December 13, 2015

John Hooper (c.1495–1555) on God’s Justice and Will to Save

We shall find at length God to be just in his word, and will punish with eternal fire our contumacy and inobedience [sic]; which fire shall be no less hot than his word speaketh of. So did he with Saul: persuaded the miserable wretch that God was so good, that though he offended, he would not punish him as he said, but be pleased with a fat sacrifice again. 1 Reg. xv. This doctrine is therefore necessary to be known of all men, that God is just and true, and requireth of us fear and obedience; as Saint John saith, “He that sent me is true.” David, Psalm cxlv., speaketh thus of his justice, “The Lord is just in all his ways.” And understand, that his justice extendeth to two diverse ends: the one is, that he would all men to be saved, Gen. iii. xv. xvii. Matt. xi. Isai. liii. 1 Tim. ii. Rom. xi.; the other end, to give every man according to his acts.

To obtain the first end of his justice, as many as be not utterly wicked, and may be holpen: partly with threatenings, and partly with promises he allureth, and provoketh them unto amendment of life. The other part of his justice rewardeth the obedience of the good, and punisheth the inobedience [sic] and contempt of the ill. These two justices the elders to call correctiuam, and retributiuam. Jonas the prophet speaketh of the first, chap. ii. and Christ, Matt. xxv. of the second. God would all men to be saved, and therefore provoketh, now by fair means, now by foul, that the sinner should satisfy his just and righteous pleasure. Not that the promises of God pertain unto such as will not repent, or his threatenings to him that doth repent; but those means he useth to save his poor creatures. 1 Cor. xi. This wise useth he to nurture us, until such time as his holy Spirit work such a perfection in us, that we will obey him, though there were no pain nor joy mentioned of at all.
John Hooper, “A Declaration of the X holie commandments of Almightie God,” in Early Writings of John Hooper, D. D., ed. Samuel Carr (Cambridge: University Press, 1843), 266–267. Also in John Hooper, A Declaration of the x. holie commandments of Almightie God (London: Imprinted by Robert Walde-graue, for Thomas Woodcocke, 1588?), B2r–B3v.

DNB (2)

July 28, 2015

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on Sinners Rejecting God’s Dying Love

Think it not strange that God should deal so severely with thee, or that the wrath which thou shalt suffer should be so great. For as great as it is, it is no greater than that love of God which thou hast despised. The love of God, and his grace, condescension, and pity to sinners in sending his Son into the world to die for them, is every whit as great and wonderful as this inexpressible wrath. This mercy hath been held forth to thee, and described in its wonderful greatness hundreds of times, and as often hath it been offered to thee; but thou wouldst not accept Christ; thou wouldst not have this great love of God; thou despisedst God’s dying love; thou trampledst the benefits of it under foot. Now why shouldst thou not have wrath as great as that love and mercy which thou despisest and rejectest? Doth it seem incredible to thee, that God should so harden his heart against a poor sinner, as so to destroy him, and to bear him down with infinite power and merciless wrath? And is this a greater thing than it is for thee to harden thy heart, as thou hast done, against infinite mercy, and against the dying love of God?
Jonathan Edwards, “The Future Punishment of the Wicked Unavoidable and Intolerable,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1992), 81–82.


July 12, 2015

Nathaniel Appleton (1693–1784) on God’s Preceptive Will and His Willingness to Save All Men

Moreover, it may be considered as the Preceptive Will of God. He wills, that is, he commands, that all Men should be saved; and this he does, as he commands, those Things universally that accompany Salvation, yea and in which Salvation does very much consist.—The Preceptive Will of God is universal; what he says to one, he says to all who come within hearing of it. And now God may be said to will the Salvation of all Men, as truly & as really as he wills they should keep his Commandments. As he wills that all Men should obey him, so he wills that they should all be saved; because there is an inseparable Connection between Obedience and Salvation, and the one implies the other. Thus we are told, Act. 17.30. That God commands all Men every where to repent. Well, just so he wills that all Men every where should be saved: For that Repentance which he wills, is unto Salvation: Nay true Repentance is Salvation; Salvation begun in the Soul: And it seems by the Apostle as if Repentance and Salvation were synonymous or convertible Terms, in the forementioned 2 Pet. 3.9. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. Where perishing and Repentance are put in Opposition, plainly signifying that Repentance is the same with Salvation, which is the contrary or opposite to perishing. So again, it is the Will of God that all Men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father, Joh. 5.23. Well, this is as much as to will the Salvation of all Men: For this is Life eternal, to know and honour the true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent, Joh. 17.3. Again, who is there but what will acknowledge that God wills Men to forsake their Sins, turn to him, and lead holy Lives? For this is the Will of God, even your Sanctification. And if he wills that all Men should flee from Sin and follow Holiness, he wills that all Men should be saved, for Holiness and Freedom from Sin, is that in which a great Part of our Happiness consists. Finally here, since the Grace of God which has appeared unto all Men, bringing Salvation, teaches us to deny all Ungodliness, and worldly Lusts, and to live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present World, (Tit. 2.11, 12.) it must be allowed to be the Will of God that we should all thus live; and this is to will the Salvation of all: For it is in this Way that the Grace of God brings Salvation unto us.

Now therefore, if there be any Persons who doubt whether God is really willing that all Men should be saved, let them consider whether God be really willing that all should repent, that all should believe, that all should forsake their Sins, and obey the Gospel; and consider whether all such do not contradict and oppose the Will of God, who do not repent of their Sins, and live as the Gospel teaches them.

And now, would it not be very shocking to you, for any to say, that God was not willing that all Men should repent, that he was not willing they should all turn from their Sins, and was not willing they should all obey his Commands? Why, it is really as shocking for any to say, that God is not willing that all should be saved: Because Repentance, and Faith, and Obedience, and Salvation, are so interwoven together, that the one necessarily implies the other.

Similarly, John Frame said:
If God desires people to repent of sin, then certainly he desires them to be saved, for salvation is the fruit of such repentance.

June 25, 2015

John Foxe (1517–1587) on God’s Common and Special Love

The second article: ‘Christ doth more love a predestinate man being sinful, than any reprobate in what grace possible soever he be.’ Answer: My words are in the fourth chapter of my book entitled, ‘Of the Church:’ ‘And it is evident that God doth more love any predestinate being sinful, than any reprobate in what grace soever he be for the time; forasmuch as he willeth that the predestinate shall have perpetual blessedness, and the reprobate shall have eternal fire.’ Wherefore God partly infinitely loving them both as his creatures, yet he doth more love the predestinate, because he giveth them greater grace, or a greater gift, that is to say, life everlasting, which is greater and more excellent than grace only, according to present justice. And the third article of those articles before, soundeth very near unto this: that the predestinate cannot fall from grace. For they have a certain radical grace rooted in them, although they be deprived of the abundant grace for a time. These things are true in the compound sense.


June 18, 2015

Isaac Watts’ (1674–1748) Dualistic View of the Atonement

Yet further, one Christian may delight more to fix his Eye and Hope on Christ, as a Surety or Representative of his Elect, or of those whom he certainly and finally saves, and on that account he suffered Death particularly in their room and stead, and secured to them certain Deliverance and Salvation; yet he cannot therefore affirm, that Christ did not, in any Sense, die for all Men, as a general Friend of Man, or suffer Death for their Good; nor can he say, that the Benefits of his Death do not any way reach to all Mankind. Another perhaps will say, since all are dead, he died for all as a common Mediator betwixt God and Man, or as a general Benefactor to procure conditional Salvation for all Men, and offer it to them if they are willing to come to him and receive it; but he cannot say, that he was not a proper Surety, or Representative of his Elect, whereby he has secured certain Salvation to them only: For as I have shown in former Papers, that he by his Righteousness and Death has directly and absolutely procured this Salvation for his Elect, as their Head and Representative, but yet he has also procured Salvation, with all the Glories of it, conditionally, for the rest of Mankind, upon which Foundation these Blessings are offer’d to all Men in the Gospel.
Isaac Watts, Orthodoxy and Charity United (Boston, N.E.: Reprinted and sold by Rogers and Fowle in Queen-Street., 1749), 184–185. Also in “Orthodoxy and Charity United,” in The Works of the Rev. Isaac Watts, D.D., 9 vols. (Leeds: Printed by Edward Baines, 1813), 180.


