Having beaten down the dream of an effectual offer, by setting against it the Effectual Operation of God, in producing the new creature, in effecting God’s husbandry, and in raising God’s building, I now come to the Fourth resolution of the question. Do you ask, how must we preach, if we do not offer Christ to sinners? I answer, we must preach the Gospel evangelically, so as, if possible, to stain the pride of all glory in the creature, for we are to “preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake,” II Cor. 4:5, and if you preach not yourselves, then these offers will certainly return from the pit from whence they were raised by men’s clever misconstruction of God’s free grace in Christ.

Offers always tend towards creature-glorying, for when you should be evangelizing, how God is rich in mercy, and how full in Grace and Power through the Lord our Righteousness, Eph. 2:4, you begin proposing some creature-act; and so Christ is now and then brought in, by the bye, only upon the courtesy of your offers. Here his name is made to stoop to your wickedness, and to serve with your sins. Thus offers are fitted to exalt the creature, for when you should be preaching all that exalts God, in contriving, preparing, sending, and revealing Salvation by Christ, also in bestowing and conveying these truths into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, men instead of it, depart from the truth, I Tim. 4:1, giving heed to a seducing spirit that carries them away to glory in offers; and when offers come to town, what do they do? Alas, they evidently lessen God and greaten man in the people’s eyes that are open. I never saw an offer mentioned in any book, but therein is an evident debasing of God, even below the character of the creature. And I believe an experimental, enlightened Christian, led into the mystery of God, and having a living communion with God in his soul, could never hear the offer drop in a sermon, without lessening in his mind all which was said before.

Tenders of Salvation, i.e., offers of Grace are not calculated to exalt God in his Person, his covenant of Grace, or his Operation of Grace; and is this good news? No, then never preach thus, to follow the multitude, Exod. 23:2, into their offer-language. Offers give God the lie by bringing glory to the creature, and so to make the creature boast of himself, {contrary to Psal. 32:11, which commands the new creature to be glad in the Lord,} than they are fitted to Jehovah the Spirit, and to give thanks to God the Lord for Faith, as the Scriptures teach us to glory. Grace shall reign through righteousness unto eternal life. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly.” II Thes. 1:3. So, Col. 1:3-4, “we give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints.” And, Rom. 1:8, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” How was this faith wrought? By the direct power of God. Then which is to be exalted, God’s power or men’s offers? Thanks were rendered for Operations of the Spirit, whereby the faith that was spoken of, was freely bestowed. Then preach Operations, and down with your offers. But now there would be more thanks due to offers, than to the Spirit in his Operations, supposing a person could be converted truly to Christ under such offers. For offers are a bait to natural reason, to stir up a man to thank the preacher for his offer, rather than they do in revelation to thank the Grace of God for his gift. But, says Paul, “I thank my God always on your behalf,” I Cor. 1:4, “for the Grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.”

Besides, if the offer takes with the outer court, to let in some notion of Christ by a rational eye, {there being something in Christ fitted to the reasonable nature,} yet that soul still rebels; but if Christ be let into the soul by a renewed eye, the eye of faith, the soul is humbled and receives him, as he is fitted to God’s Glory and our wants above reason. In, Lk. 2:25, there is a glorying in the Holy Spirit, in a possession of Grace, and not in an offer, a mere phantom. For when Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was upon him, there was nothing ascribed to his accepting of an offer, as the reason of his waiting for the consolation of Israel, but to this, that the Holy Ghost was upon him. When men preach offers, their praise is not of God, nor will the Lord assist them; but their praise is of a creature’s act, in accepting the offer made them. {“And thou say in thine heart, my power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.” Deut. 8:17.} But, says Christ of God, and says a faithful minister of Christ, “my praise shall be of thee in the great congregation,” Psal. 22:25, and, “whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Psal. 73:25. Now suppose a man could be converted in revealed religion, by means which owed more to reason than it did to Revelation; would not that way of Conversion, if there were such a way, bring more glory to the creature and the reason of the creature, than it could bring to Jehovah the Spirit, by and according to the supernatural measures of Revelation? {“And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” Isa. 40:5.}

True faith gives all the glory to God in passive work, never minds glorying in offers; for these are in no wise fitted to exalt Christ in the secret workings of his Power; as they insist but upon the opening part of the man’s labour, but not upon the glory and hiding of God’s power, which is wrought by an irresistible agent, so that none can turn it back, Isa. 43:13, let, or hinder it, working in such secrecy, that none can behold it, unless it be made known and revealed. The way to convert the elect is not to offer a doctrine, but to exalt the power in the doctrine. What power went forth upon the heart of Matthew, when Christ said unto him, “follow me; and he arose and followed Him!” Matt. 9:9. It is the folly of ministers to insist upon a form of command, in their preaching, which command was peculiar in the supernatural energy of it, to none but the Son of God, and to his Apostles, who had received a special commission from himself; whilst, at the same time, they shun to declare His power. II Pet. 1:16. Whereas it is our duty to preach the power and declare the way. We must do this if we are faithful servants, leaving the command in our Master’s hand, to speak it within men, whilst we are exalting the power of his arm, and to put in the command by his own Spirit in the working it. Jer. 31:33. It is our duty always to exalt and preach the power of effectual Grace, because that conveys the com- mand from our powerful Lord therein, but it is not our duty to preach up the mere form of the command, for that never carries any power with it. If I were to preach believing, my duty now, where men have a general faith already, {which they had not in the Apostle’s days,} is not to insist on a form of words to such as “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 16:31, but to open the pure Gospel, with which the power of God descends, and works faith that is effectual to the obtaining of its prize. I Cor. 9:24. Men would be far more fruitful than they are, if God the Spirit led them more into the Mystery of his own Operations. For the Lord the Spirit will have the glory of the power in an applicatory way ascribed to Himself alone, or he will not drive home the essential truths of the Gospel. You think to bring sinners to the faith of the Operation of God by commanding them, saying, “believe,” but I say, no; you will not do it; for you are neither Christ nor his Apostles. Whereas, with them when they said “believe,” the power to effect it went along with open signs, Mk. 16:17, which it does not now. Oh, the power of Christ, and the power of the Caller, is that which we should exalt, instead of a mere form of a call. You may call to dead sinners it is true, but not as Christ, who called James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him. Matt. 4:21-22. The arm of the Lord is revealed, where a sinner is wrought on to the saving of the soul. {“Who hath believed our report; and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” Isa. 53:1.} This should be insisted on, not an offer of Christ. Nevertheless, when the offer- speech is charged, a man thinks to come off with his ascent, or by declaring his ascent to a few orthodox notions, and by saying, “I believe it.” Whereas the tree is known by its fruit, Lk. 6:44, and the insisting so much upon offers openly declare they have no reliance on God’s power; for else, all that a man has said of offers, would be turned into an exalting of the power, in the promise of the Father. {“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Lk. 24:49.}

The Fifth resolution of the question. Do you ask, how we must preach, if we do not offer Christ? I answer, we must preach the Gospel so as it is fitted, under the exalted Operations of the Spirit, to beat down the practical Arminianism of all our natures. We are ready to think Arminianism lies only in the book, or the apostate churches; and that if we protest against the open Acts Synodalia Remonstrantium, {a volume that contains a large body of Arminianism,} against the Canons of the Synod of Dort, all is well. This is simply another mistake. Arminianism is the universal nature of mankind. It is by nature everybody’s innate principle, and there is no more religion in it than what springs from reasonable nature under corruption. It is our own case by nature, and I find it as natural in me to be an Arminian, as it is to breathe. I will own it, that every man before the power of Grace changes and overcomes him, hath free will, or rather a slavish will to be an Arminian by nature. We were all born so, and without the power of Grace we must die so. Now we that are ministers under Christ’s power, must preach the Gospel so as to beat down Arminianism. But these offers of Grace are fitted to uphold Arminianism. Aye, forty times more than they are suited to the free gift of Effectual Grace, to and upon the elect of God alone. This appears, 1. By Van Hermione, or Arminius himself, who makes preaching to be proposing of the Law and the Gospel. Arminius, too near akin to Pelagius, likewise makes use of the offer to uphold the doctrine of General Redemption, urging, that “none can reasonably be blamed for rejecting the offer of redemption, unless redemption be obtained for all.” I may likewise add the plain evidence of Castellio or Castalio, who was his senior, though he lived about the times of Arminius, and is harping upon the same string, “God promises good things and offers the same,” says he, {writing upon Predestination at the end of his Dialogues, pg.297.} And then instead of God’s writing the Law in the heart in the passive language, he says no more than that, “God proposes his Law to man,” {in his third dialogue about the will of man, pg.180.}

