Archive for September, 2007

Weekly Update 22 – More on Puritan Preaching

September 29, 2007

I had originally hoped this week to post some more Durham material, then I thought I would post some material on Robert Bolton but I haven’t managed to get either of these ideas into shape.  So I’m going to post further material from J.I. Packer’s essay, “The Puritan View of Preaching the Gospel,” How Shall they Hear, Puritan & Reformed Studies, 1959, p11-21 (See note 1).

If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgement on it, we cannot present Christ as a Saviour from sin and the wrath of God.
p12

Packer is making a vital point here.  Only against the scriptural teaching on sin does the glorious truth that a Saviour is offered to us have any meaning.  Of course sin is not a popular word in our culture.  Has the culture influenced the pulpit?  Are sin and God’s judgement on sin preached in proportion with the weight given to them in scripture?

If the doctrines of total inability, unconditional election and effectual calling are true… Are we indeed entitled to make a ‘free offer’ of Christ to sinners at all?
p13

Packer here highlights a potential dilemma.  Is ‘Calvinism’ compatable with the free offer of the Gospel?  How does he answer this dilemma?  The answer is twofold.

It would be tragic if the current return to Reformed theology, instead of invigorating evangelism, as it should, had the effect of strangling it; but it seems clear that many today have ceased to preach evangelistically…
p13

First Packer laments that some have taken the free offer to be incompatable with “Calvinism”.  Packer regards this as tragic – so do I.  Speaking of the 1950’s and the return to “Reformed theology” Packer noted that because of this “many… have ceased to preach evangelistically.”  What a tragedy and what a misunderstanding of the implications of Reformed theology!  And yet, is the situation in Reformed churches much different today?  What proportion of Reformed churches habitually preach evangelistically?

In this situation, we return to the Puritans for further guidance.
p13

Well this was a “Puritan and Reformed Study Conference” so his basic response is not primarily Scriptural but historical.  What light does Packer glean from the Puritans?

The Puritans did not regard evangelistic sermons as a special class of sermons, having their own peculiar style and conventions; the Puritan position was, rather, that, since all Scripture bears witness to Christ, and all sermons should aim to expound and apply what is in the Bible, all proper sermons would of necessity declare Christ and so be to some extent evangelistic… The only difference was that some sermons aimed more narrowly and exclusively at converting sinners than did others.
p13

I covered this last week.  Packer’s basic point is that historically the Puritans (“Calvinists”) were passionate proponents of the free offer of the gospel – so it is a grand mistake to think that “Calvinism” and the free offer are incompatable.

Observe how much they [the Puritans] took the word ‘gospel’ to cover. It denoted to them the whole doctrine of the covenant of grace… Thus, to preach the gospel meant to them nothing less than declaring the entire economy of redemption, the saving work of all three members of the Trinity.
p14-15

But we should not be mistaken.  Puritan evangelistic preaching was not minimalistic.  It could not be summed up by “God has a wonderful plan for your life if only you let him”.  No, for the Puritans gospel preaching was preaching the full counsel of God.

The Puritan view was that preaching ‘gospel sermons’ meant teaching the whole Christian system – the character of God, the Trinity, the plan of salvation, the entire work of grace. To preach Christ, they held, involved preaching all this… In this way, they would say, preaching the gospel involves preaching the whole counsel of God. Nor should preaching the gospel be thought of as something confined to set evangelistic occasions, as if at other times we should preach something else. If one preaches the Bible biblically, one cannot help preaching the gospel all the time, and every sermon will be, as Bolton said, at least by implication evangelistic.
p17

Basically for the Puritans any and every doctrine or text could and should be applied evangelistically.  Indeed this is necessary to preach biblically.  For according to Packer, if we preach biblically, “one cannot help preaching the gospel all the time, and every sermon will be… at least by implication evangelistic.”

