Archive for the ‘Duty Faith’ Category

Weekly Update 41 – Random Quotes From David Dickson (and two from Durham!)

February 9, 2008

I’ve spent about 5 minutes on my thesis this week due to work pressures so I’ve not had time to pull anything together for the blog.  Here are a few quotes from Dickson from Therapeutica Sacra on various topics.

Revealed will/secret will distinction:

…the revealed Will of God in Holy Scripture; wherein is set down to us what we should believe, and what we should do, and what is the Reward of the Obedience of Faith, and what is the Punishment of Disobedience.
p9

Duty faith:

… the Lord hath commanded to repent and turn unto him (offering Reconciliation in Christ) therefore it is my duty so to do.
p10

Understanding of “he descended into hell”:

…not without ground have Orthodox Divines taken in Christ’s Sufferings in His Soul, and the detaining of His Body in the Grave (put in as the close and last part of Christ’s Sufferings) as the true Meaning of that Expression, He descended into Hell…
p76

Definition of the Covenant of Redemption:

This Covenant of Redemption then may be thus described. It is a Bargain, agreed upon between the Father and the Son designed a Mediator, concerning the Elect (lying with the rest of Mankind in the state of Sin and Death, procured by their own Merit) wisely and powerfully to be Converted, Sanctified and Saved, for the Son of God’s Satisfaction and Obedience (in our Nature to be assumed by Him) to be given in due time to the Father, even unto the Death of the Cross.
p38

Definition of the Covenant of Grace:

The Covenant of Grace is a Contract between God and Men, procured by Christ upon these Terms, that whosoever in the sense of their own sinfulness shall receive Christ Jesus offered in the Gospel, for Righteousness and Life, shall have Him and all the Benefits purchased by Him, according to the Covenant of Redemption; and that God will be his God, and the God of his Children.
p126-7

Mosaic covenant – grace or works?:

Such was the Covenant, which the carnal Israelites made with God in the Wilderness, and which their Posterity did follow, turning the Covenant of Grace, whereunto God was calling them into a Covenant of Works of their own framing: For, the Grace which was offered to them in Christ, under the veil of Levitical Types, Figures and ceremonies, they turned into an external service of performance only of bare and dead Ceremonies, and into a Ministry of the Letter and Death: For they did not take up Christ to be the End of the law, for Righteousness to every one that believes in Him, but did think, that both the Moral and Ceremonial Law was given unto them of God, to the intent that they should do the external Works of the Moral Law so far as they could; and when they transgressed the Moral Law, they should flie to the Ceremonial Law, and make amends for their Faults by satisfying for their Sin by the external Sacrifice of some clean Beast offered to God, or by the washing of their body, and their Clothes.
p120-1

Which is in line with what James Durham says:

Distinguish betwixt God’s intention in giving, and the believers in Israel their making use of this law; and the carnal multitude among that people their way of receiving it, and corrupt abusing it contrary to the Lord’s mind. In the first sense it was a covenant of grace: In the second, it turned to be a covenant of works to them; and therefore it is that the Lord rejects (as we may see, Isai. 1. 13. and 66. 2,3. Jer. 7. 22.) their sacrifices and services as not commanded, because rested on by them, to the prejudice of grace, and contrary to the strain and scope of this law complexly considered.
James Durham, The Law Unsealed, Edinburgh: Thomas Lumisden and John Robertson, 1735, p6

They would both direct, “Ye would distinguish betwixt this law, as given to Adam, and as given to Israel: for, as given to him, it was a covenant of works; but, as given to them, ‘tis a covenant of grace…” (Durham, p15).

The decree of election and unbelief:

First, God so executeth and perfecteth the Decree of Election, that in the mean time He hindereth none, of all the Hearers of the Gospel, from receiving the Grace of Christ offered therein. He excludeth no Man from embracing the Covenant; but, on the contrair, He opens the Door to all that are called, to enter into (as it were) the outer Court of His dwelling House, that they may so draw more near to Him; and so He doth not particularly manifest any Mans Reprobation.
p136-7

Lots more helpful material, but I’d better stop now.  Hopefully back to Dickson on the free offer next week.