Again, that offers of grace are fitted far more to uphold Arminianism than they are suited to the Free Gift, appears by the professed followers of Arminius. For, when Dr. Ames had called preaching the Gospel to Sinners, a grant of means, not an offer of Grace in the means, his Arminian opposite, a proud and haughty free-willer by the name of Grevinchovious, takes him up for it, as I find under the Arminian’s own hand, and tells him that in the instance he brought, he did not allow an offer of Grace; for he upbraids him in these words, “but you bring an instance,” says he, “which doth not at all lay down an offer of Grace.” Here is a downright Arminian who finds fault, because we admit not offers of Grace. Whereas had offers exalted the Operations of the Holy Ghost, the Arminian had never pleaded for them. Who then could have thought that after this spirit had been discovered in the Arminians almost a hundred years ago, yet now under the Gospel, after so long a time, it should have come to the turn of the Nonconformist, {or the trained and educated Calvinists in our midst,} to find fault that we strike at offers of Grace, while yet we show unto them a more excellent way? I Cor. 12:31. And yet so it is. I will produce one instance more of this last follower of Arminius, “the price of redemption is offered to be accepted by the reprobate,” says he, “if they will accept it.” {Grevinch against Ames, pg.87.} You see now who an offer of Grace is most suited to. It is more to the spirit of the Arminians than to the spirit of the Gospel; and pray, what says the Arminian vindicator, Corvinus, in his censure of Pierre Du Moulin? “It is enough,” says he, “that that price be offered to some of the reprobate, to prove that it was paid for all.” {Censura Snatomes Arminianismi, etc. 1614.} And saith their triumphing Simon Episcopius, a notable professor of the Arminian Chair once at Leiden, “God had offered Grace to the Jews a long time by his Son Jesus, and afterwards by the Apostles.” Oh, ‘tis the offer-divinity which gives these men their strong advantages in the matter, on which they build so many of their arguments. And still do you say, how must we preach? When as the Arminians stand gaping before you, and are ready to eat every word upon that side you say. Pray tell me, how Petrus Bertius, the subtle Arminian in his writings against the Orthodox Collectors at the Hague, labours to beat down the true Effectual Grace of God, doth he do it by upholding an Effectual Offer; and yet some men dream from them of effectual offers. “If to convert a man there needs an irresistible power, then from thence it follows that they who are not converted, are called in vain unto Salvation; since then no reason could be given why God should call them, and offer Salvation to them, nor could God otherwise offer them Grace and Salvation,” says he, “to the end that they might be altogether inexcusable.” So once again we see that an offer is altogether ineffectual as to the production of Grace. Thus I prove it evidently out of professed Arminian authors, that offers agree more with the Arminian doctrine than they agree with Paul’s doctrine; yea, than they match with the Holy Ghost’s doctrine of Effectual Grace. The effectual offer is an Arminian dream! It is absurd to ascribe it to God, that the Grace he offers lacks efficacy, otherwise God would fain a good will towards them whom he hates. {“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” II Cor. 4:2.} Oh, if we lay down the Gospel in a Gospel way of truth, we are delivered from all the abominations of these Arminians; neither is there room for their subtleties to bring men into such labyrinths as they do. I must here profess my sorrow and burden for some of our present nonconformist ministers, who have lost so much ground, while they profess to serve the Gospel in their learning, and in their zeal for orthodoxy, that they seem at this day, in their plea for offers, Rom.10:2, to be mere strangers to everything in the Arminian controversy, except the bare name of it. Otherwise, they would see that some of the most subtle of the Arminians have covered what ours do render bare-faced, without the covering; I mean their natural reasons have cast a veil over Effectual Offers of Grace.

Lastly, I might add Conrad Vorstius himself, for albeit Vorstianism is a collection of errors about the Nature and Attributes of God, yet in one book of his, I mean that work against Piscator, there Vorstius contends himself to be an Arminian, and neither were the old Arminians wont to find fault with his writings. In that same piece of his labours he expressly writes thus, “the offer of Salvation to men goes before their believing;” and then upon John 12:47 & 48, his gloss of Christ there speaking, is this, “I do in the word offer the Salvation of the Gospel to all, and will take care that it is to be offered.” And on John 6:40, he saith that, “the offer of Salvation is extended unto all.” Whence we see that it is no wonder, if other men nowadays to uphold their offers go to work in the Arminian and Vorstian ways upon such texts, as Rev. 22:17; Isa. 55:1; II Cor. 5:20; Isa. 27:5; Acts 13:46; Rom. 3:25, and such like. So that as these texts are brought off from the Arminians by the other side in the debates, they may be all brought off from the doctrine of the offer, in the same way; and some of them with more advantage, by discovering that to be said in the Bible upon them which is not said in the debates. If any object, the Reformers practice in the use of this language was the same. I answer, that Reformers by nature are in no wise better than others, Rom. 3:9, nor go further, but as they are taught of God the Spirit. For as to education, study and custom, they may help men sometimes to vary the first forms of nature, but presently notwithstanding these, without fresh supplies of Grace, Reformers have been prone to sink below the Reformation, as well as others, and build again what they have destroyed, Gal. 2:18, and that with wood, hay and stubble, I Cor. 3:12, in too many places of their voluminous writings. There is abundance of Reformation to be still found in the Holy Scriptures, which is copied out fully into no other book or books in the world! By all it further appears, that offers and proffers suit Arminianism, in that they do secretly tend to support universal redemption, because they are said to be general, and to all, without troubling the head of the minister, or the ears of the congregation, to make any distinction; and this is just as the Arminians do. Perhaps it is for fear people should have hard thoughts of our doctrine. Thus are men ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; and why? Mk. 8:38. Because they have not been persuaded in their own minds and thus do not feel it to be the power of God unto Salvation in their own souls. Paul had been ashamed of it among the Jews, as ministers now-a-days are ashamed of it, that it should come thus and thus from their mouths to be told among the Arminians, lest the Arminians being hardened should speak against them. They will therefore frame a plausible way of preaching, easy to nature, that which agrees with the Arminians. The truth is, men are ashamed of the cross of Christ. However, if you take them up in a corner, and talk with them where the Arminians cannot hear, they will deny universal redemption, Jn. 19:38; but bring them forth upon the house-tops among the mixed auditors, and see if they do not preach after that fashion, which cherisheth a secret belief of, and regard to the universal doctrine of a general redemption. And what mean these general offers, if there be no general foundation, neither in universal Grace, nor in general Redemption to support them? Offers are suited to old Adam in the Arminian way, far beyond what any can pretend they are suited to in any one piece of the New Adam; though men are loath this should be known, because it disturbs them in their crafty way.

Offers are fitted to creature-power, to self- strength, as it were partly, if not purely, {or rather impurely,} our own strength. Offers do not clearly argue the necessity of a new birth, Jn. 3:3, that except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God, but they argue a necessity of closing with Christ and accepting him, whether a man be born, or not born from above. What then is the offer fitted to but rank Arminianism? Offers to men in the flesh to accept of Christ unto Salvation, do more argue that they who are in the flesh can please God, than they do argue that they who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom.8:8. Is not this nothing short of plain Arminianism then? Ah, while men remain under such large pieces of the veil of Arminianism, they cannot see Arminianism in their principles nor propositions! How can men receive these offers spiritually, since sinners who have the benefits of Christ applied to them, are not only without the Spirit, but are such as cannot receive the Spirit? {“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Jn. 14:17.} No, no, if you will put sinners to work without the Spirit, what is now above them, set them to fulfil the whole Law, for they were once able in Adam to keep the whole Law, and God may justly require of the children, what they were obliged to in their parents. But never let preachers set such as cannot receive the Spirit to believe spiritually, Jn. 6:44, for they could never, as in the other instance, heretofore to it, neither they nor their grandfather Adam before them. Let them set an Infidel or a Jew to believe in Christ naturally, and they are right. There is ground enough to do so; and it is condemnation not to believe so, since men have not only a natural ground for the faculty of natural faith but they have all the common assistance of arguments. But to believe with the Holy Ghost new begetting the heart unto righteousness, men have no power; they can have no power; they shall have no power. The lack of natural faith will condemn men under the Ordinances of the Gospel, and yet the having a natural faith will not save men. {“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” Jn. 8:24.} Now in short, either men do not believe this, or, to the greatest absurdity contrary to their own belief, they fall in closer with Arminianism, than they fall in with the true chain of the Gospel. Still I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; I can preach it through Grace among proud sinners and triumph over their insults against that Electing Love and Sovereign Grace, which is denied them. For the promise runs thus, “their hearts shall meditate terror,” but thou shalt not be afraid. Isa. 33:18. Thou shalt be neither afraid that the terror shall be thy portion, says God, nor afraid when the world cries out fie upon thy belief. Where is the creature-power that makes any approaches to your offers? Where are your soft offers; your charming offers, your free offers, gospel offers, effectual offers, obligatory offers; of whatsoever sort and size you have them? Can a sinner make his approaches and come out as far as half- way block to meet any of these? A saint that has been under a work of Grace says, “I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.” Psal.88:8. Aye, how does your preaching relieve such a soul, when you stand raving and offering, and Christ Himself does not help you to preach effectually, because you despise his Grace? “Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again; he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.” Job 12:14. No opening indeed by creature power, no opening by serious proposals to the will! Go to a man under the sense of the wrath of God, and see if this will do. Whose understanding was ever opened by offers of Grace? Whose conscience washed? Whose will was ever unlocked by this rusty key that never fitted one word in God’s book? God will be honoured; the reserve of power is in his own hands. “I am he that openeth, and none can shut,” says Jesus Christ. Rev. 3:7. You must preach Christ alone for strength to the will, not Christ for offers towards motion in the will. For “when he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble; and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? Whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only.” Job 34:29. You offer Christ, but the sinner sees him not through the dark veil of your offer. Where is the creature-power which these biased offers lean towards? No man can even say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost, I Cor. 12:3, even saying it will cost him dear, except the Holy Ghost empower him. He cannot say it and stand to it if the times will not bear it, but he will eat his own words, and shake and tremble like an aspen-leaf, in times of persecution, if he is called to account before scarlet coats and great wigs, except the Holy Ghost work in him mightily.