June 12, 2015

Benjamin Wadsworth (1670–1737) on God’s Mercy, Patience, and Final Judgment

In the day of God’s Patience there’s ground to Pray with hope of success (God regards the Prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their Prayer) but when God’s abused Patience is ended, all the Prayers of Sinners will be disregarded. The wicked rich Man in Hell, tormented in those scorching Flames, begg’d for as much Water to cool his Tongue, as could hang on the tip of a Mans Finger; what a small pittance was this? He did not ask to be taken out of Hell, not ask to have those Flames quenched; not ask to have a running River, a living Fountain always by him to cool and refresh him; no, he ask’d but a small matter, a drop of Water, and that when he was in utmost necessity too, and yet ‘twas deny’d him, Luk. 16 Chap. Oh believe it, God has not one drop of Mercy for the finally obstinate and rebellious Sinner. In this World, God’s Mercy (as it were) goes a begging to them, ‘tis brought to their very Doors and offer’d to them; Christ stands at the Door and knocks for entrance. They actually enjoy many outward Mercies, and Spiritual Eternal Mercies are offered to them and urged on them; but when God’s Patience is ended, let them Cry and Pray as long as they will, not the least drop of Mercy shall be obtained for them. And as they shall not have the least drop of Mercy, so they shall have Wrath and Misery without mixture; Pain without mitigation or intermission. They shall be cast into outer darkness, where there’s weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth: they shall be cut asunder; shall be plagu’d with the Worm that never dies, the Fire that never can be quenched, and that among Damned Devils forever. Truly, no Tongue can declare, no Heart conceive the greatness of this Misery. Oh, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the living God, Heb. 10.31. Who knoweth the Power of his Anger! None can deliver out of his Hands; he’ll punish his obstinate Enemies with Everlasting Destruction.
Benjamin Wadsworth, “Sermon IX: GOD’S BOW Bent, and SWORD Drawn against the Wicked,” in Twelve Single Sermons on Various Subjects (Boston: Printed by B. Green, for N. Buttolph, B. Eliot, S. Gerrish, and D. Henchman, sold at their shops, 1717), 183–185.


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), Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

Samuel Willard (1640–1707) on God’s Common and Special Love

When the Scripture attributes love to God, it points to his good will in purposing good to be bestowed on them, and making them that are appointed thereto to partake therein: and this love is looked upon to be greater or less, according to the things that are willed in it, and the benefit received by them: and on this account, God is said to love some of his Creatures more than others, in that he hath done more for them, and prepared greater blessings to bestow on them. There is a common love of God, in which the whole Creation is a sharer, appearing in his benignity in bestowing on them these favours by which they are preserved, supplied, and comforted; to this is to be referred that, Acts 14 17 He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness; and Chap 17 25 He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. But then there is a special love which God hath for some of his Creatures, and that was in appointing, providing, and opening this fountain for them, from which they may derive everlasting life. This therefore is mentioned in the Gospel with an Emphasis, as if it were the only love, 1 Joh. 4 9.
...when God manifesteth his benignity to the Creature, we conceive him, in his so doing, to act as a cause by Counsel, and so ascribe it to his Benevolence, and call it his love. And from this consideration, there is a divers love that is assigned to him, according to the different effects of his good will, discerned in the fruits of his Beneficence to the Subject of it. There is a common love attributed to him, wherein the good and the bad do promiscuously partake; and it appears in that Goodness of his which he confers upon them, wherein he gives them large tastes of his bounty; and to this love we are pointed in, Psal. 145.9. The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. And Acts 14.17. He left not himself without witness in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And there is an Especial love of his that we are told of, which he bears only to some, and in comparison with which others are said to be hated, according to Rom. 9.13 Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated; and it appears in those peculiar favours which he hath laid in for, and bestows upon them; of which we have such observations, Joh. 3.16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, &c. 1 Joh. 4 9. In this was the love of God manifested towards us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him...
Samuel Willard, Love’s Pedigree. Or A Discourse Shewing the Grace of Love in a Believer to be of A Divine Original (Boston, in N.E.: Printed by B. Green, and J. Allen. Sold by Benjamin Eliot, at his shop under the west end of the town house, 1700), 7–8.


June 11, 2015

Nathaniel Appleton (1693–1784) on the Will of God and the Death of Christ

Appleton wrote:
But then, I would go on further to say, that God wills the Salvation of all Men, as he has done and is doing those Things which indicate such a Willingness, or are outward, open, and manifest Tokens of his Willingness that all Men should be saved. As particularly,

1. In the all sufficient Saviour he provided for sinful Man.

God did not provide a Saviour who was able only to save a few of the fallen Race; but One who was able to save every Son and Daughter of Adam. I am not now considering the Extent of Christ’s Redemption, as to the divine Intention and Design, or as to the real Event of it; for this is a secret Thing, and belongs not to us, but to God. But what I am now considering, is the Extent of his Merits, and of his Power; and considered in this Respect, it is universal. Of such infinite Virtue are the Merits of Christ’s Blood, that it is sufficient to take away the Sin of the whole World. If every Man in the whole World should be saved, there would not need any other Sacrifice than Christ has already made of himself; and therefore with Respect to the Sufficiency of Atonement, Christ may be said to have died for all; to have tasted Death for every Man; and to be the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for ours only, but for the Sins of the whole World. Moreover there is not only such a Sufficiency of Merit in Christ, but a Sufficiency of Power: For all Power is given to him in Heaven, and in Earth: That as his Blood was sufficient to wash away the Guilt of the whole World; so his Power is sufficient to subdue the strongest Habits of Sin, and bring us over to a willing Subjection to him, and to his Gospel. So that there is every Thing in him necessary to render him a complete All-sufficient Saviour to the whole World of Mankind: Surely He is able to save to the uttermost. And now this may be considered as a Token of God’s Willingness that all Men should be saved: For when God has provided a Saviour able to save the whole World; what are we led to argue from thence, but that God is willing that all should be saved? Who can think that God is unwilling to have the Malady healed, for which he has been at infinite Cost to provide a sovereign Remedy? And that when he has spread a Plaister large enough for the whole Sore, he should be unwilling to have it applied?
Nathaniel Appleton, How God wills the salvation of all men; and their coming to the knowledge of the truth, as the means thereof. Illustrated in a sermon from I. Tim. ii. 4. Preached in Boston, March 27. 1753. at the ordination of the Rev. Mr. Stephen Badger, as a missionary with a special reference to the Indians at Natick.: Published at the unanimous desire of the ecclesiastical council convened on that occasion; and of other hearers. (Boston: Printed and sold by S. Kneeland Queen-Street, 1753), 7–8. Henry Scudder (c.1585–1652) sounds similar when he said, “And it was so intended by Christ, that the plaster should be as large as the sore, and that there should be no defect in the remedy, that is, in the price, or sacrifice of himself offered upon the cross, by which man should be saved, but that all men, and each particular man, might in that respect become salvable by Christ.”

Appleton, Nathaniel, 1693–1784.
Born, 1693; graduated at Harvard, 1712; ordained to the Ministry, 1717; Fellow of Harvard, 1717–1779; died, 1784.

