July 12, 2014

Richard Maden (ca. 1591-1677) on the Will of God Touching Man's Salvation

Luke 19:42

Oh if thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, &c!

Chap. 6.

The Will of God touching man's salvation, as it is generally revealed and propounded in the Gospel.

Hitherto of Christ's carriage and deportment towards Jerusalem; It follows now to speak of his words and speeches to her, and therein first of his passionate and pathetical wish or complaint: wherein first of all, the manner of speech offers itself to our consideration, because the original text, is not rendered alike by all. In the translation of it, some looking more at the scope and intention of Christ, who sets himself purposely to bewail the condition of Jerusalem, than at the bare and naked translation of the words; do render them in the nature of a wish or desire, oh that thou hadst known, &c. and so make the sense full and complete, without the supply or addition of anything else unto it; and the particle (If) is sometimes rendered in that sense, as the learned observe: and many interpreters go this way. Others looking more punctually at the grammatical construction of the words in the original, render the words in a conditional phrase, by way of supposition, If thou hadst known, &c. and so seem to make it defective speech, or a broken and imperfect sentence, which must be thus supplied and made up: If thou hadst known the worth and excellency of those good things which are offered unto thee by the coming of a Saviour, though wouldst not value them at so low a rate: Or, If thou hadst known the misery and calamity thou lyest open unto, thou wouldest not sing and rejoice as now thou doest, but weep and shed tears as thou seest me do. And this also is well backed with the authority of the learned, and they are induced to incline to this opinion, because of the tears of Christ mentioned in the verse before.

Now for a man that speaks out of depth of sorrow, and fulness of grief, it is nothing strange for him to break off his speech, and leave it imperfect; for as it is the nature of joy to enlarge the heart, and dilate the spirits, & so set open as it were a wide door for the thoughts of the heart to go out and vent themselves; so it is the nature of sorrow to contract and straighten, to narrow and draw together the spirits, and as it were to shut the door of the soul, so that like as it is with a vessel, though it be full of liquor, yet if the mouth of it be stopped, none will flow out; even so it was here with Christ: having begun to speak, he was so overwhelmed with grief, and so deeply affected with the estate and condition of Jerusalem, that he could not speak out, but was even constrained to weep out the rest of the sentence, leaving the full sense and meaning to be gathered and supplied out of his tears: as is used in such passionate and pathetical speeches. The matter is not much in regard of the sense and meaning, whether the words be read in a manner of a wish, O that thou hadst known, &c. or whether they be translated by way of supposition, in a conditional phrase, If thou hadst known, &c. And happily he shall not do amiss that joins them both together, and reads the words thus, O if thou hadst known, and so they afford this observation.

That Christ did seriously will and desire the welfare of Jerusalem, even that part of Jerusalem which was afterward miserably destroyed, for refusing the mercy that was tendered and offered unto her: neither did he will this as man only, but likewise as God; the will of the humanity, and the will of the Deity were not contrary, but subordinate; they did both meet in the object or thing willed; that is, in the good and salvation of Jerusalem. And that he did seriously will it, there be three things in the Text seem plainly to evince: 1. His tears, as has been shown before. 2. His patience and long-suffering, because not withstanding the killing of so many Prophets, as had been slain before, the contempt and undervaluing of so many mercies as had been offered before; yet even to that very day he carried thoughts of peace towards her, and accordingly sent her means of peace, even such means, as from that day forward she should never enjoy the like again. And what more evident sign of his serious intentions than this, that he is so long, before his thoughts can be taken off from it. 3. His coming to her in his own person: when the Physician does not only prescribe remedies for his sick Patient, and gives order what he shall take, but also comes himself in his own person to apply them, lest there should be any mistake or neglect; it is a sign he does seriously will and desire his recovery; so when Christ comes himself in person to Jerusalem, as to his sick patient; it shows how willing and desirous he was to work a cure upon this diseased party, and to heal that [which] was amiss; and this is that which [he] himself testifies, & speaks out plainly elsewhere [Matt. 23:37], O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee, even as the hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? You see what Christ professes, I would have gathered thee, &c. and that his purpose and intention was serious in the willing of it, appears, 1. From the ingemination of the word, Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem: a single compellation had been sufficient, to let Jerusalem know his mind; but that it might make a deeper impression, and that she might see and perceive his thoughts and purposes to be serious indeed; therefore he doubles the word, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: to show that he desired her welfare, not by a single and slender intention, but by a more serious and re-doubled affection. 2. From the qualification of the persons, whom he would have gathered, they were such as had killed the Prophets, stoned them that were sent, &c. and now ready to exercise the like cruelty upon himself. Here were indignities more than sufficient to have abated somewhat of his affections towards her, &; to have taken off his thoughts and intentions of doing her good, had not the bent and inclination of his will been seriously propending that way. 3. From the frequency of his endeavors; he had made an offer and tender of salvation unto her, not once, but often; even by all the Prophets in the Old Testament that went before him: neither was there only an offer tendered, but that also seconded with earnest entreaties and exhortations to accept of it, and that after so many denials and refusals of it, he would yet still continue to make the same offer, and that in his own person; it plainly shows, that he did seriously will and desire her good. 4. From the manner of willing, which is set forth here by way of comparison, as the hen gathers her chickens, &c. Now of all females among the reasonable creatures, there is none more tenderly affectionate towards her young, than the hen is towards her chickens; other fowls are not known to have young, unless it be when they are in the nest, or together with them; but the hen is known to have young, even then when she is apart from them, when they do not follow her, because even then her wings flag and hang down, her feathers are rough, and stand up, she goes feebly, and clucks mournfully, as the father [Chrysos. & Augustine] well observes. And therefore Christ comparing his will and affection for the good of Jerusalem, with the native propension that is in the hen, to gather her chickens under her wings, does plainly show that he did seriously will and desire her good.