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Weekly Update 29 – Obadiah Sedgwick

November 17, 2007

I’ve covered Rev 3:20 a few times on the blog, but it is a very important verse for understanding the free offer of the gospel in the C17 and so I don’t apologise for posting on it again.  This week I’ll share some of my notes on Obadiah Sedgwick’s work The Riches of Grace Displayed In the offer and tender of Salvation to poor Sinners (London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for Adoniram Byfield at the Bible in Popes head Alley near Lumbard Street, 1657).  It is a classic Puritan study of Rev 3:20.

Sedgwick (1559/1600-1658) was an active member of the Westminster Assembly and a Presbyterian.  1658 is the same year that Durham died.

In reading the following, bear in mind that Sedgwick begins his exposition by explicitly denying that he is teaching free will or common sufficient grace, p9-12.  (Please note – when you read a Puritan/Reformed author denying common sufficient grace that is not the same as denying common grace.  Reformed/Puritan authors to a man held to the language of common grace while they denied the Arminian construct of common sufficient grace [every man is given enough grace to believe if he chooses to; the choice is his].  There is a difference!)

Now on to some of Sedgwick’s interesting statements:

1) Have you ever heard a preacher say “Christ is more willing to save you, than you are to be saved” and secretly winced and muttered “Arminian” under your breath?  Hear Sedgwick, “What is meant by Christ’s standing at this door… Christ is a thousand times more willing to come to thee, than thou art to come to Christ…” p4-5.  He also speaks of Christ’s “earnest desire” for admittance p5.

2) Rev 3:20 in its context is addressed to “a company of meer hypocrites” p13.  They were “a most destitute people: not a dot of goodness, nor any one rag of grace, nor good in any one part…” p14.  You get the picture.  Rev 3:20 is addressed in its original context to the unsaved.  Given this is what they believed is it any wonder that the Puritans applied this text evangelistically?

3) How does Christ address these unsaved hypocrites?  Unspeakable condescension – he begs!  “Yet at their doors does Christ stand and knock, He begs at the doors of beggars, mercy begs to misery, happiness begs to wretchedness, riches begs to poverty…” p15.

4) Sedgwick poses the question, “He [Christ] hath stood at our doors more than one day or night, more than one week or two, more than one year or two, more than twenty years or two.  Would he do this if he were not willing to come in and save us?”  p22.  It is not “unreformed” to speak of Christ’s willingness to save sinners.

5) Sedgwick pointedly applies the text to unbelievers: “The first use shall be a reproof unto all such who do shut the doors against Jesus Christ, against a willing Christ, a saving Christ, a Christ that stands and knocks… they are guilty of the greatest sin in the world, they despise the greatest, the kindest, yea, the only salvation of their souls.” p28.  They are guilty of rejecting Christ’s “offers” p30.

6) Sedgwick believes that an inability to see the willingness of Christ to save sinners is the root cause why many refuse to come to Christ even though they see that they are sinners: “The truth is, all that the troubled soul urgeth… is the questioning of Christ’s willingness to save it; All those objections of greatness of sinnings, of want of deeper humblings, and want of holiness, of long resistances… Arise from this suspicion, Christ is not willing to save sinners…”  p33.  That is why the free offer of the gospel is so important pastorally.

7) Sedgwick comments that “Jesus Christ waits long upon sinners, and earnestly labours with them for entrance and admission”.  p37.  Two examples Sedgwick gives of this are Christ’s thirty years in the flesh knocking upon the hearts of the Jews, and Noah preaching for one hundred and twenty years before going into the ark.  Of course, in both these instances, the knocking was rejected which confirms that Sedgwick believes Rev 3:20 applies to unbelievers who ultimately refuse to come to Christ.

8 ) The free offer in Rev 3:20 is an expression of love.  “What do these passages hold forth, but the great love of Christ, the long expectation of Christ, the earnest importunity of Christ with sinners to come and be happily conjoined with him.” p38.

