As your heavenly Father has a common love, which he extends to all mankind, in supplying their necessities, with the light and warmth of the sun, and with the rain; as well as a special love and favor, which he exercises only toward those that are good, and members of Christ; so ought you to have: though you are not obliged to take your enemies into your bosom, yet you ought to love them in their order. And as your heavenly Father, though he will one day have a satisfaction from sinners, for the wrong done to his majesty, unless they repent; yet, to heap coals of fire on their heads, gives them good things of common providence, that he might not leave them without witness, yea, and affords them the outward means of grace for their souls: so, although you are bound to seek some satisfaction for God’s honor and glory from flagitious sinners, and though you may in an orderly course seek a moderate satisfaction for the wrong done to yourselves, yet you ought to love them with a love consistent with these things; that so you may imitate your heavenly Father, and approve yourselves to be his children.

John Collinges, “Annotations on the Gospel of S. Matthew” in, A Commentary on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole (McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing, 1990), 3:26, Matthew 5:45. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]


Luke 19:42

Oh if thou had known, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, &c.

Chap. 6.

The Will of God touching man’s salvation, as it is generally revealed and propounded in the Gospel.

Hitherto of Christ’s carriage and deportment towards Jerusalem; It follows now to speak of his words and speeches to her, and therein first of his passionate and pathetical wish or complaint: wherein first of all, the manner of speech offers itself to our consideration, because the original text, is not rendered alike by all. In the translation of it, some looking more at the scope and intention of Christ, who sets himself purposely to bewail the condition of Jerusalem, than at the bare and naked translation of the words; do render them in the nature of a wish or desire, “oh that thou had known,” &c. and so make the sense full and complete, without the supply or addition of anything else unto it; and the particle (If) is sometimes rendered in that sense, as the learned observe1: and many interpreters go this way.2 Others looking more punctually at the grammatical construction of the words in the original, render the words in a conditional phrase, by way of supposition, “If thou had known,” &c.,3 and so seem to make it defective speech, or a broken and imperfect sentence, which must be thus supplied and made up: “If thou had known the worth and excellency of those good things which are offered unto thee by the coming of a Savior, though would not value them at so low a rate”: Or, “If thou had known the misery and calamity thou lies open unto, thou would not sing and rejoice as now thou does, but weep and shed tears as thou see me do.” And this also is well backed with the authority of the learned,4 and they are induced to incline to this opinion, because of the tears of Christ mentioned in the verse before.

Now for a man that speaks out of depth of sorrow, and fulness of grief, it is nothing strange for him to break off his speech, and leave it imperfect; for as it is the nature of joy to enlarge the heart, and dilate the spirits, and so set open as it were a wide door for the thoughts of the heart to go out and vent themselves; so it is the nature of sorrow to contract and straighten, to narrow and draw together the spirits, and as it were to shut the door of the soul, so that like as it is with a vessel, though it be full of liquor, yet if the mouth of it be stopped, none will flow out; even so it was here with Christ: having begun to speak, he was so overwhelmed with grief, and so deeply affected with the estate and condition of Jerusalem, that he could not speak out, but was even constrained to weep out the rest of the sentence, leaving the full sense and meaning to be gathered and supplied out of his tears: as is used in such passionate and pathetical speeches. The matter is not much in regard of the sense and meaning, whether the words be read in a manner of a wish, “O that thou had known,” &c. or whether they be translated by way of supposition, in a conditional phrase, “If thou had known,” &c. And happily he shall not do amiss that joins them both together, and reads the words thus, “O if thou had known,”5 and so they afford this observation.