And to enlarge the point a little more, and raise it a little higher, from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to all those to whom the Gospel is preached, and to whom Christ is offered in the ministry of the Word: for there is a like party of reason in both: for Christ came not to do his own will, but the will of his Father that sent him. And therefore so as Christ willed the good and salvation of Jerusalem, to which he was sent; so does God will the good and salvation of those to whom the Gospel is preached: that is, as Christ did seriously will the good and salvation of Jerusalem, even of that part of Jerusalem, which for the refusal of his mercy was afterward miserably destroyed by her enemies: So God does seriously will and desire the salvation of those to whom the Gospel is preached; even of those, who through their own fault perish in their sins: For God will have all men saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth [1 Tim. 2:4]: which words I take in that sense and meaning that I find them interpreted in the Articles of our Church, to wit, according to that conditional promise of grace and favour to mankind, which is universal; universal, I say, in the offer, or antecedent part of it, though not so in the event or consequent part of it: and so it is taken by Zanchy [J. Zanchius], and some other modern Divines, who make the latter part of the sentence to be a condition required of everyone, for the obtaining of that salvation which is mentioned in the foregoing part of it, so that the will of God revealed in the Scriptures touching man's salvation, it respects both the end, and the means; the end which God would have men come unto, it is a happy end, even the salvation of their souls; which salvation he is willing to give unto them, upon such terms and conditions as are expressed in the new Covenant; the means he would have them use for the attaining of this end, is, to come to the knowledge of the truth, even that lively and effectual knowledge which is accompanied with the love of the truth, and obedience to it.

I am not ignorant that some understand the Apostles words of an absolute will in God, and therefore do not extend or enlarge it to all and every one to whom the Gospel is preached, but only to some few of all sorts of men. And this interpretation they father upon St. Augustine, the more to endear it to their followers, by so great a name: and it may not be denied, but that it contains a truth in it: for God by his absolute will, which does always most certainly and infallibly take effect, he wills the salvation of none but the elect only. But yet that learned Father, in that very place where he gives this interpretation, does also give leave and liberty to every one to follow any other sense and meaning that the words bear, so be it do not [so long as it does not] constrain us to believe the omnipotent power of God can be hindered in those things which He absolutely wills [Enchirodion, c. 103]. And the same Father does elsewhere acknowledge that the words may well admit of another interpretation [Epist. 107]: and himself does so qualify his former exposition [Ad art. sibi falso impos., art. 2: See Willet's reference], as that he plainly shows, that the cause why men perish, is in themselves, because they do not desire salvation, neither are they willing to have it, upon such terms and conditions as it is offered unto them; so that they come to perish, not simply for want of good will in God towards them, but because they are wanting to themselves, in the use of those means that lead to life; and thus do some of his own followers interpret his mind and meaning, and will have him to make the Apostle speak of the antecedent part of that conditional will, which is revealed and generally propounded in the Gospel. But however that be, it is certain, that many learned men do so interpret the Apostle, both ancient and modern: Some in their commentaries upon the place, and some in other parts of their works; and that seems most agreeable to the scope and intention of the place: he that takes a view of all other interpretations that are given of the words, he shall find none among them all (those only excepted which are in sense the same, and do but differ from it in words and expressions) but it is more strained & wrested from the true sense and meaning of the Holy Ghost, and liable to more just and material exceptions, than this is.