Nathaniel Appleton, D.D., Fellow of Harvard, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, December 9, 1693. He studied at Harvard, where he received his Master’s degree in 1712, and then studied theology. His ordination to the Ministry took place October 9, 1717, and he succeeded the Rev. William Brattle as Congregationalist minister in Cambridge. He was an able preacher and ranked among the foremost theologians of the day. For sixty-two years, 1717–1779, he was one of the Corporation of Harvard, and occupies an honorable place among the Fellows of that Institution. Some of Mr. Appleton’s sermons were published prior to his death. He died in Cambridge, February 9, 1784.

Nathaniel Appleton (1693–1784), of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of John Appleton and Elizabeth Rogers, was born in Ipswich and was an American Congregationalist minister. He was the nephew of President Leverett of Harvard and a graduate of Harvard. He was also chaplain of the 1st Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and minister of the First Church in Cambridge for sixty-six years. His meeting-house opened its doors and extended its kind offices to the soldiers mustered around it; There the 1st and 2nd Provincial Congress of Massachusetts convened, October 17, 1774, and February 1, 1775; there Washington and his officers worshiped; there the Constitution of Massachusetts was framed in 1779.

June 10, 2015

Edward Reynolds (1599–1676) on Restraining and Renewing Grace

For clearing this Exception we must know that there are other causes besides the power and kingdom of the spirit of Christ, which may work a partial abstinence in some sins, and conformity in some duties.

First, the Power of a general restraining Grace, which I suppose is meant in Gods with-holding Abimelech from touching Sarah. As there are general Gifts of the Spirit in regard of illumination, so likewise in order to conversation and practice. It is said that Christ beholding the young man, Loved him, and that even when he was under the reign of Covetousness. He had nothing from himself worthy of love, therefore something, though more general, it was which the spirit had wrought in him. Suppose we his ingenuity, morality, care of Salvation, or the like. As Abraham gave portions to Ishmael, but the inheritance to Isaac: so doth the Lord on the children of the flesh and of the bond woman bestow common gifts, but the Inheritance and Adoption is for the Saints, his choicest Jewels are for the King’s Daughter. There is great difference betwixt Restraining and Renewing Grace; the one only charms and chains up sin, the other crucifies and weakens it, whereby the vigor of it is not withheld only, but abated: the one turns the motions and stream of the heart to another channel, the other keeps it in bounds only, though still it run its natural course; the one is contrary to the Reign, the other only to the Rage of sin. And now these graces being so differing, needs must the abstaining from sins, or amendment of life according as it riseth from one or other, be likewise exceeding different.
Edward Reynolds, Three Treatises: Of the Vanity of the Creature. The Sinfulness of Sin. The Life of Christ. (London: Imprinted by Felix Kyngston, and are to be sold by Henry Curteyne, 1631), 288. Also in “The Sinfulness of Sin,” in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Edward Reynolds, D.D., 6 vols. (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), 1:267–268.


June 9, 2015

William Gouge (1575–1653) on Restraining and Renewing Grace

Object. The best Saints in all ages have transgressed in many things.

Answ. Their sins though grievous, have not willfully in open rebellion against Christ been committed, but they have slipped from them partly through their own weakness, and partly through the violence of some temptation. So as that which the Apostle saith of himself, may be applied to all that are of the body of Christ, That which I do I allow not: Now then is it no more I that do it, but the sin that dwelleth in me.

This extent is a good proof of the truth of subjection, for herein lieth a main difference betwixt the upright, and the hypocrite; yea betwixt restraining and renewing grace. That restraining grace which is in many hypocrites stirreth them to do many things which Christ commandeth, if at least they cross not their honour, profit, ease, and the like. Herod that notorious hypocrite did many things. None that beareth the name of the Church, but will be subject in somethings. But none but the upright, who are indeed renewed by the sanctifying spirit of Christ, will in all things make Christ’s will their rule, and in every thing hold close to it, preferring it before their pleasure, profit, preferment, or any other outward allurement. They who so do, give good evidence that they are of the body of Christ, and may rest upon it, that Christ is their Saviour.
William Gouge, Of Domestical Duties, Eight Treatises (London: Printed by George Miller, for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold at the signe of the Bible, neere the North doore of Saint Pauls Church, 1634), 41–42.
1. Object. Religion and grace consisteth not in good manners: many that have not a spark of God’s fear in their hearts, are able to carry themselves in their outward behaviour very orderly and mannerly.

Answ. Though grace consist not wholly in it, yet cannot grace well be without it: it is a great ornament and comeliness thereunto. And though mannerliness may be severed from a fear of God, yet God’s fear will not be severed from it. Restraining grace may be in him who hath no renewing grace: but renewing grace presupposeth restraining grace, even as reason presupposeth sense, though sense may be without reason. If such as fear not God can carry themselves comely and mannerly, what a shame is it for such as seem to fear God, not to do so? shall not those be a witness against these?
Ibid., 539.
3. In showing mercy to man for the Lord’s sake, even towards his name, resteth a main difference betwixt restraining and renewing grace: betwixt that love which a natural man showeth, and a man regenerate. For renewing grace moveth a man regenerate to do the things that he doth to man, toward the name of God.
William Gouge, A Learned and Very Useful Commentary on the Whole Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Printed by A.M. T.W. and S.G. for Joshua Kirton, and are to be sold at his Shop at the Sign of the Kings Arms in Pauls Church-yard, 1655), 2:52. See also 2:371.
2. Obj. Many Heathen and unregenerate men have been of a quiet and peaceable disposition, and have followed peace.

1. That disposition which is in heathen, or in other natural and unregenerate persons, was but a mere seeming disposition: it had but a show of the grace or virtue. It could not come from true love, but rather from self-love, aiming at by-respects. This caveat of doing no wrong except provoked, shows that their peaceableness was no true virtue. A fierce dog may be quiet till he be provoked.

2. Though the Spirit renewed not such men, yet it restrained them for the good of polities and societies, which otherwise could not have stood. God’s Spirit by restraining grace moved the spirit of Cyrus, Darius, and sundry of those Kings under whom the Jews were, to afford them peace. So were sundry Heathen Emperors moved to Christians.
Ibid., 3:308.


Thomas Draxe (d.1618) on General and Special Grace

Qu. If one man by nature be not better than another, how then do they differ?
A. In men mere natural and unconverted, God, for the upholding and preserving of Common-wealths and human societies, bestoweth general and restraining grace more upon one than another.

Secondly, they do or may differ in outward dignity and privileges, as the Jews much excelled the Gentiles; but otherwise the special grace and mercy of our God, maketh the main difference between the Elect and the Reprobate. For the one hath in time renewing and saving grace communicated unto him; but the other is utterly denied it.
Thomas Draxe, The World’s Resurrection, Or the General Calling of the Jews (London: Printed by G. Eld, and are to be sold by Robert Boulton and John Wright, 1608), 109–110.
Quest. Touching the graces of God if they be never taken away, why doth God so often deprive men of them, that formerly had them?

Ans. First, they are common and temporal gifts, either of nature, policy, or else of illumination and outward profession only, that are common to God’s children with reprobates, these God doth strip and deprive men of many times for their unthankfulness, and to discover their unsoundness and hypocrisy.

Secondly, because men (who are commonly Reprobates) always neglect, contemn, and abuse them, & thus they quench and put out the holy spirit, and what light soever was offered unto them, and whatsoever knowledge and grace of God was bestowed upon them, it dieth in them by little and little: for God in his justice taketh his talent from them, as he did from Saul and Judas. But for those peculiar endowments of God’s elect which are linked and chained inseparably together, such as predestination, vocation, justification, and glorification, these are given to the Godly in fee [sic] simple, and are never taken away from them.
Ibid., 103.


Notes: There are also a couple of instances in The lambes spouse or the heavenly bride (London: By G. Eld, dwelling in Fleete-lane, at the signe of the Printers Presse, 1608) where he speaks of “common graces,” as well as in The earnest of our inheritance (London: Imprinted by Felix Kingston for George Norton, 1613). Thomas Fuller states that Draxe translated the works of William Perkins into Latin, for the Geneva edition, 2 vols. fol., 1611-18. Compare William Perkins on restraining grace and renewing grace here (click).

