Archive for the ‘James Durham’ Category

Is the Westminster Confession Supralapsarian?

March 30, 2009

An article by Dr. Guy M. Richard, recently republished in the fine Confessional Presbyterian Journal (Vol. 4, 162-70), Samuel Rutherford’s Supralapsarianism Revealed: A Key to the Lapsarian Position of the Westminster Confessionof Faith, made the case that the Westminster Confession is best read as an inherently supralapsarian document.  The article was valuable for a variety of reasons, among which are, an insightful survey of Rutherford’s supralapsarianism (milder than often thought) and an attempt to understand the Confession through contextualised mid 17th century polemics rather than through later dogmatic positions (an approach often found in theological commentaries on the Confession).  However, I have a few questions around the central thrust of the article – which is that the Westminster Confession is inherently supralapsarian.  Key questions are:

  • Don’t the debates at the Assembly lend themselves to the understanding that a studied ambiguity on this subject was the aim?  For instance on the subject of the decree(s) Reynolds argued “Let us not put in disputes and scholastical things into a Confession of Faith.”  Gillespie added a suggestion for wording that would enable “every one [to] enjoy his own sense” and Calamy added “why should we put it [number of decrees – referring to Twisse by name] in a Confession of Faith” (Mitchell and Struthers, Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, 150-1).  This is hardly the language of a body striving to put in their confession a firm view of the logical order of the Divine decrees.  In view of this perhaps the quest to find “the” lapsarian position of the Westminster Confession of Faith is in itself a false starting point?  The first question then might not be “Is Westminster Surpa or Infra” but “Does the Confession take a lapsarian stance at all”?  Alexander Mitchell argues that “care was taken to avoid the insertion of anything which could be regarded as indicating a preference for supralapsarianism.” (Minutes, lv).
  • Granted that Twisse (who died in 1647 – during the Westminster Assembly) and Rutherford were influential and Surpa does it follow that the confession is (even just inherently) Supralapsarian?  Dort was not short of influential supras and yet can be read more easily as infra (see below).  However influential certain members of a minority are, when it comes to a vote the minority still loses 🙂  To take another case I dont think anyone would argue that Edmund Calamy was insignificant in English Presbyterian circles (or that he was quiet in the Assembly!) – yet he held to a broader concept of the design of the atonement that the Scottish Divines were content with.  Should we conclude the Confession is inherently “hypothetical universalist” (take your pick of terms!)?  The point is of course clear – and I don’t think would be disputed – just because an influential member holds a position does not mean that it is the majority position, or that it would be enshrined in the confession itself, i.e. no one would argue that the Confession is inherently “universal redemptionist.”  (Of course some argue that “universal redemption” is not excluded by the confession – a different discussion).
    Again it does not appear to me, for all the respect that was given to Twisse, everyone agreed with all his positions.  To take two examples, his position on the extent of the atonement (despite being a Supra!), or his being, in the words of Baillie, an “express Chillast” i.e. Premillenialist (Baillie, Letters, 2:313) would not have found much acceptance in the enlightened part of the British Isles – that is Scotland for anyone in any doubt 🙂
  • How does the fact that Dort was infra come in to play? James Durham, Rutherford’s illustrious contemporary, read Dort as infra.  But to him that was no cue for Supra’s to form an orderly line and march out of the Reformed churches never to return.  Indeed he comments as follows: “yet the synod [Dort] has not made any division by censuring of such, neither have these who differ from that determination broken off communion with the church, but have kept communion, and union in the church has not been thereby interrupted. Yet those who apprehend themselves to be right cannot but think the other is in an error, and if this forbearance is not allowed, there can never be union in the church, except we should think that they behoved all to be in the same mind about such things, and there should never be a decision in a church, but when there is absolute harmony.”  So if I read Durham right on this point he is saying that even though a Confession may take a position on the lapsarian question charity should still be extended to those who disagree.  This might explain how Rutherford could still be ok with the Westminster Confession even if it was infra, far or less if it is was ambivalent over the issue?
  • How did Rutherford’s Scottish contemporaries view his supralapsarianisn?  Fellow Scottish Westminster Divine Robert Bailie appears not to have been a cheerleader for Rutherford’s position.  Nowhere does this come out more clearly in the case of Prof. John Strang of Glaswow University.  He held something less than infralapsarianism (Baillie, Letters, 3:5) and yet Baillie would endeavour “that our Assembly meddle not with such subtle questions, but leave them to the schools.” (Letters, 3:6).  This is hardly the language of a man who would wish a Confession to take a stance on the lapsarian issue.  Indeed Baillie particularly states that no Reformed confession has taken a supralapsarian stance, “When such made a most diligent search into his [Strang’s] private and public management, that they might have somewhat against him, he was found beyond reproach in his personal carriage, and in the discharge of his office; only in his dictats to his scholars, some few things were taken notice of, wherein he differed in his sentiments from Dr Twiss and Mr Rutherford in some scholastic speculations. He was not so much as blamed for any departure from the confession of any reformed church, . . . but, in a few questions, exceeding nice and difficult, as to God’s providence about sin, he thought himself at liberty, modestly to differ in his sentiments from so many privat men.” (Chambers, A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, 4:309 – emphasis added).  This is not to suggest Rutherford was alone in his supralapsarianism in Scotland, or even to suggest he was in a minority, but simply that he was not speaking for the Scottish Church on this issue, and that significant theologians in his Church thought his views “scholastic speculations”.  Durham’s sermons also reveal an unwillingness to address the issue – which would be strange if the Confession of the Church addressed the issue.
    [Whether Baillie’s reading of Strang was influenced by his family relations are beyond the scope of this post!]
  • Again how does the earlier history of the lapsarian question in Scotland come in to play?  If Melvile, Rollock, Bruce etc. were infra (as argued by Mitchell) then surely that comes in to play?