As for that first exposition of Saint Augustine, which interprets the Apostle of an absolute will in God, and restrains it only to some of all sorts, though it be received by many, yet it seems not so proper and suitable to the scope of the place; because the words are brought in as a reason or motive to press the exhortation laid down before; to wit, that prayers and supplications be made for all men; and therefore must be of equal extent and largeness with it. The word All must be so taken in the Motive annexed, as it is in the duty enjoined; God wills the salvation of all those for whom he will have his people make prayers and supplications: Their charity in praying must reach to all, because God will have all men saved. Now the word All, in the duty enjoined, as Calvin well observes, it signifies the whole race of mankind, and so reaches to all and every one: God will have prayers and supplications made, not only for some of all sorts, but for all of every sort; and therefore the Text gives express charge, that prayers be made for all in authority; not only for some of all sorts, as for some Kings, & some that bear office and authority under them, but for all in authority; even those that were no better than Wolves and Bears, and Lions to the Church; for such were Kings and all in authority in those times; they were so many sworn enemies to Christ and his Kingdom, and yet prayers and supplications are to be made for them. So the Prophet enjoins the Israelites, when they were in captivity under the King of Babel, to seek the prosperity of the City, and to pray for the King's welfare, and the good success of his government: So Christ enjoins his disciples to pray for their enemies and persecutors, &c. and that from the example of God himself, who causes his sun to shine, and the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust [Matt. 5:45]: So when the people had revolted, and provoked God with a high hand, what does Samuel? Does he cease to pray for them? No: God forbid that I should sin against God in ceasing to pray for you. There is not any particular man whom the faithful are to exclude from the benefit of their prayers. Every one is capable of salvation upon such terms as are expressed in the Covenant; and it is the duty of every one, as to seek the enlargement of God's Kingdom, so for that end to pray for him that is without, that he may be added to it: as he is bound to do good unto all; so likewise to pray for them, that being one principle means and way by which he is enabled to do them good; as he is bound to love his neighbor, that is, every one as himself, so likewise he is bound to pray for him; this being one of the best fruits and effects of love that he can show unto him; as there is none but stands in need of his prayers, and may receive benefit and advantage by them; so none must be excepted in the making of them. Now from all these premises, it is plain and evident, that in the duty enjoined by the Apostle, the word All, is to be taken in a general sense, for all and every one; and therefore in all congruity of reason, it must be of the same extent and largeness in the Motive that is used for the enforcing of it, because otherwise it would not bear up the weight that is laid upon it, it would not reach home, nor serve the Apostle's purpose and intention; it would not be sufficient or available to persuade unto it, or to further and put on the practice of that precept for which it is brought: and this is consonant and agreeable to other places of Scripture, where the same truth is asserted and laid down. Let one or two suffice in the stead of all the rest; As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn and live, &c [Ezek. 33:11]. Where you have first the declaration of God's will and affection to the sons of men, and then the proof and confirmation of it. God declares himself to stand tenderly affected towards the sons of men, as appears,

1. By the quality of the person to whom he bears this good will, and that is a sinner, not only a repenting sinner, as some gloss upon it, but even of that sinner, who for the refusing of mercy offered, dies and perishes in his sin; as is plain by comparing this with another parallel place [Ezek. 18:23]; I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, &c.

2. By the nature of the affection he expresses toward him, and that is set down partly by way of negation; I have no pleasure in his death, or I desire not his death: that is, antecedently, and of himself, in the primary intention of his Providence towards him: for God's primary intention in sending the Gospel to any, is to bring him to salvation, and not to seal up and further his condemnation; unless it be through his own fault, undervaluing the mercy offered, and neglecting the helps and means afforded unto him in the same; as Christ tells the Jews; These things I say unto you that ye might be saved, but ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life, &c. And partly it is set down by way of affirmation, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live; he would have him to live, and is willing to give life and salvation to him, according to that course of providence that he has taken for him, in, and by the new Covenant; and that he may live, he would have him to turn away from his wickedness, that deprives him of life: for to that end and purpose he sends his Word and Messengers, to convince him of his sin, to terrify and a fright him with it, to shame him out of his sinful courses. Again, you have the proof and confirmation of all this, As I live saith the Lord; he confirms it with an oath: the bare promise of God deserves credit, because it is he that cannot lie which hath promised; but when he binds himself by oath to make good that promise, who can make the least doubt of it? And therefore God promises with an oath to make his promise the more firm and stable: God willing more abundantly (says the Apostle) to show to the heirs of promise the stableness [stability] of his counsel, hath bound himself with an oath, &c. that by two immutable things, wherein it is impossible that God should lie, they might have strong consolation.

Again, the same truth is confirmed in the New Testament, by those two great Apostles, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and the Apostle of the Jews, St. Paul, and St. Peter; God hath shut up all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all [Rom. 11:32]. Where you see, that misery and mercy are in some sort of equal extent; that is, though all that be in misery do not obtain mercy, yet they are some ways under mercy: those that are made miserable by the breach of the first Covenant, are made capable of mercy by virtue of the second Covenant: Whom the Law convinces of sin, to them the Gospel offers mercy in Christ. And the primary purpose and intention of God in the work of the Law, is to prepare them for Christ, and for the Gospel; that being made sensible of their sin and misery by the Law, they might be more willing to accept of mercy, upon such terms and conditions as it is offered in the Gospel. God never shuts up any under sin by the spirit of bondage, by it is with a purpose and intention to fit him for mercy, if he make a right use of this passage of his providence towards him; that is, when out of a kindly impression that is has wrought upon him, he is moved to seek out for mercy, in that way and order that God has appointed. So then, as the purpose and intention of God in the Ministry of the Law, is shut up all under sin, to show them what they are in themselves, that every mouth may be stopped, and all made culpable before God: so his purpose and intention in the Gospel, and the Covenant of Grace, is, to set open a door of mercy to all, that they may be encouraged through hope of finding mercy, to seek after it: & to this accords the Apostle St. Peter [2 Pet. 3:9]; God is patient towards us, and would have no man perish, but all men to come to repentance. The person of whom God speaks, are such as are the object of his patience, towards whom he exercises his long-suffering; and those are not only some of all estates and conditions, but all and every one, of what estate and condition soever he be; not only the elect, but more especially the rest of the world, even those that abuse his patience, and treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath [Rom. 2:4]; who are therefore terms vessels of wrath, he suffereth with much patience vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; now if you would know how God stands affected to these, the Apostle resolves it first negatively, not willing that any should perish; having no antecedent thoughts of their destruction, before they give occasion, and are looked upon as persons worth of destruction, for their sins: then affirmatively, He would have all men come to repentance [Calvin's Comm. referenced in margin], lest any should think that the act of God's will stands in an indifferent neutrality, touching man's salvation, not caring greatly whether they sink or swim, or what become of them; therefore the Apostle does not only clear the will of God from being a cause of their perishing; but also shows, that is has a positive act, for, and towards the procuring of their salvation, because he is willing that all should come to repentance, and by repentance to remission of sins, and eternal life. By all which places, and many others that might be alleged to the same purpose; it is plain and evident, that God does seriously will the good and salvation of many, who notwithstanding through their own fault, perish in their sins.
Richard Maden, Christs Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem (London: Printed by M.F. for John Clark, and are to be sold at his Shop under S. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1637), 45-59. [English updated and modernized]


