Do you look, Sirs, upon your Free offers of Grace, &c., {as you call them} to be preaching the Gospel? Yes surely, you will say, we look upon these, especially if we look only one way, to be both one and the same. That is, we look upon them, that albeit all preaching of Christ to sinners is not an offer of Christ to them, yet every free offer of Christ to sinners is preaching the Salvation of Christ to them. Nevertheless I tell you the truth, that offers of Salvation are a thing that falls far short of preaching the Gospel; and a thing that falls far shorter than preaching the Salvation of the Gospel unto sinners. For observe, the power of the Gospel attends preaching the Gospel, and Salvation attends the preaching of Salvation, but neither the power of the Gospel, nor Salvation, attend the offer as they attend the preaching of the Gospel. {“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” Eph. 1:13.} But here I shall begin my disproof of their vain scheme, and enter upon an overthrow of their doctrine of the offer, as an anti- evangelical form of corrupting the Word of God; being the first thesis of three laid down about offers; and prove from God’s Word that to propound the offer of Salvation to sinners, as it is an unscriptural thing, so it is not preaching the Salvation of the Gospel unto sinners. Offers are not preaching the Gospel, nor preaching its Salvation.

1. I argue first from the practice of the apostles. Their practice was to preach Christ, not to offer him. The apostles preached the word of the Lord everywhere, in every city, and in every province, whither they came, Acts 15:36, at Thessalonica, at Berea, &c., everywhere preaching the word. But they nowhere tendered or offered the Salvation of that word.

2. I argue from their ordination to the said practice. Paul was ordained a preacher, I Tim. 2:7, and never ordained a propounder of an incompetent and useless offer of Grace, as it is termed. He was to keep to a free proclamation of the truth as it is in Jesus, Eph. 4:21, and not to warp, as men do in our times, all into some free proposal, whereby sacred Gospel truths are bartered away for all to latch hold upon.

3. I argue from instances of preachers. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, II Pet. 2:5, the Holy Ghost does not say, Noah was a Free propounder of righteousness; that is, a poor, low, earthly thing that would degenerate and sink the preaching of the Gospel into another form, having nothing of the true glory of the Gospel left in it; therefore the Holy Ghost will not so much as give it a good name, or enrol it in God’s book. Paul likewise was a teacher of the Gentiles, II Tim. 1:11, not a tenderer of Salvation to the Gentiles. For this latter custom comes by men’s conversation with fleshly wisdom, and not by the Grace of God. Solomon was an admirable ecclesiastic or preacher, a preacher that was wise, Eccles. 1:2, and a preacher that sought to find out acceptable words, Eccles. 12:10, the Preacher {as he was so designated} and king over Israel in Jerusalem, Eccles. 1:12, and here he is altogether the preacher, and not once anything said of him as the propounder of an offer .

4. I argue from the defect of the poor opinion about offers. One thing it lacks, Mk. 10:21, and that is texts to prove that proffering and preaching are in the sense of the Holy Ghost the same thing. The coincidence supposed can never be maintained. The apostle was not careful to ask how they should offer, but how they should preach, Rom.10:14, except they were sent. Christ’s Person and Doctrine may be both preached, whether in pretence, as sound and orthodox notions, or in truth, of power and experience, as the apostle says, Phil. 1:18, yet Christ is preached, says he; but how Christ can be offered the Scriptures assists no man to make out; for there the Holy Ghost is silent.

5. I argue from the flattery of offers, undertaking to work persuasion, and from thence I argue the faithfulness of preaching. An offer entices a natural man to a self-inflated conceit of his own ability, even whilst he hears the sounding of the words, even though the tenderer would assure him he hath none. So that propounding the offer of Christ is a mere flattery, to bolster up ones conceit of himself. The offer of Salvation is enticing to the ears of natural men that have never experienced a saving change of Grace. But on the other hand, preaching Christ is not done with enticing words of man’s wisdom. If the preaching of the Gospel carries not the cause by power and faithfulness, it falls to the wayside. Offers gain none of its ground by creature- flattery.