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Mitchell and Struthers:

Section VII. The latter is quite as guarded as the language used by Ussher in his Method of the Christian Religion;1 and, as I have already stated, it was drawn up by a committee of which the cautious Reynolds had charge. The former was the least that could be expected in a Synod over which Dr. Twisse presided. But it is remarkable that, though the Assembly met after the Synod of Dort, and had for its president one whose opinions on these mysterious subjects were almost as pronounced as those of Gomarus himself, it fell back not on the decrees of that Synod, but on the Articles of the Irish Church, which had been drawn up before the Synod of Dort was summoned, or the controversies its decrees occasioned had waxed so fierce. The debates of the Assembly clearly show that its members did not wish to determine several particulars decided by the Synod of Dort, far less to determine them more rigidly than it had done. They even intentionally left open one point which the Irish divines thought fit to determine. They spoke indifferently of the “decree” and of the “decrees” of God, while the Irish divines speak of only one and “the same decree”; and from the notes of their debates given below,2 it will be seen that this was done because all were not agreed upon the point, and in order that every one might enjoy his own sense! The same care was taken to avoid the insertion of anything which could be regarded as indicating a preference for supralapsarianism;3 and for this purpose, the words, “to bring this to pass, God ordained to permit man to fall,” were changed into “they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ” etc. Did these divines mean to follow an opposite policy in regard to the point on which Calamy, Arrowsmith, Vines, Seaman, and other disciples of Davenant, or according to Baillie of Amyraut, differed from the more exact Calvinists? After repeated perusal of their debates, I cannot take upon myself certainly to affirm that they did, though I admit that this matter is not so clear as the others above referred to. No notes of the debate in its latest stage are given, nor is. any vote or dissent respecting it found in these Minutes. Calamy, who spoke repeatedly in the debate on the Extent of Redemption, avowed that he held, in the same sense as the English divines at the Synod of Dort,4that Christ by his death did pay a price for all, with absolute intention for the elect, with conditional intention for the reprobate in case they do believe; that all men should be salvabiles non obstante lapsu Adami . . . ; that Jesus Christ did not only die sufficiently for all, but God did intend, in giving of Christ, and Christ in giving himself did intend, to put all men in a state of salvation in case they do believe.” Seaman, Vines, Marshall, and Harris in part at least, agreed with him.5 And though I cannot find that Dr. Arrowsmith took part in this debate, yet he was attending the Assembly, was a member of the Committee on the Confession, and in his writings has repeatedly expressed his leaning towards the same opinion.6 In the progress of the debate, the proposition that Christ redeemed the elect only, was exchanged for this other, that Christ did intend to redeem the elect only. The final decision of the Assembly, as has just been stated, is not inserted in these Minutes; and though at first sight it may not seem easy to reconcile the opinions of these divines with the language of the sixth section of this chapter of the Confession, it would be rash for me to say it is impossible. They certainly did not succeed in getting any positive approbation of their opinions inserted; but it is just possible that the language of this section may have been so arranged, that they felt warranted in accepting it as not positively condemning them. Those who in modern times have pronounced most confidently that the more restricted view is exclusively intended, seem to me to have unconsciously construed or interpreted the words, “neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect onlyas if they had run, “neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, or justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.” But these two statements do not necessarily bear the same meaning. Calamy, Arrowsmith, and the others who agreed with them, may have felt justified in accepting the former, though they might have scrupled to accept the latter.7

