"Typical of Keach’s evangelistic appeals to the unconverted is the following":
"Come, venture your souls on Christ’s righteousness; Christ is able to save you though you are ever so great sinners. Come to Him, throw yourselves at the feet of Jesus. Look to Jesus, who came to seek and save them that were lost. . .You may have the water of life freely. Do not say, “I want qualifications or a meekness to come to Christ.” Sinner, dost thou thirst? Dost thou see a want of righteousness? ‘Tis not a righteousness; but ‘tis a sense of the want of righteousness, which is rather the qualification thou shouldst look at. Christ hath righteousness sufficient to clothe you, bread of life to feed you, grace to adorn you. Whatever you want, it is to be had in Him. We tell you there is help in Him, salvation in Him. “Through the propitiation in His blood” you must be justified, and that by faith alone."
This was said by one who helped write the Old Confessions, one who was a "five point Calvinist." It was written by one who "denied Arminianism." Yet, we see that he found it not inconsistent with Calvinism to preach the gospel to all men and call and invite them to Christ for salvation.
In Keach's invitation, a writer has well said:"Here we see Puritan evangelism at its best: cleaving to Christ alone for Salvation, and intensely desirous that others might truly know this joy." (www.the-highway.com/articleFeb06.html)
This was a heated issue among the various groups that made up the first generation of the "anti-mission movement," this issue of whether any may preach evangelistically to the lost as had the Baptist forefathers of the Old Confessions. Let us hear again from Hardshell "founding father," Elder Beebe.
"Invitations of the Gospel" - By Gilbert Beebe
"...our views in regard to what are called the invitations of the gospel; whether they are addressed indiscriminately to sinners or exclusively to the quickened children of God. We learn from the letter that some of our esteemed brethren are differing seriously on the subject."
But there had really been little disagreement regarding "invitations" of the gospel among Baptists of the 17th & 18th centuries. It was not till after the death of John Gill that some began to go into extreme views on the gospel. This statement by Beebe shows that the first generation of anti-mission Baptists were not all of the "ultraists," "hyper-straight-laced," Parkerite," "Antinomian," type.
Some believed that gospel invitations were scriptural and that the invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 was addressed to all sinners. Beebe even calls them "esteemed brethren." I suppose he might include Elders Watson, Clark and G. Thompson? They believed in invitations to the lost.
Beebe says further:
"Such passages as Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” etc. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” The marriage of the king’s son: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Also the first and eighth of Proverbs. Some brethren take the position that these are invitations to sinners indiscriminately, and others contend that these are invitations addressed only to the children of God."So clearly, some of Beebe's "esteemed brethren" believed in giving invitations to "every creature." These would be what we would call Sovereign Grace Missionary Bapists who stood against the "board system" and against all missionary endeavors outside the control of the local church.
Beebe writes further:
"In giving our views we beg leave to differ, very respectfully, however, from both parties. We deny that there are any invitations, either in the law or gospel, to saints or sinners. We think that a little reflection on the subject will satisfy all honest inquirers after truth that it would be altogether incompatible with the eternal perfections of Jehovah to issue invitations to any of His creatures."
"...none of the communications from God to men are anywhere in the Bible called invitations, and it is therefore speculative and idle to argue theologically a position or question which has no scriptural foundation..."
"Will any of our brethren contend that when the God of heaven peremptorily says to the seed of Israel, “Seek ye my face,” that they have a right to disobey or regard it only as a mere invitation? If He says to them, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else,” does this imply that the people thus addressed have the same right to decline it as an invitation to obey it as a sovereign mandate from the throne of God? Since God has commanded men to look to him for salvation, have they a right to look anywhere else for that salvation? If there be any authority implied in the address it destroys the nature of the invitation. Indeed, we cannot, without detraction from a proper sense of the eternal power and majesty of Jehovah, entertain the preposterous idea that He deals in invitations to any of His creatures in heaven, earth or hell."
One would guess, from the above writing, that Beebe believed in commanding all men to come to Christ, to look to the Lord for salvation, without stooping to put it into the form of an invitation, but, today's Hardshells will not generally acknowledge that all men are either commanded or invited to come to Christ or look to God for salvation! Beebe took the erroneous view that the gospel cannot contain what is both a command and an invitation. But I will have more to say on this shortly.
Finally, Beebe wrote:"The passage, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” etc. is sufficiently clear and explicit. It is addressed to all who labor and are heavy laden, and to no others; and whenever and wherever these words are applied by the Holy Spirit to any poor, laboring, heavy laden sinner, that sinner will as surely come to Jesus as it is sure that the dead will rise when the voice of God calls them forth.
The dead neither labor nor are they heavy laden, they slumber unconsciously in their graves; and all men are dead in sin, and as destitute of spiritual vitality until they are quickened by the Spirit, as the body of Lazurus was of natural life before Jesus raised him from the grave. But as soon as a sinner is quickened by the Holy Ghost he becomes a laborer, and is burdened with a heavy weight of guilt, and such are called to Jesus and find rest to their souls in bearing His yoke, which is easy, and His burden, which is light."
"Brethren should be careful to avoid any interpretation of the Scriptures which will clash with other plain declarations of the inspired word. We may fail to comprehend or understand some portions of the divine testimony, but our ignorance will not justify us in forcing interpretations which must necessarily conflict with the teachings of the word and the Spirit of the Lord."