6. I argue from the nature of an offer to the nature of preaching the Gospel. An offer in Latin is called oblatio, or bringing a thing over against one, and laying or setting it down before one, still at some distance; and so, according to the grammatical sense of the word, offering is not preaching in any sense whatsoever. Offering consists in the doctrine or notion of Salvation, in mere sound, being brought to a sinner’s ears, and set down against him in so many words, which in all this the speaker falls short of preaching the Gospel, and so entirely fails in his enterprise. The nature of an offer at most is distant and withdrawn; it is not unto one, unless one accepts it. The tenderer indeed, may as we say be eloquent in speech and in appearance, and thus speak home to us; but, alas, at the bottom it is no such thing, because the tender doth not come home, if it be a season of non-acceptance. II Cor. 6:2. But preaching goes home in the office and power of the Blessed Spirit, working an acceptance in the soul of the Doctrine or of the Salvation set forth, or of both, according as those who hear it are elect in Christ, and thus absolutely wrought on; or non- elect, without any ears to hear or minds to grasp that salvation being set forth in Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel. {“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12.} Consequently offering is not preaching the Gospel. The nature of that is otherwise; for as preaching the Gospel of God is preaching glad tidings to sinners, Lk. 8:1, so it is bringing the good news home unto the persons; not laying it down before the sinner, and there leaving it in a haphazard way to fall out as it may.

Preaching is a home-act or inward testimony to elect and non-elect, making manifest the savour of the knowledge of Christ in every place, II Cor. 2:14-16, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. offers convey no savour of Christ, because they do not reach home, neither a savour in the Doctrine, nor a savour in the Salvation; nor a savour of death unto death, in formality, to the ungrenerate formalist that perishes without the savour of Christ; nor a savour of life in the Principle unto life in the possession thereof, and home to Eternal Life in those whose heart the Lord opens, Acts 16:14, to attend unto Christ; for the Principle and Profession of the lively believer is destitute of the savour, as soon as preaching degenerates into offering and proffering, for then a saint quickly loses his sweet words, Prov. 23:8, and will have to vomit that morsel which spoils the rest. {“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Gal. 5:9.} An offer doth not bring comfort home. Grace offers may move, but it is at a distance from the proper object. The doctrine alone preached is a home-act or inward testimony, even to the very non-elect; and the Doctrine and Salvation both together, are home-acts to the elect of God. The doctrine alone preached is a home- act, even against such as God hath not chosen in Christ; for such vessels there are, Rom. 9:22, as appear, I Jn. 2:19, Matt. 20:16, Jn. 8:47, Jn. 10:26, Matt. 7:23, &c., and these are two sorts, where the Gospel comes; namely, open rejecters of the mystery and open receivers of the literal doctrine. The doctrine preached, when the mystery comes to be laid open, is a testimony against all rejecters of Christ. For they soon begin to snuff at it, to stumble at the word, and be disobedient, I Pet. 2:7-8; whereas an offer of Grace is so plausible to nature, that any man may face it without offence; nor will it touch them to the quick to drive about tossing around invitations and offers, but to preach Free Grace will be an offence to all who perish in the way. Psal. 2:12. For, the preaching of Grace, as the Mystery of the doctrine is laid open, makes them presently reply against God, Rom. 9:20, and quarrel with the Most High, saying, “why doth he yet find fault; for who hath resisted his will,” Rom. 9:19, as they did in the ninth of Romans. It soon touched them, especially when the points of Sovereignty or Absolute Grace, Irresistibleness, Discrimination, Passiveness, &c., are preached in the power and unction of the Holy Ghost, for men cannot pretend to offer a sinner these vital Operations, for they being, indeed, matters of Divine Operation, bear no resemblance to this debilitated system of offers and invitations. Nevertheless, ministers of Christ are necessitated to preach these Operations of Grace, II Cor. 3:6, and to be sure, the preaching of them may as directed by the LORD, be a home-act and vital testimony, even to them that God hath passed by, as to their being chosen in Christ.

These doctrines are inimical to carnal wisdom, so carnal wisdom must of necessity be hostile to these truths. {“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom. 8:7.} The doctrine of Christ preached is an enemy to their self-love, carnal interests, carnal ease, &c., insomuch that preaching the true Gospel frets wicked men, and irritates their minds, eats into the frame of their spirits, gnaws upon their inward pride, and fills them with rage. {“And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath.” Lk. 4:28. “When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” Acts 5:33.} Stephen’s hearers gnashed upon them with their teeth, to hear the doctrine of Truth preached. Acts 7:54. He certainly did not offer them Christ, for they might perhaps have laughed at that, but he preached Christ notably, and this preaching enraged them. Such preaching either kills or makes alive, Acts 24:25, if it be delivered in the unction of the Spirit, and makes a noble discrimination in the auditory. Acts 28:24. So that all non-elect rejecters of the Father’s Christ, or open rejecters of the Doctrine of Free Grace preached according to the Spirit’s Revelation of it in the Word, cannot stand before Preaching. offers I know will leave them to debate upon it, but of all that profess to be dispensers of the Word, I have observed that professors of the Grace of God who compromise in this point, with their Free offer, as they call it, are all too thwarted and confounded in their way; but preaching Christ will cheer, II Cor. 1:12, the testimony of their conscience by the Grace of God. Oh, how did it enrage the Jews at Antioch to contradict and blaspheme; for when the apostles preached, it vexed them immediately. {“But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Acts 13:45.} So when Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection it presently touched the philosophers of Epicurus and the Stoics to the quick, and stirred up their wisdom to encounter him. {“Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, what will this babbler say? Other some, he seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; because he preached unto them Jesus, and the Resurrection.” Acts 17:18.} If Paul had stood offering them terms, they would only have laughed him to scorn, and thought it not worth their while to have urged an argument against him; but his preaching set them upon a philosophical prating; and the account given of the cause of their opposition, was not that Paul propounded an offer, but he was, as they thought, a teller, or celebrater, {as the word in Greek signifies, which we read “a setter forth”} of strange gods. How ignorant and prejudiced were they! As if they took the Resurrection, as some have thought, to be one god, as well as Jesus to be the other!

