October 29, 2014

Thomas Larkham (1602-1669) on God's Patience and Fair Offers

"There is not such a patience in God (as the word properly signifies) which is versed in griefs or calamities, but in injuries and wrongs. As a King is said to be patient which moderately beareth abuses, and contains himself from revenge which he might easily take if he would. O this is a glorious virtue in man; But in God it is a most glorious beam, to wit, then he acteth this way, to suffer sinners, and not to take vengeance upon them. This infinitely excelleth the patience of the most patient men in the world: because the absuses which are offered to God, are infinitely greater than those which are offered to men; and because he doth most distinctly see them all, and doth most sharply resent them, and hath in readiness ways to take vengeance, and yet he withholds. He knows all he hath done for us, and on the other side our ingratitude. He sees all the abominations committed in the world; which did the most patient man in the world see but one hour, he would certainly burn the world the next (saith a late Writer). And although God be not capable of grief and sorrow, yet he very bitterly takes his dishonor, and is provoked to revenge. He perceives the unworthiness of sin; and that his own Majesty, & his unspeakable goodness showed to the creature is vilepended. He is armeed with a thousand Plagues, and yet forbears: yea, continues his former benefits; expecting, and stirring up to Repentance, and to come to his sons Marriage. Admirable patience! So with the old World did God deal, Gen. 6:3. 1 Pet. 3:20. with others Gen. 18:24. Jerem. 31. cap. 5. ver. 1. Luke 13:34.

And the reason is rendered 2 Pet. 3:9. Because he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. Ezek. 18:32. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn your selves and live ye; and so cap. 33:11. Hos. 6:4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? &c. and cap. 11. 8. How should I give thee up Ephriam? How shall I deliver thee Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

So then this shall be the Doctrine, That God in the offer of grace, (notwithstanding shameful repulses) is wonderful patient.

He sends again, and again. Again he sent forth other servants, &c.

Then certainly we have no cause to complain of God's impatiency.

And they that reject grace, are without excuse. They cannot say it was not offered to them. Indeed God's patience occasions perverseness through the wickedness of people's hearts. Psal. 78. verses 17. to the 22. and 37, 38, 39. and 56, 59, 60. verses. In those places the marvelous untowardness of the Israelites is showed: but yet God tempteth no man, but woes, and argues, and allures. And they that do abuse his patience, will know one day that they had a fair offer. O think upon it."
Thomas Larkham, The Wedding-Supper (London: Printed, and are to be sold by Giles Calvert, at his shop at the black spread Eagle, neer the West end of Pauls, 1652), 75-77.
"The Lord is not only patient in the offer of Grace: but very diligent in providing means and instruments to draw men. That shall be the next Doctrine. You see God doth not presently upon their refusal give over, but sends other servants.

And the Reason is (as before it hath been said) He would have no man to perish, but that all should come to repentance. Understand by his Will, his word, his approbation and liking of it; but what he willeth from everlasting, that he worketh and bringeth to pass: and so saith David, Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, in earth, in the Sea, and in all places. But to the matter: The Lord (I say) is not only patient to wait, but diligent in providing means; here is another glorious beam of the Deity shining forth; His Spirit strives with men, to do them good. He giveth gifts to men for the sake of mankind: He exposeth his Ordinances to contempt, and his servants to injurious abuses, that men may not perish, but have life everlasting." Ibid., 79-80.

October 27, 2014

John Rowe (1626-1677) on God's Common General Love and Special Peculiar Love

"3. Christ's love to his people is a special peculiar, and discriminating love.

1. It is a special peculiar love. There is a common general love which God bears to all creatures; but there is a special peculiar love which God bears to his people. God loveth all his creatures with a general love; but it is some only he loves with a special and peculiar love. God, as one observes [Marginal reference: "Omnes quidem diligit, sed non ad aequale bonum" - Tolet], loves all his creatures indeed, but he doth not love them so as to will the same good, or to bestow the same equal good upon them all. God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. He feeds the ravens, cloathes the lilies, gives life, breath, being to all creatures; but then there is a special love which he bears to his people. First, he gives himself to them: Heb. 8:10. This is the covenant I will make with them, I will be their God. Secondly, he gives them his Son: Having given us his Son, Rom. 8:32. John 3:16. Thirdly, he gives Heaven, Salvation, and eternal life unto them, Luke 12:32. 1 Thess. 5:9. These are the things that God bestows upon his people: so then it is a special love in this respect. God bestows common blessings upon others; he bestows many temporal blessings upon all men; but his special favors are reserved for the Elect: therefore he is said to be the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe, 1 Tim. 4:10. God preserves and saves all men by a common Providence, but he is in a special peculiar manner the Savior of Believers: therefore he is called the Savior of the body, Eph. 5:23. Compare these Scriptures together; in one place he is said to be the Savior of all men, and in another place he is said to be the Savior of his body the Church. Christ is the Savior of all men in some respect, but not so as he is the Savior of his body the Church: he saves all men with a common Salvation, but he doth not save all men with a spiritual eternal salvation, it is the Church only he so saves."
John Rowe,  Emmanuel, Or the Love of Christ Explicated and Applied in his Incarnation, Being Made Under the Law, and His Satisfaction. In XXX Sermons. (London: Printed for Francis Tyton Book-seller at the Three Daggers near the Inner Temple-Gate in Fleetstreet, 1680), 13-14.