"Review your own experiences, see if in your own salvation you only accepted an invitation and availed yourself of it to secure your acceptance with God, or were you awakened to a sensibility of your guilt, lost and helpless condition by the irresistible and almighty power of God? Was it left optional with you to decide whether you would live or die, when the arrows of the Almighty you were arrested and arraigned before the bar of eternal justice? Why did you there cry, “Lord, save, I perish?” Why did you not say, “Lord, I will accept thy invitation.”
(MIDDLETOWN, NY MARCH 1, 1863) http://www.pb.org/pbwrite.html
There are a number of errors in what Beebe has above written. I will address the false interpretation that he and most neo-Hardshells advance on Matthew 11:28-30 on who is the person identified as "laboring," and "thristy," and "heavily burdened," and who is "weary," in the next couple chapters as I conclude this important section of this book.
I will now note, however, a belief that was expressed by Beebe, in the above citations, and one that was the general view of the first generation of Hardshells (or "Ultraists") which made the post "regeneration" work of "conversion" also an irresistable work of God as is "regeneration" itself. He said: "whenever and wherever these words are applied by the Holy Spirit to any poor, laboring, heavy laden sinner, that sinner will as surely come to Jesus as it is sure that the dead will rise when the voice of God calls them forth."
That is a view that is only believed today by what is known as the "Absoluter" faction, those who believe that all things are predestined of God, both good and evil, and who believe that every good work of the believer is owing to the sovereign work of God's grace, not being "conditional." Again I say, this was the common view of the first generation of Hardshells. It gradually lost the majority opinion, like the view that the gospel, though perhaps not a means in regeneration, nevertheless was to be preached to all men, and that all were to be commanded and invited to Christ.
Beebe's view that it was a prior "regeneration" and "quickening" that produced the "burdens" on the one in Matthew 11:28-30, and that produced the sense of guilt and condemnation, that produced the "laboring" mentioned, with its "weariness" of soul, is now the common interpretation of today's PB's, but it was "not so in the beginning."
But, again I will take this up in the next chapters.
A.W. Pink wrote:"Concerning the character and contents of the Gospel the utmost confusion prevails today. The Gospel is not an "offer" to be bandied around by evangelical peddlers. The Gospel is no mere invitation but a proclamation, a proclamation concerning Christ; true whether men believe it or not. No man is asked to believe that Christ died for him in particular. The Gospel, in brief, is this: Christ died for sinners, you are a sinner, believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. In the Gospel God simply announces the terms upon which men may be saved (namely, repentance and faith) and, indiscriminately, all are commanded to fulfill them." (1929 edition of the Sovereignty of God)
Pink was fighting an extreme in how some men "offer Christ." But he did not "throw out the baby with the bath water"! Here is one of his "invitations":
"Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight. 'Come, for all things are now ready.'" (Studies in the Scriptures 1927)
He then writes:
"Particular redemption (Christ making atonement for the sins of his own people only) must not prevent his servants from preaching the gospel to every creature and announcing that there is a Savior for every sinner out of hell who appropriates him for his own." (Studies in the Scriptures March 1951)"Unto the objection that to call upon the unregenerate to turn from the world and come to Christ is to inculate creature-ability and to feed self righteousness, we ask, Were Christ and his Spirit-taught apostles ignorant of this danger? Were men so mightily used of God as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and C.H. Spurgeon wrong, when , in promiscuously exhorting all their hearers to flee from the wrath to come, they followed the example of John the Baptist and the Son of God?"
(Quoted by Iain Murray in the Life of Arthur Pink BOT p.232 On Preaching Human Responsibility) (http://www.oldtruth.com/calvinism/gospeloffercalvinists.html)
Amen, brother Pink!
Now that we have heard again from Beebe, let us cite one of his "esteemed brothers," one who lived in his day and with whom he claimed "fellowship," from Elder Grigg Thompson again.
In writing upon "THE SECOND BIRTH" and upon the text - " Marvel not that I said unto thee. Ye must be born again; " John, iii, 7, in the book "The Primitive Preacher," Chapter Three, Thompson wrote:
"There are many things spoken "by the Savior to his disciples, and written by the apostles in their epistles to the churches, that apply to Christians, and to Christians only. In explaining scriptures it is important that we should notice to whom the address is made, and apply the instructions and comforts to such characters or persons as the speaker or writer was addressing."
That is exactly what every Hardshell must do, with honesty of heart, if he ever wants to know the truth on this matter of preaching the gospel to "every creature." He must look at the preaching of the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostles and New Testament evangelists, for the example and pattern for how to "preach the gospel to every creature."
From the previous chapter it was noted how, in the middle of the 18th century, when the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists began, through the efforts of Gadsby, actually wrote Hyper-Calvinism into their confessions and deed restrictions. And what did they say about these examples of evangelistic preaching? They ignored it! Overlooked it! Affirmed that it did not belong to them! If these are not our examples and patterns for preaching today, then where are we to get them? Do these "hypers" not admit that they do not preach as did Christ and the apostles? See how they indict themselves? See how blind they are to the evil of their opposition to this kind of scriptural preaching? How can they claim to be either biblical or the truly "Primitive" or "Old" Baptists?
Thompson says further:
Against whom is Thompson arguing? Who does what he is condemning? He is seeking, seemingly, to fight against those who preach to "every creature." However, he was one that believed, like Elder Watson and Clark, that he was to preach to "every creature" and bid them "come" to Christ for salvation. I can only speculate that he was fighting a "straw man" when he charged the "mission Baptists" with indiscriminately telling all men that they are already saved. That is just a falsehood and misrepresentation. No one takes the gospel promises of eternal life and unconditionally applies them to every creature except the Universalists. Thompson does not seem to be condemning Universalism here, however. I would ask Thompson, were he here today, "are you, when you call upon every creature to look to Jesus for salvation, also not, by your argumentation, telling every creature that they will be saved, and applying gospel promises to them all?"