It may be argued, however (and it is better to advert to it here), that even if the opinions of these divines were not positively excluded by the language of this section, they must be held to be so by that used in chap. viii. sec. 8: “To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption he doth certainly and effectually communicate and apply the same.” It is quite possible that, in the progress of the debate, they may have yielded somewhat, especially after having secured, in chap. vii. sec. 3, words sufficient to guard the truth they were mainly anxious to conserve, that under the covenant of grace, and by the preaching of the gospel, the Lord “freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him that they may be saved.” Besides, they had admitted (p. 159) a distinction between the propositum morientis and the meritum mortis. Still, it is also just possible that they may have accepted the words “purchased redemption,” in the eighth chapter, as Baxter was willing to do, not of every fruit of Christ’s death, but of “that special redemption proper to the elect,” “which was accompanied with an intention of actual application of the saving benefits in time.” Ussher and some of his immediate disciples, of whose own position there seems to be little doubt, appear occasionally to have used the phrase in the same sense,8 and speak of the differences between Spanheim and Amyraut, the representatives of the two continental Calvinistic schools, as parerga quædam, which should not alienate those who in common rejected Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism.9 Dr. Ames, again, who himself belonged to the stricter school, and who may be regarded as in fact one of the English Puritans, maintains that the chief cardo controversiæ between Remonstrants and Contra- Remonstrants was not an pro omnibus et singulis mortuus sit Christus? sed quis finis et fructus sit Christi in cis pro quibus est mortuus, not whether he died for all in some way, but whether he died for all equally, and whether the end and fruit of his doing so was merely to remove legal obstacles, and render salvation possible; or whether it did not also secure the salvation of a certain definite number, and that not a small, but large, number of our lost race.10 But at any rate, the adoption of the eighth paragraph in chap. viii. of the Confession did not end the contest between the divines, and set them altogether at one. These Minutes show that, when the Larger Catechism was being prepared, another effort was made by the representatives of the Davenant school to get their opinions distinctly sanctioned and positively expressed in that formulary. A committee, apparently of English members only, prepared and brought up for discussion (p. 369) the following questions and answers:–“Q. Do all men equally partake of the benefits of Christ?–A. Although from Christ some common favours redound to all mankind, and some special privileges to the visible Church, yet none partake of the principal benefits of His mediation but only such as are members of the Church invisible. Q. What common favors redound from Christ to all mankind?–A. Besides much forbearance and many supplies for this life, which all mankind receive from Christ as Lord of all, they by him are made capable of having salvation tendered to them by the gospel, and are under such dispensations of Providence and operations of the Spirit as lead to repentance.”11 These questions and answers were first agreed to be discussed, and then referred back to a Committee with which the Scotch Commissioners were associated. The questions and answers adopted in session 873 (pp. 392, 393) are probably to be regarded as their report; and the answer to the question, Are all they saved by Christ who live within the visible Church and hear the gospel? wears the look of an attempted compromise, admitting on the one side that “the gospel, where it comes, does tender salvation by Christ to all, testifying that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excludes none that come unto him;” and affirming on the other, that “none do or can truly come unto Christ, or are saved by him, but only the members of the invisible Church”’ This affirmation is warranted both by the Lambeth and the Irish Articles; but there are few nowadays who will not grant that it was more cautiously expressed in the shape in which it ultimately appeared in the answer to the sixty-eighth question of the Larger Catechism: “All the elect, and they only, are effectually called, although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word, and have some common operations of the Spirit, who, for their willful neglect and contempt of the grace offered them, being justly left to their unbelief, do never truly come to Christ.”

Alex Mitchell and John Struthers, Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874), liii-lxi. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; footnote values modernized; footnote content original; italics original (Latin quotations excepted); and underlining mine.]

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Leipzig Colloquy (1631)

Thereafter, the theologians of both sides did most carefully, with a good heart, go through each of the articles of the Augsburg Confession one by one, thereby making known their respective opinions. Being called to examine the first article concerning God carefully and word by word, the electoral Brandenburg and Hessian theologians clearly stated: they firmly believe along with the electoral Saxons that God is one in being and three in persons; also that the doctrine of the unity of the divine being and the mystery of the three distinct persons in the Godhead are powerfully and irrefutably grounded in the Old and the New Testaments, regardless of some pronouncements of contrary interpretations that have appeared in the writings of certain teachers. They believe from the heart, as did the electoral Saxons, that God is a simple and an eternal, incorporeal, and indivisible being, without end and without any limits, and so is all powerful; that He can do all things which He wills to do, and that nothing at all is impossible to Him, except only that which is declared by His Word to be contrary to His nature and counsel. In all the remaining points which are comprehended in the first article as also in those which are thereby refuted, they were completely of one mind and voice. . . .