October 25, 2014

Thomas Wilcox (c.1549-1608) on Christ's Willingness to Save Sinners

Wilcox describes Jesus talking to two kinds of lost individuals, the Publican and the Pharisee:

"P[ublican]. And art thou willing, Lord, that I should be saved?
J[esus]. Yes, I am willing that all should be saved, and come to the Knowledge of the Truth, 1 Tim 2:4."
Thomas Wilcox, A Guide to Eternal Glory (London: Printed for C. Hitch, and L. Lawes, in Pater-noster-Row; and J. Hodges, near London Bridge, 1755), 23.
"Ph[arisee]. I see thou dost reject me: I thought to be one of thy Disciples, and to follow thee. 
C[hrist]. No, I do not reject thee, but am very willing to receive thee; but first consider what thou dost, and what it will cost thee, if thou wilt be my Disciple and follow me." Ibid., 38-39.

October 21, 2014

A Brief Biography of Ezekiel Culverwell (ca. 1554–1631)

Since there isn't a biographical sketch of Ezekiel Culverwell on the Internet yet (not even on Wikipedia), I thought I would fill that gap with this quote from Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia:
Culverwell, Ezekiel (ca. 1554–1631)
Church of England clergyman and a leading member of the conference movement. Culverwell was born in London, son of Nicholas Culverwell. He was part of a network of puritan leaders. His eldest sister, Elizabeth, was the mother of William Gouge. Two younger sisters, Ceclilia and Susan, married respectively Laurence Chaderton and William Whitaker. His eldest brother, Samuel, married a daughter of Thomas Sampson.

Culverwell graduated from Oxford in 1573, proceeding M.A. in 1577. Ordained in about 1585, he became chaplain to Robert, the third Lord Rich, at Little Leighs, Essex, and preacher at nearby Felsted. He joined the conference of ministers led by George Gifford, which met in and around Braintree, in the process becoming a friend of the clergyman Richard Rogers, who frequently mentions him in his diary. It seems likely, therefore, that he stood godfather to Ezekiel Rogers.

Although his nonconformity soon drew the fire of John Aylmer, bishop of London, Culverwell was in 1592 instituted by Aylmer as rector of Great Stambridge, Essex. In 1598 he married, as his second wife, Winifred Barefoot (née Hildersham), possibly the sister of Arthur Hildersham, and was thereafter accepted as a member of the influential Barrington-Hildersham connection. In one of his three extant letters he addressed Lady Joan Barrington as "cousin."

Following the death of Arthur Dent in 1603, he saw Dent's last work, The Ruine of Rome, through the press, adding a dedicatory epistle to Lord Rich. In 1605 at Great Stambridge, he solemnized the marriage of Mary Forth to John Winthrop, the future governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who later acknowledged that it was Culverwell's ministry that had converted him to "true religion."

After many citations before the London consistory court following the implementation of the Constitutions and Canons of 1604, Culverwell was deprived of Great Stambridge by the High Commission in 1609 for his continued refusal to observe the ceremonies of the Church of England. Evidently spending the rest of his life in London, he maintained contact with Winthrop and was a friend and correspondent of such leading Calvinist theologians as John Burgess, John Dod, Richard Sibbes, and James Ussher. In his Treatise of Faith (1623; 8th ed. 1648), the most important of his handful of published works, he sought to modify the doctrine that Christ died only for the elect. When Alexander Leighton accused him of Arminianism in A friendly triall of the Treatise of Faith (Amsterdam, 1624), Culverwell issued a spirited defense--A briefe answere to certain objections against the Treatise of Faith (1626)--affirming his adherence to the decrees of the Synod of Dort.

Culverwell was buried in the parish of St. Antholin, London, on 14 April 1631, having made a brief will in July 1630. Among his bequests was one to young Ezekiel Cheever, presumably another godson: £10 and a third of all his Latin books. Culverwell's influence on Gouge, Winthrop (recipient of two [of] his extant letters), Cheever and, perhaps, the family of Richard Rogers earns him an honorable place in the dispersal of the "puritan" tradition of English Calvinism."

October 20, 2014

Ralph Robinson (1614–1655) on Christ's Willingness to Receive Sinners

"5. For the fifth. Why Chirst is called a fountain opened. He is called so in three respects. 
1. To show how willing he is that sinners should make use of him. He is not a sealed fountain; but a fountain opened. Jesus Christ is marvelous ready and desirous that polluted souls would make use of his blood. All the invitations which he uses in the Gospel show his readiness, Rev. 22:17. He hath for this purpose appointed the Ministry of the Gospel that solemn invitation might therein be made to defiled souls, that they would wash and be clean. All the complaints which he makes of sinners remissness and backwardness in coming to him, are a proof of his readiness. Take but two places for this, the one is John 5:40. The other is in Luke 13:24. With how much sadness of heart doth Jesus Christ utter those words, How often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathereth her chickens and ye would not: He that commands his door always to be kept open, doth declare his mind to be, that all that want succour should turn in for relief. Christ keeps open house for all penitent sinners."