Thankfully, Thompson wrote this next:
"But there are scriptures that have a universal application to all the sons and daughters of Adam, and we should labor to enforce their solemn truths upon the minds of all. My text (John 3:7 above) belongs to this class of Scripture, and teaches a great truth applicable to every man and woman belonging to the human family, be they great or small, rich or poor, learned or unlearned. If they are born of Christian parents, reared up under religious instruction, trained up in the Sabbath-school, and human skill exerted upon them to form the religious character, however good the character may be, and how ever much and closely the forms of religion may be observed, the truth of my text still stands in all its solemn force: "Ye must be born again.""
"Who it is that must be born again. It looks like there could be no difference of opinion on this point, for Nicodemus was the man addressed, and evidently the man that must be born again."
"...it was Nicodemus to whom he was talking, and Nicodemus, the Pharisee, he meant. If not so, why should he say to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again?""
It is argued by Hardshells, especially the present generation, that there are no commands or warnings given to the spiritually unborn about them being spiritually born. Thompson does not seem to agree with this view. Nor did the Savior, obviously.
My dad and I have discussed this verse more than once. I think it denies many a false Hardshell premise about how men are saved, about how we may speak to those who give every evidence of not being saved, etc.
Most Hardshells, if they are honest, have sensed the difficulty from this conversation Christ had with Nicodemus. If Nicodemus was not yet "born from above," then Christ gave us the example of our being able to say, on his behalf and in his stead, to men like Nicodemus, "you must be born again." Few will take the view of Thompson, although it be the obvious scriptural view. Most today will argue, from Hardshell "logic," that Nicodemus was already born again! They will argue this in spite of the fact that Nicodemus was totally unaware of it! In fact, some will even use this to prove that the true mission of preachers is to find those, like Nicodemus (presumably), who are born again of the Spirit but do not yet know it! In fact, I heard one Hardshell argue that the words "you must be born again," addressed to Nicodemus, was a declarative statement meant to affirm Nicodemus' "new birth"! Jesus used these words like one would say - "You must be Steve Garrett"!
Wrote C.C. Morris, present day Hardshell:
"Nicodemus' coming to Jesus was evidence that he had a prior hungering and thirsting which only Jesus, as the bread and water of life, could satisfy. Christ's statement to him, "...ye must be born again," is plural, not singular. (If it had been singular, the King James Version's translators would have rendered this as, "You must be born again.") Nicodemus was a representative of the group--God's elect--which must, as a class, be born again."
"You" did not exclude Nicodemus!
This is ironic as concerns hermeneutics, seeing both Beebe and Thompson gave us statements (above) relative to rules of Bible Interpretation! But more on Hardshell hermeneutics later.It has also been argued that Nicodemus was already a child of God, already born again, because he "came to Jesus" (though seemingly it was cowardly, for he came "at night" when he might not be seen) and because he confessed that he believed that Jesus "was a teacher come from God." They do this in spite of the fact, as Thompson pointed out, that Jesus said to Nicodemus that he must be born again, showing that he was not at that time born again or regenerated. He may have started to come, as old John Bunyan would say, but who had not yet fully come to him!
Thompson says further:
"...it is when spiritual life is given to the sinner that he is quickened into spiritual sensibilities, and spiritual thirsts and desires are begotten in the soul. This life is in Christ, and he gives it to the sinner, and by its quickening, regenerating, and resurrecting power the sinner is born a second time, resurrected from his death in sin, and holy desires, spiritual appetites, and thirstings are begotten in his soul. With this view the doctrine becomes an interesting one, and applies to me, and to you, and to every other sinner. 0, that this solemn truth may ever be before our eyes, and in our hearts: "The sinner must be born again or sink to endless woe.""
In the previous quotation by Beebe, and of the one to follow from Grigg Thompson, it seems that this error on the nature of conviction (that it is a sure proof of regeneration) is as old as their view that "regeneration" is "without the means of the gospel," without a knowledge and mental faith and trust in Christ.
Certainly there are new thirsts, new appetites, arising from having been born of God. The question is precisely this hower; does this mean that every time we read of someone who is spiritually hungry and thirsty, who is heavily burdened down with a guilty conscience, one who is yet yoked up with sin and Satan, one who is laboring in sin, as in Matthew 11:28-30, that such an one is already "saved," "born again," and "alive in Christ"? Again, I will address this doctrinally more in the next two concluding chapters.Elder Grigg Thompson said:
"We are not of that people who were never called to preach to sinners. The command we have received from our King is, " Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." But we are nowhere commanded to prepare their hearts to receive it, but he that can prepare their hearts has promised to be with us always. With this promise, we go sowing the seed, and leaving the event with him who can prepare the heart for its reception, and fertilize it so that a crop can be produced, to his honor and glory."
Again, we can but ask - "against whom is Elder Thompson arguing?" Who is it that believes that the scriptures teach that we must "prepare the heart" for the reception of the gospel and the life of Christ? It seems that he was one who, early on, helped to foment the practice of "charging more on your opponents than what they actually believe," a tactic meant to bias the mind, a tactic that the Hardshells would continue to use as part of their proselyting methods, and part of their "debate tactics," or apologetic methods against the Mission Baptists. If you believe, like the Old Baptists of the Confessions, in saying to all men, "Come to Jesus for salvation," you are "taking the children's bread and giving it to dogs" or "casting pearls before swine"! If you believe, like Dr. Watson and Elder Clark, that we have a warrant, command, and right to "invite" all to believe in Jesus, repent of their sins, and to be "converted," then you are, by the above Hardshell tactic, also guilty of believing Arminianism!