What is it takes your hearts now; offers of Effectual Grace? Keep your offers to yourselves; and the Lord give me Effectual Grace! It is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. Phil. 2:13. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6:44. Men have not strength to direct their own way to God by Christ; and when the LORD does give them one heart and one way, Jer. 32:39, it is by such preaching as agrees with the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, Eph. 4:3, and not by preaching offers of Grace, suited to nurse the haughty pride of the Arminians. Offers are suited to the assertion of a creature-power in all that is offered, and depend on the will of the receiver, or lean towards that dependence in the will of the flesh. You may talk what you will of God’s working by Effectual Grace under an ineffectual offer, nevertheless, when you take up your offer, you do assuredly in an instant lay the stress towards the side of creature-dependence; and so, in the very act of delivering it, you presently run upon Arminian ground, while you take ground by offers of Grace, and turn upon creature-power directly. {“He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand?” Isa. 44:20.} Nevertheless, God’s dispensation of his Grace carries in it no dependence on the creature’s reception. He does not convey his Grace which then would be no Grace, Rom. 11:6, if it were to be so conveyed by any dependence upon creature-acts.

Offers are fitted to creature-prevention of God in the motion-part of Grace, for as if the motion-part of Grace in being brought under subjection to Christ were all to depend on a discourse of doctrine taught or a careful mangling of an exhortation, for there the offer begins to show itself, which plainly supposes, that God, by his Grace, has not superseded the use of exhortation in the power of his Spirit and Presence through the fore-part of the discourse; but the offer which comes in at the latter end is as if the motion-part of Grace in the heart were there to begin, and the work of joining the heart to Christ were now to be done; whereas by Grace in the fore-part God prevents the offer which would prevent Him in the latter part. {The creature cannot come in so much as in the last part. II Thes. 1:11; Phil. 1:6; I Cor. 1:8. How then can the creature come in to preventing grace which is first of all?} Preach so as to exalt God’s preventing Grace; for we see that he is the God of peace by preventing Grace, before he is the Spirit of sanctification by promoting Grace. The LORD is found of them that sought him not; made manifest unto them that asked not after him. Rom. 10:20. This is purely preventing Grace, but offers of Grace are not so suited to this, as they are to Arminianism. Oh, therefore, preach them down, and when an offer lies moist upon the tip of your tongues, ready to fly out, let it sink in again, and in the room of it say, “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Rom. 5:6. It is nature’s pride by offers to think to step in and prevent the blessings of goodness that are freely bestowed already. It may be that which hath been conveyed unto and sealed upon the heart of a sinner, in discourse, three quarters of an hour before the preacher came to his offers, which by-and-by is so knocked on the head with the offer phrases, that the poor sinner is presently thrust down from his faith to his former doubts, querying whether he has anything to do with Christ or no. The moment before he found strength to believe Christ, but now these offers come in, and he thinks he is all wrong in an instant! Grace is of God, and to God, but offers are neither of him, nor through him, nor to him. {“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Rom. 11:36.} They are not of him, for they are not appointed. They are not through him, for they are not influenced by him. They are not to him, for they run away to creature acceptance, by the arm of flesh, instead of exalting the Divine conveyance.

Offers of Christ to unregenerate sinners are suited to creature-co-operation and creature-concurrence, which is rank Arminianism. They tend to form up the preacher’s counsel, exhortations and persuasions into a con-cause, as the Arminians call it, with the Spirit of God. Thus the creation-work upon the soul which has no concurrence is tacitly denied, and all that is spoken suits Arminianism to a hair’s breadth. Where is the Single and Effectual Operation of Irresistible Grace, as managed by God the Spirit, insisted on among men that offer Christ? I do not find it. Are offers more fitted to exalt God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, Phil. 2:13, than they are fitted to exalt the concurrence of the creature with God’s Grace to accept these offers? The Scripture speaks thus, “be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength; so will we sing and praise thy power.” Psal. 21:13. Here is no co-operation of strength; it is all God’s own that he must and will be exalted in. But are offers purely cut out to exalt God in his own strength? No; but to represent God, standing by whilst proposing his Grace, and principally to exalt the free will and obligation of the creature and his power; or rather some broken fragments of imaginary power to accept offers. Ah, here lies the pride of all flesh which shall be stained when the LORD comes to rain down righteousness in the blood of Christ, {“it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you,” Hos. 10:12,} mercy and judg- ment, so as that the Lord alone shall be exalted! {“The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” Isa. 23:9.} Man’s rotten righteousness that he has made such a flutter about, is stained, when God rains down his own righteousness, {“and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day,” Isa. 2:17,} and man’s wisdom is stained as soon as he comes to see it in the light of God’s Spirit through his Son. But now, wherein is God exalted by your offers in his own strength, Christ, wherein and whereby he has been pleased to engage and oblige himself in an Everlasting Covenant, II Sam. 23:5, to work Grace in the sinner independent of any creature-concurrence? Ah, blessed be God, that cuts down all your fleshly offers.

Offers are more fitted to creature casualty than to the Creator’s own Unerring and Effectual Grace, as the sole and only cause and means of turning the will to Christ. Offers are more suited to contradict that of the Holy Ghost by the Apostles, “ye are saved by Grace, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8. I stand amazed to see how some men in the face of that text dare bring in their offers! “Who maketh thee to differ from another; and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” I Cor. 4:7. Offers are most suited to the doctrine of Nicolaas Grevinckhoven, who said, “I have made myself to differ in accepting the proposal,” than they suit with Discriminating Grace that causeth all the difference by Operations of Grace, without any offers at all. {“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” II Cor. 10:5.} Alas, what a shame to hear wise men of understanding, who to an extent know what the will of the Lord is, Eph. 5:17, speak in such detestable terms!

The sixth resolution of the question. How must we preach the Gospel to sinners, if we do not offer the Gospel to them? I answer that we ought to preach the Gospel discriminately, so as in the light of the Lord to define when Christ and Salvation are effectually given, and where, and in whose hands the gift of Salvation lies. But tenders are very unaccountable, when they come to be examined in the light of the Gospel, in any of these respects. The Gospel is to be preached accountably, so as to be able to give an account when Christ and Salvation are effectually given. Christ is given before the Spirit is given, and the Spirit is given before his work is begun. {“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.” Jn. 16:13.} Here’s some consistence fairly accounted for; but they who defend offers cannot tell consistently, whether the tender be made before the Holy Ghost is given, or after he is given. Therefore they cannot clearly and fairly make out their proposals at all; neither can they accountably resolve it, whether the offer is to be made before the Holy Ghost is given, for then they’ll never reconcile it with preventing Grace, if they pretend it to be first; neither can they accountably resolve it, whether the offer be after the Holy Ghost is given; for if it be, then the main thing of all that is put within me, is put there by Grace without any tender at all; and if the main work be done without offers, then sure all the rest that is subordinate may be done in preaching the Gospel the same way.

Again, if the offer of Grace to a sinner is to be made before the Holy Ghost is given, then God the Spirit hath not his due right to the glory of preventing Grace, as God the Father and God the Son in Christ have; and if after, then it is proposed in vain, because the thing is already bestowed and received. Christ is given, and by the Spirit formed in the heart, and the heart and will are wound up to Christ before the offer comes. But as a practical acceptance grows out of the ploughed up ground or fit soil, therefore proposals are unmet.

The Gospel ought to be preached accountably, so as to be able fairly to give an account, whether the offer be God’s act, or the minister’s; but they who defend offers of Christ cannot fairly account for them, whether they be God’s act, or the minister’s. They cannot be put to God’s account, because God nowhere says that he offers Christ, nor offers Salvation; and so the dispensation of Grace can be no offer of God’s. Besides, to proffer a thing shows that the matter is doubtful, therefore no means to open the heart to God in the certainty of God’s Covenant towards his own in Christ. {“I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Isa. 55:3. “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Acts 13:34.} It cannot therefore be ascribed to God to proffer, but to give, because of the certainty of his covenant. God’s sending and giving Christ to his own are certain and unalterable acts of love in God’s Covenant; God so acting towards them in the Salvation of the Gospel, as that they shall know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. {“Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Matt. 13:11.} Therefore the offer can be none of God’s act, for he acts altogether above the sphere of any incapacitated and precarious means.