Preaching is a home-act, the doctrine preached reaches men’s consciences, let them do what they will. Accordingly, Noah preaching in his day went home to the disobedient spirits, who, in the Apostle’s days, long after were in the prison of hell. I Pet. 3:19. The doctrine of Preservation in the ark was preached, and not offered. Noah was a preacher of righteousness.” II Pet. 2:5. Again, the ark was built for Noah and his house, Heb. 11:7; it was not prepared for, nor tendered to the old world. Thus the open rejecters of the mystery find preaching the Doctrine of Christ to be a home-act, as it stirs up their corruptions.

Furthermore, there are others of the non-elect who do not reject the Doctrine of Christ, but receive it in the lump, when the doctrine is preached to them. Thus Simon Magus believed at Philip’s preaching Christ in Samaria, Acts 8:13, and the stony-ground hearers that first sprung up were brought to it by sowing the seed of the Word upon them, and afterwards they withered away, Matt. 13:5-6; to these may be added, the hard-hearted Israelites in the wilderness, who, it is said, Heb.4:2, had the Gospel preached unto them; but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Deut. 1:32. The Holy Ghost would, according to the Counsel of God, give them the Word, but it was not his good pleasure to bestow Faith of the Operation of God with the Word, Col. 2:12, nor was he bound thereto in God’s Covenant and Promise. So likewise the Gospel of Canaan’s rest had been preached home to them, verse 6, for it appears by their story in the wilderness, that they did many things, as the fruits of that preaching, Mk. 6:20; yeah, for with an external faith they received the Gospel preached in its types. Then believed they his words; they sung his praise; but they soon forgot the works of the LORD, and waited not for His counsel. Psal. 106:12-13. And so the people to whom the type of the Gospel-rest was preached, entered not in, because of unbelief, at last. Heb. 4:6. Thus the Gospel comes with a home-act to the consciences of even the non-elect, a home testimony in preaching the doctrine to them that receive the testimony and truth thereof, though they are not the chosen of God. Such preaching lays hold, and by a common Operation, Acts 8:13, worketh a common faith in the non-elect; and as a fruit of it they make a profession of the same; albeit, they receive it not, nor can receive it, in a new nature, in which workmanship of the Spirit, Eph. 2:10, the Doctrine together with the power of Salvation, comes to God’s chosen in Christ. They receive it not under a distinguishing work of the Spirit of Grace, as the Spirit is the Principle in the effectual operation thereof, as well as the Worker of it.

