November 26, 2014

Jeremiah Burroughs (c.1600-1646) on Hell as an Infinite Ocean of Scalding Lead

"It is a notable speech Augustine hath: Go, (says he) and mark and attend the Sepulchres of rich men, and when you see their rotten bones, consider who they once were, and know they do cry unto you; O you men, why do you seek so much to satisfy yourselves in these fading things, and heap upon yourselves vexation, to attain happiness for yourselves in these things? Consider our bones here, and be struck with astonishment, to abhor your luxury and covetousness; for, says he, they cry thus to you, You now are, and we were, and time will be, when you shall be what we are.

And then consider with yourselves, what a doleful condition that man is in, that hath set his heart upon things that are for a season: When those are at an end, he may say, How the thoughts of my heart, and all my hopes are at an end; now I must bid an eternal farewell to all my comforts, to husband, and wife, and neighbors, and friends, and companions; I shall never meet with you more, and never have mirth and jollity, and sporting, and gaming any more, but I must bid farewell to all, and Sun is set, and the season is at an end for all my comfort, and before me I see an infinite vast Ocean, and I must launch into it; Lord, what provision have I for it? What a dreadful shreek will that soul give, that sees an infinite Ocean it must launch into, and sees no provision that it hath made for it? Indeed those that die, and are bespotted, and know nothing of this infinite Ocean that they must launch into, they are never troubled; but those that die, and their consciences are enlightened, they have given a most dreadful shreek, to see themselves launching into an infinite Ocean of scalding Lead, and must swim naked in it forever."
Jeremiah Burroughs, Moses His Choice, With His Eye Fixed Upon Heaven: Discovering the Happy Condition of a Self-Denying Heart (London: Printed by Thomas Ratcliffe for R. Doleman, and are to be sold by Thomas Vere at the Angel without Newgate, 1660), 326-327.


Nathanael Ball (1623-1689) on the Three Great Suitors Seeking Us

"All three Persons are concerned in the Freedom that comes by Christ: why, then consider,

1. That there was not a word spoken in Heaven against the recovering of poor Sinners out of their lost condition; not a word against showing Mercy to them. You know, there be many great things upon Earth that come to a Proposition, but then they meet with an Opposition, and such an Opposition, that the thing propounded is dashed all to pieces. But it was not so in Heaven: there every one was for it; the Father was for it, the Son was for it, and the Holy Ghost was for it; and yet every one might have been against it. And Oh, how much might have been said to have spoiled all; there was enough might have been alleged, to have turned all their hearts against us: but every one was willing that the business of our Redemption should go forward, all went on our side. You may therefore be fully assured, that though there was none but the second Person that did visibly appear in the Work of our Redemption, yet that they are all well-wishers to it. Here's no place left for doubting, whether their hearts be as inclinable towards your Salvation, as Christ did express, by word of mouth, that his heart was in the days of his Flesh: for, they do all, by mutual consent, unite together in this Design of doing your Souls good, and the voice of one, is the voice of all. And when Christ did invite and call poor Sinners to come unto him, and declared so much readiness to receive and embrace all that were weary and heavy laden; you must know, that he did not only do this to show his own kindness and good-will to the Children of Men, but also to show what kindness and good-will the other Persons had in their hearts towards them too. And if you look into 1 John 5:7. you shall find them all joined together in this matter of Salvation by Christ, compared with ver. 11. What an engagement then is it to us to accept of this Salvation, when we have, as I may say, three such great Suitors seeking us; the Father sending his Son, and the Son coming from the Father, and now Christ by his Spirit knocking at the door of our Hearts for an entrance. Oh, that as they are all willing that we should be saved, we were all willing to close with this Salvation!" 
Nathanael Ball, Spiritual Bondage and Freedom (London: Printed for Jonathan Robinson, at the Golden Lion in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1683), 168-170.


Credit to Travis Fentiman for bringing Nathanael Ball to my attention.

Compare the following:

Thomas Halyburton said:
"O sinners! what hearts have ye, if ye can refuse the desire, the supplication, the intreaties of a whole Trinity? All the love of the Father, all the grace of the Son, and all the blessings that are enjoyed by communion with the Holy Ghost, all plead with you for your compliance."
Jonathan Edwards said:
"All the persons of the Trinity are now seeking your salvation. God the Father hath sent his Son, who hath made way for your salvation, and removed all difficulties, except those which are with your own heart. And he is waiting to be gracious to you; the door of his mercy stands open to you; he hath set a fountain open for you to wash in from sin and uncleanness. Christ is calling, inviting, and wooing you; and the Holy Ghost is striving with you by his internal motions and influences."
Nicholas Clagett wrote:
"Was there any need for God to stoop to offer you a Covenant of Salvation, wherein the whole Trinity doth humble themselves? The Father, so much as to have thoughts of grace to relieve and succour lost sinners; the Son that humbled himself to an obscuring incarnation, a life of sorrows, spotless obedience, a bloody death the price of Redemption. The Holy Ghost to come into vile sinners, to plead the acceptance, and improvement of the Father and Son's love. O inconsiderate sinners! of what a scarlet tincture is your unworthy slighting of the Trinity's kindness, your treading under foot the blessed God's acts of grace!"