Again, it is not God’s act, for God’s act is within the heart, but the offer is an act without the heart, Mk. 7:18, and before the man, and only in his presence at some distance removed. In God’s work the object and the heart meet at one point within, and here is the first spiritual recognition and practical subjection to Christ himself. {“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Jn. 7:17.}

Offers of Grace and Salvation surely cannot be put to the minister’s account, because he brings but the doctrine, not the Salvation with him. Grace and Salvation descend from Heaven by a higher Operation than Ministerial labours. Ministers indeed are labourers together at the time when God works Grace, I Cor. 3:9, because God works Grace while he enables his ministers to bring the doctrine from their hearts to their mouths. But Salvation is a secret power that comes from Heaven, working itself into the doctrine, and is quite distinct from the trumpet, or open sound of words, which fall from the ministerial agent.

The Gospel ought to be preached accountably, or preached so as to give some consistent account of the quality and properties of our preaching. But now if our preaching runs into the offer-speech, the quality and property of these offers are very unaccountable. For, an evangelical offer is unaccountable. Evangelical is that which belongs to good news, but an offer is a device, and a device carries a sinner no farther than he is already; and where is the good news in that? An offer talks much, but shows me nothing; it comes with no evidence; and where is the good news of that? No offer can be made of Absolute Grace that turns the heart and secures acceptance. Then where is the Good News? And is it not a very unaccountable thing for men to talk of an evangelical offer?

A Free offer is unaccountable. How can that be free that’s lame, halts by the way, and cannot come home? How can that be free, as Grace is free, that can do nothing where the will is bound? A free offer has no other freedom in it than a resolute preacher’s natural free will to stand by it. And when he is most serious, it is but his good word and fair speech to deceive the hearts of the simple, Rom. 16:18, and make them believe it’s Free Grace and Free Gift. There can be no free offer in the sense of Free Grace without very clear revelation in the Word, as all the Truths of Christ have.

An effectual offer {for the same reasons} must be very unaccountable. The truth of God is Effectual, and makes free indeed, Jn.8:36, but the free offer, though it flows never so freely out of men’s mouths, makes no sinner free thereby; therefore it has no Gospel efficacy.

An obligatory offer is very unaccountable. Obligatory is what obliges, ties, and binds a man, but no offer can oblige a sinner, except what is contrary to the loosening of a sinner, that he may take hold of Christ. Now a sinner is tied and bound with the cords of sin, Rom. 7:21, and an obligatory offer, the nature of which still is to pretend to tie him, can do him no good. Why? The sinner is under bonds already, and do you think to bring him off with new obligations? Besides, if all men are bound to close with the Salvation of the Gospel, as well as the report and witness of the Gospel, or the doctrine of the Gospel, where the Gospel comes, then your obligatory offer is another Arminian device that plainly points to universal redemption; unless men will pretend that sinners may be saved who were never redeemed.

A ministerial offer is very unaccountable. Ministerial is that which lies at the will and pleasure of the Master in his minister or servant. Every minister of Christ is a steward of the mysteries of God, I Cor. 4:1-2, moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. He must act according to his commission and no further. But when ministers come to offers, they take upon them to act unwarrantably and of their own heads. The commission runs no further than to preach, teach, and show glad tidings. What business have they than to run and offer what they have no right or authority to dispose of? They have no sufficiency of their own to think a good thought as of themselves, II Cor. 3:5, though it runs within their commission; then what sufficiency can they have for that which was never put within their war- rant? An offer or a proffer argues some right of disposal in one’s self, or some authority to dispose of the thing offered from another. But ministers cannot dispose of Christ, nor of the Spirit, nor of Salvation, nor of any one saving benefit of the Gospel. He is a thief that would dispose of his goods without his Lord’s consent. Where then is your Ministerial offer? A minister’s work lies quite another way than to offer his Master’s Grace without his Master’s authority; he is only to wait upon his Master, while his Master himself, even Jesus Christ, who is God’s householder, Matt.20:1, dispenses God’s Grace to the household. Jesus Christ is the Father’s servant to communicate the benefit, not to propound the offer; and he never sends servants to rob him of his own High Office. God’s gift of Salvation through Christ by the Spirit, is so high a piece of Grace, that it will not stand with the arrogance of the creature, as to put in and tell sinners to, “come, here I offer you Christ; here, take him.” This does not advance Christ, but self-offers; nor does it advance God, but man. I offer you Christ! Is your “I” so big? Then get thee down to thy place, and lie in the dust, thou great, thou base, thou God-dishonouring “I!”

An offer of Grace to a sinner, and not an offer of Grace to a saint {my meaning is, an offer of Christ to the unconverted, and yet no offer of Christ for the increase of Grace to the converted} is an unaccountable thing indeed; and yet in all of men’s talk of offering Christ to sinners, they never insist on offering him to saints. Now if I preach Christ thereby to fulfil my ministry, I must preach Him as he is, all in all to build up saints, as well as all in all to bring in sinners. I am to preach to saints and sinners in one invariable branch of Free Grace. I do not know two branches of Grace that differ, so as to say that one is Free, and the other is not Free. Then why do you not offer Christ to saints as well as you do to sinners? And why do you offer Christ for life and justification to sinners, when you do not offer Christ for nourishment of life and evidences of justification to saints? This is a very unaccountable thing. {“Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the Law.” Mal. 2:9.}

The seventh resolution of the question. We must so preach the Gospel as to take a special care that we distinguish the Spirit’s work from the creature’s acts, and in most applicative and practical truths we preach. Men have a general notion in the church of God, that regeneration is to be ascribed to the Spirit, but they do not feel as new born souls, under the sensible stirrings of corruption, that the Holy Ghost must perform all the new creature-acts. There the Spirit’s work is to be distin- guished and cleared in the proclamation of the Gospel, instead of muddied by these presumptuous offers. For it is there commonly, when men come to use applications, that they break the Second Commandment, and bow down to other gods before Him. Exod. 20:5. Offers nod towards the creature, as a superstitious ceremony- monger bows toward his altar. Offers entangle and unravel the Spirit’s work, in those parts of a discourse especially which they call Application. Now you should preach the Gospel just as the Spirit delights to do all the work within us himself, even in bringing us to our duty. Away then with your offers in putting men to repent, while you conceal the loving kindness of the Lord, and how the Holy Spirit delights to work this repentance from an ex- alted Jesus, Acts 5:31, making repentance sweet by Operations of Gospel Grace, and not bitter by offers. {“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zeph. 3:17.} So again, offers put such a slight and neglect upon this delightful work of the Spirit, that you can scarcely imagine by offer-preaching, that the Spirit ever took any delight to create faith in you, or took any delight to work repentance in you; but only would delight in you after you are holy, provided you be but holy, though you don’t know which way you are to be so. Thus do too many of these preachers by their offers eclipse and injure the Spirit’s work.

The eighth resolution of the question is that we ought to preach the Gospel in the way of an Institution of Christ. The command runs thus, “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” II Tim. 4:2. But there is no command for offers. Offers are no Institution of Christ, but debase an institution of Christ into the invention of the creature. Preaching is an appointed proclamation, Isa. 61:2, not an un-commanded proposal. Now proclamations come forth in the name of the Sovereign with authority, but proposals creep forth like frogs, without any due advancements of the Son of God in the royalty of his Grace or Sceptre. Is not that preacher like to do a great deal of service by Christ, who, in the matters of Salvation, professes to come forth to sinners in the Name of the Lord? To propose to them the acceptance of Christ for eternal life? No; but in Christ’s name, preaching the Gospel so as to exalt the power of Christ to conquer sinners, not beating parleys in an offer of Christ to compound with sinners. What commandment have I received from the Lord to propose Christ to a dead sinner? I have an express word to preach Christ, as a proper means of conversion; but to propose Christ to a sinner is too low a means to quicken him. It is of mere human invention, and a means of the wrong kind, being nowhere instituted of God to that end. The ordinance is to preach Christ to dead sinners, and if they be elect objects of sovereign and discriminating love, they shall be quickened in the ordinance. Whereas, though a man be an elect object, and you go and propose Christ to him ever so much, it shall never benefit him, because offers and proposals are but man’s devices. And though men are resolute and still bent upon their own way, yet the elect shall be preserved, and not miscarry; for God will call his elect from under man’s device, to his own ordinance. I therefore must not offer Christ to the elect of God, but I must preach Christ, because God hath made it the means of conveying life into the dead souls amongst them. These sinners by means of the Christ of God preached into their souls do hear and live. {“Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” Jn. 5:25.}