Thompson is clearly, as did Elder Watson, attacking not only the "mission Baptists," whom he falsely charges with believing things they do not, but also attacks his "ultraists" brethren who do not feel obligated to "preach the gospel to sinners." Were he alive today he would see that all the "Primitives" or "Old Schoolers" have taken the "ultraist" view and that they would call his preaching to sinners "Arminianism"!
Andrew Fuller is a man much maligned and slandered by the Hyper-Calvinists, against whom he had much written. Most of the verbal attacks by the Hardshells, and other "Hypers," against Fuller, were targeted against his view of the atonement, a view which said that the atonement was, in some sense, universal in its nature.
Few attacks were made against his view that the gospel is to be preached to all men and the general call was the means the Spirit used to internally call. I will have more to say along this line in later chapters dealing with Fuller and the slanders made against him.
Dr. Fuller wrote:
"WHEN the following pages were written, (1781),- the author had no intention of publishing them. He had formerly entertained different sentiments. For some few years, however, he had begun to doubt whether all his principles on these subjects were Scriptural. These doubts arose chiefly from thinking on some passages of Scripture, particularly the latter part of the second Psalm, where kings, who "set themselves against the Lord, and against his Anointed," are positively commanded to "kiss the Son"; also the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, who, he found, did not hesitate to address unconverted sinners, and that in the most pointed manner-saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."-"Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." And it appeared to him there must be a most unwarrantable force put upon these passages to make them mean any other repentance and faith than such as are connected with salvation."
Every Hardshell ought to read Fuller! It is no accident that their people have been biased against even reading or hearing what he has to say! In logic and rhetoric, this is called "poisoning the well."
"To poison the well is to commit a pre-emptive ad hominem strike against an argumentative opponent." (www.fallacyfiles.org/poiswell.html)
Yes, the second Psalm does present all kinds of problems for Hardshells like Hassell, Durand, and today's Hardshells! "Kiss the Son," that has got to mean, believe on him, adore him, etc. Is that not salvation? But, who is being told to do this? Not regenerated people, as Fuller saw for himself!
He also speaks of his scriptural look at the preaching of the first Baptist and saw that it overthrew the views of the "Hypers" for John called upon all men to repent and believe.
Thirdly, he mentiones the preaching of Christ and the apostles as more proofs to him that such preaching was the norm and that those who do not preach this way do not preach the gospel, the same thing Elder Watson has said.
I will have more to say on these scriptural examples in the next two chapters, but for now will continue to look at this issue historically.
Fuller wrote again:
"First, There is no dispute about the doctrine of election, or any of the discriminating doctrines of grace. They are allowed on both sides and it is granted that none ever did or ever will believe in Christ but those who are chosen of God from eternity."
It is a complete slander for the Hardshells to have accused Fuller of being an "Arminian"! He absolutely was not! He believed in eternal unconditional election! But, he also believed in means! He is representative of the historic view of the Particular Baptists who wrote the historic Baptist confessions (and the one that most Baptist churches in America, in the 18th and 19th centuries accepted) and wrote against the new minority who were going to extremes on Calvinism and beginning to deny that the gospel was to be preached to all and that it was a means in regeneration.
He writes further:
"Secondly, Neither is there any dispute concerning who ought to be encouraged to consider themselves as entitled to the blessings of the gospel. Though sinners be freely invited to the participation of spiritual blessings; yet they have no interest in them, according to God's revealed will, while they continue in unbelief; nor is it any part of the design of these pages to persuade them to believe that they have. On the contrary, the writer is fully convinced that, whatever be the secret purpose of God concerning them, they are at present under the curse."
Again, it is a typical "straw man" argument by Hardshells, past and present, against those who believe in preaching the gospel to "every creature," to charge them with also believing that gospel blessings are being promised to unbelievers! That is just a total misrepresentation!
Fuller addresses such folly with great force. If you preach the gospel "to" every creature, but you tell them that only those who believe, repent, and are converted, will be saved, and that all the promised blessings belong only to those creatures who believe, then you are not "giving that which is holy unto dogs," as the Hardshells falsely charge.
Who, other than "Universalists," take the "promises of the gospel," the promise of eternal life, and indiscriminately applies them to both believer and unbeliever? To preach the gospel to all men is not to tell all men that they are already saved! A smokescreen! Red Herring! Straw man! A misrepresentation, for sure.
Fuller again wrote:
"Thirdly, The question is not whether men are bound to do any thing more than the law requires, but whether the law, as the invariable standard of right and wrong, does not require every man cordially to embrace whatever God reveals; in other words, whether love to God, with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, does not include a cordial reception of whatever plan he shall at any period of time disclose."
Anyone who has to "lock horns" with the stubborn "straight-laced" Hardshells will need to keep this question in the forefront. Will the Hardshells of today come forward and tell us if the law of God demands a belief in the revelation of the gospel? Is the command to believe the gospel, the record of Christ, not universal? Why are the elect only under obligation to believe gospel truth but not the non-elect?