November 25, 2014

Matthew Newcomen (c.1610-1669) on Offers of Grace and the Damned Being Without Excuse

"In the third place, Is the Word of God the Word of his Grace? Then this reproves all those that have lived under the continual dispensation of this Word of Grace, and yet have not got saving Grace, no saving good by it; but continue blind, ignorant, impenitent, hard-hearted, secure, unbelieving, unholy, and that under the constant preaching of the Word. O that such would in the fear of God consider,

First, How dangerous their condition is.

Secondly, How great their Condemnation will be.

First, Consider how dangerous your condition is. All you that live under the Word of Grace, and get no saving Grace, no saving good by it. Read that one Text, Heb. 6:7-8. For the Earth that drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, (that is, answerable to their gift, and labours, and continuance) is blessed of God. But that which bringeth forth briars and thorns, is near unto cursing, (How near, and unto what cursing in this life, God only knows, but to be sure their end will be sad) whose end is to be burned. A fearful end, and such as should make the heart of every one who is guilty of being unfruitful under the Word of Grace, tremble to think or hear of it; especially considering how little hope there is for such a one to escape this curse, and to escape this dreadful and dismal end: for if the Word of Grace, that is the power of God himself unto Salvation, if that can do no good upon thee, what can? if that cannot work upon thy blind, ignorant, prophane hard heart, no not in ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years, what can? I tell thee, if thou art past getting good by the Word of Grace, thou art past getting good by any thing at all. Luke 16:31. If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they hear though one from the dead were sent unto them. If what thou hearest from the Word of Grace, of the Wrath of God against impenitent sinners, and the Grace and Mercy of God towards poor repenting sinners; if what thou readest and hearest in and from the Word of the torments of Hell, and of the joys of Heaven; if what thou readest and hearest from the Word of these things do not bring thee to Repentance, and Faith in the Lord Jesus, nothing else will. No, though one should come immediately out of Hell, with Hell-flames about his ears, and burning brimstone dropping down at his heels, to warn thee, and fright thee from those torments; or, if an Angel should come from Heaven, cloathed with the Sun, and crowned with Stars, to allure thee to Holiness by those glorious Rewards; neither the one or the other will work upon thee to any purpose, if the Word of Grace hath not wrought upon thee; for that is the Instrument that God hath appointed and ordained, and made fit and able to work Grace in the Soul; and therefore if that do not work upon thee, what canst thou think will?

And if thou continue still in this condition, not profitting by the Word, without any saving work of the Word upon thee, O consider how inexcusable, how intolerable thy damnation will be. Why doth our Saviour tell Chorazin and Bethsaida, and the rest of the Cities where he had gone up and down preaching the Word of Grace, that it should be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorra, for Tyre and Sidon in the day of Judgement, than for them, Matt. 11:22-24. But because Sodom and Gomorrah never had the Word of Grace preached among them, as these Cities had had. Turks and Heathens, Sodomites and Gomorrahns, yea the Devil and his Angels shall have more to plead in excuse of themselves in the day of Judgement, than those that have lived under the Word of Grace, and never did get any saving good by it.

Turks and Heathens, Sodomites and Gomorrahans will be able to say, Lord thou never sentest Prophets, or Apostles, or Ministers among us, to tell us of the danger of sin, or to call and summon us to Repentance; to make known to us thy Will and the ways of Grace and Holiness; if thou hadst, we should never have gone on in our sins and impenitence, we would certainly have laid hold upon the offers of Grace, and ways of Life. The Devil and his angels will be able to say, Lord, thou didst never provide nor propound for us a way of reconciliation and recovery since we first sinned against thee, as thou didst for man after his transgression; if thy Son had taken our nature as he did the nature of man, and had provided us such a Covenant of Peace and Reconciliation as he did for man, and the glad Tidings thereof had been published to us by the Gospel as it was to man, possibly we had not persisted so obstinately in our rebellion against thee. These and the like pleas may even the Devils have for themselves in the day of Judgment, whither true or no, that is not our question. But now thou who hast lived all thy days under the Word of Grace, and never got any saving good by it, but livest and diest an ignorant, prophane, impenitent, unbelieving creature, as the Lord knows too many do: When thou shalt appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, thou wilt not have this nor anything else to plead for thyself. If Christ should say to thee, as Judges here upon the Bench to Malefactors, What canst thou say for thyself why sentence of condemnation should not pass upon thee? Poor creature, thou wilt not have one word to say, but must be as that man in the parable, Matt. 22. Altogether speechless. When the Judge shall say to you, How is it that you appear here in the guilt of all your sins? were you never told of these sins of yours? were you never exhorted to repentance? were you never directed the way to get your sins pardoned? were you never invited, persuaded, entreated that you would be saved? did I not send my Ministers, and did not they in my Name, and in my Stead, beseech you that you would be reconciled to God? and did not they tell you what you must do that you might be reconciled? did you not live under the dispensations of that Word of Grace that was able to work Grace in you, that did work Grace in others, and was as able to work it in you? why then are ye found in a graceless condition this day? O when Jesus Christ shall in the presence of all his Saints and Angels thus expostulate with the souls of such as live and die without any saving good, how inexcusable, how intolerable will their condemnation be!