So from my point of view the article left too many questions unanswered to challenge the conclusion of Warfied: “But the wise plan was adopted with respect to the points of difference between the Supralapsarians, who were represented by a number of the ablest thinkers in the Assembly (Twisse, Rutherford), and the Infralapsarians, to which party the great mass of the members adhered, to set down in the Confession only what was common ground to both, leaving the whole region which was in dispute between them entirely untouched.”  So is it not still safer to conclude that the Confession is neither inherently Supra or inherently Infra and follow the eminent John Murray:

“The Confession is non-committal on the debate between the Supralapsarians and the Infralapsarians and intentionally so, as both the terms of the section and the debate in the Assembly clearly show.  Surely this is the proper reserve in a credal document.” (Collected Writings, 4:209 – see also 249).

James Durham and the Free Offer – The Audio

March 9, 2009

Here is the audio of my address to the Scottish Reformation Society given in November last year on “James Durham and the Free offer of the Gospel” (the audio quality is not great and there is a pause a few minutes in while they tried to fix the microphone):

http://www.bible-sermons.org.uk/audio-sermons/1958-james-durham-and-the-free-offer-of-the-gospel/

Bear in mind that this was intended to be a level that was easy to understand so for a number of clarifications/fine theoigcal distinctions etc. you will have to wait for the published version 🙂

“The Great Salvation Tendered and Offered”

February 27, 2009

This is the title of a sermon by Andrew Gray (1633-56).  He died at the age of 22 and yet left behind him a legacy of sermons that still enriches the church today.  He was a popular preacher, even more so than James Durham as the following anecdote demonstrates:

Mr Durham not having a popular way of speaking to the common people he with some of his Elders would have seen the people running away from him to hear Mr Gray in the Gutter High Church.  The Elders seemed to be very displeased but Mr Durham said “Let them alone let them go where they think they profit most for it is probable if I were in their case I would do the same thing.”
Wodrow’s Analecta 3:109

A testimony no doubt to the humility of Durham – but also to the giftedness of Andrew Gray.  Anyway back to “The Great Salvation Tendered and Offered.”  Here is one extract from his sermon:

This everlasting Gospel which is preached unto you, is that glorious Star, which must lead us to that place where blessed Christ doth lie.  This Gospel and glad tidings of the great salvation, is come near unto you: And Christ is standing at the everlasting doors of your heart, desiring that ye would open unto him.  This is his one great request, which Heaven this day hath to present unto you, and it is, that ye would at last embrace this great salvation freely offered by him. [Emphasis added].

It is safe to say Gray understood what it is to preach the free offer of the gospel.  There is lots more of this in Gray. This is simply one example from him of the gospel preaching which won the hearts of so many in Glasgow and which Durham would have loved to have sat and heard.

I’m in the process at the moment of transcrbing Rutherford on Rev 3:20 from a previously unpublished manuscript.  Hopefully it will see the light of day soon.