They [the Puritans] stressed the condescension of Christ. He was never to them less than the Divine Son, and they measured His mercy by His majesty. They magnified the love of the cross by dwelling on the greatness of the glory which He left for it. They dwelt on the patience and forbearance expressed in His invitations to sinners as further revealing his kindness. And when they applied Rev. iii. 20 evangelistically (as on occasion they did), they took the words ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock’ as disclosing, not the impotence of his grace apart from man’s cooperation (the too-prevalent modern interpretation), but rather the grace of His omnipotence in freely offering Himself to needy souls.
p18

This is a point that has struck me in reading Durham and his contempories.  They dwell so much on the condescension of Christ in offering himself freely to sinners.  Packer’s explanation of the Puritan view of Rev 3:20 is very helpful.  My only caveat is that it was more than just “on occasion” they applied it evangelistically.

The persons invited and commanded to believe are sinners, as such. The Saviour is freely offered in the gospel to all who need Him. The question of the extent of the atonement does not therefore arise in evangelism, for what the gospel commands the unconverted man to believe is not that Christ died with the specific intention of securing his individual salvation, but that here and now the Christ who died for sinners offers Himself to this individual sinner, saying to him personally, ‘Come unto me… and I will give you rest’ (Mt. xi. 28). The whole warrant of faith – the ground, that is, on which believing becomes permissible and obligatory – is found in this invitation and command of the Father and the Son.
p19

Returning to his original question about the compatability of “Calvinism” with the free offer Packer now touches on the extent of the atonement and the warrant of faith.  His explanation is sound and helpful.

The truth is that to all the Puritans it was one of the wonders of free grace that the Lord Jesus Christ invites sinners, just as they are, in all their filthy rags, to receive Him and find life, and they never waxed more impassioned and powerful than when dilating on what John Owen, in his stately way, calls ‘the infinite condescension, grace and love of Christ, in His invitations of sinners to come unto him, that they may be saved.’ (John Owen, Works, 1:422).
p21

May the Lord of the harvest be pleased to send forth many labourers into his harvest field who would be as impassioned and powerful in preaching the free offer of salvation as the Puritans were.  The fields are ripe for harvest, but those who labour as Puritan preachers laboured, appear to be few.

Note 1
When I quote from John Owen I don’t endorse his views on church government (independency).  Similarly, when I quote Packer here I don’t endorse his position on Evangelicals & Catholics Together or his ecclesiological differences with Dr D. Martyn Lloyd Jones.

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Weekly Update 21 – Puritan Preaching

September 24, 2007

I came across an important quote from the Puritan Robert Bolton (1572-1631) this week while I was on holiday.  It illustrates perfectly the Puritan idea of preaching:

[The Lord Jesus Christ] is offered most freely, and without exception of any person, every Sabbath, every Sermon, either in plain, and direct terms, or impliedly, at the least.
Robert Bolton, Instructions for a Right Comforting Afflicted Consciences, 1640, p185

So central was the free offer of the gospel to Bolton’s concept of preaching that it must be there in every sermon.  Now I’m not sure if many preachers, even among Puritans, fully lived up to Bolton’s ideal, but if you take Durham as an example you would struggle to find a sermon where Christ is not offered “impliedly at the least”.

Commenting on Puritan preaching a young J.I. Packer noted:

The Puritans did not regard evangelistic sermons as a special class of sermons, having their own peculiar style and conventions; the Puritan position was, rather, that, since all Scripture bears witness to Christ, and all sermons should aim to expound and apply what is in the Bible, all proper sermons would of necessity declare Christ and so be to some extent evangelistic. 
‘The Puritan View of Preaching the Gospel’, How Shall They Hear?, Papers Read at the Puritan and Reformed Studies Conference, December 1959, p 11-21, Rept. Tentmaker – I am indebted to Packer’s paper for the Bolton reference.

Packer here is correct.  Most [I think all is stretching it a bit too far] sermons by the Puritans would be “to some extent evangelistic”.  Can we say that of modern preaching?  If not is it because modern sermons do not “declare Christ” as well as the Puritans did?