O think of it, and as you desire to escape the confusion of that day, and the condemnation of Hell, O labor yet to get Grace wrought in your hearts by the power of this Word of Grace."
Matthew Newcomen, Ultimum Vale: Or, The Last Farewell of a Minister of the Gospel to a Beloved People (London: [publisher not identified], 1663), 29-33.


Compare with Nicholas Clagett.

November 23, 2014

Highlighting Muller's Citations of Calvin on God's Slowness to Anger and Willingness to Save

Muller writes:
God's temporal anger stands over against the sins both of the wicked and the godly and is revealed in the earthly punishments meted out to sinners. Here, frequently, God defers punishment and "suspends" his anger against the ungodly in order to demonstrate his willingness to pardon sin--but neither does he tolerate the abuse of his patience.579
579. Calvin, Commentaries on Nahum, 1:3 in loc. (CTS Minor Prophets, III, p. 422).
Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 3:583.

Calvin comments on Nahum 1:3:
We now then see the design of the Prophet: for this declaration — that God hastens not suddenly to wrath, but patiently defers and suspends the punishment which the ungodly deserve. This declaration would not have harmonized with the present argument, had not the Prophet introduced it by way of concession; as though he said, — “I see that the world everywhere trifle with God, and that the ungodly delude themselves with such Sophistries, that they reject all threatening. I indeed allow that God is ready to pardon, and that he descends not to wrath, except when he is constrained by extreme necessity: all this is indeed true; but yet know, that God is armed with his own power: escape then shall none of those who allow themselves the liberty of abusing his patience, notwithstanding the insolence they manifest towards him.”
...Scripture consistently teaches that God is slow to anger. The psalmist and the prophets often "borrow" this language from the declarations of Moses in Exodus 34.583 Nonetheless, God's anger is heavy and grievous when it is exercised. Scripture also testifies to the power of God's judgment on the reprobate--God himself speaks of his wrath as fire.584 Yet, the temporal anger of God may be appeased by the "amendment of life" and by contrition, given that God's natural or essential goodness consistently leads him to mitigate his anger.585 God cannot "divest himself of his mercy, for he remains ever the same." Indeed, God works toward the salvation of the human race at the very same time that he is angry at sin: the ground of our hope of mercy and pardon is, therefore, the "infinite and inexhaustible" goodness of God, who does not respond in anger to the constant provocation of sinful humanity.586
583. Musculus, Loci communes, liv (Commonplaces, p. 1040, col. 2), citing Exodus 34, passim; Num. 14:18-21, 27-31, et passim; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:5; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3; Calvin, Commentaries on Joel, 2:12-13, in loc.; cf. idem, Commentaries on Nahum, 1:3, in loc. (CTS Minor Prophets, II, p. 60; III, p. 421). Here Musculus' loci communes are clearly topical sections based on Musculus' commentaries: each text is developed at some length.
584. Musculus, Loci communes, Iiv, (Commonplaces, p. 1043, col. 2, p. 1044, col. 2), citing Deut. 32:22ff.
585. Musculus, Loci communes, Iiv (Commonplaces, p. 1051, col. 2).
586. Calvin, Commentaries on Jonah, Jonah 4:2, in loc. (CTS Minor Prophets, III, pp. 123, 125).
Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 3:583-584.

Calvin's Comments on Joel 2:13:
The Prophet, having proclaimed the dreadful judgment which we have noticed, now shows that he did not intend to terrify the people without reason, but, on the contrary, to encourage them to repentance; which he could not do without offering to them the hope of pardon; for as we have said before, and as it may be collected from the whole of Scripture, men cannot be restored to the right ways except they entertain a hope of God’s mercy inasmuch as he who has been ungodly, when he despairs, wholly disregards himself, observing no restraint. Hence the Prophet now represents God as propitious and merciful, that he might thus kindly allure the people to repentance.