Fuller elaborates further:"Fourthly, The question is not whether men are required to believe any more than is reported in the gospel, or any thing that is not true; but whether that which is reported ought not to be believed with all the heart, and whether this be not saving faith."
How can the Hardshells reasonably deny this in light of what the scriptures teach thereon? How can a sinner be condemned eternally for the sin of not believing in Christ and the gospel if they be not under obligation to do so? By modern Hardshell "logic" and belief, the non-elect commit no sin when they reject Christ!
Fuller continues, saying:"Fifthly, It is no part of the controversy whether unconverted sinners be able to turn to God, and to embrace the gospel; but what kind of inability they lie under with respect to these exercises; whether it consists in the want of natural powers and advantages, or merely in the want of a heart to make a right use of them. If the former, obligation, it is granted, would be set aside; but if the latter, it remains in full force. They that are in the flesh cannot please God; but it does not follow that they are not obliged to do so; and this their obligation requires to be clearly insisted on, that they may be convinced of their sin, and so induced to embrace the gospel remedy."
Again, he just hammers away at the false deductions that Hypers have attempted to make from scriptures that speak of man's inability. This point has however been addressed much already by Brother Ross and myself.
Said Fuller again:
"Sixthly, The question is not whether faith be required of sinners as a virtue, which, if complied with, shall be the ground of their acceptance with God, or that on account of which they may be justified in his sight; but whether it be not required as the appointed means of salvation. The righteousness of Jesus believed in is the only ground of justification, but faith in him is necessary to our being interested in it. We remember the fatal example of the Jews, which the apostle Paul holds up to our view. "The Gentiles," saith he, "' who followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, who followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumblingstone."
It is the burden of men like Fuller, Spurgeon, Ross and myself, in fighting Hyper-Calvinism, that we are often having to deal with the false charges that are made by the "Hypers." They are often calling people "Arminians" who are obviously not. In fact, their view is that everyone is an "Arminian" who believes in gospel means!
Here is another example! People who preach that we are "saved by faith" are charged with believing that God saves them on account of a "faith" they have manufactured themselves! Again, none of the historic Calvinistic Means Baptists, like Keach, Gill, Fuller, and Spurgeon, believe what is here charged!
Fuller again continues:
"Finally, The question is not whether unconverted sinners be the subjects of exhortation, but whether they ought to be exhorted to perform spiritual duties. It is beyond all dispute that the Scriptures do exhort them to many things. If, therefore, there be any professors of Christianity who question the propriety of this, and who would have nothing said to them, except that, "if they be elected they will be called," they are not to be reasoned with, but rebuked, as setting themselves in direct opposition to the word of God. The greatest part of those who may differ from the author on these subjects, it is presumed, will admit the propriety of sinners being exhorted to duty; only this duty must, as they suppose, be confined to merely natural exercises, or such as may be complied with by a carnal heart, destitute of the love of God. It is one design of the following pages to show that God requires the heart, the whole heart, and nothing but the heart; that all the precepts of the Bible are only the different modes in which we are required to express our love to him; that, instead of its being true that sinners are obliged to perform duties which have no spirituality in them, there are no such duties to be performed; and that, so far from their being exhorted to every thing excepting what is spiritually good, they are exhorted to nothing else. The Scriptures undoubtedly require them to read, to hear, to repent, and to pray, that their sins may be forgiven them. It is not, however, in the exercise of a carnal, but of a spiritual state of mind, that these duties are performed." (Preface to "The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation") (http://www.siteone.com/)
Fuller also wrote the following:
"Were you to read many of Calvin's sermons, without knowing who was the author, you would be led, from the views you appear at present to entertain, to pronounce him an Arminian; neither would Goodwin, nor Owen, nor Charnock, nor Flavel, nor Bunyan, escape the charge. These men believed and preached the doctrines of grace: but not in such a way as to exclude exhortations to the unconverted to repent and believe in Jesus Christ."
I think, as did Elder John Clark, that it is these "Hypers" who are really the "Arminians"! "Sublimated Arminians" he called them!
The above citations are from Andrew Fuller's writing to a hyper Calvinist: Complete Works of Andrew Fuller. London 1841 p.889)(http://www.oldtruth.com/calvinism/gospeloffercalvinists.html)
In the past chapter I cited several remarks from Spurgeon against the Hyper-Calvinists who were present in his day, against the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists, against the Hardshells, and now want to cite him further.