The doctrine of the Gospel preached is a home-act to the elect of God. Among these the doctrine of the Gospel may sometimes be singly received by preaching, before the Salvation of that doctrine and faith of God’s elect, Tit. 1:1, is concomitantly received {by this remnant, according to the Election of Grace, Rom. 11:5,} among the elect of God. Observe these two, that doctrine and power, may be separated in the elect themselves for some time; and we may perceive this, not only because the elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, I Pet. 1:2, are saved and called with a holy calling, II Tim. 1:9, under one Word of Truth, of his own will, and are not so begotten under another word of truth; even as the Spirit will, I Cor. 12:11, as is said of his distribution of the several gifts of God. “This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” Isa. 28:29. But I say also, we may suppose a separation of these sometimes, viz., Doctrine and Salvation, as to the elect for a time, by warranty of the word. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand,” I Cor. 15:1, it was applied, and went home in preaching the Gospel unto them, in that they had received the doctrine, and stood therein. For Salvation is clearly distinguished in the next words, “by which {the Gospel preached unto you, and received by you} also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory {or hold fast the doctrine from a principle of Grace} what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain,” 15:2; that is; in vain as to Salvation, if you have only received the doctrine in the letter, without receiving the power, or a change of nature with the doctrine; for then indeed you have only received the doctrine with an outer court faith, Matt. 13:20, if you have received it without a change. Again afterwards, verse 12, Christ was preached, that he rose from the dead; and this was plainly brought home. For, through the Spirit, preaching had produced faith, II Cor. 4:13, there being no more reason to question the truth of the doctrine, than to doubt the preaching of the doctrine. Both are alike coupled, verse 14, so that the nature of preaching is to be applied in the power thereof, till it arrive at the person’s conscience, and not to parley, by suspensions of the will, or non-acceptance of the sinner, in mid-way, as these offers do. {“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” I Thes. 1:5.} Preaching sticks not in the thick clay of human proposals, nor loses its errand in propounding an offer, by any difficulties in the way whatever, through which it passes. {“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isa. 55:11.} Give me powerful preaching, Rom. 1:16, for that God hath ordained; as it alone “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword.” Heb. 4:12. An offer, {though you call it Evangelical and Ministerial,} or what you will, yet performs nothing where it is not accepted.

But now preaching doth a great deal of good in the very convictions it brings into wicked men, even while the doctrine itself is rejected. Preaching glorifies God in the very angering of the men whom God hath not chosen, by revealing to them their portion of the Word. Compare I Sam.16:10 with 17:28. “Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel, and Samuel said unto Jesse,” {aye, and that preaching went to Eliab’s heart, who was the eldest brother, to hear that of seven of Jesse’s sons, Samuel should say to Jesse,} neither “hath the Lord chosen these.” Well, what follows in the next chapter? “And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men, {after he came down unto his brethren in the Army,} and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither, and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” As if he had said, “what, David, thou thinkest to be king in Israel dost thou not, if the king here falls in battle, because Samuel lately hath anointed thee at Bethlehem? Aye, therefore thou art come down to see the issue of the battle, how it fares with Saul, that if he dies, thou wilt mount up to be king in his room.” Thus, preaching Election Grace to David touching the sceptre of Christ, had vexed Eliab to the core, and the doctrine of non- election touching himself and the passing by his other brethren {born all of them before David} with a “neither hath the Lord chosen thee,” had exceedingly angered him. This now as to preaching. But sure an offer of a horn of oil, or an offer of Christ, while the anointing falls in its winnowing effect in separating sheep from goats in the midst of the congregation, as David was anointed, as ‘twas put upon David, as designated for David, and not proposed to David, in the midst of his brethren; for this must needs displease God, because of his appointing the particularity of the anointing from the Holy One, as appears I Jn. 2:20, compared with verse 19; so likewise offers too must needs also displease God, because they are so commonly dispersed unto men.

And so your Free offer is very indeterminate, and yet pretended to be in the Lord’s name too, while the Lord knows them that are His. II Tim. 2:19. Moreover, your offer of Salvation is universal; for you so offer Salvation, as it is plain you exclude none from Salvation. You offer Salvation to the lump; yet know, that your offer of Salvation can never reach home to all that God calls you to preach to; whereas preaching the doctrine of Christ is effectual in the hands of the Spirit to work Salvation in the experience and power thereof in all whom believe. Your Obligatory offer too is as wide as the rest.

To proceed and prove, as the Scriptures have shown us the powerful and discriminating effect of Gospel preaching, to prove that preaching the Gospel, and offering the Gospel, are not one and the same thing, according to the mind of Christ.