He says first, And even now the Lord says, Turn ye to me. The Prophet exhorts the people, not in his own name, but speaks in the person of God himself. He might indeed have borne witness to the favor which he proclaimed; but the discourse becomes more striking by introducing God as the speaker. And there is a great importance in the words, even now; for when one considers what we have noticed in the beginning of the chapter, a prospect of relief could hardly have been deemed possible. God had, indeed, in various ways, tried to restore the people to the right way; but, as we have seen, the greater part had become so void of feeling, that the scourges of God were wholly ineffectual; there remained, then, nothing but the utter destruction which the Prophet threatened them with at the beginning of the second chapter. Yet, in this state of despair, he still sets forth some hope of mercy, provided they turned to him; even now, he says. The particles וגם, ugam are full of emphasis, “even now” that is, “Though ye have too long abused God’s forbearance, and with regard to you, the opportunity is past, for ye have closed the door against yourselves; yet even now, — which no one could have expected, and indeed what ought to be thought incredible by yourselves, — even now God waits for you, and invites you to entertain hope of salvation.” But it was necessary that these two particles, even now, should be added; for it is not in the power of men to fix for themselves, as they please, the season for mercy. God here shows the acceptable time, as Isaiah says (Isaiah 49:8) to be, when he has not yet rejected men, but when he offers to be propitious. We must then remember that the Prophet gives not here liberty to men to delay the time, as the profane and scorners are wont to do, who trifle with God from day to day; but the Prophet here shows that we must obey the voice of God, when he invites us, as also Isaiah says, ‘Behold now the time accepted, behold the day of salvation: seek God now, for he is near; call on him while he may be found.’ So then, as I have reminded you, these two particles, even now, are added, that men may be made attentive to the voice of God when he invites them, that they may not delay till tomorrow, for the Lord may then close the door, and repentance may be too late. We at the same time see how indulgently God bears with men, since he left a hope of pardon to a people so obstinate and almost past recovery.

Calvin's comments on Jonah 4:2:
Jonah would not have shrunk from God’s command, had he been sent to the Ninevites to teach what he had been ordered to do among the chosen people. Had then a message been committed to Jonah, to set forth a gracious and merciful God to the Ninevites, he would not have hesitated a moment to offer his service. But as this express threatening, Nineveh shall be destroyed, was given him in charge, he became confounded, and sought at length to flee away rather than to execute such a command. Why so? Because he thus reasoned with himself, “I am to denounce a near ruin on the Ninevites; why does God command me to do this, except to invite these wretched men to repentance? Now if they repent, will not God be instantly ready to forgive them? He would otherwise deny his own nature: God cannot be unlike himself, he cannot put off that disposition of which he has once testified to Moses. Since God, then, is reconcilable, if the Ninevites will return to the right way and flee to him, he will instantly embrace them: thus I shall be found to be false in my preaching.”

 Calvin continues on Jonah 4:2:
And it is also added, that he is slow to wrath. This slowness to wrath proves that God provides for the salvation of mankind, even when he is provoked by their sins. Though miserable men provoke God daily against themselves, he yet continues to have a regard for their salvation. He is therefore slow to wrath, which means, that the Lord does not immediately execute such punishment as they deserve who thus provoke him.
John Calvin, Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, trans. John Owen, vol. 14 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 3:125.

November 22, 2014

Edward Leigh (1602-1671) on God's General and Special Mercy

"2. He hath great mercy in him; if God be merciful at all, he must needs be merciful in great measure, yea above all measure, beyond all degrees, in all perfection; for the essence of God is infinite, and his wisdom, power, and mercy are infinite.

There is a mercy of God which extends to all his creatures, Psal. 145:9. Luke 6:35. God is merciful unto all men, but especially to some men whom he hath chosen unto himself.

The special mercy of God is offered unto all within the Church, Ezek. 16.6. Acts 13.40. but is bestowed only upon some, viz. such as receive Christ, John 1.11, 12.

This life is the time of mercy, wherein we obtain pardon for sin; after this life there is no remission or place for repentance.

All blessings Spiritual and Corporeal are the effects of God's mercy. Common blessings of his general mercy, special blessings of his special mercy."


Note: Richard Muller (in PRRD, 3:579) quotes the above portion from Leigh on divine mercy and says, "These effects of mercy, together with the distinction between general and special mercy, correspond closely with the effects and the formal description of God's grace, just as they overlap somewhat with the analysis of other divine attributes and affections." General mercy corresponds to general or common grace (Neh. 9:31).

