Archive for the ‘The Well-Meant Offer’ Category



Elements of the Gospel. Substance of the Gospel Call. Its Freeness. On Faith and Repentance as Conditions of Salvation. On the Use of this Term. The Universality of the Gospel Offer. Principles of the Divine Procedure. Infinite Value of the Sacrifice of Christ. Harmony of Unlimited Call with the grand Characteristics of the Scheme of Redemption. Consistency of the Unlimited Offer with the Interests of Holiness. Special Encouragement given to the Convicted and the Desponding. The Gospel Call Honest and Sincere. Express Declarations of Scripture. Conduct of God in giving the Means of Grace Outward and Inward. Forbearance and Kindness. Recorded Instances. Objections Answered. Quotation from Howe.

IN the application of redemption the Holy Spirit is the grand agent; and I therefore judged it expedient to state at considerable length the proofs which establish the reality of his influences. I have directed your attention also to what may be called the economy of divine influences; and have presented you with a brief sketch of the principal operations of the Holy Ghost. In the application of redemption the Spirit is the chief, but he is not the sole agent; for we ourselves are called to be active. The blessings of redemption are offered to us in the gospel, and we are invited and commanded to accept them with becoming readiness and gratitude. The next subject then, which presents itself for consideration, is the gospel call; under which are included its various overtures, and invitations, and requirements.

The gospel is the good news of salvation. It is the revelation of the scheme of mercy–a message or proclamation from the Omnipotent Ruler of the universe, calling on us to return to our allegiance, and to accept of pardon, sanctifying influence, and eternal life. It may tend to simplify our conceptions of the gospel, or the message of mercy, if we regard it as consisting of three parts, or comprehending three things,a revelation, a call or invitation, and a promise. It contains, first, a revelation or declaration of the wonderful plan which God, in infinite love, has adopted for the deliverance of our fallen race from guilt and misery, and for raising them to imperishable happiness and glory. It is this part of the gospel more especially that is styled the testimony, or record, or witness of God–a term peculiarly significant and instructive. In its primary acceptation that term refers to the deposition or testimony given by a witness on oath in a court of justice. It intimates therefore that the Most High God condescends to present himself to his creatures in that character and attitude; that in addressing us in the gospel, he speaks to us in a manner the most solemn and emphatic, that what he declares to us is truth, nothing but truth, and the whole truth, respecting our immortal interests, which it is necessary for us to know. The gospel comprehends, secondly, a call or invitation, under which may be included its various overtures and proposals, its entreaties and exhortations, its demands and injunctions. The overtures and invitations and injunctions of the gospel spring up naturally out of its discoveries, and the great object of them is to call on man to believe its discoveries, and to accept of its blessings. These various overtures, and invitations, and demands, constitute substantially one call; but that call is exhibited in these diversified forms and aspects, because the author of it presents himself both as a benefactor, tendering blessings to our acceptance, and as a sovereign requiring our obedience. These overtures, and invitations, and requirements, are enforced by what may be regarded as the third part of the gospel, namely, by a promise, or a collection of promises; the import or amount of which is, that salvation shall infallibly be bestowed on all who are willing to accept it as the free gift of God, through Jesus Christ. The overtures and invitations of the gospel are enforced not only by “promises exceedingly great and precious,” but by denunciations the most terrific and alarming. These denunciations are dictated by boundless compassion, as well as by inflexible justice; they are naturally presupposed in the overtures and promises of the gospel; but, strictly speaking, they do not constitute an integral part of it, and are rather to be regarded as its necessary appendage or accompaniment.

It is the second part of the gospel that I am at present to consider; that is, its call or offer, comprehending its invitations, and exhortations, and requirements. And what I have to say in the discussion of this topic may be summed up in the following propositions:–

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John Foxe (1517-1587) on the Free Offer of God’s Friendship

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And here an end of the first part of this my text, which I have read to you out of Saint Paul. Wherein has been declared unto you, the gracious and joyful message sent of God, in the name of Christ, by his Apostle, messengers. By the which message you have heard, how almighty God not only is reconciled to you, but also, how lovingly he entreats you to be reconciled unto him. Further, what this reconciliation of God is, how firm it stands and perpetual, what when before it, what variance there was between him and us, and how this variance was reconciled, and God’s wrath pacified by one oblation once done for ever: moreover what things follow after this reconciliation, with the golden chain, and principal points of our salvation depending upon the same: and finally, how far the time of the law and of wrath lasted, and when the time of grace begins, what difference is between these two times, and how a Christian is both under wrath, and also under reconciliation in divers respects: of the outward manner first, and then of the inward manner, with other things not unworthy to be mused upon, partly is set forth in this former part unto you….