May 10, 2015

Richard Baxter (1615–1691) on Christ’s Prayer in John 17

The fourth Crimination.

C. “They make Christ to die for those that he would not pray for, Joh. 17. ‘I pray not for the world, but for those that thou hast given me out of the world’”---

B. He maketh himself to die for them. It is ofter and plainer said that he died for all, than it is, that he prayed not for all. And many plain Texts, yea the scope of the Gospel, must not be reduced to your feigned sense of one obscurer Text.

2. But doth not the Text tell us, that he died not for the world, as it tells us, that he prayed not for them? Or doth it tell us, that he died for no more than he prayed for? Or rather are not these your own Inventions?

3. But where doth the Text say, that Christ never prayed for any but the Elect? yea, or that he prayed not at all for the world, though he put not up that particular prayer for the world? Look on the Text, and you will see that he speaketh there only of the Disciples that followed him on Earth; And that he prayed not in that Petition for all his Elect only; And therefore he after addeth, vers. 20. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in me through their word. And what was the prayer?  [That they may be one, and kept from the evil of the world,] which is a blessing peculiar to his Disciples. But it is manifest, that Christ had other prayers for the world, even for many ungodly men; yea, for Reprobates. For, 1. On the Cross he prayeth for his Persecutors, Father, forgive them: And it is mens own invention to say that he meaneth none but the Elect: We must not unnecessarily limit where the Word limiteth not. And Stephen made Christ his Pattern. And it is gross fiction to say that Stephen prayed for none but the Elect.

C. “Doth not Christ say, That his Father heard him always? and can you imagine that he prayed for that which God denied him?”

B. 2. My next Answer should have prevented that Objection, which is, that what God giveth to the World for Christ’s sake, that Christ may well be said to pray for; For it is the fruit of his Mediation. But God giveth much Pardon, and many Mercies to the World, for Christ’s sake. 1. He giveth them much Actual pardon for temporal punishments for Christ’s sake. All the Life, Health, Time, Gospel, Means and Mercies, which ever he giveth them, are such as deserved full punishment would have deprived them of: And therefore they are all acts of executive pardon of that punishment.

3. And this very Chapter containeth a prayer for the World, viz. vers. 21, 23. That the World may believe, and know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them.--- If you say that by the World here is meant only the Elect; I answer, 1. Your word is no Proof. 2. That they are prayed for, to believe and know, &c. is no proof: For many did believe that God sent Christ that yet were not saved. This soundeth but as a common Act of Faith. 3. And note, that here the world is contradistinguished, not only from Apostles, but those (after-mentioned) that should believe by their word; and it is prayed, That the world may know that God loveth those that believe in him: which may extend both to the Conversion of such as then are unconverted, and to the conviction of others, such as are common members of the visible Church (at least): As the Spirit is sent to convince the world of Sin, and Righteousness, and Judgment.

4. And it is not to be granted you without proof, that by the World is meant all Reprobates as such: For Judas is before distinguished from the World (as one given to Christ) when yet he was a Reprobate: But either it may be the World of present Unbelievers, whom Christ prayeth for else-where, though not there: Or the World of final professed Infidels and Enemies of the Church, as distinct from both Elect and Reprobate in the Church. And several expressions of Christ’s before of the Worlds hating and persecuting his Apostles, seem not applicable to every Hypocrite, who prophesieth and casteth out of Devils in his Name, and perhaps suffereth for his Truth, and excellently defendeth it, and hath some love to Believers.
Richard Baxter, Catholick Theologie (London: Printed by Robert White, for Nevill Simmons at the Princes Arms in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1675), Book II, 68–69.
9, 10. It is out of special Love to them, for the Salvation and welfare of these, that I now pray to thee, and not for the mere Worldlings and Enemies of thy Kingdom, (though for them also I have such desires and Prayers as signifie my common Love; and the Elect among them yet unconverted, I have such requests for, as are suited to their state.) But these that thou hast give me peremptorily to save, are the People of thy peculiar Love as well as mine. And all that I so love thou lovest also, and it is in them that I am glorified, and my Person, Office and Grace is honoured, which others do but swinishly despise.
Richard Baxter, “The Gospel According to St. John,” in A Paraphrase on the New Testament (London: Printed for B. Simmons, at the Three Cocks in Ludgate-street, 1685), F1v.


April 28, 2015

Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams on Weak Calvinist Arguments for Limited Atonement

Weak Calvinist Arguments. Calvinists have not always argued well for limited atonement. For example, Calvinists have adduced passages of Scripture that say Christ died for the church (Eph 5:25), the sheep (Jn 10:15) and others as evidence for limited atonement. But this line of reasoning is not persuasive. It only stands to reason that Scripture, when talking about Christ’s sheep or his church, would say Christ died for them. That does not mean that he did not die for others. But this argument could be strengthened if some Scripture passages indicated that some are excluded.

Another less than convincing argument for limited atonement involves deduction from other doctrines. For example, some argue from particular election to particular atonement. God chose some people, and not all, for salvation. Therefore, he sent his Son to atone for those he chose. However, “four-point Calvinists” agree with the premise but don’t reach the same conclusion. They hold to unconditional election but reject limited atonement because they maintain that the Bible teaches unlimited atonement. It is necessary that a doctrine fit a theological system to be true; it is not sufficient, however. To be true, a doctrine must pass not only a test of logical coherence but also a test of empirical fit with the Bible’s data. To be true, limited atonement must not only be systematically consistent with Calvinism; it must also be taught in Scripture.

Our experience shows that such arguments only convince those convinced already. What is needed is for a case to be made from Scripture, and not just from systematic theology.
Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams, Why I Am Not An Arminian (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2004), 202–203.

April 12, 2015

Patrick O'Banion on the Problem with Zanchi’s (1516–1590) Book on Absolute Predestination

The "Problem" with Absolute Predestination is that while it is by far Zanchi's most well known work, it was not technically written by him. It is, in fact, a translation and revised abridgement of a section of Zanchi's corpus completed by Augustus Toplady in the eighteenth century, which spawned a heated epistolary controversy with John Wesley.

It is in some ways unfortunate that Absolute Predestination is the work most often associate with the name of Jerome Zanchi and the most easily accessible work in English translation. This is the case primarily because it gives the impression that predestination was somehow the central dogma which governed Zanchi's theology.* On the contrary, while Zanchi was certainly predestinarian in his sotereology, it could hardly be called the guiding principle of his thought.

It has been difficult to determine exactly how much of Absolute Predestination is a translation of Zanchi and how much was simply added by Toplady. Henry Atherton commented in the introduction to the 1930 edition published by Sovereign Grace Union, London, that "Toplady not only translated Zanchius' great work, but added much excellent matter thereby giving us the best translation of Zanchius and the best of Toplady." For those interested in the thought of Zanchi alone, the effects of Toplady's hybrid translation are problematic at best. The section entitled "The Fate of the Ancients" is, however, clearly drawn from the work of Justus Lipsius, not Zanchi.

Conflicting opinions exist about the precise source from which Toplady produced Absolute Predestination. Otto Gründler suggests that it was "A short early treatise submitted by Zanchi to the city council of Strasbourg in defense of his doctrine..." (The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 306). Christopher J. Burchill ("Girolamo Zanchi: Portrait of A Reformed Theologian and his Work," 199) and J. P. Donnelly ("Italian Influences on the Development of Calvinist Scholasticism," 98-99) agree with Gründler. Joseph N. Tylenda ("Girolamo Zanchi and John Calvin: A Study in Discipleship as Seen Through Their Correspondence," 101) disagrees, suggesting that Absolute Predestination "is Toplady's synopsis of Zanchi's On the Nature of God, or on the Divine Attributes, whose fifth book deals with predestination."