1. By preaching, the doctrine of the Gospel is carried home to the hearers, whether they will or no. We meet with many proofs of this, “and he commanded us to preach unto the people,” Acts 10:42, “and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you,” Acts 3:20, “opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” Acts 17:3. This Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ; he is the Messiah of whom the Old Testament speaks, Christ the Anointed who will save his people from their Sins. Matt. 1:21. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them,” Acts 8:5, “be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 13:38. Hence Paul’s anathema in the same style of preaching, and in the same pattern of wording it, by which we know the meaning to be quite another thing than that of an offer. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:8-9. In all these places it is expressed that preaching applies directly unto persons, but proposals are things that are only put before persons, as the word signifies. Offers are bringing things before them, and leaving them at a distance over against them, which wait for acceptance before the things proposed or offered can approach unto them, or be approached unto. But preaching, whether of life unto life, or death unto death, hath some answerable approach to persons in the assembly, and therefore is a home-act, and creates a comprehensive response from them. {“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Matt. 10:34-35.} The Holy Ghost tells us so of preaching; men, in order to excuse their degeneracy and hypocrisy, tell us so of offers. Preaching the Gospel testifies on God’s behalf, and exalts the Triune Lord in all his Person, the Lord the Father, the Lord the Word, the Lord the Spirit. {“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isa. 2:11.} The testimony of preaching justifies God, in condemning all refusers of the doctrine of Christ, as well as justifies God in condemning men, who though accept the doctrine in a Christ-less state, yet having no interest in the Salvation of the Doctrine, walk unworthy of the very form of that sound doctrine in the unregeneracy of their natures, having secret enmity in their hearts against the Power of Godliness. The testimony of preaching likewise justifies God, in holding forth the Spirit of Grace, as the quickening principle for acceptance, wherewith to receive the Salvation of Christ, as well as to receive the doctrine of it; for God gives His Spirit as the life-giving principle to work in all His own elect. Now the offer of the Gospel because it is not preaching the Gospel, does not justify God in the condemnation of one, or Salvation of another; but seems rather to justify the creature’s acceptance of what the elect by gift shall inherit, who are saved by the Gospel. “Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” Isa. 60:21. Acceptance of the Gospel is a piece of the Gospel wrought in the soul by Jehovah the Spirit, which your tenderers of Salvation, either overlook or deny. Neither can offers be a fit means calculated to justify God, in condemning men for refusing a doctrine which was never preached to them; but rather offers justify God in condemning a minister, who, instead of preaching to conscience, offers his proposals, and leaves his messages at a great distance off-hand, as seems good to the profferer to fix them in mid-way, and wait for the sinner’s acceptance. Offers lay all down for acceptance at mid-way block, and never get further. Whatever it be that is offered, Doctrine or Salvation, before the elect, or before the non-elect, or before all promiscuously, there it sticks in midway, waiting for a motion from man’s free-will to accept. This is in no ways preaching the Gospel to Sinners!

2. By preaching, the doctrine is carried home to the elect of God, personally discriminating part of the hearers. So the Person of Christ, who is Salvation, may be personally preached; but how can He be personally offered? The Holy Spirit’s language is that Christ is the Word, which by the Gospel is preached unto you. I Pet. 1:25. It’s said in Acts 20:7, of the disciples who came together to break bread, that Paul preached unto them the Gospel. The Gospel, as to Christ’s Presence with their souls effectually wrought in them to an acknowledgement and submission to the Truth. {“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” I Thes. 2:13.} So in Acts 8:35, it is said of the eunuch, “then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” Here preaching was a home-act to the good of His chosen. Psal. 106:5. It penetrated quite through, and stuck not at mid-way.

3. I argue from the scope which the Scriptures give us in preaching as it exalts the sovereignty of God. “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen {mind that is an act of His sovereign Grace} through faith,” Gal. 3:8, or bringing justification home into their very souls through the eye of their faith, it follows “preached before the Gospel unto Abraham;” because, by preaching, God’s sovereignty is exalted. Offers exalt not the sovereignty of God in the congregation, nor are they suitable to it. Preaching the Gospel doth, and is fitted thereto. Therefore, preaching and offering are not both one. All preaching the Gospel is fitted to exalt the Sovereignty of God, but offering the Gospel is not fitted unto that service. How can they then be proved to be both one? Besides, if offers had exalted the sovereignty of God to the elect, Isa. 45:4, then the Scripture would have spoken of them that they did so, but it nowhere speaks of them after that manner. Offers, therefore, exalt not God’s Supreme will. {“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Isa. 46:10.} Preaching the Gospel is preaching glad tidings in an Effectual Sovereign display of Irresistible Grace to the elect Israel whom God hath chosen, Isa. 44:1; and the blessings of the Gospel, as in Matthew 5, in the hearing of the multitudes, are pronounced and conveyed to the poor whom the LORD hath chosen rich in Faith, and heirs of the Kingdom. But proffering the Gospel debases the Sovereignty of God, instead of exalting it. How abject and precarious is it in the great and glorious name of Jehovah, to stand up and say, “here sinners, I offer you Christ, why don’t you take Him?” Ah; this is taking God’s name in vain, and perverting God’s message, if the man may be called a messenger. Preaching is supreme, as it breaks in upon a man’s conscience by Authority, Matt. 7:29, whilst offers are servile, making parleys debase the awful Majesty of God, and so cannot be the same thing with preaching, which exalts the Majesty of God. {“That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” Psal. 83:18.}

4. Lastly, I argue from the efficacy of preaching, which God the Spirit savingly attends; and thence I prove that no offer of Grace did ever come up to preaching the Gospel. ‘Tis not preaching the Gospel, when it ceases to be the joyful sound, Psal. 89:15, but it does cease to be so whilst the preacher sinks from Operations of the Gospel by God the Spirit, into offers of the Gospel, by mere propounding of empty tidings. Offers of Grace to sinners are, therefore, disproved divers ways from Effectual Grace to be the same with the preaching of Grace.