The peroration.1

But this is enough, and here and end: not for lack of matter, but for very weariness. I have overspent the time, I see, and my voice likewise, and almost myself. In standing upon these matters I have stayed so long, as I am weary of standing Wherefore I shall desire you: look for no solemn peroration on me. Only instead of a repetition, I will conclude with little short exhortation, as weary as I am: praying you, as I first began, according to the words of my message: Rogamus pro Christ, I pray you for Christ’s love, and not I alone, but all the ministers and messengers of Christ in all England with me, do pray you with S. Paul, and with all the Apostles of Christ and not we only, yea God himself by all his Apostles, ministers, and messengers, we all do pray and entreat you, not as messengers of men, nor of any Bishop, no, nor of the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome, if he be a true bishop is but a messenger of himself, and that only in his own Diocese, where he is Bishop. In Christ’s name we pray you that you, what, or where so ever you be, that have been hitherto strangers, unacquainted, or enemies unto God, now you will draw near, and be reconciled, and be friends, not with the Bishop, whom we call Pope of Rome, who as I understand of late has sent his proctors, and messengers to reconcile you to him.

God’s friendship
freely offered.

Alack2 he is no God, nor yet good man, his reconciliation can do us no good, and is not worth a rush. Our message is, that you will be reconciled unto the living God. And as you have long tasted his wrath, so now begin to taste his friendship. A better friend you can not have. Yea, to say the truth, no other friend you lack but him. Whom if you have your friend, no enemy, can do you hurt. If he be your enemy, no friend can do you good. His friendship if you desire, you need not seek it far, it is here offered unto you for taking [2 Cor. 6.]. But then you must take it while it is offered. Behold now is the acceptable year: yet is the good time: the golden time: yet us the day of salvation: yet today lasts, and the gate yet is open, wherein the wise virgins may enter: but if it be once shut again, the foolish virgins shall never have it open anymore [Matth. 25.]. You that be rich, remember your coffin dives the rich man in hell. Who because in his life time, when he might have whole fountains of favor, and refused, afterward would have had one drop of water, and could not. Take therefore while it is offered.

God’s friendship
not to be

Refuse not, lest you be refused. Crave and have. Come and spare not. Behold and fear not. For what should let you to behold, having such a patron to make your way for you. If God’s wrath do fear you, he has killed it. If you dread the law, he has hanged it. If your heart condemn you he is greater than your heart. If you be sick, he came, therefore, to play the physician. If you be hungry, he is the bread of life. If you be poor, he was made poor for you, to make you rich. If God’s curse lie upon you, he was accursed for you. If you be sinful, he was made sin for you, that you might be made the righteousness of GOD by him. What can we have more of him, or what can he do more for us then this which is all. For he that has bestowed his own Son upon us, how can it be, but he will give with him Omnia, all things to us. Omnia vestra sun. i. “All things be yours,” says the Lord to us, by his Apostle. John Foxe, A Sermon of Christ Crucified, preached, at Paules Crosse on Fridaie before Easter, commonly called Goodfri-daie, (At London: Imprinter by Ihon Daie: ouer Aldersgate, 1575), 95-96, 204-208. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; marginal side headers cited; marginal Scripture references cited inline; footnote values and content mine; and underlining mine.]

[Note: John Foxe, the famous historian and martyrologist was clearly a classic Augustinian believing in both unconditional election and Christ’s dying for and bearing the of all men.]


1Archaic word for conclusion of a speech.

2Archaic word for grief or sorrow.


§ 2. The love of God to the world the origin of the plan of salvation.

There is another idea to which I wish for a little to turn your attention on this part of the subject. The love in which the economy of salvation originates, is love to the world. “God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son.” The term “world,” is here just equivalent to mankind. It seems to be used by our Lord with a reference to the very limited and exclusive views of the Jews. They thought God loved them, and hated all the other nations of mankind. These were their own feelings, and they foolishly thought that God was altogether such an one as themselves. They accordingly expected that the Messiah was to come to deliver Israel, and to punish and destroy the other nations of the earth. But “God’s ways were not their ways, nor his thoughts their thoughts. As the heavens are high above the earth, so were his ways above their ways, and his thoughts above their thoughts.”87