The Ninth resolution of the question. We ought to preach the Gospel, as it has a special promise of triumph. Success of the Gospel is one thing, a promise of success is another thing. {“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isa. 53:11. “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” I Jn. 2:25.} Now as to the success of the Gospel, we should not preach so as to blast our own labours, and afterwards complain that our labours are not prospered. Offers blast our labours, as we see by experience, and makes a very discontented ministry, and full of complaints in the assembly, both as to preachers and hearers. As to preachers, their complaints arise from this way of departing from the Effectual Grace of the Gospel, though they see it not. For while they should be keeping close to the Gospel, and the blessing of God for the Grace of the Gospel, they are generally complaining {such I mean that have some acquaintance therewith} and the work of conversion stops. But alas; it is our dead, formal, heavy preaching in a way of offering Christ that has stopped it. Men are angry at those parts of the Gospel which have been most experienced upon the souls of his own people; and they strike most at those parts of the Gospel where Christ gets most glory, and souls get most comfort; and then be- cause the Lord does not prosper them in their opposite, dead, heavy, and mixed way of preaching by offers of Christ and offers of Salvation to many to whom there are no bestowments of Salvation at all; and so they are discontented and complain of the want of success. Ministers look mainly at some things that take off the edge of the Gospel, and seem to lodge and stick in their indiscriminate offers, whilst looking for a great deal of success, under a very little of God’s truth and their own faithfulness, running wide off the bounds of Special Grace in preaching, or think to offer Special Grace to sinners which is a special contradiction; and are then discontented that no success comes their way, and wonder that the people are ready to leave them and go off to neighbouring ministers, whereas they bring these things upon themselves, by studying to uphold a way of preaching which God hath never promised to bless. {“And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.” II Chron. 24:20.} I have heard some ministers complain of their fruitless labours; and they will always have reason for it so long as they give any credence to offers of grace, and refuse to toss them aside, whilst exalting the Spirit’s work. The Spirit of the LORD teaches the ministers of Christ to fall upon the inner parts of the Gospel for Conversion work; to preach up the glory thereof, and to magnify the great power of God in all their sermons; which power works freely by Gift, and can by no means be offered. If you would succeed, magnify the Spirit’s work, and show how the Gospel is hid to some, while it is freely given to others to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and to believe on Christ’s name. {“Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Matt. 13:11.} Gifts of Grace are only to some, offers of Grace are promiscuous, but bestowments of Grace are discriminate. Then as to hearers, their complaints have been that they cannot profit under an offer ministry. It must be the Gospel exalted in the Spirit’s hand, not offers and proposals in the ministry, as they tell me from their own experience, and of their own accord that their souls are losers thereby. And why must not I hear the cries which God has put into the mouths of poor souls, who have a work of Grace begun within them, and whose souls are as dear to Christ, as ours are as ministers, and so are by God the Spirit made able to judge of, or try and taste their own food, and also can to the comfort of a humble minister of Christ declare what does, and what does not edify them under men. Neither is this any more than a piece of their being brought out of darkness into marvellous light. {“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” I Pet. 2:9.} For ministers and people ought to be very free together in soul matters. Jer. 3:14. It is not enough that people hear us once or twice a week, but as they have opportunity they should often converse with us about their soul’s concern, blessing of God for what they get, and bewailing of what they lose; and if we by any deviations from the pattern, are the cause of their losing, and not thriving in their souls, we ought not to take it amiss that we hear of it. {“And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue; whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Acts 18:26.} Neither should we call it cavilling, or bitterness, or narrowness of spirit, neither should we deal with men in proud wrath for being faithful.

As to the promise of success, our preaching should not be in a way with where the promise has nothing to do. Rom. 4:20. For as to this way of promise-less offering, it is what all men by nature will put off, and what they shall be all left to put off, and to get no spiritual good thereby. But now all things that the promises of God are made to run upon, are of a quite contrary strain, for the elect of God shall not be left to an inclination of their own, to put off the promises of God, for the Lord’s people shall be willing in the day of his power. Psal. 110:3. Wherefore the Gospel does not come to them in proffers, but in a declaration of the power of God. {“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the LORD.” Hos. 2:19- 20.} Why then are not ministers of Christ more faithful to keep to God’s promises of Grace? What need they to go and try their unscriptural experiments upon what is liable to be slighted, and disregarded by creature put-offs? Jer. 23:27. Why then are men found so to sink in their preaching of the Grace of God, as if the Lord’s Grace might be some sort of a naturalized Grace, the sinners accepting it from some innate ability, if they would accept thereof. Whereas this only shows them to be blind, as to things pertaining to God. Nevertheless, if they do accept, it is only because God brings them to accept his Grace; and whomsoever God brings to an acceptance thereof, it is in God’s own appointed way and not in such nature’s paths which the creature, who professes to go upon God’s errands, has cut out for him. {“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” Psal. 119:37.} The promises that run to preaching, are as absolute as the first promise was, Gen.3:15, because they are made upon the same foundation, and are in the hands of Christ to pursue and to accomplish the same interests; so that they point as much to the Spirit and his work, as that first promise did to Christ and his seed. {“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; 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. 55:10-11. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass; because I will publish the name of the LORD; ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” Deut. 32:2-3.} Hence offers being without a promise are the dry and barren motions of the pulpit! They run from the promised way of the blessing, which is limited to the Gospel way of preaching; and therefore it is only just in the Lord to bring them unto destruction. {“But rise, and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:16-18.}

The tenth resolution of the question. We should preach the Gospel so that the Gospel may boldly justify itself. For the Gospel being but of one piece of Grace, through all the parts thereof, is fitted so to do. But offers are self-condemned, Tit. 3:11, being self-contradictory, being fain to palliate and excuse themselves with what is not their own, as appears by the vain jangling of some of the men who use them. Offers borrow from the truth and from the name of Grace, {Grace-offers, &c.,} to colour over their un-comely looks with excuses in robbery, as a specious varnish, not to be thought faulty or erroneous. Their palliating language is, that they do not mean as the Arminians mean, nor as the Neonomians profess; but some are too strait laced, and ready to stretch their honest meaning beyond the stable, &c. Also, they add, that doubtless there may be a very good meaning and an innocent sense put upon offers of Grace; and the like is commonly uttered by them in their offer-pleas. As a harlot would fain be thought a virtuous woman, while she seeks to conceal her shame in being a strumpet, so it is with them. But I hope in the face of these and many other arguments laid together, that the mask will be taken off. For I know their cry, as they vehemently urge their plea that these offers are gifts, and that they are preaching Christ, that these are the invitations and exhortations of God’s Word, that they are well founded on Holy Scripture, and, as a thief says that he is an honest man; who has anything to lay to his charge? So these offer-mongers would fain be heard to speak for themselves, as if they were very honest, innocent, harmless things, yea, the very Gospel itself, &c., but all is a delusional lie, all is so entirely false. Let offers be plain, let them pull the sheepskin off, and tell us from those pestilent Arminians, as Episcopius and Corvinus, what they really are, and not through the orthodox minded Nonconformists as to what they are not.

The eleventh resolution of the question. We should preach the Gospel, because it is sure and certain as applied to individual persons, or particular interests; it is personally for me or thee. But offers are all indeterminate as to anybody, and so indeed are fixed upon nobody, which must argue their uncertainty to me or thee; and then it is plain they are so, because of their personal and constant inefficacy. For whatsoever of the things of God are constantly ineffectual within me, they must be constantly uncertain in an application to me. Nevertheless, the gift by Grace argues a certainty to you or me, discriminated from ten thousands. The reason is, there is an effectual will in the Donor which makes his grant Effectual in the Operation to and upon an elect vessel of mercy. The gift works a certainty, but the offer evaporates in an uncertainty. The donation of Christ is from the love of the Father to certain individuals, but the offer of Christ is neither from the love of the Father, nor from the life of the Son, nor from the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Offer-preaching runs all its dependencies, on the fool’s feast of windy expectations, and gets nothing but proffers, made only by creatures to creatures, liable to be frustrated, and being made in things that are above human reach, they must be so. It is certain, God, who does nothing in vain, offers not when he sends the Gospel to them whom he knows will not accept either of the Salvation, or special Doctrine thereof. Because the end of sending it is not their acceptance, but God’s Glory, by the Gospel as a means to judge the world of sinners where the Gospel comes; and that upon a higher footing than the light of nature or the law of works. For God will be more glorified when he comes to judge men by Christ’s Gospel, for all their ill-will to the Gospel, II Thes.1:8, for their enmity to what is above nature, and for the preference of their own wisdom, and the wisdom of the schools, before a few plain simple words of the Bible, than if he judged them as mere heathens for sins against the light of nature.