October 19, 2014

John Randall (1570–1622) on God's Love and Goodwill

"The Reasons of the doctrine are these: First, all the good that ever God doth to all or any of his creatures, it is merely of his own love, and good will towards them; therefore this Communion, which God affords the faithful to have with him, is much more for his love. That all the good that ever God doth to any of his creatures comes from his love, we may see Psalm 145:16. Thou openest thy hand and fillest all things living of thy good pleasure; then much more this communion. I say much more; for the Reason ariseth upon many advantages: First, if all the good he doth to the other creatures comes from his love, much more the good he doth to man must come from his love, Man being the choice and prime of the creatures: Secondly, if to men in general, of love, then much more to true believers, being the prime and choice of men in God's estimation: Thirdly, if all the good God doth to true believers come from his love, then much more this blessed communion, which is the prime and choice, and indeed the very Summe of all the good we receive from God; so that the reason stands very strong."
John Randall, "Saint Paul's Triumph," in The Works of That Famous Divine, Master John Randall (London: Printed by H.L. for Nathanael Newbery, in Popes-head Alley at the Starre, 1629), 27-28.


Vavasor Powell (1617–1670) on God's Love and Mercy Bestowed on Sinners

Powell begins to exhort lost "sinners" (p. 65) to exalt Christ and to "submit unto the Lord Jesus." He says, "there are many of you here this day that stand in need of Christ, who have not stooped, and bowed down to him." He beseeches them in order to incite their hearts to consider various motives. Here is one of them:
"6. Because that all the love and mercy which the Lord hath revealed to you, and bestowed on you, they are to bring you to obedience unto him.

O consider! what mercies God hath heaped upon you, he hath given you Houses, Lands, Children, Servants, Honours, pleasure, and dominion, and he hath made your enemies to stoop to you; O now what doth the Lord expect from you? but that you should submit unto his Son."
Vavasor Powell, Christ Exalted Above All Creatures by God His Father (London: Printed by Robert Ibbitson for Livewell Chapman at the Crown in Popes-head Alley, 1651), 67.


October 17, 2014

Ralph Venning (c. 1621–1674) on Paradox in God's Will

"96. He [the orthodox Christian] believes that God willeth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth [1 Tim. 2:4 in the margin]: and yet he believes that to them who are without all things are done in Parables; that seeing they may see, and not perceive, and hearing they may hear, and not understand [Luke 8:10], lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them: yea, he believes that they could not believe, because he hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, and be converted, and he should heal them [John 12:39-40]."
Ralph Venning, Orthodox Paradoxes: Or, A Believer Clearing Truth by Seeming Contradictions, 2nd Part (London: Printed by S. G. for J. Rothwell, at the Fountain and Bear in Goldsmiths-row in Cheapside, 1657), 13.
"110. He believes that 'tis the pleasure of the Lord that the wicked should die; and yet he believes that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked." Ibid., 15.
"161. He believes that nothing can be done against the will of God; for, Who hath resisted his Will? and yet he believes that every sin is committed against the Will of God." Ibid., 21.
"214. He believes that God willeth all men to be saved, 1 Tim. 2:4. and yet he believes that God wills not the salvation of all men." Ibid., 27.
"43. He believes that God doth all that he wills to do; and yet he believes that God wills that to be which he never doth.

44. He believes that God's willing of sin is rather a permission than a willing; and yet he believes it to be a willing permission.

45. He believes that God's will is one; and yet that his will is manifold.

46. He believes that though men leave the will of God undone, yet his will is never disappointed."
Ralph Venning, Orthodox Paradoxes, Theological and Experimental. Or, A Believer Clearing Truth by Seeming Contradictions, 6th Edition (London: Printed for J. Rothwell, at the Fountain and Beare in Goldsmiths-Row in Cheapside, 1654), 5.
"48. He believes that [1 Tim. 2:3-4] God would that all men should be saved; and yet he believes that his will is not changed, nor frustrated though many are damned." Ibid., 6.

"61. He believes that God never made any man on purpose to reprobate him; and yet he believes that God ever purposed to reprobate some men." Ibid., 7.

"He knows that grace is much resisted; and yet he believes that there is nothing works so irresistibly." Ibid., 11.

William Whittingham (c. 1524–1579) on God's Loving Offer

"He [Paul in 2 Cor. 5:18-20] commendeth the excellency of the ministry of the Gospel, both by the authority of God himself, who is the author of that ministry, and also by the excellency of the doctrine of it: for it announces atonement with God, by free forgiveness of our sins, and justification offered unto us in Christ, and that so lovingly and liberally, that God himself does after a sort pray men by the mouth of his ministers to have consideration of themselves, and not to despise so great a benefit."
William Whittingham, The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ (London: Imprinted by Robert Barker, 1616), 180.