I’ll try and post some Durham later this week but I’m still working mostly on the secondary literature.

Weekly update 20 – Durham on Objections to Receiving Christ

September 17, 2007

I’ll start this post by noting that Durham’s Sermons on Isaiah 53, Christ Crucified, have been reprinted by Naphtali Press. John (Rabbi) Duncan described reading Durham’s sermons on Is 53 as akin to “eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ”.  They are excellent sermons and contain much that is good for the soul.  So go and buy them!

In this post I’m picking up on Durham’s sermon on Matt 22:4, Gospel Presentations are the Strongest Invitations.  This sermon is found in The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Rept. Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, p43-79. For the three previous posts on this sermon see, here, here and here.

Throughout this sermon Durham has been preaching the gospel offer:

God the Father, and the King’s Son the Bridegroom, are not only content and willing, but very desirous to have sinners come to the marriage. They would fain (to speak with reverence) have poor souls espoused to Christ.
p44

Towards the end of the sermon Durham comes to consider some objections his hearers may have had to accepting the free offer of the gospel.  They centre on our inability, and election.  How does Durham deal with these issues pastorally?

OBJECTION. “Alas, I would come to the wedding, but I cannot come. I would believe but my faith is not prompt and ready.”
ANSWER. Does not the covenant provide an answer to that also? It calls for nothing but your subscribing … It comes to this, “yes” or “no”. And if you say that you cannot say “yes” in faith … is there not a promise of grace that though your hand is, as it were, withered, if you attempt it, you shall be enabled to stretch it forth?

p74-5

This is an objection from our inability to come to Christ.  “I would come to Christ but I am dead in trespasses and sins so I can’t come.”  Durham answers by pointing us to the example of the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:10).  Could he stretch forth his hand?  No.  Was he commanded to?  Yes.  Did he argue with Christ about this – why have you asked me to do something I can’t do?  No.  He just went ahead in obedience to the command.  This should be our pattern.

What more do you have to say? Lay out your objections. These words “all things are ready” will answer them all. The garment is ready to be put on, yea, Jesus Christ is your wedding garment; take and put Him on. He is the cure for all your diseases; apply Him for the cure of them all.
p76

To paraphrase Durham – There is no objection you can come up with but it is answered by “all things are ready”.

OBJECTION … there are several other needlessly disquieting objections … (and, alas, that there should be such trifling, if I may call it so, such whining, as it were …) among which is this one: “I do not know if I am in the covenant and contract of redemption. I do not know if I am one of God’s elect.”
ANSWER 1. What is this? You do not well know what you say. Have you anything to do with that secret by a leap at the first hand. Are you not called to marry Christ? Is not this his revealed will to you? I protest in His name, this is the thing that you are called to; and will you make an exception where He has made none? Or will you shift obedience to a clear command, upon a supposed decree which you can not know but by the effects … Will you reason so in the matter of your eating and drinking? … Will you this day refuse your dinner … Because you do not know if God has appointed …
ANSWER 2. … Were there ever any who had that doubt cleared to them before they came to Christ? Who would ever have come to Him if they had stayed till that had been taken out of the way? Has the Lord told that to any before they came? Has He said to them, “Believe, for you are elect”? But His method is thus “Believe, and you shall know in due time that you are elect.”
ANSWER 3. Is there anyone who can say that the offer or the refusal of the match depended on this? If any of you will say, “Because I was not elect, He refused me,” then He will answer, “How often would I have gathered you.” And no more ground for sentencing professors of the gospel to destruction will be needed than this: “Man, woman, you had the offer of the gospel and refused it; therefore go to your place.” He will not judge according to the decree of reprobation, but according to His call and your dislike to it.

p76-8

This is the objection – I don’t know if I am elect or not.  Durham answers this in three ways.  First he points out that we don’t look to God’s secret decree in any other aspect of our lives.  We don’t ponder over our meals and think – I’m not sure I should eat this, maybe God hasn’t decreed that I should have a meal tonight.  Durham reasons – if we don’t meddle with God’s decree in all other aspects of our life then so it should be with our salvation.  We are to look to the revealed will of God which is that we should come to him for salvation.  Second he points out that no one ever knows they are elect until after they believe.  To say I won’t believe until I know I am elect is, for Durham, to put the cart before the horse.  Third Durham protests that we will not be condemned for being a reprobate, but for unbelief.