Preaching the Gospel is a revealing act. {“And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed.” Isa. 40:5.} Offering the Gospel is a tendering act. In preaching the Gospel the soul sees something of the glory of the Gospel by it, Jn. 6:40; but an offer though it be an open act of propounding Christ to the soul, yet reveals nothing of Christ; it is no glass of the Gospel for sinners to view themselves in, till they are transformed by the renewing of their mind, Rom. 12:2; nor are they changed into the same image, II Cor. 3:18, from glory to glory, {discerning the glory of the Lord thereby,} even as by the Spirit of the Lord thereby.

Though the Gospel is opened when it is preached, yet it is hid when offered. {“Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” Acts 17:3.} The very mystery is not seen in it. Though men upon the housetops pretend to offer Christ, the people do not see what is said to be offered. They can behold nothing to answer the pretence, {“here, souls, I offer you Christ, why should you not this moment accept him,”} whereas, preaching under the unction and power of the Spirit, sweetly reveals Christ in the soul, Gal. 1:16; but offers never so much as lay him open to the soul, but tender him unseen, wrapped up in grave clothes, with his face in a napkin. It is plain, then, offering is no preaching. Letter and spirit are separable among the receivers. The spirit is preached to saints, to you excellent ones, Psal. 16:3; yea, to the elected together with you, I Pet. 5:13; while the whole visible clutter, the letter or seen part, passeth among the rest, who are blinded, Rom. 11:7, and never see the kernel. It is an unseen thing, therefore, to the eye of the body, so cannot be offered, but must be preached to men. Salvation is the substance of Gospel doctrine, as the kernel is of the nut, therefore cannot be tendered separate from the visible cluster of the doctrine; nor indeed is that doctrine tendered at all, while preached unto all; and while Salvation apart from the letter is preached to those people, who touching election are beloved of the Lord. Rom. 11:28. {“Not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” I Cor. 10:32.} While men, therefore, are making offers of an Unrevealed and unseen Christ, that they themselves have not experienced, let them not think it is preaching the Gospel in the Salvation and Glory of it.

Preaching the Gospel has to do with the elect of God, in order to their conversion, answerable to the settlement of their relation in Christ; and so to bring them, for the making of their calling and election sure, II Pet. 1:10, to an Evangelical Communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, by more spiritual, lively and fixed believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, through the indwelling and consolatory Operations of God the Spirit to this end; preaching the Gospel is mightily owned by the Spirit of God to change the sinner’s affections, and elevate his capacity under Sanctification of the Spirit in the New Nature unto Supernatural Believing and Supernatural Communion. {“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” II Thes. 2:13.} The scriptures do speak so much, and almost constantly of the Holy Ghost, either as to his Person or Work upon the soul in passive phrases, whether it be expressed of Spiritual Believing or Spiritual {concomitants} Repentance unto life, love, joy, &c., Acts 11:18, or of its fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22, that Ministers of Christ, who are put in trust with the Gospel, are to use all such wholesome words and passive phrases of exalting the Spirit and his work, as are fitted to bring up the report of the Gospel to the honour and glory of God the Spirit, in the practical mysteries of Christ. And surely there never was more ground to require this from ministers than now, when believing is so slightly talked of, and pressed as if it were but a bare natural act; notwithstanding so many books have been written of the Spirit’s work to explain the Scriptures upon this subject. For almost forty years long, in an eminent manner, this convincing light has been springing forth under John Owen’s labours in 1674.[1] Yet much has the Spirit been grieved by the neglect with some of the last, and with many of the present generation. {“And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.” Jer. 23:13.} For to this day the notion of an offer of Grace exists, though it is a mere conceit, adapted to feed unconverted hope; as if believing on the Lord Jesus Christ was an act of the soul, before a man be born of the Spirit. {“Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:3.} Offers do naturally feed this conceit, and cherish it in the bosoms of unconverted men, however some cunning preachers have an artful way to shift and wrest, Eph. 4:14, to make you believe they mean preaching, though they call it by this odd name, pretending that offering Christ and preaching him are both one.

