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.