Well then, what is the sum of the matter?

This is our commission to you today. We tell you that the King has made ready for the feast; yea, all things are ready. Come, then, and let there be no more debate about the matter … Only deliver up yourself to Him, and, in the Lord’s name, I tell you that you shall be dearly welcome.
p78-79

I’m not sure what I’ll post on next week.  I’ve been wandering in the bypath meadow of secondary scholarship on 17th century Scottish theology recently and there is not much edifying in there to post on.

I’m off on holiday this week so it will be Monday again when I post – or possibly even Tuesday.

Weekly Update 19 – The Westminster Annotations

September 8, 2007

This week I’m going to take a look at the free offer of the gospel and related themes in a Scripture Commentary known as the Westminster Annotations.  This is essentially a Bible commentary produced by members of the Westminster Assembly and other Puritans (6 of the 11 known contributors were Westminster Assembly members).  William Barker in his book on the Puritans notes that the contents of these annotations can help us understand the Westminster Standards better. 

Some of the comments are rather brief and led good Mr Spurgeon to complain in his commenting and commentaries that, “The notes are too short and fragmentary to be of any great value”.  In one sense he is correct but they are still useful – especially for the student in historical theology!

Annotations upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament; Wherein the Text is Explained, Doubts Resolved, Scriptures Paralleled, and Various Readings observed. By the Joynt-Labour of certain Learned Divines, thereunto appointed, and therein employed, As is explained in the preface. London: Printed by John Legass and John Raworth, 1645

[The 1645 edition is not the best one to work with (1657 is the authoritative edition) but it is all I have to work with.]

He is bountifull to good men and bad, Matth. 5. 45. 1 Tim. 4 .10, yea to the beasts, Psal. 36 .6.
goodness] Or, mercy.

Comment on Ps 33:5

The annotations clearly teach God’s universal goodness.

He describeth after what sort God showeth himself to all his creatures, though our sins have provoked his vengeance against all: he shows himself mercifull, not onely in pardoning the sins of his children, but also in doing good to wicked men, albeit they feel not the sweet comfort of Gods benefits.
Comment on Ps 145:8

God shows himself to be merciful in doing good to wicked men.  Sadly they do not acknowledge this.

He speaketh this to commend God’s mercy to poore sinners, who rather is ready to pardon than to punish, as his long suffering declareth…
Comment on Ezek 18:23

God is more ready to pardon sinners than to punish them!  The evidence for this is his long suffering.

That ye may hereby declare your selves to be God’s children, who doth good to his enemies, whereas men naturally studie revenge…
Comment on Matthew 5:45

We are to be like God who does good to wicked men.

Uses “invited” for the gospel call.
Comment on Matt 22:4

Again we see the gospel offer is more than a command – it is an invitation.

He speaketh of his humane and ministeriall will; for his divine will could not be resisted by them.
Comment on Matt 23:37.

This is the comment on Christ’s lament over Jerusalem.  This is very poor and unnecessarily constrained exegesis.  As much as we see the free offer and related topics maintained in these Annotations there are times when a trajectory can be seen in some of the comments which could eventually lead to a John Gill coming along further down the path.  Much better on this verse is Dabney in his God’s Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy:

“Such interpretations [as the one above], implying some degree of dissent between the two natures [of Christ], are perilous, in that they obscure that vital truth, Christ the manifestation to us of the divine nature. “He is the image of the invisible God;” “He is the brightness of his glory, and express image of his substance;” “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3; John 14:9.) It is our happiness to believe that when we see Jesus weeping over lost Jerusalem, we “have seen the Father;” we have received an insight into the divine benevolence and pity.”