To instance but in one thing for all, which God will most certainly contend against, when he comes to judge in righteousness; that is, for men’s corrupting the doctrine of God and Christ by their school-divinity. What strange notions of eternity, and of God’s acts towards the creature, are divers ministers tinctured with; what vain philosophy, and school-divinity of the contrary parties of Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus, are at this day ready to be taken up? Yea, it descends from one to another upon men who scarce ever heard their names. {“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Col. 2:8.} Are not some of the notions such as tend to make God’s Being in himself, and his acts, thoughts, purchases and his decrees, and those of the creature, co-eternal, and so co- equal? Not one word of which notion can be ever proved from the Bible. Who is it almost one from another without examining it, that doth not make the beginning of God’s way most corruptly to mean some act of God within Himself, as eternal and necessary to his own Being? As if God’s own infinite self-sufficiency and all-sufficiency within Himself could not have been enough for God in the Glory of enjoying Himself, and conversing with Himself in all his Persons; Father, Son, and Spirit, according to God’s own self-sufficiency, millions and millions of ages, {as we may conceive, according to creature-capacity,} before ever he willed, purposed or decreed anything of the works of his hands; especially, since all that is made in Heaven and Earth, of the six days work, is not yet of six thousand years standing. Whereas, the schools have made men expound those phrases of Scripture, before the foundation of the world, and before the world began, and from everlasting, to be as eternal as God’s own Being. {The infinite Being of God cannot be defined in relation to created, finite man.} Here is now the mischief-making wisdom of man that hath not learned of the Lord the Spirit to take God at His word. But to acknowledge God, contrary to the scheme of Popish schoolmen, they think is to make God changeable; whereas, it no more argues a change in God to begin to purpose in Himself, to begin to settle respecting Christ and creatures, than it argues a change in God to begin to create what he had afore purposed, yea, afore prepared unto glory. Rom. 9:23. Since in creation nothing could be made where God’s Immensity in creation as well as in purpose of creation within Himself did not reach.

The twelfth resolution of the question. We should preach the Gospel as it is discovered to be an admirable contrivance of way and means to effect conversion. In that contrivance there is an aptness for conversion, a most sweet harmony between the remedy of corrupt nature and the disease thereof, the remedy in Christ and the disease in sinners. Also there is an admirable harmony between the principle of conversion in the Holy Ghost at the bottom of his own work, and the act of conversion in the heart of a sinner. But offers have no aptitude, no fitness in the means they propose for conversion. They are unapt means, to speak of them according to what men say of them that count them means. For, man is a stubborn creature. To whom he said, “this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing; yet they would not hear.” Isa. 28:12. He hath a strong tide of corrupt nature, strong corruptions to be subdued. An old man to be crucified with him, and the body of sin to be destroyed. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Rom.6:6. Corruption hath not only an in- being, but a strong and active motion to carry sinners off from God and against God. This tide and mass of the waters of wickedness will be too hard for all your offers; and, therefore, in the room of offers, you should preach Operations of the Spirit through the sinner’s relation to God in Christ. For whatever false prophets, or errors, are gone forth into the world, I Jn. 4:1, it is only as ye are of God, little children, vs.4, that you have overcome them. Oh, but now what meetness is there between an uncircumcised heart and the proposal of spiritual things, such as Salvation, Eternal Life, &c.? Also what meetness is there between an uncircumcised heart, and any agreeable action from such an uncircumcised heart, so as spiritually to embrace these, and holily to delight therein? Oh, there is no meetness between a proposal of spiritual things in the Mystery and Life, and an uncircumcised heart; but there is a meetness between an Operation of Grace and the uncircumcised heart of man, though it be enmity against God at the time. The natural mind can go no further than the history of a fact, and the letter of the precept, and just to the outer face and form of the doctrine; and to that neither without an Operation in the common work of the Spirit. The way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps. Jer. 10:23. The sinner under a law work may reach the notion; but then so long as the sinner is uncircumcised in the heart, Jer. 9:26, he cannot attain the spirituality of the truth, veiled under that notion. He may understand a proposal of the form, but can never know the way of acceptance to receive the mystery and true glory of the Word, till sanctified by the Holy Ghost. Rom. 15:16. Man’s goings unto Christ are not of himself, nor is he able to delight in the beauty of holiness, or believe the mystery of sanctification, I Cor. 1:2, in Christ Jesus. {“Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” Prov. 20:24.} What can you propose then to the uncircumcision of the flesh? Can you offer a circumcision in the Spirit under any conceptions of meetness in the way of effecting a change? {“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Col. 2:13.} There is no meetness for proposals here, but rather a meetness to go and preach the conveyances of Christ unto sinners by the Operations of Grace. Man is a captive in unbelief, a slave to himself, to sin and Satan. He has a chain of bondage, yea, many bonds, gates, and bars to be broken in pieces, which the Grace of God in the conveyance of Grace effects. {“He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.” Psal. 107:14.} But what will your offers do? Can you bring the man off? No; but go preach the Effectual Ransom, and tell him ‘tis for such sinners as he, and see if the Holy Ghost will fly in your face, as a man will, and tell you, you lie. We must preach so as to direct wounded sinners to Christ, and not stand in the way by merely offering help.

When you see sinners perishing, will you propose in the pulpit to stand by to see if you can help? And what when you see all this, do you carry it loftily and impertinently? Do you still insist upon offers, and conceal the Efficacy of God? Do you hide the strength of the Lord’s Almighty Arm, the covenant and oath of God that cannot lie; the two immutable things by which it is impossible for God to lie? And instead of this, do you preach God’s willingness if the sinner be willing? I tell you, God is willing when the sinner is unwilling. Ah, away with such an offer of Grace as never did, nor ever can do good to souls, for it brings a dishonour upon Jehovah! {“Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.” Jer. 23:32.} Ah, troubled souls, I pity you! My bowels yearn for you! I could sometimes wish that you and your hard-hearted preachers were separated! {“Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life; therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations; for I will deliver my people out of your hand; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” Ezek. 13:22-23.} But are any preachers willing to alter the uncertain sounds of the pulpit, that troubled souls may find relief? Then I say to such, preach election and non-election, and do not call it harsh doctrine. This will be the way to bring sinners into right trouble by a right work, and to bring them out of that trouble by a higher work, effectually and clearly, by preaching the Efficacy of Grace in the Spirit’s hand or office, I Cor. 2:10, to back what is begun by the Father, and what is carried on by the Son. Preach thus, and there is an apt means for God’s Glory both in soul trouble and in peace, and for the Salvation of the elect to combine with the Glory of God. {“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” II Cor. 1:20.} Preach the saving efficacy of the Spirit’s work in the Gospel, by such vital application of the precious blood of Christ to hearts smitten by sin, being slaughtered by the Law, Rom. 5:11, and when you see their life running out, don’t think to clasp your thumb upon their wound, and cry to perishing sinners, “here I offer you Christ.” What relief is this? It’s to no purpose. The Lord open your eyes! This is not to be done by offers; but by an emptying the soul of that conceit it had been filled with in common religion touching its own righteousness, duties, and notions of acceptance of Christ, which the soul had taken up under offers, by legal strivings. Hereby a soul is sweetly relieved from its burden and bondage, weighed down under legality, against coming to Christ. For soul burdens and spiritual weariness are consistent with coming to Christ, Matt. 11:28, but such burdens and such weariness is oft a preamble of the Spirit’s work in ploughing up the legality and self-righteousness which entangles our thoughts and hardens our hearts. {“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Jn. 6:44.} And this is my own experience, {“I am shut up, and I cannot come forth,” Psal. 88:8,} and must be every other man’s, who hath been under true soul bondage, weary and heavy laden, and yet could not get up so much as to crawl under it. Oh, how sweetly then did the Lord put in his hand of power, oiled with fragrant love! And the first thing that I found towards {motion} was soul-ease upon the spot, Job 34:29, and love conquest that brought me into Christ by Almighty Grace, as not to feel my burden; but plainly as ever a man felt a cure in his body, so I experienced health and cure in my soul, in the day when the Lord revealed abundance of peace and truth, Jer. 33:6, in order to my being brought unto Jesus Christ. I went not for his balm, Jer. 8:22, but his balm came in to me! I was found of Him, even whilst I was one who sought him not. {“I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not; I said, behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.” Isa. 65:1.} His coming made me to come, his believing made me to believe, his willingness made me willing. {“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.” II Tim. 2:19.} {It is consistent enough for people under natural infirmities to come to Christ, but under spiritual infirmities Christ must come to them.} I was carried out of my heart prison upon everlasting arms of love, Deut. 33:27, and upon wings of healing, to that blessed Redeemer of mine, from whence the healing issued forth. Nevertheless, we who have believed, have clouds return after the rain, Eccles. 12:2, and burdens renew again. Gospel preachers have their weighty burdens to press them down, as Paul had, Rom. 7:14-15, but I know that offers of Grace do never take off burdens, neither at first nor at last. So believers do groan, being burdened in this tabernacle of flesh, II Cor.5:4, but offers never ease or alter one groan. How then will they do to relieve such as have not passed from death unto life? I Jn. 3:14. I know therefore, through Grace, how to preach to sinners. I preach to them as Christ preached to me, and as he still continues to preach the Gospel to my soul. For my part, I wonder not that men are so much at a loss to preach! They preach and preach, but the people justly complain they do not hear the preaching. My meaning is, they do not hear Christ preached to their souls; the only Preacher in the world to instruct us how to preach to others. {“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.” I Cor .11:23.}