9) Christ is sorrowful when his offer is rejected. “Christ hath stood at thy doors, with commandments in one hand, and with entreaties in another hand, he hath stood at thy doors with promises in his mouth, and with tears in his eyes; he hath stood at thy door with heaven in his fingers, and sorrow in his soul; with arms of mercy to clap thee, if thou openest; with floods of compassion to bewail thee, if thou refusest” p44-45.

10) Now in all this are we only speaking of Christ as man?  Where does the divine nature come into this?  “Christ is God, and because he is God he is merciful, willing to show mercy to sinners in misery, and unwilling to destroy them… God is a long-suffering God, and so is Christ; He is a much-suffering Christ, and a long-suffering Christ. 2 Pet. 3.9 The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It is the greatest of mercy to be willing to pity or pardon sinners, and it is the greatest of goodness, to offer help unto them, And it is the greatest of patience to wait long on them.”  p49-50.  Note the universal application of 2 Peter 3:9.

11) Sedgwick comments: “Of the just cause of a sinner’s damnation: It is of and from himself: never lay it on God’s decrees, or want of means and helps.  What could I have done more for my vineyard, &c? Isa. 5. So what could Christ do more? he calls, and crys, and knocks, and entreats, and waits, and weeps, and yet you will not accept of him, or salvation by him? … I was offered Christ and grace, I felt him knocking by his Spirit but I slighted him, grieved him, rejected him, and now it is just with God to shut the door of mercy against me…” p55-6

12) Sedgwick believed that the “offer” is equivalent to a “beseeching” and that every hearer of the gospel has a duty to receive Christ.  p57.

13) The free offer comes to all who hear the gospel, not only to “sensible sinners” for: “There is a latitude, a full latitude in the offer of Christ and grace: No sinner (under the Gospel) is excluded by Christ, but by himself.  Although the Application of Christ be definite and particular, yet the proclamation is indefinite and general…” p76-7.

There is lots more in Sedgwick but I’ll stop here.  How typical is Sedgwick in all this?  Well the evangelistic application of Rev 3:20 was standard C17 fare and most of his language quoted above could have come from any host of C17 Reformed preachers/theologians, including Durham.  On some things e.g. the correct exposition of 2 Pet 3:9 there would be differences but overall what I’ve quoted above is pretty unexceptional stuff for the C17 Reformed.

Next week I’ll probably post on Manton’s exposition of Ezek 18:23.  Lots of important stuff in there.

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

Weekly Update 15

August 11, 2007

This is the third week of blogging through James Durham’s sermon Gospel Presentations are the Strongest Invitations. One more week to go on this sermon. This sermon is found in The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Rept. Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, p43-79.

It is the duty of all to whom the good news of this marriage comes to come to it, and, when they are invited to it, presently without all delay to yield.
p56

Once again we see Durham clearly advocating what we would call “duty faith”.  Also for all who are invited the marriage is “good news“.  Further note Durham is appealing for an immediate response to the gospel.  He did not direct his hearers to go away and think about things.  No, his hearers were to come to Christ, “presently without all delay“.

All who come may expect a very good and heartsome welcome. None need to fear that they shall not be made welcome … The Lord will not look down on such as come; nay, He is waiting to welcome them, and to meet them, as it were, midway, as we see in the parable of the prodigal (Luke 15).
p56

The Lord is “waiting to welcome” sinners!  What a comforting truth.

There is very good news here … therefore I would exhort you all to believe this report. There are, alas, few who do indeed believe that the eternal God has this design of marriage between Him and sinners … believe that this is the good word of God … and that He is waiting to ratify them to all who give them credit … believe that this offer is really His.
p57-8

The gospel is good news.  That is what it is – to all who hear it.  Also note, for Durham, the gospel offer is not man’s offer, it is God’s.  It would therefore not be correct to say that it is simply the preacher offering, it is the preacher offering in Christ’s stead.

Be holily amazed and wonder that the offer of this marriage comes to you, and that He is content to marry you.
p58

It is a wonderful and amazing thing that the gospel should come and tell us that God is content to marry us in Christ.

What is our commission today? This is it … the King … speaks to you by us, and we speak to you in His name, and tell you that our blessed Lord Jesus is wooing you. We declare, publish and proclaim it.
p58

What is the preacher’s commission?  To speak on God the Father’s behalf and proclaim that in the gospel Jesus Christ comes to woo all the hearers of it.  How many fulfil their commission?