November 20, 2014

Richard Muller on the Grace and Patience of God in Reformed Orthodoxy

There is also good ground for concluding that the modern conception of "common grace" finds its root more in the period of Reformed orthodoxy that [sic] in the era of Calvin and his contemporaries, given that many of the orthodox theologians were willing to define the gratia Dei as a bounty or graciousness extending to all creation.526 While God is gracious to all, his grace is particularly bestowed upon those who are his in Christ: "God's free favor is the cause of our salvation, and of all the means tending thereunto, Rom. 3:24 & 5:15, 16; Eph. 1:5, 6, & 24; Rom. 9:16; Titus 3:15, Heb. 4:16; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 12:4, 9. The gospel sets forth the freeness, fulness, and the powerfulness of God's grace to his Church, therefore it is called the Gospel of the grace of God, Acts. 20:24." This grace is such that it is given freely without desert and it is "firm and unchangeable, so that those which are once beloved, can never be rejected, or utterly cast off, Psalm 77:10."527
526. Cf. Maresius, Collegium theol.,; Wendelin, Christianae theologiae libri duo, I.i.22; Leigh, Treatise, II.xi (pp. 83-84); but note Heidanus, Corpus theol., II (p. 162), who reserves gratia for the elect and refers benignitas to all creation. For the modern debate, see Abraham Kuyper, De gemeene gratie, 3 vols. (Leiden: Donnet, 1902); Herman Kuiper, Calvin on Common Grace (Goes: Oosterbaan & Le Cointre, 1928); William Masselink, General Revelation and Common Grace: A Defense of the Historic Reformed Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953); Richard Arden Couch, "An Evaluation and Reformulation of the Doctrine of Common Grace in the Reformed Tradition" (Th. D. diss., Princeton University, 1959).
527. Leigh, Treatise, II,xi (p. 84).
Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 3:572.
Related to God's grace are a series of other affections that appear variously in the Reformed orthodox theology--patience, long-suffering, compassion, condescension. Patience and longsuffering are the willingness of God to moderate "his anger toward creatures, and either defers punishment or for a moment withholds his wrath."532
God is Patient, Psalm 103.8; Job 21:7. God's patience is that whereby he bears the reproach of sinners and defers their punishments; or it is the most bountiful will of God, whereby he doth long bear with sin which he hateth, sparing sinners, not minding their destruction, but that he might bring them to repentance. See Acts 13:18.533
Even so God both endures "with much longsuffering" the sins of the reprobate and, at the same time, is patient with the elect prior to their conversion, willing their repentance rather than their immediate destruction because of sin.534 It is, thus, "the most bountiful will of God not suffering his displeasure suddenly to rise against his creatures offending, to be avenged of them, but he doth warn them beforehand, lightly correct and seek to turn them unto him."535 The divine compassion, similarly, is the disposition of God to deliver creatures from their misery. It is manifest when "the object of the divine goodness of love [is] involved in misery, such as man who is a sinner and subject to death."536
532. Wendelin, Christianae theologiae libri duo, I.i.25; Brakel, Redelijke Godsdienst, I.iii.36.
533. Leigh, Body of Divinity, II. xiii (p.299), citing marginally Nahum 1:3 and Isa. 30:18; cf. Cocceius, Summa theol., III.x.67.
534. Brakel, Redelijke Godsdienst, I.iii.36.
535. Leigh, Treatise, II.xiii (p. 100).
536. Venema, Inst. theol., VIII (p. 185).
Muller, PRRD, 3:573-574.

Note: See also J. Mark Beach, "The Idea of a 'General Grace of God' in Some Sixteenth-Century Reformed Theologians Other Than Calvin," in Church and School in Early Modern Protestantism: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Muller on the Maturation of a Theological Tradition, edited by Jordan J. Ballor, David Sytsma and Jason Zuidema (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013), 97-109; and J. Mark Beach, "Calvin's Treatment of the Offer of the Gospel and Divine Grace," MAJT 22 (2011), 55-76. The first work by Beach covers the views of Bullinger, Musculus, and Vermigli (men "in the era of Calvin") on general grace. Beach says:
"...the idea of a general grace of God was a theological concept shared by mid-sixteenth-century Reformed theologians. It is clear that Bullinger, Musculus, and Vermigli (each contemporaries of Calvin), accept to varying degrees some notion of a non-saving divine favor or goodness directed toward the non-elect and unbelievers" (The Idea of a 'General Grace of God'..., p.108). 
There is significant continuity between what Edward Leigh and others say (as quoted by Muller) in the seventeenth-century, and what these earlier Reformed theologians said in the sixteenth-century. The difference is mainly in the extent to which the topic of grace is covered and their willingness to use the terminology, not in their the view of the generalis gratia Dei as such. As Beach says:
"The concern of these theologians is to distinguish grace, rightly understood, from synergistic misconceptions and outright Pelagian abuses. Since at that time the locution "general grace" had, for some, a specifically Pelagian aroma, Reformed theologians were guarded in how they used those words. Some, like Vermigli, were hesitant to use the term, whereas others, like Bullinger and Musculus, were careful to define it. Thus we see Bullinger and Vermigli explicitly attacking a notion of "general grace" that identifies grace with nature along Pelagian lines" (Ibid.).
Beach continues:
"...the idea of a general grace of God is not altogether uncommon in Reformed theology in the middle of the sixteenth century. The gifts that come to fallen humans, the blessings that bedeck their lives, and the benefits that allow the human project--even in its rebellion against God--to move forward are divine gifts, divine blessings, and divine benefits.