According to Keith L. Sprunger's work on Dutch Puritanism (Brill, 1982), Richard Maden (B.D.), once a preacher at St. Helens in London and Late Fellow of Magdalen College in Cambridge, served in both the English Reformed Church in Utrecht (1644-1646) and the Amsterdam English Reformed Church (1647-1668). Maden was an ejected Anglican turned Presbyterian. In 1662, Maden took charge of a project to translate into English the principal parts of the Dutch Reformed catechism for use in the church. He retired in 1668 at age 77.

July 10, 2014

Richard Holdsworth (1590-1649) on God's General Love and Common Graces

"Look upon the sun, how it casts light and heat upon the whole world in its general course, how it shineth upon the good and the bad with an equal influence; but let its beams be but concentrated in a burning-glass, then it sets fire on the object only, and passeth by all others: and thus God in the creation looketh upon all his works with a general love, erant omnia valde bona, they pleased him very well. Oh! but when he is pleased to cast the beams of his love, and cause them to shine upon his elect through Christ, then it is that their hearts burn within them, then it is that their affections are inflamed; whereas others are but as it were a little warmed, have a little shine of common graces case upon them." Richard Holdsworth, 1651 
 Quoted in C. H. Spurgeon's, The Treasury of David (Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 1:118. Spurgeon attributes this to Holdsworth in 1651. The only work I can see by Holdsworth on that date is one edition of his The Valley of Vision (London: Printed by Matthew Simmons, and are to be sold at Alders-gate street next door to the Gilded-Lion, 1651), and yet I can't find the quote in this book which contains 21 sermons. Another book of quotations attributes it to an early Holdsworth sermon preached at St. Paul's in London in 1625.


May 18, 2014

Richard Maden's (ca. 1591 - ca. 1677) Moderate Calvinism

According to Keith L. Sprunger's work on Dutch Puritanism (Brill, 1982), Richard Maden (B.D.), once a preacher at St. Helens in London and Late Fellow of Magdalen College in Cambridge, served in both the English Reformed Church in Utrecht (1644-1646) and the Amsterdam English Reformed Church (1647-1668). Maden was an ejected Anglican turned Presbyterian. In 1662, Maden took charge of a project to translate into English the principal parts of the Dutch Reformed catechism for use in the church. He retired in 1668 at age 77.

Maden's moderate Calvinism can be seen in the following preface to the reader in his Christ's Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem:
The Preface to the Reader.

Gentle Reader,

There is nothing more available for the rectifying of the judgment and understanding of a man in the mysteries of salvation, than a right apprehension and conceit, touching the will of God; to wit, what God is willing to do for him, and what he wills and requires him to do for the obtaining of it. The clear understanding of this, rectifies a man's faith in matters to be believed, either concerning God, or himself: it regulates his obedience in things to be done, teaching him how to pray aright with confidence to be heard, and that is, when he asks anything according to the will of God, directing him to walk aright in the way of life; and that is, when he is neither misled in his way, nor negligent in his work, but applies himself to God in a wise and orderly carriage, suitable to that course of providence that he has taken for his good.

Touching this will of God, there is something delivered in this ensuing Treatise, by which every one may take a true scantling of the goodwill and affection that God bears unto him, by those warm expressions of love which he finds in the Gospel. Much more might have been said in this argument, and perhaps in time may.

Meanwhile, for the preventing of all mistakes in that which is said already, be pleased (courteous reader) to take notice, that it is no part of my purpose and intention, in any part of these following discourses and meditations, to enter the lists of that dispute and controversy which is now in agitation among the learned divines of the Reformed churches, touching the will of God in the decree of election. The heat of that contention has already troubled and disquieted the peace of the church too much, and want of moderation in some on both sides, through the indiscreet handling, of that unsearchable depth, does still beget ill blood in the veins of that body, that should grow up unto an holy Temple in the Lord. As in all other controversies, so in this, the right stating of the matter in question, helps much for the clearing of the truth; and if that be first done, (I hope) it will fully appear, that the conclusion here maintained touching the will of God, does no way border upon that controversy; for the matter there in question is, whether the decree of election, as it is terminated, and pitched upon particular persons, be absolute, and irrespective, or out of consideration of foreseen faith and perseverance: that is, whether God does equally will the salvation of all, and have no absolute and irrespective purpose of saving one more than another, before he looks at different qualifications in them. It is freely confessed [Maden cites William Ames' 1633 Anti-synodalia scripta in the margin] by one that is no stranger to that controversy, nor any ways partially addicted to the Lutheran side, but in his judgment and opinion strong enough against it, that the question of it be rightly stated, is not, whether God does truly, sincerely, and seriously intend the conversion of that man who he outwardly calls, but whether he does equally and indifferently intend and procure the conversion and salvation of all those to whom the Gospel is preached; implying, that both sides agree upon this, that God does seriously will the salvation of all those to whom He makes an offer and tender of it in the ministry of the Word; and that neither part maintains any such decree of purpose in God, touching man's salvation, as is repugnant and contrary to that will of God which is revealed in the Gospel, but subordinate unto it. And when he [Ames in the same work] does positively and professedly set down the position and conclusion which [he] himself and others hold and maintain against their adversaries, he makes this expression of it, namely, that God does not antecedently will the conversion of such as die in their sins, after the same manner, and in the same degree as he does the conversion of others, whom in time he converts; neither does he work equally and indifferently in them both, but that by an antecedent purpose, independent upon anything in the creature, he absolutely intends, and so accordingly effectually procures the conversion of some, leaving others, who lie equally in the same condition with them, and are [in] no ways inferior unto them, save only in that previous purpose of special love, which he is pleased of himself, and for his own sake, to show to one more than to another.

