Why does God find fault with men for their unbelief?

How does Durham answer the question (given without the effectual call no one can believe) “why does God find fault with men for their unbelief?”

Durham’s first answer is to assert the sovereignty of God from Romans 9. Here Paul does not set “himself to satisfy carnal reason and curiosity” (Christ Crucified, p182) but rather “there is ground given to silence us here. It is the Lord, he is our potter, and we the clay; it is he in whose hand we are, who can do no wrong…” (p182).

Durham’s second answer is that inability is mans fault not God’s. We are to “Consider whence it is this inability to believe, or turn to God comes: Not from God surely; for if he had not made man perfect, there might have been some ground of right objection; but seeing he did make man upright, and he hath sought out many inventions, who is to be blamed? Has the Lord lost his right to exact his debt, because man has played the bankrupt and debauched…” (p182)

Durham’s third answer is to consider the nature of our inability. He says, “If it were no more but simple inability among them that hear this gospel, they might have some pretext or ground of excuse…” (p182). But Durham goes on to note this is not the cause, “It is not, I cannot, but I will not. It is a wilful, and some way deliberate, rejecting of the gospel, that is the ground of folks not believing. And what excuse, I pray, can you have, who do not believe the gospel, when it shall be found that you maliciously and deliberately chose to reject it. (p182).

This unwillingness can be seen in neglecting the means of grace, not using them with enthusiasm, wilfully rejecting Christ and resisting the common operations of the Spirit. On this last point, “And may you not in this respect be charged with the guilt of resisting the Spirit of God, and marring the work of your own conversion and salvation.” p183

So that is Durham on “why does God find fault with men for their unbelief?”  I’ve been busy this week as I was speaking at the prayer meeting on Tuesday night.  It was the first time I had spoken on the Song of Solomon (see here and here) and I quite enjoyed it.  It will be Song Of Solomon part 2 this Tuesday night.  I’ve also been toying around with the structure of the main chapter of my thesis “James Durham and the Free Offer of the Gospel” and have arrived at something like the following (any comments welcome – sections 4 & 5 need more fleshing out):

1) Durham’s theology of preaching

a) Preacher as ambassador etc.

b) Centrality of the free offer to the work of a precher 

2) Preaching and Covenant Theology – the context for the gospel offer

Consideration of ecclesiology, mixed congregations, Durham did not believe all before his were saved etc

3) The free offer in the theology of Durham

a) Defining “offer”

b) Whose offer is it – man’s or God’s

c) The exegetical basis for the free offer

d) Preperationism/extent of the offer

e) Duty faith

f) The warrant to believe

g) The offer as good news

h) The gospel offer and common grace

i) The gospel offer and the will of God/desire

j) The reasons for the offer

k) Why the offer is rejected

[Further discussion of conditionality or was discussion in the section on the Covenant of Grace enough?]

4) Objections to the Gospel Offer

Inability, election, covenant of redemption, particular redemption.

5) The free offer in the practice of Durham

a) The preaching of election/particular redemption etc.
b) The preaching of the free offer – pleading, begging etc.

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