"Brethren, the command to believe in Christ must be the sinner’s warrant, if you consider the nature of our commission. How runs it? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It ought to run, according to the other [Hyper Calvinist] plan, "preach the gospel to every regenerate person, to every convinced sinner, to every sensible soul." But it is not so; it is to "every creature." But unless the warrant be a something in which every creature can take a share, there is no such thing as consistently preaching it to every creature." (Sermon on 1 John 3:23 entitled: "The warrant of Faith." Contains an exposure of the hyper Calvinist position
And again he says:
"A yet further charge against us is, that we dare not preach the gospel to the unregenerate, that, in fact, our theology is so narrow and cramped that we cannot preach to sinners. Gentlemen, if you dare to say this, I would take you to any library in the world where the old Puritan fathers are stored up, and I would let you take down any one volume and tell me if you ever read more telling exhortations and addresses to sinners in any of your own books. Did not Bunyan plead with sinners, and whoever classed him with any but the Calvinists? Did not Charnock, Goodwin, and how we agonize for souls, and what were they but Calvinists? Did not Jonathan Edwards preach to sinners, and who more clear and explicit on these doctrinal matters. The works of our innumerable divines teem with passionate appeals to the unconverted. Oh, sirs, if I should begin the list, time should fail me. It is an indisputable fact that we have labored more than they all for the winning of souls. Was George Whitfield any the less seraphic? Did his eyes weep the fewer tears or his bowels move with the less compassion because he believed in God’s electing love and preached the sovereignty of the Most High? It is an unfounded calumny. Our souls are not stony; our bowels are not withdrawn from the compassion which we ought to feel for our fellow-men; we can hold all our views firmly, and yet can weep as Christ did over a Jerusalem which was certainly to be destroyed. Again, I must say, I am not defending certain brethren who have exaggerated Calvinism. I speak of Calvinism proper, not that which has run to seed, and outgrown its beauty and verdure. I speak of it as I find it in Calvin’s Institutes, and especially in his Expositions. I have read them carefully. I take not my views of Calvinism from common repute but from his books. Nor do I, in thus speaking, even vindicate Calvinism as if I cared for the name, but I mean that glorious system which teaches that salvation is of grace from first to last. And again, then, I say it is an utterly unfounded charge that we dare not preach to sinners." (Opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle - a series of sermons on the doctrines of grace)
And again he eloquently says:
"In the second place we observe from the text that the invitation is very wide — WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." How wide is this invitation! There are some ministers who are afraid to invite sinners, then why are they ministers! for they are afraid to perform the most important part of the sacred office. There was a time I must confess when I somewhat faltered when about to give a free invitation. My doctrinal sentiments did at that time somewhat hamper me. I boldly avow that I am unchanged as to the doctrines I have preached; I preach Calvinism as high, as stern, and as sound as ever; but I do feel, and always did feel an anxiety to invite sinners to Christ. And I do feel also, that not only is such a course consistent with the soundest doctrines, but that the other course is after all the unsound one, and has no title whatever to plead Scripture on its behalf.
There has grown up in many Baptist churches an idea that none are to be called to Christ but what they call sensible sinners. I sometimes rebut that by remarking, that I call stupid sinners to Christ as well as sensible sinners, and that stupid sinners make by far the greatest proportion of the ungodly. But I glory in the avowal that I preach Christ even to insensible sinners — that I would say even to the dry bones of the valley, as Ezekiel did, "Ye dry bones live!" doing it as an act of faith; not faith in the power of those that hear to obey the command, but faith in the power of God who gives the command to give strength also to those addressed, that they may be constrained to obey it. But now listen to my text; for here, at least, there is no limitation. But sensible or insensible, all that the text saith is, "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." (Sermon on Revelation 22:17 entitled: 'Come and Welcome' 1859) (http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=31147681&postID=4429687122522247012)
In closing this chapter I want to give additional thoughts on this topic from James I. Packer. He discusses how, contrary to the views of Beebe, the Bible evangelists were "...urging upon them (sinners) the command to repent and believe in the form of a compassionate invitation to pity themselves and choose life!"
He says further:
"It is the glory of these invitations that it is an omnipotent King who gives them, just as it is a chief part of the glory of the enthroned Christ that He condescends still to utter them. And it is the glory of the gospel ministry that the preacher goes to men as Christ's ambassador, charged to deliver the King's invitation personally to every sinner present and to summon them all to turn and live. Owen himself enlarges on this in a passage addressed to the unconverted."
"Consider the infinite condescension and love of Christ, in his invitations and calls of you to come unto him for life, deliverance, mercy, grace, peace and eternal salvation. Multitudes of these invitations and calls are recorded in the Scripture, and they are all of them filled up with those blessed encouragements which divine wisdom knows to be suited unto lost, convinced sinners....In the declaration and preaching of them, Jesus Christ yet stands before sinners, calling, inviting, encouraging them to come unto him."
Beebe thought that there were no scriptures that gave an "invitation," but only "commands." Owen, on the other hand, is more truthful, affirming that the Scriptures record "multitudes" of "these invitations and calls," these "blessed encouragements" to lost sinners!
"This is somewhat of the word which he now speaks unto you: Why will ye die? why will ye perish? why will ye not have compassion on your own souls? Can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day of wrath that is approaching?... Look unto me, and be saved; come unto me, and I will ease you of all sins, sorrows, fears, burdens, and give rest unto your souls. Come, I entreat you; lay aside all procrastinations, all delays; put me off no more; eternity lies at the door...do not so hate me as that you will rather perish than accept of deliverance by me."
"These and the like things doth the Lord Christ continually declare, proclaim, plead and urge upon the souls of sinners....He doth it in the preaching of the word, as if he were present with you, stood amongst you, and spake personally to every one of you. He hath appointed the ministers of the gospel to appear before you, and to deal with you in his stead, avowing as his own the invitations which are given you in his name, 2 Cor. v.19,20."
"These invitations are universal; Christ addresses them to sinners, as such, and every man, as he believes God to be true, is bound to treat them as God's words to him personally and to accept the universal assurance which accompanies them, that all who come to Christ will be received.
Again, these invitations are real; Christ genuinely offers Himself to all who hear the gospel, and is in truth a perfect Saviour to all who trust Him. The question of the extent of the atonement does not arise in evangelistic preaching; the message to be delivered is simply this - that Christ Jesus, the sovereign Lord, who died for sinners, now invites sinners freely to Himself. God commands all to repent and believe; Christ promises life and peace to all who do so."