See also Calvin’s comments where he clearly attributes Christ’s words to the Divine nature – “Christ, speaking in the person of God”.

Pitied him, that, having outwardly kept the commandments, which many did not, he should lose heaven nevertheless.
Comment on Mark 10:21

The Westminster Annotations, despite the poor exegesis of Christ’s lament over Jerusalem, do not commit the hypercalvinistic blunder of making the rich young ruler whom Christ loved elect.  They freely confess Christ loved this man and yet he “lost heaven” i.e. was never saved.

1 Joh.4.9. Mankind.
Comment on John 3:16

This comment on John 3:16 is fascinating.  All it says is mankind.  This calls for some comment.  Is the author here taking John 3:16 universally as John Calvin, John Ball and in later times Thomas Boston and Robert Dabney do?  Quite possibly.  Other Puritans of the time did e.g. Thomas Manton.  The Scottish Church at the time of the Westminster Assembly had, I think, settled on the view that John 3:16 pertained to the elect.  Rutherford and Gillespie argued for their position at the Westminster Assembly.  In England I don’t think the position was quite so clear cut (e.g. Manton).  What makes this especially interesting for me is that John 3:16 is one of the proof texts used by the Assembly for the free offer.  Also interesting is that John Ley who wrote the commentary on the Gospels was a member of the Westminster Assembly.  What is confusing though is that he also wrote the comments on Christ weeping over Jerusalem above.

By as much as appeareth unto us by his will revealed in the Gospel, he excludeth none by name, neither nation nor condition whatsoever, Matth. 28. 19. Mark 16.15. Or, all, may be taken, not pro singulis generum, but pro generibus singulorum.
Comment on 1 Tim 2:4

This is the exposition of God, who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  The first option given above is that this text speaks of the revealed will of God in the gospel.  Alternatively, we could take the text not as speaking of all individual men, but rather as all classes of men.  In which case the will spoken of here would be the will of decree.  Interestingly, George Gillespie seems to call the first position that we take this verse as speaking pro singulis generum “Arminian” in his “Treatise of miscellany questions”.  I’m not sure what the Westminster Assembly divine who wrote these comments (Daniel Featley) would make of that!  As an aside, the annotations clearly state that when we read in v6 who gave himself a ransom for all we are to understand all as “all that do believe in him”.

…or towards mankind, of which number we also are… Not any at all; by his directing and approving will, Ezek 33:11… Or, he speaks of God’s approving will, whereby he likes of repentance in any.
Comment on 2 Peter 3:9

The two standard reformed interpretations of 2 Peter 3:9 are given, namely that it can be read as an decretive will so that “all” are the elect or that it is the revealed will being spoken of so “all” really are all.

[Christ knocks] At the door of men’s consciences, both by outward means and inward motions, Psal.16.7 as one desirous of admittance; Cant.5.2.
Comment on Rev 3:20

Again we see Rev 3:20 taken evangelistically.  Also note that Christ, when he knocks on our hearts with the gospel, is desirous to come in.  The gospel offer is no fraud or sham.  It is well meant.

Next week I’ll probably pick up on Durham again and finish off the sermon on “Come for all things are ready”.  I am going to be very busy next weekend as I will be delivering three talks at our Church’s Young People’s Weekend Away.  Bear with me then if I post on the Monday rather than the usual Saturday!

Weekly Update 18 – John Brown (of Wamphray)

September 1, 2007

This week I’m looking at the views of John Brown of Wamphray (1610-1679) – has one name ever belonged to so many good theologians?  (John Brown Covenanter Martyr, John Brown of Haddington, John Brown of Whittburn, John Brown of Edinburgh).

The Dictionary of National Biography notes “Brown was respected by several theologians of his day: as early as 1637 Rutherford noted that he ‘saw Christ in [Brown] more than in his brethren’ (DSCHT, 98).  Robert Wodrow referred to him as a man of ‘very great learning, warm zeal, and remarkable piety’ (Wodrow, 1.304).”  He was well respected in Scotland and also spent many years as an exile in Holland so is an interesting connection point with continental theology.