Last, the several portraits of grace and common grace as formulated by some of Calvin's contemporaries prove to be, not surprisingly, distinct but also not incongruous with one another. Bullinger, Musculus, and Vermigli hold in common the idea that God acts upon unregenerate persons in a manner that is gracious, being undeserved and kindly, but also non-salvific [not resulting in eternal salvation] in character. This general sort of divine grace, however, remains distinct from grace in its saving operations. All of the above shows that, among the mid-sixteenth-century Reformed theologians, Calvin was not a solitary voice sounding the idea of a general grace of God." Ibid., 109.
Here's J. Mark Beach's profile at Mid-America Reformed Seminary (click). His doctoral dissertation was on Christ and the Covenant: Francis Turretin's Federal Theology as a Defense of the Doctrine of Grace (Ph.D. diss., Calvin Theological Seminary, 2005).

Edward Leigh (1602-1671) on God's Common and Special Grace

"So much in general of God's virtues. Secondly, in special, the virtues which imply not imperfection in the reasonable creature, are attributed to God. The principle of which are:

1. Bounty or Graciousness, by which God shows favor to the creatures freely, and that either commonly or specially; 1. Commonly, when he exercises beneficence and liberality toward all creatures, powering upon them plentifully all goods of nature, body, mind and fortune, so that there is nothing which tastes not of the inexhausted fountain of his blessings and goodness. Matt. 5:44, 45. Psal. 36:5, 6. God's bounty is a will in him to bestow [a] store of comfortable and beneficial things on the creature in his kind. This bounty he showed to all things in the creation, even to all Spirits, all men and all creatures, and does in great part show still, for he opens his hand and fills every living thing with his bounty, he gives all things richly to enjoy.

2. Specially toward the Church, by which he bestows eternal life on certain men fallen by sin, and redeemed in Christ, Titus 2:11 & 3:4. As this is exercised toward the whole Church, so in a special manner toward some members of it, as toward Enoch, Moses, Jacob, David, Paul, and especially Abraham, who is therefore often called the Friend of God; he made with him and his seed a perpetual league of friendship, and he constantly kept his Laws and Statutes, John 15:14, 15.

God's Graciousness is an essential property, whereby he is in and of himself most gracious and amiable, Psa. 145:8. God is only gracious in and of himself, and whatsoever is amiable and gracious, is so from him.

God's Graciousness is that whereby he is truly amiable in himself, and freely bountiful unto his creatures, cherishing them tenderly without any desert of theirs, Psa. 86:15, 111:5. Gen. 43:29.

God is gracious to all, Psa. 145:8, 9, 10. but especially to such whom he does respect in his well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Exod. 33:19. Isa. 30:19. Luke 1:30. Gen. 6:8. 1 Cor. 15:10. God's free favor is the cause of our salvation, and of all the means tending thereunto, Rom. 3:24 & 5:15, 16. Eph. 1:5, 6 & 2:4. Rom. 9:16. Titus 3:5. Heb. 4:16. Rom. 6:23. 1 Cor. 12:4, 9. The gospel sets forth the freeness, fulness, and the powerfulness of God's grace to his Church, therefore it is called the Gospel of the grace of God, Acts 20:24.

God's Graciousness is firm and unchangeable, so that those which are once beloved can never be rejected, or utterly cast off, Psa. 77:10.

God bestows, 1. Good things. 2. Freely. 3. Plentifully. Psa. 111:4. 4. In a special manner He is gracious towards the godly.

Love is 1. grounded often on something which may deserve it; the grace of God is that love of his which is altogether free. 2. Grace is such a kind of love as flows from a superior to an inferior; love may be in inferiors toward their superiors."


Edward Leigh (1602-1671) on God's Patience and Long-Suffering

"God is Patient, Psalm 103:8. Job 2:17 [?]. God's patience is that whereby he bears the reproach of sinners and defers their punishments; or it is the most bountiful will of God, whereby he doth long bear with sin which he hates, sparing sinners, not minding their destruction, but that he might bring them to repentance.

This is aggravated:

1. In that sin is an infinite injury offered to him, therefore in the Lord's Prayer it is called a Trespass.

2. He is infinitely affected with this; hence in the Scripture he is said to be grieved with our sins, to be wearied, as a cart full of sheaves; he is said to hate sin, for although he be such a perfect God that none of our sins can hurt him, yet because he is a holy and just God, he cannot but infinitely distaste sinners.