Preaching the Gospel takes hold of the heart, and the reason is, because the Lord owns preaching. It is his own ordinance, and so it is made an effectual means to convey the Spirit unto Christ. But offers, being of human devising, must needs prove ineffectual, for offers do not take hold of the heart. The devil will maintain his fort a whole siege against your offers, and know for certain that the evil spirit in a sinner is never likely to yield, or be subdued at that rate. “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, {said the evil spirit in the Acts,} but who are ye?” Acts 19:15. So the devil hath such a strong hold in sinners that he will but leap upon your offers, and laugh at them thus, “the Gospel I know, and preaching of the Gospel I know; but these offers and proffers merely insult, he will exclaim, and so what are ye, ye powerless motions?” Now consider this, ye self-fabricated preachers, will you go and make proposals to Satan? The devil is to be defeated of his captives by preaching deliverance to the captives, Lk. 4:18, and an Effectual opening of the prison doors to them that are bound. {“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isa. 61:1.} But souls in slavery, and under the present power of the god of this world, II Cor. 4:4, are not to be got out of his hand by parleys, for they must be translated from the power of darkness. Col. 1:13. Do not think to bring them off from the jaws of unseen destruction, by tendering an unseen Salvation to them.

The devil in the sinner, is stronger than the sinner, or you and your offers. Lust in the heart, unbelief in the nature, captivity in the will, do all pinion the man, and stake him down against your offers. But the preaching of the Gospel breaks in with power, opens the heart, disarms unbelief, brakes their bands in sunder, Psal. 107:14, and by the arm of Jehovah the preaching is not in vain. Offers rob the Father, and rob Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the soul and all. They rob Free Grace, in keeping back part of the price of our Salvation, and that is strength and ability to lay hold of Christ. Thou dost offer me Christ, poor creature; but why do you not offer me the Spirit, who is my impetus and motion for Christ? Oh, how fruitless it is to speak of Christ as a free offer, and yet to keep him off at a distance in the Gospel with your wary proposals, that Free Grace shall not strike in too near the soul, but you’ll keep grace and the soul asunder, till the soul agrees to accept it! Yes, rather than preach Grace home, you’ll stand and hammer the sinner, as if you had met him about business at the Exchange, and being about to drive a bargain with him, will tender Christ upon certain conditions; thus also you’ll manage the offer, {at least some of you,} as if you were proposing a match for your son or daughter, and meant to give extraordinary encouragement too for closing it. {“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” Jer. 7:24.} You will propound a free offer, provided the sinner gives up himself, wholly and without the least reserve to Christ. Ah, but the Lord, I am sure, will never make you fruitful in converting souls at this rate. This will never do! The Spirit of Christ must show you quite another way of preaching, and bow your hearts to it likewise.

Preaching of the Gospel is so spoken of in the Holy Scriptures, as in point of efficacy, that no offer of Grace can match it; and consequently it is not the same thing.

An offer is in word only, but preaching is in Power. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” I Cor. 4:20. Effectual preaching is the stretching forth of the rod of that kingdom. {“The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” Psal. 110:2.} {Mic. 7:14 with Mic. 5:4 – “Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood.” – “And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.”} Preaching the Gospel is an act in Christ’s name, and in Christ’s Spirit, in the preacher Christ hath sent, Rom. 10:15, and so is influenced with God’s mighty working, but man’s propounding the offer is never so influenced as I can find, throughout my Bible; for instance, some poor souls who have found God’s power attend preaching the Gospel, have found God’s power withdrawn under offers. Preaching is a binding up of the broken in heart, Isa. 61:1, but offers have been known to fetter and to fret the wound. {“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Isa. 3:12.} Preaching manages well; as it brings deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, Lk. 4:18, whereas, offers can say nothing but that they mean well. They make essays, they essay at this, and essay at that, but they produce nothing. Preaching Christ unto the Gentiles is a home-act; it is accompanied with Christ’s being believed on in the world, I Tim. 3:16, and says Paul to his Corinthians, “therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” I Cor. 15:11. How was Christ preached to the Gentiles? Why Christ was preached so powerfully, so effectually, so closely, so savingly, that the Gentiles, Acts 13:42, besought that the same words, Phil. 3:1, might be preached to them the next Sabbath. But when do the Scriptures ever tell us that offers had that effect? So that profferers of the Gospel have introduced this controversy, by corrupting the text with foreign phrases, such as proffering, or offering; mean what they may, it is no matter; the word {by turning it into Latin} means oblatio, which surely all of them know means another thing than preaching. They who are effectually called, are not called to Christ by offers of Salvation, but by preaching Salvation to them. “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness, but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” I Cor. 1:23-24. For though wisdom in the Counsels of the Gospel, goes before power, and contrivance precedes accomplishment; yet, the power of the Gospel is felt before the wisdom of the Gospel is discerned. And that is the reason why, unto those that are called, Christ crucified is the power of God, before He is the wisdom of God to them. In a word, Christ is preached to the saving of the soul, Heb.10:39, but He is offered to the amusing of the auditory; which produceth nothing that is close, home, and applicatory, to neither elect or non-elect, but a mere sound of a common form to muse on. Wheresoever Christ is offered, it is certain He comes not home enough for God to be glorified, either in men’s accepting or refusing Christ. In offers, Christ is only laid before men distantly, ineffectually, and sinners still lost, as to any recovering efficacy of help by such tenders. {“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat, saith the LORD.” Jer. 23:28.}