Our Lord Jesus is not far to seek. He is here waiting to close the bargain with you. This is our errand, to proclaim these glad tidings to you … Is not the Father ready? He has given His consent. Is not the Bridegroom ready, when He has done so much … The feast is ready, the garments are ready … The contract is ready … He is ready to accept you if you will accept Him. Our blessed Lord Jesus says that He is content to marry you … there is in effect nothing wanting but your consent, and let that not be wanting, I beseech you.
p59

In the gospel we have then the consent of God to close the bargain of salvation with us.  On the side of God, all things are ready.  All that hinders our salvation is our unbelief.

It is not one or two, or some few who are called; not the great only, nor the small only, nor the holy only, nor the profane only, but you all are bidden; the call comes to all and every one of you in particular, poor and rich, high and low, holy and profane. “Ho (proclaims the Lord, as it were, with an “Oh, yes!” in Isaiah 55:1), everyone that thirsts, come; and he that hath no money, let him come.” “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely” Revelation 22:17. Our blessed Lord Jesus … In His name we invite all of you, and make offer of Jesus Christ to be your Husband …
p60

The gospel does not only come to “sensible sinners” as per later hypercalvinistic developments.  It comes to every hearer of the gospel.  All are invited.  Note also for Durham the gospel offer is not as it were an indiscriminate message that just happens to be proclaimed in a wide audience.  No, the gospel is a particular and specific invitation to each individual who hears.

We make this offer to all of you, to you who are atheists, to you who are graceless, to you who are ignorant, to you who are hypocrites, to you who are lazy and lukewarm, to the civil and to the profane. We pray, we beseech, we beg you all to come to the wedding … We will not, we dare not say, that all of you will get Christ for a Husband; but we do most really offer Him to you all, and it shall be your own fault if you lack Him and go without Him.
p60

Again there is no limit of the offer to “sensible sinners” – even atheists receive this offer!  Note Durham’s descriptions of preaching the gospel.  It is praying, beseeching, begging.  Does this characterise the preaching of many today?

Before we proceed any further, we do solemnly protest and, before God and His Son Jesus Christ, take instruments this day, that this offer is made to you … that the Lord Jesus is willing to match with you, even the most profane and most graceless of you, if you are willing to match with Him. He earnestly invites you to come to the wedding.
p61

Even the least sensible sinner in the audience receives the earnest invitation of Christ.

I would not put one of you outside the reach of this invitation. However carnal we may be in speaking His mind, yet we do not desire to obscure or limit our Lord’s grace. He calls all of you to the wedding … Come, then, oh, come and subscribe …
p61

Again there is no limit on the gospel offer.

This is very well becoming … to make this offer to great and small, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, gracious and graceless, hypocrites and profane. There is here no exception of persons with Him; the blessed God is content to match with the most graceless and godless of you as well as with those who are gracious and godly.
p62

No sensible sinner here!

There is joy in heaven at the conversion of a sinner, and the price was paid for the elect who are yet graceless as well as for those of them who are now gracious; for all were once in the same condition. Therefore do not look with straitened hearts on the rich and liberal allowance of our blessed Lord Jesus.
p62

Durham believed in and preached a definite efficacious atonement – “the price was paid for the elect“.  But he was always conscious of the danger of his congregation drawing false conclusions from this and getting caught up in speculations as to whether Christ’s death was for them.  Durham therefore points to the character of those for whom Christ died – sinners.  Therefore he reasons, are you a sinner?  Then don’t exclude yourself, for Christ died for sinners.

We call you to believe, and we declare in His name that, if you will take yourselves to Him in good earnest, you shall be saved … You who are profane, take Him … You who are self-righteous, take Him … Whatever you are … take Him.
p62-3

Again the gospel is to all hearers, not just a select few.