Some have supposed that the word “world” here, is descriptive, not of mankind generally, but of the whole of a particular class, that portion of mankind who, according to the Divine purpose of mercy, shall ultimately become partakers of the salvation of Christ. But this is to give to the term a meaning altogether unwarranted by the usage of Scripture. There can be no doubt in the mind of a person who understands the doctrine of personal election, that those who are actually saved are the objects of a special love on the part of God; and that the oblation of the Savior had a special design in reference to them. But there can be as little doubt, that the atonement of Christ has a general reference to mankind at large; and that it was intended as a display of love on the part of God to our guilty race. Not merely was the atonement offered by Christ Jesus sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, but it was intended and fitted to remove out of the way of the salvation of sinners generally, every bar which the perfections of the Divine moral character, and the principles of the Divine moral government, presented. Without that atonement, no sinner could have been pardoned in consistency with justice. In consequence of that atonement, every sinner may be, and if he believe in Jesus certainly shall be, pardoned and saved. Through the medium of this atonement, the Divine Being is revealed to sinners, indiscriminately, as gracious and ready to forgive; and the invitations and promises warranting men to confide in Christ for salvation, are addressed to all, and are true and applicable to all without exception or restriction. The revelation of mercy made in the Gospel, refers to men as sinners, not as elect sinners. Their election, or their non-election, is something of which, when called on to believe the Gospel, they are necessarily entirely ignorant, and with which they have nothing to do. ” The kindness and love of God toward man,” the Divine philanthropy, is revealed. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” He appears in the revelation of mercy as the God who “has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” ” The grace of God” revealed in the Gospel ” brings salvation to all,” without exception, who in the faith of the truth will receive it.88

I am persuaded that the doctrine of personal election is very plainly taught in Scripture; but I am equally persuaded that the minister misunderstands that doctrine who finds it, in the least degree, hampering him in presenting a full and a free salvation as the gift of God to every one who hears the Gospel; and that the man abuses the doctrine who finds in it anything which operates as a barrier in the way of his receiving, as a sinner, all the blessings of the Christian salvation, in the belief of the truth. Indeed, when rightly understood, it can have no such effect. For what is that doctrine, but just this, in other words,–It is absolutely certain that a vast multitude of the race of man shall be saved through Christ?’ And it is as certain, that if any one of those to whom that salvation is offered, remains destitute of it, and perishes eternally, it is entirely owing to his own obstinate refusal of what is freely, honestly, presented to him. The kindness of God, as manifested in the gift of his Son, is kindness to the race of man; and when, as an individual, I credit the kindness of God to man, so strangely displayed, so abundantly proved, I cannot find any reason why I should not depend on this kindness, and expect to be saved even as others.

Whenever a man hesitates about placing his dependence on the mercy of God, because he is not sure whether he be elected or not, he gives clear evidence that he does not yet understand the Gospel. He does not apprehend “the manifestation of the love of God to man.” When he sees God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, “he does not need to ask, Is the plan of mercy such as I am warranted to embrace? may I not somehow be excluded from availing myself of it? These, and similar suggestions, which draw away his mind from the voice of God to the speculations of his own mind, are no more regarded.” He sees God rich in mercy, ready to forgive; just, and the justifier of the ungodly. He cannot but place his confidence in him. ” Jehovah,” as it has been happily said, “by the manifestation of what he has done, especially in sending Christ, and delivering him up, the just in the room of the unjust, pleads his own cause with such subduing pathos, that there is no more power of resistance; but the person, who is the object of the demonstration, yields himself up to the authority and glory of the truth.”89 The sinner, thus cordially believing the Gospel, gladly and gratefully receives “the Savior of the world” as his Savior, and trusts that by the grace of God he shall partake of “the common salvation.” John Brown of Broughton, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1854), 49-51. [Some spelling modernized; footnotes and values original; and underlining mine.]

87Isa. iv. 8, 9.

88Tit, iii, 4, 2 Cor. v. 19. Ezek, xxxiii, 11. 1 Tim. ii, 3, 4. Tit. ii. 11

89Hogg of Alyth–View of the Economy of Grace, pp. 14, 15.


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“Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men.”—Proverbs 8:4.

( 1) THESE are the words of wisdom; and wisdom in the book of Proverbs is none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is evident from chapter 1, verse 23, where He says, “Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you”; but it is Christ alone who has the gift of the Holy Spirit. And again, from 8:22, where He says, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way”; and verse 30: “Then I was by him as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” These words are true of none but of Jesus Christ, the Word that was with God, and was God, by whom all things were made.