And this seems to be the mind of those learned divines in the Synod of Dort, who speaking of the benefits of Christ's death and passion, when they come to that distinction of impretration and application, they show, that they do not simply and altogether mislike it; and therefore they qualify their censure thus far, that they do reject it only in this sense, to wit, as it is used to further and lead in this conclusion, that God, in respect of himself, is willing to bestow the benefits purchased by the death of Christ, equally and indifferently upon all; and that the reason why some are made partakers of remission of sins, and eternal life, rather than others, it is not primarily from any greater goodwill in God towards them, nor any special mercy peculiarly showed to them before others, but from their own freedom and liberty, whereby they apply themselves to God more than others, in making after that grace and mercy which is indifferently offered to both. From whence it appears, that the matter in question among the learned, is only touching the decree of election, how man is considered and looked upon, when God passes that decree upon him, whether barely and nakedly, as abstracted from all qualifications and conditions which are required in the covenant of grace, or clothed and invested with such preparatory gifts of grace, as do by virtue of God's promise, entitle him to eternal life. This question I purposely wave, and meddle not withal in this ensuing Treatise, but take that which is generally granted by the more moderate, and best learned on both sides: to wit, that all mankind are capable of salvation, upon such terms and conditions as are expressed in the covenant of grace: that is, if they repent of their sins, and believe in Christ, and that when God offers life and salvation to all and every one in the ministry of the Word, he is truly willing, and does seriously intend to bestow the same upon them, in that way that He has commanded them to seek it, and according to that course of providence that he has taken for their good: that is, if they will apply themselves unto him, and follow the counsel and direction that he gives them. And this, if I mistake not, is the general doctrine of the ancient Fathers, the learned School-men, and many modern divines: both Papists and Protestants, Lutherans and Calvinists, there is none that is well read and versed in their writings, that can much doubt or question the judgment of any of them, save only of those who follow and embrace Mr. Calvin's way, and build upon his foundation: and yet amongst them (over and besides those that are mentioned in the Treatise itself) these two or three testimonies may serve to show that many of very good note among them, are clear in this point:

First, it appears by Musculus in his Common Places, that the redemption which is purchased by Christ, is upon some condition applyable to the whole world, and to every particular man from the first to the last: that is, according to the report made in the general offer of it; for though all be not made partakers of it, yet their ruin and destruction, which is of themselves, does not [in] any way prejudice or impeach the general goodwill of God towards mankind, nor hinder, but that the benefit of redemption may be thus far termed universal, as that it is in some sort intended for all, and upon some conditions appliable unto all: and he illustrates this by two similitudes: First, of the sun, which may be said to send forth a general light and influence into all places, and all creatures, and to make them fruitful though many of them remain barren, because the defect and hindrance is not in the nature of the sun, but in other letts and impediments which hinder the effectual working of it: Even so (he says) it is with the redemption purchased by Christ; that Reprobates and wicked men do not receive it, it is not for want of goodwill in God towards them; nor through the defect of that grace He offers to them, for it is prepared for all, and in the preaching of the gospel are all invited to it: and therefore it is not fit that it should forfeit the title of a general benefit, because the sons of perdition, through their own fault, deprive themselves of it: for as a Medicine may be said to be universal, though it does not actually cure all diseases, because it has such a virtue in it, that it would heal them, if it were rightly and orderly applied unto them: Even so the blood of Christ may be termed an universal medicine, because it has sufficient virtue in it to heal the sins of the whole world, though it do actually cure none, but such only to whom it is applied.

The other similitude which he brings for the illustration of this point, is drawn from a custom which was used among the Jews, who in the year of Jubilee, proclaimed a general liberty to all servants, whosoever would, might go out free, though many remained still in their former bondage, refusing the benefit of liberty when it was freely offered and tendered unto them: even so in the Gospel, there is a Proclamation published of a general pardon purchased by Christ, which is offered and tendered to all and every one, upon such conditions as are expressed in the covenant of grace. The reason why many miss of it, is not for want of mercy in God, but because they are wanting to themselves, and do not seek for it according to his will.

Another [Maden cites Paul Testard's Synopsis doctrinae de natura et gratia in the margin] affirms, that besides that special and particular goodwill which God bears to some, there is a general goodwill which he bears to all, out of which he was moved to send Christ into the world, and out of a consideration, and for that, which Christ has done and suffered, to erect and set up a throne of grace, and from thence to offer grace, and that by means which in themselves are apt, and some ways sufficient to bring a man to life and happiness, if they be not hindered by a careless neglect on his part.