You must not delay to come and close the bargain; you must not put it off till tomorrow, nay, not an hour. All things are ready. Just now, now is the accepted time: here stands the blessed Bridegroom … We dare not be answerable to our Master, nor can we be answerable to our trust and commission, if we shuffle by or thrust out any of you if ye do not thrust out yourselves … let me beseech and beg you to come to the wedding.
p66-7

There is to be no delay in accepting the offer of Christ.  It must be received now.  No preparationism here!  (The doctrine that sinners must go through certain prolonged stages before coming to Christ.)  Again note for Durham preaching the gospel involves begging and beseeching.

We cannot allow you an hour’s time to advise … close with Him presently, or you may never have the like opportunity … The King is on His throne … His servants invite in His name. Come, therefore; come without further lingering …
p68

The offer must be accepted immediately because who knows if the hearers will live to receive another offer?

Weekly Update 3

May 5, 2007

I’ll begin this week’s update with something of a postscript to last week’s update.

“The necessary truths of the Gospel, as they tend to instruct, convince, convert, comfort… are the great task of a Minister, [and] are necessary to all people…”
James Durham, Commentary on Revelation, Old Paths Publications, Rept. 2000, p77 (Emphasis mine).
See http://oldpathspublications.org/prevbook1.html#anchor641237

So again the great task of the minister is to be in the “necessary truths of the gospel” as they tend to “convert”.  That is the aim.

This quote came from an essay entitled “Concerning a Calling to the Ministry, and clearness therein”.  I may do a “random post” (i.e. unrelated to the free offer) on Durham’s essay.  If Durham’s recommendations were prayerfully followed through then the shortage of ministers may not be as great as it is.

Moving on now to this week’s update.

James Durham on “Duty Faith”

Durham has three sermons near the beginning of “Christ Crucified: Or the Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53” where he works through the idea of “duty faith”.

Durham sets out his view plainly and clearly:

“It lies on all that hear the gospel to believe the report that it brings concerning Christ (see note 1), and by faith to receive him, who is held out to them in it…  They to whom Christ is offered in the gospel are called to believe; it is their duty to do so.”
Christ Crucified: Or the Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53, Naphtali Press, Dallas, 2001, p86

That everyone who hears the gospel is duty bound to believe is, according to Durham evident from 5 things:
1) The gospel comes with a command “Believe, Come, ye that are weary, etc. Come to the wedding, Open etc.”.
2) It is the most important command,  It is “the sum of all Christ’s preaching (Mark 1:15) Repent and believe the gospel.
3) It is the “peculiar command that Christ has left… (1 John 3:22).  This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ.”  Durham again notes that it is the “peculiar command left to, and laid on ministers to press.”
4) The “great disobedience that he [God] quarrels for, is when there is not believing”.
5) “Look to the nature of the offer made by Christ, and to the end of it, and you will find that the great thing called for is the receiving of it, which is nothing but believing.”  Further “the subordinate end of preaching, to wit, the salvation of our souls, cannot be attained without faith.”
Ibid, p89.

Durham goes on to distinguish between true and false faith, the necessity of faith for salvation, scripture definitions of faith and closes the second of the three sermons with this appeal:

“You see then what you are called to.  It is to open to Christ, to come to him, to marry him, to roll yourselves on him, to commit yourselves to him, to give him credit, etc.  And is there any of these unreasonable or prejudicial to you?  And if they be very reasonable and advantageous (as indeed they are), we would exhort you to come to him, receive him…  Believe on him, and by believing, be united to him… give him the credit of saving your souls.  This we call for from you…”
Ibid. p99.

So there we have a classic Scottish exposition and practical use of “duty faith”.

Note 1:
What is this “report”?
“The preached gospel… if it were considered what the Lord’s end in it is, it would be the most refreshing news that ever people heard, to hear the report of a Saviour: that is, and should be, great and glad tidings of great joy to all nations… God has sent such a report to, and in it has laid Christ so near them, that he puts him home to them, and lays him before them, even at their feet as it were… all he calls for is faith…”
Ibid. p86

Coming next week:

A review of The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed, by David Silversides.  This will include a vitally important extract from Samuel Rutherford.

Work done this week:
* Finished Silversides’ work on the free offer
* Progressed slowly with Christ Crucified

Work to do next week:
* Progress with Christ Crucified