"Furthermore, these invitations are marvellously gracious; men despise and reject them, and are never in any case worthy of them, and yet Christ still issues them. He need not, but He does. "Come unto me . . and I will give you rest" remains His word to the world, never cancelled, always to be preached. He whose death has ensured the salvation of all His people is to be proclaimed everywhere as a perfect Saviour, and all men invited and urged to believe on Him, whoever they are, whatever they have been. Upon these three insights the evangelism of the old gospel is based."
"Those who study the printed sermons of worthy expositors of the old gospel, such as Bunyan (whose preaching Owen himself much admired), or Whitefield, or Spurgeon, will find that in fact they hold forth the Saviour and summon sinners to Him with a fulness, warmth, intensity and moving force unmatched in Protestant pulpit literature."
("The Old Gospel and the New" by James I. Packer) (http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/old_new.html)
In the next chapter I will begin to look at the biblical addresses to the lost and see what may be discovered thereby.
"And so we ask," wrote one other writer on this topic, "whether or not the Puritans were evangelistic in their preaching? If they were, how did they go about the work of persuading souls to believe in Jesus Christ? Did they have conversions? Did they address unbelievers in a personal face to face way? What did they say?
Since the Puritans believed in the spiritual inability of unbelievers to repent, did they not find themselves restricted? Did their belief in election, predestination and particular redemption, that is that Christ died to save His people only, shackle or confine them in their efforts to persuade the lost to be saved?"
"A short answer to these questions is that the Puritans followed the apostles. They were evangelistic in outlook and in their preaching. They were blessed with conversions...Belief in the spiritual impotence of sinners to turn to God by their own strength, and the sovereignty of God in election, did not inhibit the way in which they addressed unbelievers in their preaching.
Like the apostles they saw preaching as God's way of adding to the church. For them all, preaching was to a greater or lesser degree evangelistic in character. Yet at the same time preaching for them involved the declaration of all God's Word, not some parts only."
"...the Puritan approach to persuading souls. This aspect is the actual manner in which they addressed the Gospel to unbelievers in their preaching. How did they offer the Gospel to the unconverted? I avoid the word 'present' the Gospel. They did not merely 'present' the Gospel, they entreated, they besought, they reasoned, they urged and they offered the Gospel.
Some are disposed to contend that the word 'offer' is unsuitable as it implies creature ability or gives the impression that God is less than omnipotent to change hearts. Others say the word does not mean now what it meant in Puritan days. But Richard Sibbes uses a word indicating a condescension stooping lower than any such meaning implied by the word 'offer' which word I would contend has not changed. On II Cor. 5:20 Sibbes declares,
This is the manner of the dispensation in the gospel, even to beg of people that they would be good to their souls. Christ, as it were, became a beggar himself, and the great God of heaven and earth begs our love, that we would so care for our souls that we would be reconciled unto him.'"
"The Puritans addressed men in the wholeness of their being—mind, heart, conscience, memory and will. If such preaching did not succeed to persuade then they had nothing else to resort to and nothing to add by way of devices to induce a decision; no raising of hands, coming to the front, or signing cards. Preaching was for them supreme for they viewed it as the means by which God regenerates souls.
The comprehensive character of this supreme work was ably summed up by Thomas Brooks when he said, 'Ministers are to preach Christ to the people 1. Plainly. 2. Faithfully. 3. Humbly. 4. Wisely (there is wisdom required to suit things to the capacity and conditions of poor souls). 5. Zealously, boldly. 6. Laboriously (A minister must be like the bee, that is still a-flying from one flower to another to suck out the honey for the good of others—Oh the dreadful woes that are pronounced in Scripture against idle shepherds! Ezek. 13:3, 34:2, Zech. 11:17, etc.). 7. Exemplarily (Be thou an example to the flock; I. Pet. 5:3). 8. Feelingly, experimentally. 9. Rightly (rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Tim 2:15). 10. Acceptably (Eccl. 12:10. 'The preacher sought to find out acceptable words'.) 11. Constantly (continually given 'to prayer, and to the ministry of the word'. Acts 6:4)'."
"...these features characterised Puritan preaching as a whole. In their persuasive approaches they were Biblically consistent, free, flexible and fervent."
"Let us deal firstly with the question of depravity and inability. While sinners are dead in trespasses and sins and wholly destitute of the ability to repent and believe, they are thereby no less responsible to do so, as MacLeod states it: 'When God calls upon man to repent He but asks what He is entitled to. When He bids the sinner who needs the Saviour receive Him as His own, God is altogether within His rights in doing so. There is a glorious superiority to man's reasonings shown by God who bids the deaf hear and the blind look that they may see. They cannot do what He bids them do."
"Sinners, then, according to the Puritan approach, are to be urged to repent. They must repent or be lost for ever. Yet they cannot repent. Should they be told that they cannot repent? Certainly!
Their complete lostness should be exposed. Of what use is that? By discovering his inability the sinner is shut up to God since there is no other source of help, least of all in himself. But realising his responsibility and the awful nature of judgment and eternal punishment, the sinner is impressed with the urgency of his case. It cannot be postponed. Is there anything that the unregenerate man can do? The answer is in the affirmative. William Greenhill in a sermon on Ezekiel 18:32, 'Wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye', with the title, What must and can persons do toward their own conversion, after analysing and defining the extent and nature of a natural man's ability, urges what they ought to do."
"Even in Puritan times there were some who sought erroneously to impose rationalistic thinking into what essentially is a supernaturalistic framework by arguing that the Gospel was to be offered to the elect only."
