William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

The Will of God and the Gospel Offer

by Samuel Rutherford

God's serious and unfeigned ardency of desire that we do what is our duty

It's much worthy of observation, how that sweet evangelic invitation
is conceived, Isa. 55:1, Ho, everyone that thirsts, come to the
waters, and he that hath no silver, come buy, and eat: as if the
Lord were grieved, and said, Woe is me, Alas that thirsty souls
should die in their thirst, and will not come to the water of life,
Christ, and drink gratis, freely, and live. For the interjection,
Ho, is a mark of sorrowing, as ah, or woe, everyone that thirsts. It
expresseth two things, 1. A vehemency and a serious and unfeigned
ardency of desire that we do what is our duty, and the concatenation
of these two, extremely desired of God, our coming to Christ and our
salvation. This moral connection between faith and salvation is
desired of God with his will of approbation, complacency, and moral
liking, without all dissimulation, most unfeignedly [margin: What
the revealed will of God is]; and whereas Arminians say, we make
counterfeit, feigned, and hypocritical desires in God, they
calumniate and cavil egregiously, as their custom is. 2. The other
thing expressed in these invitations is a sort of dislike, grief, or
sorrow (it's a speech borrowed from man, for there is no
disappointing of the Lord's will, nor sorrow in him for the not
fulfilling of it), or an earnest nilling and hating dislike that
these two should not go along, as approved efficaciously by us, to
wit, the creature's obedience of faith and life eternal. God loveth,
approveth the believing of Jerusalem and of her children, as a moral
duty, as the hen doth love to warm and nourish her chickens; and he
hateth, with an exceeding and unfeigned dislike of improbation and
hatred, their rebellious disobedience and refusing to be gathered:
but there is no purpose, intention, or decree of God, holden forth
in these invitations called his revealed will, by which he saith he
intendeth and willeth that all he maketh the offer unto shall obey
and be saved. But it's to be observed, that the revealed will of
God, holden forth to all, called voluntas signi, doth not hold forth
formally that God intendeth, decreeth, or purposeth in his eternal
council, that any man shall actually obey, either elect or
reprobate; it formally is the expression only of the good liking of
that moral and duty conjunction between the obedience of the
creature and the reward, but holdeth forth not any intention or
decree of God, that any shall obey, or that all shall obey, or that
none at all shall obey.

And what Arminians say of Christ's intention to die for all and
every one, and of the Lord's intention and catholic good will to
save all and every one, to wit, that these desires may be in God
though not any be saved at all, but all eternally perish, which
maketh the Lord's desires irrational, unwise, and frustraneous
that we say with good reason of God's good will, called voluntas
signi, it might have its complete and entire end and effect though
not any one of men or angel obey, if there were not going along with
this will of God another will, and eternal decree and purpose in
God, or working by free grace in some chosen ones what the Lord
willeth in his approving will.

Now this desire of approbation is an abundantly sufficient closing
of the mouth of such as stumble at the gospel, being appointed
thereunto, and an expression of Christ's good liking to save
sinners. Expressed in his borrowed wishes, Deut. 5:29. O that there
were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep my
commandments. Ps. 81:13. O that my people had hearkened unto me, and
Israel walked in my ways. Which wish, as relating to disobeying
Israel, is a figure, or metaphor borrowed from men, but otherwise
showeth how acceptable the duty is to God, how obligatory to the
creature. But the Lord's expostulations, Ezek. 18:31. Why will ye
die, O house of Israel? Verse 32. For I have no pleasure in the
death of him that dies. In the Lord's crying to sinners, Prov. 1:20.
Wisdom cries, she uttereth her voice in the streets. The word is to
cry with strong shouting, either for joy, Ps. 81:2, or sorrow, Lam.
2:19, which expresseth Christ's desire to save sinners.

[Margin: No lip-love, nor any empty love in God, but that which is
effectual and real to work the good he desireth to the party loved.]
We are hence taught to acknowledge no love to be in God which is not
effectual in doing good to the creature; there is no lip-love, no
raw well-wishing to the creature which God doth not make good. We
know but three sorts of love that God has to the creature, all the
three are like the fruitful womb; there is no miscarrying, no
barrenness in the womb of divine love.

[Margin: A threefold love in God effectual.] He loves all that he
has made, so far as to give them a being, to conserve them in being
as long as he pleaseth. He had a desire to have sun, moon, stars,
earth, heaven, sea, clouds, air. He created them out of the womb of
love and out of goodness, and keeps them in being. He can hate
nothing that he made.

There is a second love and mercy in God, by which he loves all men
and angels, yea, even his enemies, makes the sun to shine on the
unjust man as well as the just, and causeth dew and rain to fall on
the orchard and fields of the bloody and deceitful man, whom the
Lord abhors, as Christ teacheth us, Matt. 5:43-48. Nor doth God
miscarry in this love. He desires the eternal being of damned angels
and men; he sends the gospel to many reprobates, and invites them to
repentance and with longanimity and forbearance suffereth pieces of
froward dust to fill the measure of their iniquity, yet does not the
Lord's general love fall short of what he willeth to them.

[Margin: Christ's love of election cannot miscarry.] There is a love
of special election to glory; far less can God come short in the end
of this love. For the work of redemption prospereth in the hands of
Christ, even to the satisfaction of his soul; saving of sinners (all
glory to the Lamb) is a thriving work and successful in Christ's


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