And this is plainly delivered by another author [Maden again cites William Ames' Anti-synodalia scripta in the margin] mentioned before, when he tells us, that the serious purpose and intention of God, which is required to the outward means, is never to be separated from them; that is, in the administration of the outward means, there is always a virtual purpose in God of doing that, which the means in their own nature lead unto. And again he does freely acknowledge, that those general helps which God affords to the men of this world, and those inferior gifts of the Spirit that he works in them, though they be but common works, and common graces, yet they do in some sort belong to a saving and justifying faith, as previous dispositions preparing and making way for it, and that God's purpose and intention in the working of them, is to afford them some more general helps, which they ought to make use of, for their furtherance, in the way of their conversion: and therefore God did seriously will their salvation.

I will add but one witness more in this matter, and that is the testimony of a learned professor in one of the universities beyond the sea [Maden cites John Cameron in the margin], who thus comments upon those words of the Apostle, God will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, &c. so as men are bound to pray for the salvation of all men, so does God will it: that is, not absolutely, but conditionally; for whatsoever God absolutely wills, that is always effected, and cannot be hindered by anything in the creature; but what he wills only upon condition, that may be hindered, because such as fail in the condition by a voluntary neglect, do thereby hinder and keep away good things from them. And thus should everyone pray for the salvation of others, not absolutely that God would bring them to salvation, whether they repent or no, but that he would bless the means unto them, and work grace in them, whereby they may repent and turn unto him, in that way of obedience, that leads to life.

And again, he shows that the Scripture does so describe the antecedent love of God towards mankind, as that there are certain degrees of love to be acknowledged in it, whereof the first is more general, and belongs to all, and out of this love he sends Christ into the world, to pay a sufficient price for the redemption of all, and by that payment to make them capable of salvation, upon such conditions as are expressed in the new covenant: and out of this love it is that he wills the salvation of all, and so accordingly calls them to repentance, that they might be saved. As it is amongst men, he that uses all fitting and convenient means to gain another man's good opinion of him, and to draw his love and affection towards him, and for that end, makes a signification of the goodwill and affection he bears him, and shows himself ready upon all occasions to do any good office for him; and withall, show him such arguments and reasons, such motives and inducements, as are in their own nature apt to persuade him thereunto, he may be truly said to desire his love and friendship; though he do not prevail with him for the obtaining of it, he has sufficiently managed and officiated his part, without omitting of anything that was fit and requisite for him to do: and the fault and hinderance lies wholly in him that was so inflexible, that no means could prevail with him, or move him to embrace such a friendly motion. Even so the case stands between God and man, in respect of that general goodwill and affection that God bears to him: God speaks unto him, and deals with him, as with a reasonable creature; and if he does not prevail with him, the fault is not in God, or in the means that are used by him, but only in man, who will not apply himself unto God, and serve his providence in that way and course that is taken for his good: and he [Cameron] illustrates this by two similitudes: First of the sun, which affords and sends forth sufficient light to all, and yet gives no light to those that wink with their eyes, and shut those windows against the light, not through any defect, or want of light in the sun, but only through his fault, who will not make use of that benefit which is afforded to him; so it is with the benefits of Christ's death and passion, which though they be upon some condition appliable unto all; yet are they effectual for the salvation of none, save only those who do embrace and lay hold on them by a lively faith.

The other similitude by uses, is drawn from a captive or bondslave, who has a friend, who lays down such a sum of money for his ransom, but withal adds this condition, that he shall then come to enjoy the benefit of this ransom, when he comes to acknowledge the kindness that such a friend has done for him, and humbly sues, and seeks that he may enjoy it: but if he value his liberty at so low a rate, that he condemns and despises that which has been done for him, then it is so ordered, that he shall be in the same place and condition with those that are not redeemed at all. Even so it is here, there is a sufficient price laid down by Christ for the redemption of all mankind: now if anyone undervalue this mercy, and make light of it, he may be justly upbraided with this benefit: and though he cavil and quarrel that he is not redeemed, for as much as he still lies in prison, yet will this avail him little, because the reason why he continues still in prison, is not for want of a sufficient ransom to release him thence, but for want of looking after it: even so it is here; all men are by nature captives and bondslaves: Christ has laid down a sufficient price for their ransom, but with this caution, that the benefit of it shall accrue only to such as do repent of their sins, and believe in him.

The reason why so many miss of that benefit, is, because they will not believe in him, nor lay down their weapons of rebellion, which they have taken up against him.

Now from all these testimonies, it is plain and evident, that amongst those who are most opposite to the Lutherans opinion in the matter of election, yet many of them do so conceive of God's purpose therein, as that it include nothing in it contrary to that will which is revealed, and generally propounded in the Gospel. All sides grant, that life and salvation is generally offered to all in the new covenant, and that God seriously intends to give it to all and everyone, upon such conditions as are there expressed, and that is all I contend for in this ensuing Treatise.

Now that God may be said seriously to will the salvation of any, there are two things necessary: 
1. That there be in God a real purpose and intention of giving life unto him.