Alas, what can an old Adam say in the pulpit? He stints with his offered Christ presently! He sets his bounds, limits, and his “ne plus ultra” round about the mercy-seat presently, if he thinks sinners come too near, and too soon! He puts on their shackles, where yet without them they must have stuck in the miry clay. He clogs them with terms, awes them with conditions, holds them in from Christ by the Law, and when he thinks after this fashion that he has made sure work of it, he salves it up with a smooth pretence, {what sinner means to convert a sinner, or to raise the dead,} “come, soul, come to Christ, I have been preaching of Christ, here, I offer thee Christ, I will tell thee he is a free offer; come, come, and close with Him.” Jer. 23:26. Oh, how fit a means is this to convert an ungodly man, when it is a means that damps a godly man’s heart, till he feels the very strengthening comforts of God by this means bursting his heart! {“Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.” Ezek. 12:22.} It may work affection indeed in some ignorant hearers, who never had their understandings opened about sin or Christ, Jn. 16:9-10, nor their hearts burdened with the weight of sin; but it hath produced, and will certainly produce burdens in godly hearts; not being attended with the seal and impression of the Holy Spirit. God is always so tender of the Spirit’s glory, that such perverse ways never did, nor ever shall be blessed {as the Gospel is} to do good in the true knitting of sinner’s hearts to Christ. Oh, but let Christ be exalted as the gift of God to sinners, according to the Word, and he will make his own way, {under such preaching,} through the head, heart, and bowels of old Adam; yea, through all the devil’s stumbling blocks which Satan has put in the way by old Adam, in good men and bad men alike; and Christ will set up his throne in our hearts sweetly, in spite of all the corruptions of our nature. Ezek. 36:26-27. Oh, the power of Divine Grace, the inner part, the glory part of the Gospel conveyed, that is, which exalts Christ. This is the Gospel that runs like the lightnings, searching the deep things of God, I Cor. 2:10, dives into the mystical union, and apprehends of Christ Jesus the Given, and the Giver.

This is Gospel truth, that by a special gift conveyed, set foot upon Electing-Grace, and immediately finds out who, and who have not, their names written in Heaven. {“Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Lk. 10:20.} God sends his Spirit secretly in Election and Redemption Unions, beginning the regeneration-union of mere Free Grace by the Spirit, sent into their hearts, because they are sons. {“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Gal. 4:6.} Thus the Spirit works and waits to take up that Free Salvation settled on the elect in the Person of Christ; he waits on purpose to receive it as that Salvation drops from the mouths of Gospel preachers, whose hearts the Holy Ghost hath filled therewith from Christ. {“And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the LORD is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him.” Isa. 30:18.} And then upon further Operation, he points the soul unto it, by capacitating and elevating the faculty, and making room in the soul for this glorious Gospel to enter in. {“He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Jn. 16:14.} Accordingly, Acts 13:26, “men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.” It is a sending of Salvation to them that fear God; which same Salvation in the fear of God is wrought in the soul by God the Holy Ghost; and arises out of no such low things as offering or proffering of Christ; but from a free, thorough, and home-bestowing of the Spirit in light, joy and consolation, according to the fitness of the Spirit’s own work, begun and preparatorily managed, before clear discoveries follow. The fear is that in the soul which the Holy Spirit stirs up under a legal work, Rom. 8:15, so that sending of Salvation to them that fear God, is not a promiscuous offer, but a discriminate bestowment of Jesus Christ in Salvation upon the elect of God alone.

The thirteenth resolution of the question. How must we preach the Gospel if we do not offer the Gospel? We ought to preach the Gospel so as it rises higher than any natural and notional ability by a fleshly arm to receive it, or carry it in the pulpit towards such a reception of it as will most certainty rend asunder and divide the hearers. Offers rise no higher than the light of nature, or old Adam’s notion of preaching revealed truths. They are very agreeable to the light of an unconverted man; they may grow in our apprehension and grasp out of the very form of education, and can very well agree with the scheme of Christian Religion naturalized. Acts 18:25. And this appears too obvious as to preachers, who discover by these offers that they rise no higher than the light of nature may attain unto. For, they cannot own the success of their ministry, {if they have any,} to be of mere Grace and Righteousness, but needs lay a stress upon human proposals, which are neither the Grace of God, nor the righteousness of Christ. They cannot commit the success of their ministry to Grace and Righteousness, in the hands of Father, Son and Spirit, through the Man Christ Jesus. I Tim. 2:5. They cannot wait for success on the mere Grace and Righteousness of Another, but do please and buoy up themselves with their offers, their pains in the ministry, their frequent proposals and their free tenders, their studying hard, and their preaching much in the ministry, and on these sandy bottoms they generally build their expectations. I know all these things by experience, Jer. 6:27, for it was long ere I was brought off, {so far as through Grace I am brought off from creature-wisdom, creature-confidence and creature-expectation,} to an entire dependence upon Christ, and his fulness from the Father, to fill and bless me in all! {“All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Matt. 11:27.} But to argue this particular further still, above the light of nature.

Offers are either to sinners promiscuously, exclusive of regeneration-union, or to sinners discriminately, in consequence of the said union in Christ. If to sinners out of that union, then what springs of life can you find out of the union to enable them to comply {suppose as profferers must suppose} with a spiritual offer of Grace and Christ, or a tender of a special Salvation, or a proposal of Everlasting Life? Can old Adam’s life close in with Christ’s spiritual life? No; ‘tis Christ’s life must break in upon Adam’s, and mortify it, by discovering how our old man is crucified with Christ, Rom. 6:6, discovering it after the Spirit’s act, in begetting the new nature. Moreover, in a sinner embracing Christ in faith, it is the new creature closing the soul with the new Adam, who has begotten it by the Holy Ghost. If God the Spirit regenerates sinners, whilst you blindly suppose that you have offered Christ, yet ‘tis no such thing as Regeneration by offers according to what you suppose, but by Divine Operation exclusively. ‘Tis by deed of Gift and Efficacy. Then why do you talk of offering or proffering Christ? He is a gift of God to the conversion of the will in a Union to his Person. {“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Isa. 42:6-7.} Therefore why do not you rather look to bring up the form of preaching to God’s work, than to bring down the power of God’s work to your form of preaching? If we believe God’s way and method, we are not to fall in with a way that upon strict and clear examination plainly thwarts it. Suppose special Grace was proffered to dead nature, as if it be proffered out of the regeneration-union, what can dead nature do with such a proffer? But now let special Grace be exalted in preaching Christ as a gift to honour God the Spirit in his work of bestowing the Gift in the nature of a sinner, the Spirit then according to his own covenant-obligation with Father and Son, strikes in with the gift, in which act he both quickens and supplies the quickened with the benefit of Christ together at once. And if so, it will not be long ere this new life feeds on Christ, and sweetly shows itself to be the fruit of such preaching. {“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” Jn. 6:53-56.}

Men pretend to defend one side of truth, whilst they injure another side. As that God is sovereign and converts whom he will; but still let men know God is also just when he comes directly to the work of it, Isa. 53:11, in bowing the soul to Christ. It’s certainly thus, although his immediate Justice be founded upon his original sovereignty, which sovereignty never thwarts his justice, but reconciles it according to his own way appointed. Now is it a righteous thing with God, in a Gospel-day of discriminating light, to convert the elect to Christ, by means which do exalt the creature more than Christ, Phil. 2:9, and more than the Father, and more than the Spirit, as the common way offers do? {“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” II Cor. 10:5.} No, but it is a righteous thing for God to convert the elect by that very means which hath bought them, because it is the strain of preaching which the covenant of God and the promise of Effectual Grace run along with. {“Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. Thus saith the LORD, in an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.” Isa. 49:7-8.} Soul, oh precious soul, I tell thee in Christ’s name, when Special Grace is given thee by a work of Jehovah the Spirit, and Grace by Him is put within thee, {which is God’s Free and gracious way,} then thou hast it directly and effectually, and perhaps much sooner than some preachers that offer Christ are willing. And blessed be God, other preachers again are helped to preach thus, without trying experiments in the common practice of proposals, proffers, tenders, and offers. Let us now suppose {according to a fancied latitude of the word offers} that it had its eye upon an outer range of buildings, or upon outworks, and that common Grace was there offered to the common nature of man, and that sinners accepted of this common Grace, still, when accepted, this common Grace would work no change, nor can it do so. It is possible that some of the non-elect may accept of the notion of the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ, who are not under that Imputation in the true and saving virtue thereof, so as to believe by a work of God the Spirit unto the saving of the soul. Heb. 10:39. Therefore, we have distinguished between the outer part of the Gospel to maintain profession, and the inner part of the Gospel to beget life, and promote communion. Oh, ‘tis the inner part of the Gospel which does the main work! Preachers too generally stand aloof from everlasting concernments of the soul, and walk at a distance from the golden candlesticks in the outward court. Such labour of theirs may do good to some for a time, but upon none for eternity. Matt. 13:20-21. It may serve the passage, but assure yourselves that it will never reach the port. {“He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matt. 10:22.} The form of the Gospel may be displayed, and it will serve some temporal end which the Lord hath ordained and aimed to secure in his out-works. It may increase a sober party, restrain nature, shame the wicked, train up moral, sober, and virtuous professors that join in supporting some visible Gospel ordinances, and carrying on a ministry, and providing for the benefit of common hearers. All which are useful in their season, and desirable mercies belonging to the out-works, and carry with them an ornamental excellency, but still all these are no foundation to build on for eternity. Preachers and people too will be deceived at last, and go to hell if they have nothing more than this. It’s no building of God, no covering, no hiding place to be found in. Isa. 32:2. This will not keep out rain, judgments, wrath, fire and brimstone from the conscience, Psal. 11:6, nor have they any power to spiritualize one performance. What can an offer do for me here? What can it bring either the preacher or people up to, as to any evangelical and meet part of the Superstructure? Well, the Gospel must be preached beyond what a natural man can receive of it; but he can easily receive this way of offers and proffers, and approve of it quite well.

