socrates, Cato, Aristides, Fabricius, &c. Rom. 2. 14. The Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the things contained in the Law, &c...

Use. For admonition to all Christians and Professors of Religiion to take heed of resting in this, that they have some good qualities, or vertues in them, which are amiable or praise-worthy in themselves before God and men; but above all, to labour for the true Sanctifying Grace of Gods Spirit, and for the power of Religion and godliness, without which all their Morall or civill vertues, though never so good in themselves, shall do them no good at all. Though thou hast never so many good civill vertues, or amiable qualities, &c. yet if thy heart be not yet truely changed, and purged by Faith in Christ, thy person is odious to God; and all the good things and vertues in thee, though in themselves they be good and amiable, and such as God commandeth and alloweth for the matter of them; yet as they come from thee being out of Christ, they are no way pleasing, but abominable to God. Therefore first cleanse the Fountain, and make the Tree good, that the fruit may be truely good, &c.

Observ. 2. We may bear a kind of love to the persons of natural and unregenerate men, void of true Sanctifying Grace; though not simply, as they are void of Grace; yet in respect of those common gifts, and good things which we see to be in them; as in regard of the good parts or gifts of nature which God hath bestowed on them; as sharpness of Wit, Memory, Strength, or Comeliness of body, &c. or in regard of their Learning or knowledg in Arts and Tongues; or in regard of those Moral or Civill vertues which are in them, &c. In these respects, and for these good things, or common gifts of God in them, we may love and affect them, though not with that speciall and singular love which we owe to the Saints of God; yet with an inferior and common kind of love, in respect of the common gifts and graces of God which are in them.

Reas. We ought to love and esteem well of the gifts of God wheresoever we find and take notice of them, and therefore even in natural and unregenerate persons. See Jam. 1. 17. and in respect of these gifts and good things in them which come from God, we may be affected with a kind of love to them, and shew the same by tokens and testimonies thereof, as our Saviour did to this young man, by looking amiably upon him. Gal. 6. 10. Let us do good unto all, &c. Now doing of good is a fruit of love; therefore we are to shew a kind of love to all men; even to such as are but natural men, &c. 1 Pet. 2. 17. Honour (or esteem) all men. This cannot be without love, in respect of the good things that are in them: Samuel shewed much love to Saul, though a wicked man, by praying for him, and mourning for him, when for his sin of disobedience he was rejected of God from being King of Israel, 1 Sam. 15. 1. It grieved Samuel, and he cryed to the Lord all night. And though the Lord do blame Samuel for mourning for him, chap. 16. ver. 1. yet not simply for mourning, but for mourning so much and so long for him.

Caution. We are so to shew love to natural and unregenerate men for the good things in them, that withall we be carefull not to shew any love or liking to their sins and corruptions, or to countenance them therein. Distinguish between their persons, and the good things in them; and between their sins and corruptions.

Observ. 3. If our Saviour Christ loved this young man for his Religious care and forwardness to keep the Commandments of God from his youth; and though it were but an external obedience, as appeareth by comparing these words with the former; then on the contrary, he cannot but hate and abhor such as are careless, negligent, and unconscionable this way. He cannot but hate such as are profane and wicked from their youth, &c. When any begin betimes to obey Gods Commandments even in their youth; this procureth the love of Christ towards them, &c. As on the contrary, profaneness, and disobedience to Gods Commandments in young men and Children, is odious unto Christ, causing him to hate and abhor such.
George Petter, A Learned, Pious, and Practical Commentary Upon the Gospel According to St. Mark (London: Printed by J. Streater, and are to be sold by George Sawbridge, at the Bible on Ludgate-Hill, 1661), 740–741.

John Petter (1661/2–1700) has some biographical information about George Petter in the Preface to this work. He says:

• Petter was born in Kent, in the Lath of Scray, in the Hundred of Selbrittenden, in the Parish of Sandhurst near Newenden.

• He went to the University of Cambridge about the sixteenth year of his age, and was admitted into Trinity College, under the Name and Tuition of Mr. Simon Aldrich.

• Entered ministry about the age of 24, being placed in the Rectory of Bread, not far west from Winchelsey, in the County of Sussex, where he spent the remainder of his life, being pastor of that people 44 years.

• He preached in several of the Psalms, the whole 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the prophet Zephaniah, Ephesians, the first epistle to the Thessalonians, James, Jude, entirely and completely. He also had sermons on the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Decalogue, and Sacraments.

• Of his passing, he says, "The Disease which made its Preparative Assault upon him, was an Arthritical Distemper in one of his Shoulders, the pain whereof increasing more and more upon him, at length reduced him to a fatal consumption, of which he died in the 68th year of his age."

April 1, 2011

Increase Mather (1639–1723) on the Nature of Sinning Against the Gospel

The light of Nature is but a dark glimmering light, and the light of the Law was dark, compared with that of the Gospel; but now the Gospel is the most Clear, Divine, Spiritual, Glorious Light that ever shone into the hearts of men. Hence if men despise it, their sin, guilt and danger is most fearful; yea, and such persons do not only sin against the clearest Light, but against the highest Love that ever was. It was a wonderful Evidence of Divine Philanthropy, even the love and kindness of God towards mankind, Tit. 3.4. that he should find out a way for sinful men to come unto Salvation, and by the Gospel he discovers this way. Now to slight the kind offers of God, must needs be heinously evil. God shewed special favour to that people, upon whom he bestoweth the Gospel and Ordinances therefore, Psal. 89.15. Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound, they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance: The silver Trumpets under the Law, by which the people were called together, at the times appointed for Sacred and Solemn Assemblies, did typify the Gospel and holy Ordinances thereof. It is a blessed thing to be often hearing the joyful sound, which is made by the silver Trumpet of the Everlasting Gospel; such have the light of Gods countenance towards them, God from Heaven seems to look on them with a pleasant, favourable countenance. Now then to slight this favour, that is dangerous, Rom. 2.4.5. Despisest thou the riches of his goodness―After thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up to thy self wrath, against the day of wrath. They that live impenitently under the Gospel, they despise the riches of Divine goodness; therefore cannot expect other, but that treasures of wrath will be laid up against them, and one day laid out upon them. In a word, this sin of slighting the Gospel, is virtually and causally all sin; for all a mans other sins would be forgiven, if this were not superadded to the rest. If men did embrace the Gospel, they should also receive the Remission of sins. Unbelief is the greatest sin that ever any of you were guilty of in your lives: This binds the guilt of all sins against the Law, upon a mans Conscience for ever: Now by Unbelief is not meant, the doubting whether our sins are forgiven, but the refusing of the motion of the Gospel, when the Gospel freely offers Christ and Pardon; Life and Heaven with him: to prefer the World, or it may be a base Lust, before the blessed Son of God, this is that Unbelief which provoketh God more than transgressions of the Law doth.
Increase Mather, Some Important Truths About Conversion (London: Printed for Richard Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in Pauls Church-yard, 1674), 63–64. This work has a preface to the reader by John Owen. Elsewhere Mather says all are "fairly offered."