On the fourth article,1 the theologians of both sides are of one accord (and the electoral Brandenburg and Hessian theologians declare) that the fourth article is likewise loved by them and taught on every occasion. That Christ the Lord and Savior died for all men and with His death had acted for the sins of the whole world completely, perfectly, and, in His death in and of itself, powerfully and sufficiently. That it is also not mere appearance, but that it is His actual, earnest will and command that all men should believe on Him, and be saved through faith; thus that no one is shut out from the power and benefit of the sufficiency of Christ but he who shuts himself out through unbelief.

“The Leipzig Colloquy” in, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 4:168 and 174. [Underlining Mine and footnotes mine.]

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The Formula Consensus Helvetica


The divine apostle to the Gentiles earnestly impressed on his true child (γνηστω τεκννω) Timothy that he “continue in those things which” εμαθε και επιστωθηη that is, “which he had learned and which had been entrusted to him” (2 Tim. 3:14). In these lamentable and exasperating times, it is entirely appropriate that the very same thing frequently enter our recollection and call itself to mind. All the more so since sad experience shows that the faith once delivered to the saints by the Word of God is being perverted from the form of sound words (ιύποτυπωσει) and is contracting no slight blemish from the errors that are cropping up not in one principle division of the truth but on every side.

For our part, since the heavenly Father has honored us (unworthy as we are) with divine grace and goodness to a greater extent than many other nations, it is right that we gratefully put down the following circumstance to that account: he has hitherto endowed our leading men (προεστωτας), especially the very eminent nobles, the fathers of our country, and the very upright guardians of the church, with the spirit of piety, wisdom and courage. As a result, they religiously guard the store (κειμηλιον) of truth that they received from our forefathers out of the Word of God; they grip it tightly, as they say, in their hands, and they do not allow doctrinal corruption to have any access to our churches. But since constancy is nothing less than to desire to maintain what has been acquired and every day we hear the same angel that cried out to the church in Philadelphia, “Behold, I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have so that no one will take your crown” (Rev. 3:11), therefore it is right that we bend our knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and fervently pray that in these difficult times he might mercifully preserve this special advantage (πλεονεκτημα) and benefit for us, even to the end of the age.

Nevertheless opinions that are inferior in several matters of importance, but especially in the doctrine that concerns the extent of divine grace, could gather strength, infect impressionable young men and thus with the passage of time also infect our churches themselves. Moreover (seeing as how scarcely any crop is more fruitful, more fertile than error) the toleration of these opinions by reason of an excessive leniency could cause other, worse opinions to spring up, as has happened at other times, such as the sad example of Remonstrantism can show. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, by the authority and instruction of the elders, to give consideration to some effective and sacred barrier. The canons that deal with the doctrine of universal grace, as well as with several related matters of importance, were born of this consideration, and we have endorsed them by unanimous consent. In adopting a suitable arrangement, we have been particularly concerned that truth should join love in a most welcome synergy (ήδιστη συζυγια) and contend with uncertainties, as they say, for the palm.

Nor indeed is there a reason for the honorable foreign brothers, whom we otherwise cherish and fraternally esteem as having obtained a faith of equal standing (ίσοτιμον πιστιν λαχοντας), to be angry with us about a disagreement that has been brought to light for good and weighty reasons, or to keep saying that we are furnishing anyone with an opportunity for schism. For on both sides, by the grace of God, the foundation of the faith remains, and in both cases, gold and silver and not a few precious stones have been built upon it out of the Word of God. The unity of the mystical body and of the Spirit is secure, “Just as we were called in one hope of our calling; for us there is one Lord, one special faith”–and in that same faith a holy concord and bond of hospitality is to be preserved–”one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all things, and in all of us” (Eph 4:4-6). Accordingly, among us the chain and bond of a most tender love will always remain secure, and, by the grace of God, the most sacred obligations of the communion of the saints will remain in a state of good repair.

As to what follows, we will not cease to call upon God, the Father of Lights, in pious petition that he might determine and grant that our instruction be salutary and that he might deign to bless it through Jesus Christ, the only inaugurator and consummator of our faith and salvation.

“Preface” to the “Formula Consensus Helvetica” in, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 4:518-519. [Underlining Mine.]