Preaching the Gospel, both in Matthew 11:5 and Luke 7:22, {“the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” – “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached,”} where the words are, the poor have the Gospel preached to them, and to the poor the Gospel is preached, is rendered in a passive efficacy of preaching, that is, the poor are gospelized or transformed, Rom. 12:2, into the very image and spirit of the Gospel. Besides, it shows us what poor are meant, even the poor in condition, because the blind who receive their sight, and the lame who walked, and the lepers who were cleansed, and the dead who were raised up, whom John’s disciples had looked on and seen, were not figuratively the blind, lame, lepers, and dead, but strictly and absolutely in condition were such. Now the argument for Conviction of John’s Disciples must be all of one and the same piece of evidence, or some part of the evidence will be an unfit means to remove the doubting and questioning of the said disciples; for they came to Jesus to see a sign of his being the Messiah, Matt. 11:2-3, according to the Truth of the Prophecies; and among other prophetic signs of Messiah in the Days of his Humiliation, it was foretold that his converts and followers should be an afflicted and a poor people, Zeph. 3:12, as to their outward condition in this world, not poor in spirit, Matt. 5:3, merely as elsewhere. Outward poverty is seen by men, inward poverty, or poverty of spirit, is not so discerned; and so here could have been no sign or evidence and demonstration to men that Jesus was the Christ. {Jn. 20:31 with Acts 18:28. – “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” – “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”} Accordingly it proves that offers can be no preaching, because they cannot be rendered in the passive success, as preaching here is. The effect that offers have upon poor people can’t be rendered thus in passive efficacy. I can say properly that a man converted is evangelized, and it comes up to the efficacy and truth of the thing, that he is so turned into the life and power of the Gospel. But if I say in the passive of the other word, that a man is offered, it would be unscriptural nonsense, for it can in no wise signify that he was brought under the effect and seal of this unscriptural term. Then further, when a man comes to offer Christ, he loses his labour; for, as to him who accepts the offer, what can you say of such a man? You never can say such a man is offered, nor can you say he is offerized, and you certainly cannot say that he is converted. But the man who has received the preaching or evangelizing, he may be fitly said to be evangelized. On the other hand, if a man should say of him who hath the benefit of the offer, he is offered, and thereby mean he is converted, he would speak utter nonsense, because it would not signify that he is converted. The active, {as in the other way, of preaching,} cannot be turned into the passive. He that hath the Gospel preached to him to conversion, is preached into the image of the Gospel. But supposing a man were converted by the offer, what sense would it be to say he that accepts the offer is offered into the image of the offer? Preaching, therefore, and offering, are not the same thing.

Preaching the Gospel is bringing the blessing of the Gospel to be of experimental virtue, in standing of the purpose of God according to election. {“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” Rom. 9:11.} A man by experience knows something of the Gospel, and both hears and feels how it enters his soul, Rom. 10:17, under the preaching of it. For my own part I declare, I can give no account of any good I ever got by men’s offers of Grace; but through Grace I can speak somewhat to the praise of the Gospel of Christ, concerning what I have got by the preaching of Grace. Oh! when a minister comes, while under the taste of the blessing in his own soul, to preach Christ, he may be sure that when he comes thus to preach Christ, he shall approach to God’s chosen ones, in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. Rom. 15:29. He will not then tantalize the people of God with offers, nor talk to them of Grace that waits their acceptance, but cannot enter them; whereas Grace preached comes with a blessing, and entered as well as draws near. But offers prevail with no benefit on the hearers, for the more they are examined, the less they prevail. Thus I have proved that offers of Christ are not preaching of Christ.

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[1} John Owen, Discourse on the Holy Spirit, 1674.



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