Patrick J. O'Banion - Dana Point, Ca
In a 2007 interview with Scott Clark on The Heidelcast, O'Banion also said:
Zanchi is best known among English-speaking audiences for having written a treatise called Absolute Predestination. The problem is that he didn’t write it. It is, in fact, a translation and revised abridgment of one of Zanchi’s treatises (precisely which one is debated) that was made by Augustus Toplady in the 18th century and which spawned a heated debate with John Wesley. Absolute Predestination is, in my opinion, somewhat unbalanced. Toplady just took the bits about predestination in Zanchi and pulled them away from the warp and woof of his theology. Frankly, I think that sort of thing just helps foster the myth that Reformed theology is all about the doctrine of predestination. 
*Click here for O'Banion's work on "Jerome Zanchi, the Application of Theology, and the Rise of the English Practical Divinity Tradition," Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 29.2–3 (2005): 97–120.

Donald W. Sinnema says Toplady’s “very free eighteenth century translation” is “not at all reliable” (The Issue of Reprobation at the Synod of Dort (1618–19) in Light of the History of This Doctrine [PhD diss. University of St. Michael’s College (Toronto School of Theology), 1985], 123, fn. 131).


April 8, 2015

Nicholas Byfield (1579–1622) on the Season and Offers of Grace

Quest. But how may we know when this season of grace is?

Answ. It is then when God sends the Gospel to us in the powerful preaching of it: when the light comes, then comes this day: when the doctrine of salvation is come, then the day of salvation is come, and God offers his grace then to all within the compass of that light. God keeps his visitation at all times, and in all places, when the Word of the Kingdom is powerfully preached: the time of the continuance of the means is the day here meant, in a general consideration. But if we look upon particular persons in places where the means is, then it is very hard precisely to measure the time when God doth visit, or how long he will offer his grace to them: only this is certain, that when God strikes the hearts of particular men with remorse, or some special discerning or affections in matters of Religion, and so bringeth them near the Kingdom of God; if they trifle out this time, and receive this general grace in vain, they may be cast into a reprobate mind, and into incurable hardness of heart: and so God shuts the kingdom of God against them, while it is yet open to others, Mat. 3.12. Isa. 6.10. compared with Mat. 13.14, 15.
Nicholas Byfield, A Commentary Upon the Three First Chapters of the First Epistle General of St. Peter (London: Printed by Miles Flesher and Robert Young, 1637), 417.
And besides, all such as enjoy the means of grace, and yet have not felt this visitation of God, should be much allured to the care of attending upon the means, and be made desirous to receive the grace of God, and that effectually: it should much move them that God hath now sent them the means, and keeps his public visitation; and that God stands not upon desert, nor doth he make exception of them, but offers his grace unto all, and desireth not the death of any sinner, yea beseecheth them to be reconciled; and to that end hath committed the Word of reconciliation to his servants, with express commandment that they should be instant, and with all patience instruct men, and call upon them, and persuade them to save their souls.
Ibid., 420.


March 17, 2015

Andrew Willet (1562–1621) on Romans 2:4

Quest. 6. Of the reasons why the Lord useth patience and forbearance toward sinners.

1. The Apostle useth three words, χρηστότης, goodness, bountifulness, which is seen in the general benefits, which God vouchsafeth to the wicked, as in granting them the Sunshine and rain, and such other temporal blessings: άνοχή, patience and forbearance, which is in bearing with the wicked, and not punishing them in their sins: μακροθυμία, longanimitie, and long sufferance: when God still deferreth his punishments, though men heap sin to sin: the first and chiefest cause of this long sufferance in God, is the expectation of men's repentance, that they should thereby come to amendement of life, as S. Peter saith. 2. Epist. c. 3.9. God is patient toward us, and would have no man to perish, but would have all men come to repentance. 2. As God's mercy and goodness herein appeareth, so also the malice of men, in abusing the Lord's patience, and their more just condemnation in the end is made manifest, as the old world was most justly destroyed, after they had been warned an 120 years by the preaching of Noah. 3. God taketh occasion by the malice, impenitencie, and hardness of heart in the wicked, to show his powerful and wonderful works, as Pharaoh's hardness of heart gave occasion to the Lord, to show his wondrous works in Egypt. 4. While the impenitent abusing God's long animitie, are more hardened in their sins, others in the mean time make good use of the divine patience, and are converted unto repentance: as in Egypt, though Pharaoh became worse, yet many of the Egyptians were humbled by these plagues, and were turned unto God, and joined unto his people. 5. God useth patience toward some, for the ensample, encouragement, and confirmation of others, that they should not despair of the goodness of God: as S. Paul saith, that Jesus Christ might first show on me all long suffering, unto the example of them, that in time to come, shall believe in him to eternal life, 1. Timoth. 1.16.

Quest. 7. Whether the leading of men to repentance by Gods long sufferance, argueth that they are not reprobate.

It will be here objected, that seeing the long sufferance of God calleth all unto repentance, and whom he would have repent, he would have saved: it seemeth then, that none are rejected or reprobate, whom the Lord so inviteth and calleth unto repentance.

Answer. 1. Such as are effectually called unto repentance by God's patience and long suffering, are indeed elected: for the elect only are effectually called to repentance, but such as abuse God's patience, and are impenitent still, may notwithstanding be in the state of reprobation: for though the same means be offered unto them to bring them to repentance, yet they have not the grace: the decree then concerning the rejecting of such impenitent persons, and the offer of such means, as might lead them unto repentance, may very well stand together: because it is of their own hardness of heart that the means offered are not effectual. 2. And thus also another objection may be answered, that if it be God's will, that such should come to repentance, whether the malice of man therein can resist the will of God: for, if it were God's absolute will and good pleasure, that such should come unto repentance, no man could resist it: God is able to change and turn the most impenitent and hard heart, if it pleased him: But here we must distinguish between effectual calling, which always taketh place and none can hinder it, and calling not effectual, yet sufficient if men did not put in a bar by their own hardness of heart: God's absolute will then is not resisted, when men come not to repentance: for his will is to leave such to themselves by his just judgement: and not to give them of his effectual grace, Faius. Now hereof no other reason can be given, why God doth not give his effectual grace to all, but his good pleasure, as our Blessed Saviour saith, Matth. 11.26. It is so Father, because thy good pleasure is such.
Andrew Willet, Hexapla: That Is, A Six-Fold Commentarie upon the most Divine Epistle of the holy Apostle S. Paul to the Romans (Printed by Cantrell Legge, Printer to the Universitie of Cambridge, 1620), 104–105.


Andrew Willet (1562–1621) on the Common and Special Grace of God

Controv. 9. Whether by the light of nature only a man may do anything morally good.

Bellarmine hath this position, that a man, if no tentation [sic] do urge him, without faith, or any special assistance from God, may by his own strength do something morally good, ita ut nullum peccatum in eo admittat, so that therein he shall not commit any sin, lib. 5. iustificat. c. 5.

That the falsitie of this assertion may the better appear, 1. We must distinguish of the light that is given unto man, which is threefold: 1. There is the light of nature, which Christ giveth unto every one, that cometh into the world, as he is their Creator, Joh. 1.9. this is given unto all by nature: they are endued with a reasonable soul, and in the same by nature is imprinted this light. 2. There is beside this natural light, an other special light and direction concurring with that natural light, which though it be not so general as the other, yet it is common to many unregenerate men, that have not the knowledge of God, as the Lord saith to Abimelech, Gen. 20.6. I kept thee that thou shouldst not sin against me: this common grace many of the heathen had, whereby they were preserved from many notorious crimes, which other did fall into. 3. There is beside these the grace of Christ, whereby we are regenerate, and enabled to do that which is acceptable unto God through Christ: of this grace we mean, that without it the light of nature is not sufficient to bring forth any good work.
Andrew Willet, Hexapla: That Is, A Six-Fold Commentarie upon the most Divine Epistle of the holy Apostle S. Paul to the Romans (Printed by Cantrell Legge, Printer to the Universitie of Cambridge, 1620), 139–140.
 20. Controv. Whether a reprobate may have the grace of God, and true justice?