2. That the conditions required for the obtaining of it, be some ways possible, not by the strength of nature, or the power and ability of his own free will, but by and through those gracious helps which are afforded unto him in the ministry of the Word.

To have made up the Treatise full and complete, it had been requisite to have handled this second point, which I could easily have supplied, out of some notes and meditations that lie by me: and it was more than once in my thoughts so to have done; but my second thoughts resolved against it, because the laying open of that point, would require a larger discourse than could well have been concluded within the bounds or limits of a reason or proof, (as here it must have been) as also in regard that the former point only was insisted upon, when that Sermon was preached. If you shall receive any profit or benefit by that which is here delivered, it is that only which I have principally endeavored and aimed at. If I miss of my purpose, and the success be not answerable to my desire, yet let it find that acceptance at your hands, which you are ready to afford to all such as unfeignedly wish your welfare.

And so I rest, 
Thine in our Lord and common Saviour, 
R. Maden.

Richard Maden, Christs Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem (London: Printed by M[iles] F[lesher] for John Clark, and are to be sold at his shop under S. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1637), xi-xxiii. [no pagination; pages numbered manually from the cover; English updated and modernized]

January 4, 2014

Greg Nichols on Dort, the Free Offer and Hyper-Calvinism

Greg Nichols is a pastor of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. More biographical information is available here (click). He has lectured on The Canons of the Synod of Dort. Nichols holds to a strictly limited (or an Owenic limited imputation) view of the atonement, and also doesn't seem to be well-studied in the diversity of views that were present at the Synod (which is why I do not recommend this lecture series), but he does strongly hold to the well-meant gospel offer. In lecture #10, he spoke on the atonement's necessity, nature, sufficiency, and the obligation for the indiscriminate publication of the gospel. He is expounding this section of the Dortian consensus:
"Second Head: Article 5.
Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel."
From minute 45:54 to 47:30, Nichols says the following, at times speaking rhetorically or sarcastically, as if he were a hyper-Calvinist:
"I wanted to call this [the Dortian statement] 'the free offer,' but I can just imagine some of my hyper-Calvinist friends pointing out to me that it no where says that it was 'well-meant' or 'well-intentioned,' only that it 'ought to be declared. [It] no where it says why. [It] no where says that God wants them to repent and believe. [It] no where says that God has good-will for the reprobate. It doesn't say that.' I can just hear them [hyper-Calvinists]. So, in deference to those voices of hyper-Calvinists pounding in my head, I have kept myself from putting my 'spin' on it [Nichols uses the exact language of Dort], and referring to it as 'the free offer of the gospel.' It doesn't say why it was intentioned, only that 'it ought to be,' only that it should be, not because we care about people, only because God tells us to.' [sarcasm] [audience chuckles] That's all it says, right? [It] doesn't say we ought to do it because we love people; [it] doesn't say we ought to do it because we love God; [it] doesn't say because we care about people [sarcasm]. No, no, no, doesn't say that, all it says is that it 'ought to be', so we ought to do it because it is our duty to do it, not because we care about people and love people [sarcasm], is that clear?

[An audience member says, 'So it [the hyper-Calvinist reading] is like a pretty heavy spin.']

Well, that's a spin too, isn't it? I agree. You've got to really go out of your way to put that 'spin' on it, but there are some who do and some who will. So, let's just be honest with what it says. All it [the exact Dortian statement] says is that 'it ought to be published and declared,' not out of good-will, which to me [that hyper-Calvinist 'spin'] is preposterous!"
The point is this: not only does this Reformed Baptist elder strongly believe that the gospel offer is free, well-meant and well-intentioned, since God has good-will for all men (including the non-elect), but he (like Curt Daniel, Iain Murray, and many others) associates the denial of the well-meant gospel offer with hyper-Calvinism, and rightly so.

January 2, 2014

Curt Daniel on the Calvinism Debate and 4 Main Issues Regarding Hyper-Calvinism

On November 3 of 2013, Dr. Curt Daniel spoke on "The Calvinism Debate" (click) at Faith Bible Church in Springfield, Illinois. From minute 21:50 to 24:43, he addressed the matter of hyper-Calvinism by saying the following:
"What is hyper-Calvinism?... It revolves around 4 main issues:

Number one, the free offer of the gospel. Historically, all Calvinists have believed in the free offer of the gospel, where God holds out His arms and says, "Come! Everything is now prepared! Please come and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!" Calvinists believe in that; hyper-Calvinists do not believe in that.

Secondly there's the universal saving desire of God; that God, in the preaching of the gospel, He desires that all those that hear the gospel repent and believe and be saved. That's part of the free offer. Historic Calvinists believe in that, hyper-Calvinists do not believe in that.

Thirdly there's the issue of common grace. Now here's where there is debate even amongst hyper-Calvinists. Common grace says God has a general love for everybody, but there's also a special grace just for those that have been elected. That's what the bible teaches. That's historic Calvinism. On the one hand Arminianism says, "No, no, no. God loves everybody equally and there's no differentiation." That's one of Dave Hunt's arguments. That it's not common and special. It's all common. Hyper-Calvinists go to the other extreme and say, "No, no, no. It's only special grace. God only loves the elect. He has no kind of love, mercy or compassion on those that he has not chosen. So many of them reject the idea of common grace...most, but not all.