Durham on Dort, the Objects of Predestination, and Unity

February 21, 2009

Was Durham Supra of Infra?  Hard to tell as most of his comments about this topic are in sermons where he dismisses the dispute as not edifying (bear in mind the context).  Of the few who have discussed this most have him tagged as infra but I’m not so sure we can really say  (and the drift of thought in Scotland at the time was probably Spura e.g. Rutherford and P. Gillespie).  Anyway here is an interesting passage from him on the liberty he wants to see on this matter in relation to Dort:

It is not to be thought that all orthodox divines are of the same mind in all things that are decreed in the Synod of Dort, particularly in reference to the object of predestination; yet the synod has not made any division by censuring of such, neither have these who differ from that determination broken off communion with the church, but have kept communion, and union in the church has not been thereby interrupted.  Yet those who apprehend themselves to be right cannot but think the other is in an error, and if this forbearance is not allowed, there can never be union in the church, except we should think that they behoved all to be in the same mind about such things, and there should never be a decision in a church, but when there is absolute harmony.

What is he saying here:

  • Not everyone who deserves to be classified “orthodox” agrees with Dort on the objects of predestination.  I assume Durham is of the opinion that Dort specified the objects of the decree of election in a broadly infralapsarian manner.
  • He believes Dort was within it rights to specify an answer to the question of the objects of predestination.
  • He commends the Synod for making that determination in a way that has not lead to division in the church.  I assume this relates to his understanding of the intentof Dort which must be that they wished to state their understanding of the reformed view without the intent of driving the other reformed view from the Church.
  • He commends those who “lost” over the objects of predestination at Dort with not disrupting the unity of the Church.
  • He correctly observes that there are issues where there can be disagreement without division/disunity.  Without some latitude on secondary issues there could be no unity and we would be in the position of denomination of no more that 3 churches.
  • The church can declare it’s mind on an issue (not related to the fundamentals) without necessitating that all agree with that decision on pain of discipline.

I think Durham in general combines well a desire for doctrinal precision and a determination to uphold that precision with a desire for the unity of orthodox believers.  See his Treatise on Scandal which if put into practice would leave us with less divisions in Reformed Presbyterianism than we currently have!

David Lachman’s helpful introduction to the modern reprint is available here:

http://www.naphtali.com/scanextr.htm

Durham on the Trinity (and so the Eternal Generation of the Son)

December 22, 2008

Following on from Saturday’s post here is James Durham stating the same truth via the same distinctions:

These three blessed Persons, who are One most glorious Being, have yet an inconceivable order in their subsisting and working; which, being to be admired rather than to be searched, we shall but say, 1. They have all the same One Essence and Being as is said. 2. They all have it eternally, equally and perfectly: none is more or less God, but each hath all the same Godhead at perfection: and therefore must have it equally and eternally: for, the Godhead is the same, and the Son is the first and the last, as the Father is; and the Father and the Son were never without the Spirit, who is the Spirit of God, and each of Them is God… Yet, 3. The Father subsists of Himself, and doth beget the Son by an inconceivable generation: the Son doth not beget, but is begotten, and hath His subsisting, as the second Person, from the Father.  So much the titles of Father and Son … the Spirit proceeds both from the Father … and from the Son … the Spirit doth neither beget, nor is begotten, but doth thus, in an inexpressible manner, proceed from Them both.

This is from Durham’s extended excursus on the Trinity in his commentary on Revelation.  This is my last post until the new year – see you in 2009, DV.

What is Offered in the Gospel? (According to Durham)

November 24, 2008

What exactly is being offered in the gospel? 

In summary, Durham states that “Christ Jesus Himself, and His benefits” is what is offered.   That is, all the Son had done to redeem sinners is offered to us in the gospel, “This good and gracious bargain that is made between the Father and the Son, which is wholly mercy, is brought to the market and exposed to sale on exceedingly easy and condescending terms, and that to bankrupt sinners.”  To expand on this “peace and pardon, grace and glory, even all good things [are] offered to you freely!”  Or to phrase it differently, “Tell me, what is it that you would have?  Is it remission of sins?  ‘Tis here.  Would you have the covenant and promises?  Here they are: Is it Christ Himself that you would have, because you dare not trust a promise without a Cautioner?  Here He is.  Or would you have heaven and be eternally happy?  ‘Tis also here.”  

So Christ Jesus and all that he has done for the salvation of his people and the fruits of his death are offered to us in the gospel.  To quote John Murray, “it is Christ in all the glory of his person and in all the perfection of his finished work whom God offers in the gospel.”

This is a short extract from the talk I gave at the Scottish Reformation Society in Inverness.  I am hoping to get a slightly ammended version of the lecture published in the summer.  Watch this space.