(2) The places He goes to with the invitation.–First, He goes to the country. He climbs every eminence, and cries there; then He descends to the highway where many roads meet. Second, He goes to the city. He begins at the gates, where the people are assembled to make bargains and hear causes; then He proceeds along the principal avenue into the city, and cries in at every door as He passes. He first goes out into the highways and hedges, then goes into the streets and lanes of the city, carrying the blessed message.

(3) Observe the manner in which He invites.–He cries aloud, He puts forth the voice, He stands and cries, He calls and lifts up His voice, He seems like some merchant offering his wares, first in the market, and then from door to door. Never did busy crier offer to sell his goods with such anxiety as Jesus offers His salvation; verse 10: “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.”

(4) Observe to whom the invitation is addressed.–Verse 4: “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men.” Merchants only offer their goods to certain classes of the people that will buy; but Jesus offers His to all men. Wherever there is a son of Adam, wherever there is one born of woman, the word is addressed to him: he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Doctrine.–Christ offers Himself as a Savior to all of the human race.

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(2) We beseech you in Christ’s stead, to accept of him; for, we dare say, he is worthy of your acceptance, worthy for whom ye should do this thing. He is the “only begotten of the Father,” and is possessed of all the glorious perfections of the Father; he is the “express image of his person,” the “the image of the invisible God.” And as upon account of his personal excellencies, so upon account of the good offices he has done you, he deserves good treatment at your hand. He has honored your nature, by joining it to his own, in a glorious and mystical personal union. He has given the most pregnant proof of matchless love to lost sinners: he left the Father’s bosom, to bring them there; he died, that they might live; he suffered, that they might be saved. In a word, all the perfections of the divine nature, all the perfections of yore own, all the wounds, every drop of blood of the crucified Savior of the world, all the tears shed, all the drops of blood in his agonies did sweat for the relief of poor sinners; all cry with one voice, “Sinners, we beseech you, believe on the Lord Jesus.” Can you refuse what is craved by such a one?

(3) We pray you, by the “mercies of God,” in the “bowels of our Lord Jesus,” believe on him, accept of him; for his heart is upon this request. Nothing more acceptable to him, than a compliance with this call; he laid the foundation of this offer we make to you, in his own blood; he wept at sinner’s folly, that would not comply with it; he has instituted a gospel ministry for this very end, and has been, if I may so speak, at a vast expense of gifts and grace for the maintenance of this his own ordinance. He has given them most peremptory orders, to call you, to beseech you, to command, to threaten, nay, to compel you to a compliance. Will ye refuse our Master that request he has so much at heart?

(4) We beseech you, accept of him now, grant our request, as ye would have yours granted by him, at that day when ye shall be obliged to supplicate him, standing before his bar, as panels before the Judge of all the earth. None shall have their request granted in that day, who will not grant ours now. Will ye not then hear our Master now?

(5) We beseech you, in the name of all the glorious Trinity, to grant our demands. We are ambassadors for Christ, and God doth beseech you by us. God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, do all join in the supplication. Never were there such three names at a supplication, never such three hands at a petition. O sinners! what hearts have ye, if ye can refuse the desire, the supplication, the entreaties of a whole Trinity? All the love of the Father, all the grace of the Son, and all the blessings that are enjoyed by communion with the Holy Ghost, all plead with you for your compliance. Can ye refuse us, then, O sinners, O rocks, O hearts harder than rocks?

(6) Once more, we beseech you, be ye reconciled to God, accept of, and believe on our Lord Jesus Christ; for we assure you, in our great Master’s name, he is no ordinary supplicant. He never came with such a supplication to the fallen angels; he never came with it to many nations of the world, who would, we make no doubt, welcome it, if they new it, and had it. Kings are not ordinary petitioners, and therefore it is no wonder they take ill with a repulse.

Now, O sinners! what answer shall we give to him that sent us? what return shall we give to our Master? Shall we say, that we came to the congregation of Ceres, that we showed his commission, told our errand, in his name supplicated for a compliance with his demand? But that ye would not hear him, though we besought you in his name, by all the ties of reason, self-preservation, interest, and gratitude, by the glorious work of Christ, by all the marks of his love to mankind, by all his concern for sinners; that we had a whole Trinity seconding us, and that we met with a refusal? Are ye willing that we take witness upon this refusal, and, in our Master’s name, protest that this our reasonable, nay, advantageous request, was refused? It is a wonder that ever the commands of God should be disobeyed; but it is yet a greater, that ever the request, the entreaty of a God should be denied. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, God beseeching! and man refusing!

Thomas Halyburton, The Great Concern of Salvation, (Philadelphia: Printed by William Marshall, 1801), 280-281.