3. He can be revenged immediately if he please; men many times are patient perforce, they would be revenged, but they know not how to compass it. He apprehends at the same time what he has done for us, and withal our unthankfulness, unkindness, and yet he endured Cain, Saul, Judas a long time.

4. He beholds the universality of sin, all men injure him, the heathens are given to idolatry, blasphemy among Christians, the profane sort are full of oaths, adulteries, the better negligent, lazy, cold.

5. God not only [does] not punish, but still continues his benefits; the old drunkard is still alive.

6. He sets up a Ministry to invite us to come in, and we have that many years; Forty years long was I grieved with this generation.

7. In Christ patience was visible, there was living patience.

8. He afflicts lightly and mercifully to win us; he makes thee sick and poor, to see if it will make thee leave thy sinning.

9. God is Long-suffering, Exod. 34:6.

It is that whereby he expects and waits a long time for repentance; or it is the most bountiful will of God not suffering his displeasure suddenly to rise against his creatures offending, to be avenged of them, but he does warn them beforehand, lightly correct and seek to turn them unto him. Christ endured Judas till the last."


November 14, 2014

Richard Muller on God's Universal and Special Love in Early Reformed Thought

The second kind of divine love [in distinction from the love of God ad intra] that Musculus identifies is the love of the creator for all his creatures, resting on his creation of all things as good in the beginning. It would be impossible, Musculus notes, given the nature of God, for God to "make evil things and love them after they were made" or to "make good things and not love them when they were made." Nor could it be that God loved his creation in the beginning and subsequently ceased to love it--for God's love is immutable. Nor, again, is God's love hindered by the subjection of the created order to corruption after the fall, for the creation not only remains God's work despite this corruption, but also it was God's own "most wise and unsearchable purpose" that has subjected the entire creation to this bondage and vanity, as the apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8, or indeed as is written in the Wisdom of Solomon, "thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made."475

Third, above his love for all creation, God loves humanity in general. This love, Musculus notes, ought to be a source of wonder on our part: we would not be surprised if Scripture were to tell us that God loves his angels, inasmuch as they have a heavenly nature and purity and have been chosen as God's "special ministers." Yet Scripture speaks instead of the surpassing love of God for human beings, made in the image of God and accorded a special dignity "above all other creatures." God has not, moreover, forsaken us after the Fall but continues to care for us with his special providence. Beyond this, God so loves human beings that in the incarnation "God was made man, to the end that man should be advanced into the fellowship of God's nature." There could be no greater indication of the love of God for humanity than this personal union of human nature with the divine nature. So, too, the love of God for all humanity is seen in the death of his Son for our redemption. And finally, the general love of God for humanity is manifest in the universal calling of the gospel.476 This divine love for the world and specifically for humanity, Calvin writes, is the "first cause ... and source of our salvation."477

The fourth species of divine love, according to Musculus, is the "special" love of God for those human beings chosen "to the adoption of children, before the foundation of the world," a love not extended to the entire human race, as indicated by the text in Romans, "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated." Reflecting definitions from the older scholastic tradition, Musculus indicates that this love "comprehends" all of the other elements of the salvation of the elect, namely, "predestination, calling, the gift of faith and of the Spirit, justification, regeneration, and the renewal of mind and life": all of these things are referred to the goodness and love of God by the apostle in Titus 3:4-8.478 Calvin also identifies the special, saving love of God as a sign of God's utter mercy, apart from all human works, to save some by grace: "this love was founded on the purpose of his will (Eph. 1:5)."479

Fifth, there is in God a love of the good, simply because it is good. This love is directed particularly toward all that is "just, honest, gentle, meek, mild, and merciful" and evidences a love of true goodness in human conduct.480 Musculus enquires how this can be so if we are saved according to God's mercy and not according to our works. The solution to the problem is that "we must consider the love of God toward us in two respects": first, God loves us merely on account of his own goodness. Our salvation has "no cause in us" but arises only out of the goodness of God. By this love we are made good despite our sinful condition. Second, God also loves "good, faithful, and obedient persons: this second form of divine love toward believers, argues Musculus, is in no way hindered or prevented by the former, prior, love, "for he who of his infinite goodness loves us without cause" can love us still more "when we are godly." This divine love of the good in us, Musculus concludes, ought to inspire believers to be "studious in goodness, godliness, and righteousness" and to be thankful toward God for his kindness.481
475. Musculus, Loci communes, XLVIII (Commonplaces, pp. 960-961), citing Wisdom, 11:25.
476. Musculus, Loci communes, XLVIII (Commonplaces, pp. 961-963).
477. Calvin, Commentary on John, 3:16 (CTS John, I, p. 122).
478. Musculus, Loci communes, XLVIII (Commonplaces, p. 963, cols. 1-2).
479. Calvin, Commentary on John, 3:16 (CTS John, I, p. 123).
480. Musculus, Loci communes, XLVIII (Commonplaces, p. 964, col. 1), citing 2 Cor. 9:7.
481. Musculus, Loci communes, XLVIII (Commonplaces, pp. 964-965). Musculus develops the practical implications of his teaching at length (pp. 965-977).
Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 3:563-564.