"Now it is true that the doctrines of grace misconstrued can lead to what we call hyper-Calvinism—that is the denial of the free offers of the Gospel. Departing from the position held by John Calvin, the hyper-Calvinist thinks it inconsistent, indeed dishonouring to God, to offer the Gospel to all men. The main misunderstanding has centred around the issue of man's ability. Free offers seem in the eyes of the hyper-Calvinists to imply free will and this to them contradicts the sovereignty of God in His irresistible grace to call whom He wills to Himself."
"From about 1689 to 1765 the role of reason was much emphasised in religion. Calvinists during this time were prone to imbibe principles of logic or rationalism.
Baptists and Independents, often hindered by poor education, felt themselves to be the heirs and defenders of Calvinism. Joseph Hussey (1660-1694) was one of the architects of hyper-Calvinism who applied strict logic to Christian doctrine and wrote a book the title of which testifies truly to its contents, God's Operations of Grace but no Offers of His Grace.
Others associated with this position were Skepp, Wayman, Brine and the famous John Gill. Hyper-Calvinism was dominant among the Baptists until Andrew Fuller published his book in 1785 with the title, The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation. Fuller's book was very effective and accomplished an enormous amount of good in liberating the churches from hyper-Calvinism as well as in sounding the trumpet to call for the evangelization of the world.
Most of the Particular Baptist churches embraced the free offer position from that point onwards but during the last century one section of the Baptist denomination actually formulated articles denying that it was the duty of men to repent and believe for salvation."
"In Scotland the 'free offer' controversy has focussed more on the question of the extent of the atonement than on the question of the ability of the sinner..."
"...common grace teaches that, although man has fallen, God always addresses him as man, that is, according to His revealed will that He, God, desires the salvation of all men, and never addresses them in terms of His secret will. 'The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.'
Hence the Puritans used such texts as 2 Peter 3:9 and 2 Tim. 2:4, 'who will have all men to be saved', at their face value and without any equivocation; that is that God declares His will for the salvation of all sinners to whom the Gospel is addressed upon the terms proposed, namely, the obedience of faith."
"The freedom from all fetters arising from a misunderstanding of the doctrines of grace among the Puritans is seen in their use and application of the Scriptures.
Take Rev. 3:20 as an example. This text has been terribly abused by Arminians. Using Holman Hunt's painting of Christ outside a door with no handle on the outside, they portray helpless deity. Reaction is understandable, but we ought not to allow the abuse of a text to lead us to unwarranted conclusions about the meaning God intends by it.
The Puritans used Rev. 3:20 in application to the unconverted and freely offered the Gospel using this text as a basis. Flavel preached on each phrase of Rev. 3:20 in great detail."
"Stephen Charnock held the opening of the door to be conversion. The enablement to open the door they took to be effectual calling as Clarkson puts it, 'Christ empowers his word to affect that which he calls for'.
Thomas Brooks sees the Laodiceans as the worst of sinners, 'Now, pray tell me, what preparations or qualifications have these Laodiceans to entertain Christ? Surely none; for they were lukewarm, they were "neither hot nor cold", they were "wretched and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked", and yet Christ, to shew his free grace and his condescending love, invites the very worst of sinners to open to him, though they were no ways so and so prepared or qualified to entertain him'."
"Norman Pettit in his book, The Heart Prepared discusses in detail the differences which pertained among the Puritans with regard to the work of the Spirit in sinners before regeneration..."
"Note the fervency of Joseph Alleine as well as the skilful way in which he handles the question of the sinner's inability:
"Turn you at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you" (Prov. 1:23). Though of yourselves you can do nothing, yet you may do all through His Spirit enabling you, and He offers assistance to you. God bids you "wash and make you clean." You say you are unable, as much as the leopard to wash out his spots. Yes, but the Lord offers to cleanse you; so that if you are filthy still, it is through your own wilfulness—God invites you to be made clean, and entreats you to yield to Him. O accept His offers, and let Him do for you, and in you, what you cannot do for yourselves.'
"Regarding the last and final sentence of Christ on Judgment Day listen to Nathanael Ball, this quotation being an example of the use of every conceivable argument to persuade sinners:
'Tho' thou art a great sinner, yet thou art not a sinner in hell; thou art a sinner upon earth still. And there is this difference betwixt sinners upon earth, and sinners in hell; that the first are yet under hope, while the others are past it. It is thy great misery, that thou art yet among the unconverted; but 'tis great mercy, that thou art not among the damned. The place in which thou yet art, is the place of repentance, and not of punishment. We must look upon no sinners as past hope, that are not past this life: Why, thou livest yet; Christ bath not denounced the final sentence against thee; thou hast not yet stood before his Judgment-seat, and heard him say to thee, Depart thou cursed into everlasting fire. What is the patience and long suffering of God toward thee for, but to shew thee that thy condition is yet recoverable' (2 Peter 3 :9)."
"In persuading souls we ought to be Biblically consistent. The doctrines of grace are logical inasmuch as they are argued carefully from the Scriptures as a whole. There are, however, points that are not easily harmonised and must be left to lie side by side.
We must not be supralogical and impose human rationalism where the Scriptures give no warrant for this. Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism can be charged as guilty of imposing rationalism. Both reason that ability limits obligation. 'Man,' says the hyper, 'is unable to believe and therefore cannot be required to do so.' 'Man is commanded to believe,' says the Arminian, 'and therefore he must be able to do so.'"
(ADDING TO THE CHURCH—THE PURITAN APPROACH TOPERSUADING SOULS by Erroll Hulse)(http://www.the-highway.com/Puritans_Hulse.html)