Pererius, as he denieth constancy and continuance in grace to the elect, so he affirmeth, that some which are ordained unto everlasting condemnation, may be for a while right good men, & Dei gratia praeditos, and endued with the grace of God: which he would prove, 1. by the fall of the Angels, who were created with grace. 2. By the example of Saul, and Judas, who were at the first good men, and had the grace of God. 3. So Solomon had the spirit of God, and yet in the end was a reprobate and cast-away. Perer. 27. disput.

Contr. 1. We must distinguish of grace: there are common graces and gifts of the spirit, which may be conferred upon the reprobate: as the Apostle sheweth, that they may be lightened, be partakers of the holy Ghost, and taste of the good word of God, &c. Heb. 6.4, 5. and yet fall away: that is, may have these things in some measure: but there is the lively sanctifying grace of God's spirit, whereby we are truly enlightened, which is not given to any, but unto the elect: which grace was promised unto S. Paul, 2. Cor. 12.9. My grace is sufficient for thee: so then we answer, that the Angels which fell, received in their creation an excellent portion and measure of grace, but not the like powerful and effectual grace which the elect Angels had.

2. Saul king of Israel, and Judas one of the Apostles, had many goodly gifts and graces of the first sort, but true justice, piety, and grace they never had.
Ibid., 400.
The Lord saith to Abimelech king of Gerar, who had taken Abraham’s wife into his house, I kept thee also that thou shouldest not sin against me, therefore suffered I not thee to touch her, Gen. 20:6. Abimelech was not preserved by his own power from the sin of adultery, but by God’s general grace, which yet is much different from the grace of renovation and sanctification: for as Abimelech here, so divers of the heathen had this general grace of restraint, whereby they were kept from notorious sins, as of oppression, injustice, adultery, murder, and such like, though they wanted the true work of regeneration. David by a greater gift and grace confesseth that the Lord kept him from laying his hand upon the Lord’s anointed. 1 Sam. 24:7; 26:11.
Andrew Willet, Thesaurus ecclesiæ: that is, the treasure of the church consisting of the perpetuall intercession and most holy praier of Christ, set forth in the 17. chapter of the Gospel by S. Iohn: which in this treatise is plainly interpreted, with necessarie doctrines enlarged, and fit applications enforced (London: Printed by Iohn Legat, printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge [and R. Field] And are to be sold at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Churchyard, by Simon Waterson, 1604), 104.


March 5, 2015

Richard Alleine (1611–1681) on the Lord's Wish for the Salvation of the Lost

Brethren, My hearts desire for you all is, that you may be saved; and if there be any persons, that bear evil will to me, my particular wish for them, is, The Good-will of him that dwelt in the Bush be those Men's Portion forever.

These are some of my Wishes for you; will you join your Wishes with mine: Will you turn your Wishes into Prayers, and let this  be your Prayer; The Lord Grant thee thine hearts desire, and fulfill all thy Mind.

Brethren, Do I wish you any harm in all this? If not, if it be to be wished, that the Word of Christ were rooted in your Hearts, and your Souls thereby rooted in your Hearts, and your Souls thereby rooted in the Grace of God; if it be to be wished, That your Lusts were rooted out, your sins dead and dried up, your foot gotten out of the Snare, your Souls brought into the Fold, your Fruits of Righteousness and Holiness abounding, and growing up unto Eternal Life: If all this to be to be wished, then give in your Votes with mine; wish and pray, pray and press on, press on and wait for the accomplishment of this Grace in you all. I tell you again, I wish you well; and not only I, but the Lord God that hath sent me to you: The Lord Jesus wishes you well; he wishes and wooes, wooes and weeps, weeps and dies, that your Souls might live, and be blessed for ever: He hath once more sent me to you, even to the worst amongst you, to tell you from him, that he's unwilling you should perish; that he hath a kindness for you in his heart, if you will accept it: He hath Blood and Bowels for you; Blood to expiate your guilt, to wash away your filth; and Bowels to offer you the benefit of his Blood; with this Wish, Oh that it were theirs! Oh that they would hearken and accept! Only I must add, That the Lord hath two sorts of Wishes concerning sinners: The first is, Oh that they would hearken! Oh that they would come in, be healed, and be saved, Deut. 5.29. This Wish is an Olive Branch, that brings good Tidings, and gives great hopes of Peace and Mercy.

His last Wish is, Oh that they had hearkened, that they had accepted, Psal. 81.13. Oh that my people had hearkened to me. Luk. 19.42. Oh that thou hadst known in this thy day, the things that concern thy peace. This Wish hath nothing but Dread and Death in it: it is the Black Flag hung out, that proclaims Eternal Wars. The sense is, Israel had once a fair time of it; a time of Love, a time of Grace, a time of Peace: Oh that they had hearkened then, that they had known the Things that concern their peace! But woe, woe to them, 'tis now too late, the Door is shut, the Season is over, the Day is past; But now they are hid from thine Eyes.

There are three deadly darts in this Wish [oh that thou hadst] it includes in these three cutting words,

Thou hast not.
Thou mightest.
Thou shalt not for ever.

1. There is this in it, [Thou hast not.] What have I not? why, thou hast not known the things that belong to thy peace. Thou hast had the door of Glory, the Gate of Heaven open to thee, and hast been called for, and invited in, but thou hast lost the opportunity. Thou knewest not when thou wert well offered, nor would'st take notice what a day was before thee, what a price was in thine hand; thy peace, the Gospel of peace, the Prince of peace, a Kingdom of peace was set open, offered, and brought home to thy doors, but thou hadst so many other matters to look after, that thou tookest no notice of it, but hast let it slip. There's one Dart. [Thou hast not known.] There's a Gospel cone, there's a Christ gone, there's a Soul, a Kingdom lost.

2. There is this in it, [Thou mightest.] Oh that thou hadst! why, Might I? yes thou might'st, if thou wouldst thou mightst. Thy God did not mock thee, when he preached peace to thee; he was willing and wish'd it thine; if thou wouldst, thou mightest have made it thine own; but whilest he would thou wouldest not.

There's another Dart [I might have known.] I have none to thank but myself for the loss, mine undoing was mine own doing. There are no such torments, as when the Soul flies upon itself, and takes revenge on itself; oh the gashes that such self-refluctions make. Soul, how camest thou in hither, into all this misery? Oh 'tis of myself, myself, that my destruction is. The door was open, and I was told of it, and was bid come in, but I would not. That I am lost and undone, was not my Fate, which I could not avoid, but my Fault and my folly. It seems to give some ease of our torment, when we can shift off the fault. It was not I, but the Woman, said Adam, It was not I, but the Serpent, said the Woman; if that had been true, it would have given ease, as well as serve for an excuse. This thought ['Twas mine own doing] tears the very caul of the heart. Oh I have none to blame but myself, mine own foolish and froward heart. This is my ignorance, this is my unbelief, this is my wilfulness, my lusts, and my pleasures, and my Idols, that I was running after that, have brought me under this dreadful loss. 'Twas my own doing.

3. There is this in it, [Thou shalt not forever.] Oh that thou hadst! why, may I not [yet?] Is there no hope of recovering the opportunity? not one word more, not one hour more, may not the Sun go [one] degree backward? No, no, 'tis too late, too late; thou hast had thy day; from henceforth no more forever. There's the last Dart, [Times past] there's the death, the Hell, the anguish, the Worm that shall gnaw to eternity.