Fourthly there's the issue of duty-faith. What's that? Historically, Calvinists, just like others, have believed that in the preaching of the gospel, those that hear the gospel have the duty to savingly believe in Jesus. If they do not believe, they are condemned for that. And that's what all Calvinists, evangelical Arminians and Lutherans have believed, but many hyper-Calvinists reject that. And they give a lot of arguments like, "Well, how can it be their duty if they are not able to believe? And if faith is a gift, how can it be a duty? Duty...that sounds too Arminian, and that sounds legalistic." So that's how they come to reject it, and yet the bible clearly teaches it; that it's a command. In fact, 1 John 3 says, "this is His command, that we believe in Him that He has sent, that is Jesus Christ His Son." So you can see where this differentiates Calvinists from hyper-Calvinists.

Who are these leading hyper-Calvinists? They're not very well known. I like to say they are big fish in a small pond. People like John Gill, who was an English Baptist 250 years ago. Herman Hoeksema, who is [was] a Dutch American, and a few others, but by and large they are not well-known outside of their own circles. They're a tiny but very vocal minority. They're on the Internet. That's part of this ongoing debate. Is there a free offer? and so forth..."

Samuel Willard (1640–1707) on the Conscience of the Damned Remembering the Day of Grace

"(1.) The Soul shall be tormented with a never dying worm. And this contains in it all the spiritual plagues which shall then seize upon it; and is mainly contained in those terrible agonies, and horrors of conscience which will then fill the soul. Some sinners, and at some times, have terrible gripings of this in this world: though for the most part sinners now rock their consciences asleep, or get them benummed or seared: and yet this worm is all the while insensibly, though continually growing out of the filth and corruption which they lie wallowing in: but then it shall be quick and active, and fearfully torment them; when it shall look back, and put them in remembrance of all the sins that ever they committed, with all the awful aggravations of them: shall remind them of all the mercy and goodness of God which they abused; of a day of grace they once enjoyed; of all the calls, and counsels, and warnings that God had been giving them; of all the patience of God, and strivings of his Holy Spirit, and fair probabilities they were in of Salvation; of all the offers of grace which they despised, and inward motions which they quenched; and so of the righteousness of their own condemnation: and then look forward, and see nothing before it, but those fearful miseries which it suffers, and from whence it must never expect release: what horrors, what despair, must needs be hereby produced? The girds, and stings, and reverberations of such a conscience must needs be a torment inexpressible."


December 31, 2013

John Yates (fl. 1612–1660) on God's Serious and Hearty Desire for the Salvation of Every Soul

"God's preparation and donation of faith.
Leaving the power of Man's innocency, and universal freedom to believe legally or Evangelically, we fall into the safe way, and say, that wheresoever the Gospel is preached, God gives or is prepared to give faith in Christ. He mocks no man, but is serious in the salvation of every soul, to which the Gospel is sent. Every hearer in the Church is zealously persuaded to repent. The Ministers mind and God's meet in his holy ordinances, and the Word is earnestly spoken to every ear. God himself goes with his message from seat to seat, and from man to man, with true and hearty desire of his conversion; yet notwithstanding he gives not equal grace to all, as shall appear in our distribution thereof."

John Yates, The Saints Sufferings and Sinners Sorrows (Printed by T. Cotes, for N. Bourne, dwelling at the Royall Exchange, 1631), 196-197.

"God is prepared to give faith to all that hear his Gospel.
Matt. 23:37. I would, ye would not. It is the will of God by the Gospel that all should be gathered unto him. Man's will resisteth God's will, and makes that Gospel of none effect that should be effectual unto all. God may add further grace and give men hearts to receive as freely, as his Gospel is offered unto them: but such grace is a royal prerogative, and reserved for some of many. All are beholding to God, but some find and feel the very riches of his grace, and are never able to be thankful enough, that they above others should receive so much."

John Yates, The Saints Sufferings and Sinners Sorrows (Printed by T. Cotes, for N. Bourne, dwelling at the Royall Exchange, 1631), 198-199.


November 10, 2013

William G. T. Shedd on Romans 2:4

"Ver. 4. ή] "or," in case thou dost not thus imagine, "dost thou despise," etc. The particle introduces a new case. πλούτου is emphatic by collocation. It is a frequent word with St. Paul: not a Hebraism, but a common term for abundance. Plato (Euthyphro, 12) speaks of πλούτος της σοφίυς. χρηστότητος] "goodness," in the sense of good-will, or kindness: not the attribute by which God is good (holiness), but by which he does good (benevolence). It is a general term, under which άνοχή and μακροφυμία are species. For the meaning of these, see comment on iii. 25. καταθρονεις] the contempt is in the disregard of the tendency of the divine goodness to produce repentance. άγνοων "not recognizing." The word implies an action of the will along with that of the understanding. It is that culpable ignorance which results: 1. from not reflecting upon the truth; and 2. from an aversion to the repentance which the truth is fitted to produce. It is the "willing ignorance" spoken of in 2 Pet. iii. 5. Compare also the use of άγνοειν in Acts xvii. 23; Rom. x. 3. μετάνοιάν] sorrow for, and turning from, the sins that have been mentioned, and charged home. άγει] the present tense denotes the natural tendency and influence of the divine attribute of goodness. The context shows that this tendency was resisted and thwarted. The apostle is not speaking, here, of the effectual operation of special grace upon the human will, but only of common influences."