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on God Kneeling to Entreat

"The torments of the damned must needs be extreme, because they are the effect of Divine Revenge: Wrath is terrible, but Revenge is implacable: When the great God shall say; I will now be righted for all the wrongs that I have born from rebellious creatures; I will let out my wrath, and it shall be stayed no more, you shall now pay for all the abuse of my Patience! Remember now how I waited your leisure in vain, how I stooped to persuade you; how I, as it were, kneeled to entreat you: did you think I would always be slighted by such miscreants as you? O, who can look up when God shall thus plead with them in the heat of Revenge? Then will he be revenged for every mercy abused, for his creatures consumed in luxury and excess; for every hours time misspent; for the neglect of his word, for the vilifying of his messengers, for the hating of his people, for the prophanation of his ordinances, and neglect of his worship, for the breaking of his Sabbaths, and the grieving of his Spirit, for the taking of his Name in vain, for unmerciful neglect of his servants in distress. O the numberless bills that will be brought in! And the charge that will overcharge the soul of the sinner! And how hotly Revenge will pursue them all to the highest! How God will stand over them with the rod in his hand (not the rod of fatherly chastisements, but that Iron rod wherewith he bruiseth the rebellious) and lay it on for all their neglects of Christ and grace! O that men would foresee this! And not put themselves under the hammer of revenging fury, when they may have the treasure of happiness at so easy rates! And please God better in preventing their woe!"
Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest, 10th edition (London: Printed by R. W. for Francis Tyton, and are to be sold at the sign of the three Daggers in Fleet-street, 1650), 334-335.


Other advocates within the Augustinian tradition who use the metaphor of God begging are the following men:

Augustine, Hugh Latimer [Early English Reformer], Samuel Rutherford [Westminster divine], Thomas Manton [Puritan], Jeremiah Burroughs [Westminster divine], John Trapp [Puritan], Sydrach Simpson [Westminster divine], Joseph Caryl [Westminster divine], Robert Harris [Westminster divine], Theophilus Gale [Puritan], William Gearing [Puritan], Isaac Ambrose [Puritan], Stephen Charnock [Puritan], John Richardson [Puritan], John Flavel [Puritan], Thomas Watson [Puritan], Thomas Case [Puritan], Richard Sibbes [Puritan], John Shower [Puritan], John Collinges [Puritan], William Gurnall [Puritan], George Swinnock [Puritan], Ralph Venning [Puritan], Daniel Burgess [Puritan], Samuel Willard, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Solomon Stoddard, Samuel Davies, Andrew Gray, Ralph Erskine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Chalmers, Walter Chantry, Erroll Hulse, John MacArthur and Fred Zaspel.

November 13, 2014

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on Moral Power as Distinct from Natural Faculties

"3. I easily acknowledge that grace giveth such a power as is commonly called Moral, distinct from the natural faculties, as our corrupt estate contains an opposite impotency. But this is but an applying of the terms [Can] and [Cannot] [Power] and [Impotency] to Dispositions and Undisposedness, to Habits and their Privations. 
4. A new heart and spirit, I easily confess necessary. But those words do commonly signify in Scripture, only new Inclinations, Dispositions, Qualifications. It is a new heart, though only the old faculties and substance. I hope you will not follow Illyricus.
5. Where you say that [without faith a man can no more Receive Christ, nor do ought towards it, than a dead man can walk or speak.] I Reply 1. That proves not faith to be equivalent to a Potentia vel facultas, any otherwise then that it is of as absolute necessity, but not that it is of the same nature. If you show an illiterate man a Greek or Hebrew book, he can no more read in it then a dead man, that is, both are truly in sensu composito impossible: But yet it is but a habit that is wanting  to one, and a power or faculty natural, to the other. And so it may truly be said that a sinner cannot do well that hath accustomed to do evil, no more than a Leopard can change his spots, or a Blackmoore his skin. Yet if you mean that such are equally distant from actual change as a dead man, it is but a dead comparison. A dead man wants both natural faculties, and an inclination or moral power. An unbeliever wants but one."
Richard Baxter, The Reduction of a Digressor (London: Printed by A. M. for Thomas Underhill, at the Anchor and Bible in Pauls Church-yard near the little North-door, and Francis Tyton, at the three Daggers in Fleetstreet near Dunstans Church, 1654), 131.