This one word [Time's past] sets all Hell a roaring; and when its once spoken to a sinner on Earth, there's Hell begun. Go thy way wretch, fill up thy measure, and fall into thy place. The Gospel hath no more to say to thee, but this one word, Because I have called, and thou refusedst, I have stretched out my hand, and thou regardedst not, but hast set at nought all my Counsels, and wouldst none of my reproofs; I also will laugh at thy calamities, and mock when they fear cometh; when thy fear cometh as desolation, and thy destruction cometh as a Whirlewind, and when distress and anguish cometh upon thee; then shalt thou call, but I will not answer, thou shalt seek me early, but shalt not find me.

Beloved, my hopes are, and I am not able to say, but that you are yet under the first wish; Oh that they would. Christ is yet preaching you to faith, and sends his Wish along with his Word, Oh that they would believe. Christ is yet preaching Repentance and Conversion to you, and wishes, O that they would repent, that they would be converted; and to this wish of my Lord, my Soul, and all that is within me, says Amen.

Brethren, will you yet again say [to] your Lord nay? shall Christ have his wish? shall your Servant for Jesus sake, shall I have my wish? will you now at last consent to be sanctified, and to be saved? let me have this wish, and I dare promise you from the Lord, you shall have yours, even whatever your Soul can desire.

Brethren, this once hear, this once be prevailed upon; be content that your lusts be rooted out, and your Lord planted into your Souls. Be content to be pardoned, content to be converted, content to be saved. This once hear, lest if ye now refuse, ye no more be persuaded with, oh that they would! but be forever confounded with, oh that they had! Lest all our wishes, and wooings of you, be turned into weepings, and mournings over you; this once hear; oh that you would.
Richard Alleine, The Godly Man's Portion and Sanctuary Opened, in Two Sermons (London, n.p., n.d., 1663?), 166–170.


Note: Joseph Alleine; William Attersoll (A Commentarie vpon the fourth booke of Moses, called Numbers […] [London: Printed by William Laggard, 1618], 92); alternatively titled: Pathway to Canaan; Continuation of the Exposition of the Booke of Numbers; Thomas Barnes (Sions Sweets [London: Printed by I. D. for Nathaniell Newbery, 1624], 10); Nathaniel Heywood (who also spoke of the gospel being "heartily offered"); Oliver Heywood; James Janeway; Daniel Rogers (Naaman the Syrian His Disease and Cure [London: Printed by Th. Harper for Philip Nevil, 1642], 580); John Rogers (The Doctrine of Faith [London: Printed by I. D. for Nathanael Newbery and Henry Overton, 1633], 93); Solomon Stoddard (The Efficacy of the Fear of Hell, to Restrain Men from Sin […] [Boston in New-England: Printed by Thomas Fleet, for Samuel Phillips, at the Three Bibles and Crown in King-Street, 1713], 125); George Swinnock; and Nathaniel Vincent also, when speaking to the lost, tell them they are “well-offered” in the gospel.

February 21, 2015

William Pinke (c.1599–1629) on the Sum and Scope of Christianity

3. Consider in the next place the summe and scope of Christianity, which is only to show how miserable thou art by sin, and how happy thou mayest be in Christ. When thou art come thus far, set the looking glass of the Law before thee, and terrify thyself with the ugly deformities and loathsome stains of thy soul through the guilt of sin, then turn unto the Gospel, and consider how Christ Jesus out of the abundance of his love, with which he loved thee being his enemy, shed his dearest blood to wash away these stains from thy soul, as very a wretch as thou art, as well as any mans else.
William Pinke, The Trial of a Christian's Sincere Love Unto Christ, 5th edition (Oxford: Printed by W. Hall for John Forrest, 1659), 48.


Note: Observe how Pinke counsels lost souls, or false professors of Christianity in the context. He tells them to see their misery and ugliness by means of the law, and then exhorts them to turn unto the gospel to consider 1) Christ's love for him and 2) how he shed his dearest blood for him. The lost sinner may know both of these things prior to believing the gospel. The gospel reveals these objective truths to everyone that hears the message.

January 30, 2015

A Gospel Appeal in One of Cuthbert Sydenham's (1622–1654) Sermons

The blessed God was willing to manifest infinite goodness to the Creature, and to converse with them, and that all terrifying apparitions might be shunned, he appears as a man, that so we may have intimate fellowship and communion with him; with what a holy boldness may souls draw night to God, and delight to behold him, and converse with him, now [that] he is in such a habit of love and suitableness unto our own senses. Why art thou strange, poor trembling soul, and standest afar off, as it it were death to draw nigh? Of whom art thou afraid? What vision of amazement dost thou behold? Is God come down among men, and thou canst not look on him, lest thou die and perish forever? Why, cast one look more, and be not discouraged. It is true, God is come down, but not in flaming fire, not in the armor of justice, and everlasting burning, but clothed with the garments of flesh, and sweetly desires to converse with thee after thine own form. Nothing can be a stronger motive to allure poor souls unto terms of peace and love as this, that God is come down, not to consume them with the brightness of his glory, but to beseech them to see with their own eyes their eternal happiness. Let all poor souls come and put in their hands, and they may feel God's heart come, and behold life and immortality inhabiting the tabernacles of earth, and their own peace and eternal happiness in their own flesh. Who can make any excuse now that he believes not? Why do souls now stand off? What can be desired by lost souls more? Oh that I might see God, say some souls, why, he is come down in the likeness of man; he walks in our own shape; Oh, saith another, might I have my heart united to God; why, he is come down on purpose, and hath united our own nature to himself; God hath left all the world without excuse, he hath condescended below himself, that we might be above ourselves.
Cuthbert Sydenham, The Greatness of the Mystery of Godliness, Opened in Several Sermons (London: Printed for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible near Pye-Corner, 1656), 73–74.
God himself is come into the world to offer the terms of love, and peace unto thy poor soul, because it was impossible for thee to come to God; he is come to thee, and hath laid aside, as it were, his own glory, while he converses with thee. This is no ordinary design that God hath to drive, when he is so wonderfully manifest in thy own flesh; when God manifesting himself as formerly, in Thunder and Lightening, with an innumerable company of Angels, all having their swords of justice and vengeance drawn; well might poor souls tremble, and run into corners, for who would ever be able to endure his coming; but lo poor souls, God is come in flesh, with an Olive branch of eternal peace in his hand, and bids you all be witness, he is not come to destroy, but to save...
Ibid., 77–78.

January 29, 2015

Dr. Cornelis P. Venema on Christ's Disposition Toward Jerusalem; With His Refutation of James White on Matt. 23:37

Christ’s disposition toward Jerusalem

One of the themes running through the New Testament Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry is that of the unbelief and impenitence on the part of many of the children of Israel. Even though Christ went preaching the kingdom of God first to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” their response to His preaching was often one of hostility and rejection. Despite their abundant privileges and opportunities, they spurned the call to repentance and Christ’s invitations to receive the kingdom offered to them.

A remarkable instance of this pattern of unbelief and impenitence is recorded in Luke 13:34 (par. Matt. 23:37). After Jesus answers the question, “are there just a few who are being saved?” (v. 23), by commanding his hearers to “strive to enter by the narrow door,” He goes on to note how many fail to do so. Remarkably, many of those who will not gain entrance into the kingdom of God are people who knew the master of the house and even, by their own testimony, “ate and drank” with him. However, because they refused to enter when the opportunity was granted to them, they will find themselves outside the kingdom of God where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 28). Despite the fact that many will enter the kingdom, including some from “east and west and north and south,” there are some who are “first who will be last” (vv. 29-30). In the context, it is clear that Christ is warning many among the covenant people of God that, despite their many privileges and ample opportunity, they will not be saved.

What is important to our question is that Luke concludes this section of his Gospel by recording Christ’s lament over Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (v. 34). Within the context of Luke’s account, these words can only mean that Christ is lamenting the unbelief and impenitence of many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. What Christ expresses as His desire and wish for them, the text declares not to be their desire or wish. The language used to describe Christ’s lament, moreover, emphasizes the deep anguish and distress that He felt in the face of the unwillingness of many of Jerusalem’s inhabitants to be gathered under His wings. This language of being “gathered under His wings,” when interpreted in the light of the preceding discourse on the way of salvation or entrance into the kingdom of God, indicates that Jesus is speaking of their salvation.