Of Brown’s works only one has been reprinted today Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.  It seems to have had various publishers and the Soli Deo Gloria seems out of print.  It is available here with a very tasteful cover!

What follows are his views of the free offer of the gospel.  Again I’ve read the sources and I think I’m representing him fairly but any corrections are welcome.

Brown, John. Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. Or a Short Discourse. Pointing forth the way of making use of Christ, for justification, and especially and more particularly, for Sanctification in all its parts from Johan. XIV; Vers. VI. Rotterdam: Printed by H.G. for John Cairns, book seller in Edinburgh, and to be sold there, 1677.

Is it not a wonder that such an all sufficient Mediator, who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God through him, should be so little regarded and sought unto, and that there should be so few, that embrace him, and take him as he is offered in the gospel.
p19

Brown, as a Reformed theologian, had no difficulty with the concept of the gospel as an offer.  It is standard reformed terminology.

… we Judge not the want of these requisites a ground to excuse any, that heareth the gospel, from the obligation to believe & rest upon Christ, as he is offered in the gospel.
p42

Again it is simply not true that Scottish theology was “preparationist”.  Yes Scottish theologians would talk about the necessity of conviction of sin (rightly) but, regardless of whether this was present, the duty to come to Christ was the same!  Note of course Brown believed in our obligation or duty to believe savingly on Christ – he believed in duty faith.

The soul must know, that He [Christ] is not only an able and sufficient mediator; but that also he is willing and ready, to redeem & save all that will come… Therefore it is necessary that the soul conceiveth not only a possibility; but also a probability of help this way; and that the dispensation of the gospel of grace, and the promulgation and offer of those good news to him, speak out so much that the patience of God waiting long, and his goodness renewing the offers, confirmeth this, that his serious pressing, his strong motives on the one hand, and his sharp threatenings on the other… his expressed sorrow & grief over such as would not come to him, his upbraidings & objurgations of such, as do obstinately refuse, and the like, put his willingness to save such as will come to him, out of all question… [there is] no impediment lying in the way, but their own unwillingness.
p49-50

Brown here discusses what sinners need to know before they will come to Christ.  First we need to know the sufficency of Christ to save us from our sins, second we need to know that God is willing to save all that come to him.  How are we to know God is willing to save us?  Well we live in a dispensation of grace where the good news of the gospel is offered to us.  This speaks to us of God’s patience and goodness to us.  But more than this we know God’s willingness to save all who come to him because he expresses grief and sorrow over those who do not come.  There is no reason that we will not be saved but our own unwillingness.

[Those who reject the gospel] as to them, all Christ’s entreaties, motives, allurements, patience and longsuffering, his standing at the door and knocking, till his locks be wet with the dew &c. are in vain: yea they are contemptuously rejected, despised, slighted, & undervalued.
p57-58

Again note Brown uses Rev 3:20 evangelistically.  Also important is Brown’s description of the gospel offer – it is an entreaty, an allurement.  Again, and I seem to say this every week, it is not simply a command, a statement of facts – it is so much more.

If it be asked what warrant have poor sinners to lay hold on Christ… Our absolute necessity of him… Christ’s all sufficient furniture, whereby he is a qualified mediator… His being appointed of the Father, to be mediator of the covenant… The Father’s offering of him to us in the gospel, and Christ’s inviting us, who are weary and heavy loaden; yea calling and commanding such to come to him… exhorting further and requesting upon terms of love, pressing earnestly by many motives, sending out his ambassadors to beseech, in his stead, poor sinners to be reconciled… all these are sufficient warrant…
p58-59

This discussion of the warrant of faith is important.  What is our warrant?  Our need, Christ’s sufficiency, that he is offered in the gospel, and that God has sent ambassadors in his stead to beseech sinners to come to him.