PS Blogging may be slow over the month of December as we are moving to Cambridge shortly and internet access will be limited for the first few weeks.  Normal service will resume in the new year, DV.

The Biblical Basis for the Free Offer

November 8, 2008

What scriptural texts did Durham use to justify his definition of the free offer of the gospel?  Some key texts are as follows:

2 Cor 5:20, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”  For instance speaking of the duties of ministers Durham states, “it is their commission to pray them, to whom they are sent, to be reconciled; to tell them that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself (as it is 2 Cor. 5:19-20), and in Christ’s stead request them to embrace the offer of reconciliation … This is ministers work, to pray people not to be idle hearers of the gospel…”[1]

Matt 22:4, “all things [are] ready: come unto the marriage.”  Durham states, “The offer of this gospel … is set out under the expression of inviting to a feast; and hearers of the gospel are called to come to Christ, as strangers or guests are called to come to a wedding fest (Matt. 22:2-4). All things are ready, come to the wedding, and etc.  Thus the gospel calls not to an empty house that [lacks] meat, but to a banqueting house where Christ is made ready as the cheer…”[2]

 

Is 55:1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Durham expands on this verse, “The offer of the gospel is … set out often under the similitude or expression of a market where all the wares are laid forth on the stand (Isa. 55:1; Ho, every one that thirsts, come to the waters, etc.).  And lest it should be said, or thought, that the proclamation is only to the thirsty, and such as are so and so qualified; you may look to what follows, Let him that has no money come; yea, come, buy without money and without price.”[3]

 

Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”   Perhaps a verse that may surprise some of you, but Rev 3:20 was understood almost universally by the Puritans as an evangelistic appeal to unconverted sinners.  Durham it typical when he states, “The offer of this gospel is … set out under the similitude of a standing and knocking and calling hard at sinners’ doors (Rev 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me) … which is an earnest invitation to make way for Christ Jesus, wanting nothing but an entry into the heart, whereby we may see how Christ comes in the gospel, and is laid to folks hands.”[4]  Or again, “He says from there, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’  It is as if he had said, ‘I come in my gospel to woo, and, if any will consent to take me on the terms on which I offer myself, I will be theirs.’”[5]

 

Ezekiel 18:31-32, “why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”  Durham explains, “Faith … is well expressed in the Catechism, to be a receiving of Christ as he is offered in the gospel.  This supposes that Christ is offered to us, and that we are naturally without him.  The gospel comes and says, ‘why will you die, O house of Israel?  Come and receive a Saviour.’”[6]

 

Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:41-2, Christ’s lament over Jerusalem, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.”  Durham uses this verse as follows, “Sometimes he complains (as John 5:40), Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life; and sometimes weeps and moans, because sinners will not be gathered (as Luke 19:41-42 and Matt 23:37).  Can there be any greater evidences of reality in any offer?”[7] Another example of Durham’s use of this verse is his statement that “[In the gospel offer] the Father and the Son are most heartily willing; therefore they expostulate when this marriage is refused, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you, but you would not!” (Matthew 23:37).  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if thou, even thou, hadst known in this thy day the things that belong to thy peace!” (Luke 19:42).  All these sad complaints, that Israel would not hearken to His voice, and His people would have none of Him (Psalm 81:11), that He came to His own, and His own received Him not (John 1:11), and that they will not come to Him that they might have life (John 5:40), make out His willingness abundantly and undeniably.”[8]

 

Rev 22:17, “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Durham uses this verse as follows, “grace says, Ho, come, and (Rev 22:17), Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.  It is not only, to say with reverence, those whom he wills, but it is whosoever will…”[9] Another of Durham’s uses of this verse is “This is our Lord’s farewell, that He may press the offer of the Gospel and leave that impression as it were, upon record amongst the last words of this Scripture; and his scope is to commend this Book and the offers He hath made in it, as most free and on terms of grace, wherein Christ aimeth much to draw souls to accept it…”[10]

 

I hope that gives you a flavour of some of the biblical basis Durham adduces for the free offer of the gospel.

[1] Durham, Christ Crucified, 79

[2] Durham, Christ Crucified, 80

[3] Durham, Christ Crucified, 80

[4] Durham, Christ Crucified, 80 

[5] Durham, Unsearchable Riches, 46

[6] Durham, Christ Crucified, 96-7

[7] Durham, Christ Crucified, 125 

[8] Durham, Unsearchable Riches, 55

[9] Durham, Christ Crucified, 125 

[10] Durham, Revelation, 992


Why does God find fault with men for their unbelief?

