Here is Samuel Rutherford facing the question – if all are not elected, redeemed, loved savingly, how can I trust in Christ, is it not presumption unless I know I am elect?
“In this grammar of the Holy Ghost, observe we, by the way, for resolution, The wisdom of God, in framing the words of the gospel. It cannot be said that God loved all the world, in Christ his beloved; and all, and every sinner, and all the race of mankind. Yet, laying down this ground, that God keepeth up in his mind, the secrets of election and reprobation, till he, in his own time, be pleased to reveal them; the Lord hath framed the gospel-offer of Christ in such indefinite words, and so general (yet without all double-dealing, lying, or equivocating; for his own good pleasure is a rule both of his doings and speeches.) As, 1. Seldom doth the Lord open election and reprobation to men, till they, by grace, or in the order of his justice, open both the one and the other, in their own ways; and therefore he holdeth out the offer of Christ, so as none may cavil at the gospel, or begin a plea with Christ. 2. Seldom doth the gospel speak, who they be that are elect, who reprobate; yet doth the gospel offer no ground of presuming on the one hand, or of despairing on the other. For if thou be not a believer, nor a weak reed, nor a saint, yet thou art a sinner; if not that, thou art a man; if not that, thou art one of the world: and tho. the affirmative conclude not, I am a sinner, I am a man, I am one of the world, but it followeth not, therefore I am elected to glory, or, Ergo, I am ransomed of the Lord; Yet the negative, touching reprobation, holdeth, I am a sinner, I am of the world, I am a man; hence it followeth not, therefore I am a reprobate, and therefore I have warrant to refuse the promise, and Christ offered in the gospel. It followeth well therefore, I must be humbled for sin, and believe in Christ. There is room left for all the elect, that they have no ground of standing aloof from Christ, (and the rest never come, and most willingly refuse to come) nor have the reprobate ground to quarrel at the decrees of God; tho. they be not chosen, yet they are called, as if they were chosen; and they have no cause to quarrel at conjectures, they have as fair a revealed warrant to believe, as the elect have; they are men, sinners of the world, to whom Christ is offered: why refuse they him upon an unrevealed warrant?”
I’ve been writing up the last chapter of the dissertation this past fortnight – it focuses on Sedgwick, Manton, Rutherford and Dickson. A bit to go yet but lots of good material on the free offer from these four individuals to include.
As an aside Rutherford’s statement that the reprobate have “as fair a revealed warrant to believe, as the elect have” was well used by the Marrowmen in their defence of the gospel offer.