[Christ] is the Truth, in respect that he carryeth towards poor sinners in all things, according to the tenor of the gospel, and the offers thereof: He offeres himself to all freely, and promiseth to put none away that come to Him; and this He doth in truth… He giveth encouragement to all sinners to come; that will be content to quit their sins…
p208

Again the offer and promise comes to all.

Brown, John. An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle, to the Romans, with Large Practical Observations; Delivered in Several Lectures. Edinburgh: David Patterson, 1766

…God’s goodness… declares how ready he is to embrace sinners, and how unwilling and loath to strike and destroy them…
p50

The free offer of the gospel is an expression of the goodness of God.

So bountiful and liberal is the Lord Creator, in whom we live, move, and have our being, that even wicked, profane hypocrites, and such as delight in their wickedness, and are enemies to him, are participating of his goodness; general temporal favours, are even such getting from him: for God’s goodness was extended even to such here as were despising it. And so wonderfully good is our God, and such is his native kindness, or good nature, that he is ready, and prompt, as it were, to be employed by the creatures, and to do them good…
p51

God is good to all.  There is no denial of God’s goodness and favour towards those who are impenitent.

These expressions of bounty and longanimity in God towards the wicked, however they are not pledges of his favour and goodwill towards them, as they are unto his own; yet, in that they show what an one God is, and how well worthy to be turned unto, and contain in them some ground of hope, that he will welcome such as come, they have in them a manuducency unto repentance…
p51

This general goodness is not to be confused with God’s peculiar goodness to his people.  Nevertheless God’s general goodness is a testimony and ground of hope that he will accept all who come to him.

So dearly should all ministers love, and so earnestly should they desire the salvation of such as are under their charge, and also all Christians should so seriously desire the salvation of others, that they should be content to be at any loss imaginable and profitable, for the procuring of the same, and should think nothing too dear for that effert…
p342

Ministers are to desire the salvation of all their hearers.  Oh that many would feel this within them and preach with according love and passion!

This was the meeting [rejection] which God got at their hands, whom he invited both by his servants the prophets, and his courtesies, most tenderly and affectionately, as a loving father or mother stretcheth out their arms to imbrace their dauted children; and this he did not once or twice, but with great patience and longanimity all day long… he was weary in shewing kindness to them (all this is metaphorically spoken, the more to convince us both of his tender affection and long suffering)…
p423-424

God’s invitations are tender and affectionate.  Note the language Brown uses “as a loving father or mother stretcheth out their arms” to their children.  Sure this is a metaphor – but it is one designed to convince of his tender affection and long suffering to those who reject him.

Brown, John. The Life of Justification Opened. No publisher noted in book: 1695

There isn’t too much I want to cover here.  There are a few interesting points however in his appendix Arguments Against Universal Redemption.  (This argument is repeated in his treatise on Quakerism.)

First Brown argues that the Westminster Confession explicitly teaches definite (particular) atonement in 3.6, 8.1, 8.5, 8.8.  Many try to make the case that the WCoF does not explicitly rule out belief in a universal atonement.  What is interesting here is that a well respected theologian at the time of the assembly insists that it does.
p530

Second Brown’s first argument for definite atonement is from the covenant of redemption.
p530-531

Thirdly Brown contra Calvin and others I noted last week limits John 3:16 to the elect.
p533

Fourthly Brown commends Durham’s discussion of limited atonement in his commentary on Revelation calling him “learned & solid”.
p558

Fifthly there is a comment of Brown’s that needs explanation.  He criticises an Amyraut like positing of an “antecedent will for the salvation of all… as if God could not effectuate whatever he desired, or could not have a velleity towards anything, which either he could not or would not effectuate”.  The key word here is velleity which means an incomplete volition.  For Brown and Ball, as we saw last week, we cannot tie desire to intention.  What God intends he does.  That is not to say Brown would have a problem with the use of desire in general when referring to the revealed will of God in the gospel.  As we have seen repeatedly Durham doesn’t, so I don’t imagine Brown would either.
p561