October 4, 2008

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.

Durham does Patristics

September 26, 2008

Here are two of Durham’s summaries of the Christological and Trinitarian controversies in the early church/ the first four ecumenical councils.  This history is so important for correct theological formulation today as it forms the foundation of our profession and answers the fundamental questions – Who is our God and who is our Saviour:

In Primitive times, some denied Christ to be true Man, as Apollinarius; others denied Him to be true God, as Ebion, Arius, Photinus etc … some made Him to consist of two Persons as well as two Natures; others, running to the other extreme to shun that, affirmed Him to have but one Nature as He is but one Person, This was the Heresy of Eutuyches; the former was spread by Nestorius; Sabellians made but one Person as there is but one God … Those called Tritheists, made three Gods as well as three persons…
Durham, Revelation, 488

…open Heretics, such as Arius, Macedonius, Eutyches, Nestorius, etc. striking all of them at the Person and Natures of our Lord Jesus … All these Heresies were rejected by the Church and condemned by the first four famous general Councils.  The first whereof was convened at Nice by Constantine about the year 305 [325]wherein was condemned the heresy of Arius, who denied the God-head of Jesus Christ, or that He was by nature God as the Father was, though he accounted Him more that a man, and so differeth from Photinus.  The second was at Constantinople by Gretian and Theadasius [Theodosius], Anno 380.  In this was condemned the heresy of Macedonius, who denied the personality of the Holy Ghost, the third person of the blessed Trinity: His followers therefore were called … fighters against the spirit.  The third was at Ephesus, under Theodosius the second, Anno 431.  It condemned Nestorius, who made Christ to have [two] Persons as two Natures.  The fourth was at Calcedon, under Martinnus, Anno 451.  This rejected the Doctrine of Eutches, who, in opposition to Nestorius, attributed to Christ but one Nature, thus confounding his Natures, as the former had divided his Person.
Durham, Revelation, 532

John Owen Conference

August 23, 2008

So this week was spent at the John Owen Today conference.  It was good to meet people I had only made contact with over the internet in the past (e.g. Marty Foord, Mark Jones and John Tweeddale) and to make new contacts.  This was the main benefit of the conference as not many of the papers were directly relevant to my thesis – I was unable to attend the most relevant paper (John Owen’s Gospel Offer: Well Meant or Not). 

The most thought provoking talk for me was the first of the conference by Prof VanAsslet on “COVENANT THEOLOGY AS RELATIONAL THEOLOGY: The Contributions of Johannes Cocceius and John Owen to A Living Reformed Theology”.  The particular point I found interesting was his stress on the relationship between the denial of a distinction between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace and eternal justification.  Essentially VanAsslet argued that a proper distinction between the covenant of redemption (the triune God’s eternal counsel) and the covenant of grace (the execution in time of this eternal counsel) helped prevent time (covenant of grace) being swallowed up in eternity (covenant of redemption) thus mitigating against eternal justification.  VanAsslet noted historically if the covenant of grace is collapsed into the covenant of redemption there is the danger of eternal justification emerging (e.g. Gill).

Moving away from the conference, and to keep this blog vaguely related to the free offer the question has again been raised in a recent article – just who is the gospel offered to and must they be sensible sinners.  (The inference of the article was sensible sinners).  Well lets see how James Durham would answer.  So Mr Durham, who is the gospel offered to:

“The person called to this, is expressed thus, if any man, etc. which putteth it so to every hearer, as it it went round to every particular person, if thou, and thou, or thou etc … because where the Lord saith any man, without exception, who is he that can limit the same, where a person of whatsoever condition or qualification is found, that will accept of the offer according to the terms proposed?” (Revelation, Rept. Old Paths, 2000, 274).

Right so the gospel is offered to everyone who hears preaching.  But Mr Durham, are you really sure the gospel offer isn’t restricted to sensible sinners – I mean we would never offer the gospel to those most insensible of sinners, professed atheists, would we?

“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.” (Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Rept. Soli Deo Gloria, 60)

Finally I found out this week that there is an unpublished manuscript sermon by Samuel Rutherford on Rev 3:20!  I assume that Rutherford takes the same view of this verse as Durham i.e. it is an evangelistic appeal to unbelievers.  In which case this sermon is hugely significant for my thesis and would, perhaps, depending on its length, be worth transcribing and including as an appendix to my thesis.  I need to get up the the National Library of Scotland and read this sermon post haste!