It is difficult to see how this text could be taken in any other way than as an expression of Jesus’ heartfelt desire that the inhabitants of Jerusalem find salvation.5 It seems clearly to express a desire that could only arise from a compassionate and earnest interest in their salvation. If someone were to argue, for example, that this is merely an expression of Jesus’ human will as the God-man, two insuperable difficulties would arise. First, it would be inconsistent with an orthodox doctrine of Christ’s Person to suggest that any feature or expression of His humanity is not also to be ascribed to His Person. Even were we to grant for the sake of discussion that this lament arises out of a human compassion on Christ’s part for his countrymen, such compassion would necessarily belong to His Person.6 And second, the perfect harmony of the will of Christ with that of His Father militates against any suggestion that the desire expressed in this lament is somehow contrary to or different than that of the Father (compare John 12:49,50; 14:10,24; 17:8). The best reading of this passage is one that takes it for a simple declaration of Christ’s desire for the salvation of many who refused to believe and repent at the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom.
     5. Cf. James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000), pp.136-9. White treats the parallel to this text in Matthew 23:37, and tries to argue that in the context Jesus is not speaking about the salvation of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem but only of the leaders of the Jews. On his reading, the text does not express any desire for the salvation of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some of whom may be non-elect. Though White’s reading of Matthew 23:37 is rather unlikely, he neglects to note that the context in Luke 13:34 has to do with the issue of salvation or non-salvation, and that it speaks generally of many among the inhabitants of Jerusalem who forfeit their opportunity to enter into the kingdom while the door was open to them.
     6. In the doctrine of Christology, this follows from what is known as the “communion of the attributes” (communicatio idiomata) in Christ’s Person. All the essential attributes of deity and humanity must be ascribed to Christ’s Person. This accounts for such expressions as “the Son of God died” or “Jesus was almighty,” etc. Affirmations are made about Christ’s Person either by virtue of His being “true God” or being “true man.”
Cornelis Venema, “Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part 2 of 5),” The Outlook 52.4 (April 2002): 18–19. The other four parts can be found in the 2002 (April–July) archive here (click). In part 4 of his five part series (on pp. 14–17), he argues that both Calvin (in his comments on Rom. 5:18; Matt. 23:37; Ezek. 18:23, 32; and 2 Pet. 3:9) and the Reformed confessions teach a well-meant gospel offer.

The full series:

“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part One),” The Outlook 52.3 (March 2002): 16–20.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Two),” The Outlook 52.4 (April 2002): 16–19.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Three),” The Outlook 52.5 (May 2002): 20–22.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Four),” The Outlook 52.6 (June 2002): 14–17.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Five),” The Outlook 52.7 (July 2002): 26–29.


Dr. Cornel Venema is the President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary where he also teaches Doctrinal Studies. Venema is a contributing editor to The Outlook.

Cornelis Venema on Three Views of the Gospel-Call

Three Views of the Gospel-Call

To clarify what is at stake in the debate among Reformed believers regarding the so-called “well-meant offer” of the gospel, it may be helpful to distinguish three different views of the gospel-call.

The first of these views I would term a strong form of what is often called hyper-Calvinism. Though there are not many advocates of this view, it teaches that the call of the gospel addresses, strictly speaking, only the elect. Since gospel ministers are unable to discern infallibly who are and who are not elect, they should honor this restriction so far as possible by calling to faith and repentance only those who give outward evidence that they are being spiritually enlivened or illumined. This strong form of hyper-Calvinism actually denies the legitimacy of a general call of the gospel to all sinners without distinction, since the call properly invites only the elect to faith and repentance. Not only is the gospel-call not intended for the non-elect, but it is also misleading to address sinners indiscriminately with the call to faith in Christ and repentance. Such an indiscriminate call invariably leads sinners to conclude that they have the ability to do what the call demands. In a not-so-subtle manner, an indiscriminate preaching of the gospel to sinners leads them to the improper inference that they have it within their capacity to believe and repent as the gospel-call demands.

The second of these views I would term a mild form of hyper-Calvinism. In this view, the general call of the gospel is affirmed, though it is not regarded as a “well-meant offer.” When the gospel-call is preached, it must be preached indiscriminately to all sinners, summoning elect and non-elect alike to believe and repent. No limitation is placed upon the preaching of the gospel to all sinners without distinction. However, this general call of the gospel may not be presented in a conditional form. To say to sinners, “if you believe and repent, then you will be saved,” is to imply that the gospel promise is conditional. Whenever the gospel is presented as an “offer,” inviting sinners to do something in order to be saved, rather than as an “unconditional promise of salvation” to the elect alone, an Arminian doctrine of conditional election is either wittingly or unwittingly assumed. In the strictest sense, the promise of the gospel is unconditionally addressed to the elect alone. Great care, therefore, must be exercised in preaching not to suggest that the recipient is obligated to do something, with the promise of salvation hanging upon his performance of this obligation. Furthermore, in this milder form of hyper-Calvinism, the idea that God expresses any favorable disposition or desire that all sinners believe and repent is strongly resisted. The call of the gospel declares objectively that all sinners must believe and repent. But it does not spring from any good will or benevolent attitude on God’s part, or on the part of His human ambassador, toward all sinners. It does not express any desire for the salvation of its recipients, when those recipients are non-elect sinners. The call of the gospel is “good news” for the elect alone.

The third view of the general call of the gospel, which I regard as the more classic or historic view of the Reformed churches, does not merely insist that the gospel-call be indiscriminately extended to all sinners. It also insists that the call expresses something of God’s good will or desire with respect to lost sinners. In the call of the gospel, God declares what is, according to His benevolence and good will, genuinely pleasing to Him, namely, that sinners believe in Christ and turn from their wicked way. John Murray, in his essay, “The Free Offer of the Gospel,” clearly summarizes this view of the gospel call:
The question then is: what is implicit in, or lies back of, the full and free offer of the gospel to all without distinction? The word ‘desire’ has come to be used in the debate, not because it is necessarily the most accurate or felicitous word but because it serves to set forth quite sharply a certain implication of the full and free offer of the gospel to all. This implication is that in the free offer there is expressed not simply the bare preceptive will of God but the disposition of lovingkindness on the part of God pointing to the salvation to be gained through compliance with the overtures of gospel grace. In other words, the gospel is not simply an offer or invitation, but also implies that God delights that those to whom the offer comes would enjoy what is offered in all its fullness.
According to this view, the gospel call is born from and expresses a compassionate disposition on God’s part toward sinners. It sincerely summons all sinners to embrace Christ for salvation, promising all those who believe and repent that God stands ready to show them mercy. In this view, those who minister the gospel should do so out of a heartfelt desire for the good of all sinners, seeking to secure their salvation by an urgent and compassionate ministry of the Word of God.
Cornelis Venema, “Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part One),” The Outlook 52.3 (March 2002): 18–19. The other four parts can be found in the 2002 (April–July) archive here (click). In part 4 of his five part series (on pp. 14–17), he argues that both Calvin (in his comments on Rom. 5:18; Matt. 23:37; Ezek. 18:23, 32; and 2 Pet. 3:9) and the Reformed confessions teach a well-meant gospel offer.

The full series:

“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part One),” The Outlook 52.3 (March 2002): 16–20.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Two),” The Outlook 52.4 (April 2002): 16–19.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Three),” The Outlook 52.5 (May 2002): 20–22.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Four),” The Outlook 52.6 (June 2002): 14–17.
“Election and the ‘Free Offer’ of the Gospel (Part Five),” The Outlook 52.7 (July 2002): 26–29.


Dr. Cornel Venema is the President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary where he also teaches Doctrinal Studies. Dr. Venema is a contributing editor to The Outlook.