The fourteenth resolution of the question. We should preach the Gospel singularly; as the greatest part of professing ministers do not preach it. For till God pours down more of his Spirit, this will be our glory. {“Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” Isa. 32:15.} Notwithstanding, offers are so universally espoused by all men who have but the common tincture, under one denomination and another, as it renders them suspicious to men who hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Rev. 3:22. The general consent of preachers and of general hearers at present, is enough to make a good man suspect them. For if we had nothing else by Grace beside a gracious capacity to judge of ‘em from what we see by the baseness of their conduct, we would even conclude that these offers can never be right. {“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment.” Exod. 23:2.} Nevertheless, as for preaching, it is suited only to the light of the Gospel, in the Kingdom of God, and the authority of Jesus Christ, which I fear there be few that actually see it. For as to preaching, so far as men have all along beheld it in the general light of the world, they have not known how to express it by anything that signifies preaching of the Gospel. {“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Rom. 10:15.} We may see that it was from the peculiar way and arguments of the Gospel, which the Apostles were first enlightened in, that the times called their message and manner of delivery, the foolishness of Preaching. I Cor. 1:21. Whereas proposing hath been always extended to the common theme, and therein suited to the general consent of mankind. The same continues so everywhere at this day under a cultivated light of nature.

But now the words which the Holy Ghost hath used in the New Testament for preaching are quite of another import, and do not at all agree with the way of dispensing the word by offers, but by glad tidings and crying of glad tidings, or a solemn publishing of what is to be sold without money and without price, Isa. 55:1, according to the radical signification of the verb from whence the noun is derived, so that the minister is to cry, or publish his message from the Lord. This speaks the full power and absolute authority of God in our messages that we bring from Christ; and this honour seems to be given but unto a very few men. {“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” Jer. 23:21.} Whereas, multitudes take in hand to sermonize or predicate, {which is a way of preaching whereunto offers and proposals are suited,} as it seems to be only that which has been formulated according to their particular persuasion, and not of Christ’s ordering whatsoever; which we see is done in an absolute way of declaring and publishing, but not offering, proposal-wise, for that is a base compromise and an entirely unworthy diminutive in delivering of the Lord’s messages, and is a plain consulting with flesh and blood. Gal. 1:16. Hence we see it comes to pass that generally preachers in this day artfully stick in a natural way of preaching to fallen nature, which more universally obtains, because it comes not up to the Mysteries of the Gospel. Eph. 3:3-4. Therefore it is why we have so few who evangelize; the most predicate as logicians in the school, and orators in the desk. But as to what the Holy Ghost calls preaching, there is generally little of it throughout the world. Besides, men do call preaching by a name that cuts off all its relation to the Gospel, viz., proposing a matter to the people; and so you may see in the dictionary and the concordance how the term used for preaching came to be spoiled. For proposing is fitted to an oration to the people, but it is not fitted to an opening the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and opening the oracles of God, Rom. 3:2, and therein bringing forth glad tidings. The general way of perverted preaching is proposing, or that which is similar to it. Why? Because the general way is to preach all beneath and beside the mystery; so that the depravity of the times have fitted the apostasy, with a word they have got for preaching, which shuts out all the mysteries of the Gospel, that is, proposing. If you come to propose glad tidings, it argues that the tidings you bring are not as good as they appear to be, but true Gospel preaching conveys them in the unction of the Spirit, and evident authority. Therefore, cry and faithfully publish the Gospel; it is a singular way of preaching by instructing, and it is all done without offers.

The gospel is a message above the light of nature. Well, bring the matter lowest, and that is to the instance of John the Baptist’s preaching, Matt. 3:3, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Tis not meant that the message of the Gospel is to show that we begin in spiritual things, and Christ then follows. No, that’s but agreeable to the common mistaken notion that we must do our endeavours, and God will do the rest. Almost all mankind agree in this, even where the Gospel comes; but the meaning of the wilderness voice is this, “Come out you Citizens, you that dwell at ease in Zion, Amos 6:1; come out into the wilderness, leave the splendid temple and its ceremonial worship at Jerusalem; it will quickly be all put down anyway; come away to find and follow Christ in a wilderness, that hereby following him into the Wilderness of Judea, Hos. 2:14, as you now come out into the wilderness to hear and see me; a way may be prepared for the elect amongst the Jews to follow Messiah into the lost world amongst the blindfolded Gentiles, whither he will be shortly going. {“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Heb. 13:13.} I come to prepare a little beforehand, by some outward demonstrations of the Spirit, bearing record, Jn. 1:34, to the Son of God. {“And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.” Jn. 1:32.} Leave this great temple at Jerusalem; come with Christ into the highways and byways, and do not tie up yourselves to yonder structure; for Christ when he comes will be found in the wilderness, and will desert your stately fabric, and then down it must quickly come. {As Paul was accused, “this is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place; and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.” Acts 21:28.} So prepare ye his way now, come into the wilderness, and bring his cross thither, which will lay quite cross-ways to these times of ease; come beforehand therefore into the wilderness, under John’s ministry, who is the forerunner; and while his followers shall be ready at call to do the same, and come forth into the wilderness, both in Judea’s wilderness under the ministry of the Lord, and into the wilderness condition of the Gentiles, Rom. 15:9, after his resurrection in the preaching of Christ’s ministers, you shall be those, who in preaching shall prepare the way, and make his paths straight, to discover that he hath not gone about, but hath taken the direct way to sinners.” This is a way which directs sinners to look to Christ, which all these offers never could.

The fifteenth resolution of the question. Do you ask how you must preach the Gospel, if you are driven from your offers? I answer, you ought to preach the Gospel in sincerity and in truth, which if you do, it will not give that open scandal and offence, Matt. 13:41, to such as are most led by God the Spirit respecting his own work, which offers do. Offers are contrary to the preaching of the Gospel; therefore they offend such, Matt.18:6, as are most led into the Spirit’s work. We must preach the Gospel so as its reputation may be advanced every day more and more agreeable to and consistent with itself, and so as that the glory of the Gospel may get the visible ascendant and pre-eminence in the eyes of them that are taught of God. {“It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Jn. 6:45.} They who have got farthest in Christ’s school, can at any time see that when you preach the Gospel, you are actually spiritually advanced beyond all external and vain flourishes, whereas learned arguments, borrowed from the schools, promoting offers instead of Operations, have no small part in making a fair show in the flesh, Gal. 6:12, and yet when examined, are full of rottenness, dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness. Matt. 23:27-28. Therefore preach the Gospel honourably, for offers are scandalous. For, they are thievish, stealing the children’s bread to cast it unto dogs. Matt. 15:26. They steal from God’s Grace given only unto the elect, to go and proffer it to all within the sound. They rob God’s Grace to set up man’s nature and pride, with a notion of his acceptance of that Grace which is not theirs to offer. Whereas man’s nature cannot cordially accept the proposition, the saying worthy of all acceptation, the declarative truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, I Tim. 1:15, and that he actually accomplished this work. {“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21.} What have these thievish offers to do but to rob the treasurers of wisdom, and tender Salvation itself to the universal acceptance and contempt of fallen rebellious human nature. Offers are scandalous and dangerous, because they are stumbling blocks, Isa. 57:14, to many of the godly and judicious. And why will not you do that with your offers, which you would have others do with their ceremonies? That is, throw them away, and let there be no more heard of them in your sermons than there is in God’s Word? For now as things are brought to pass, and wilfully maintained in some pulpits, Hos. 11:7, many stumble at the ministers, because instead of delivering their message, they hear them offer it, and propose offensively what they ought to preach honourably and freely. The truth is, offences will come of all sides; but still we ought so to preach, by preaching the Spirit and his Work unto all subjects, even while we are upon all doctrines of the Gospel, as that while we do give offense therein eventually to any, it should appear to be to none, whether ministers or people, except those who are rebels, not led by the word of God, and the Spirit’s work in their way of preaching or professing. I mean such as when they come to the use of a doctrine, make practicals to shut out experimentals, and build and run upon creature-acts where they ought to build upon Creating Operations of Grace. How many are there in the offer-way, who tell sinners that they must get Christ, instead of telling them that Christ is gotten into their very hearts and natures for them by the Lord who is that Spirit, II Cor. 3:17, if ever they are saved by Christ? How many insist upon the act of a sinner’s acceptance, where they should magnify the Spirit’s Operation, in working up their hearts unto this acceptance, if they are ever brought unto it? Accordingly, they insist upon other acts, but never upon the Spirit for these acts. Such as these should be withstood to the face and resisted; such as these shall and must be offended.

The sixteenth resolution of the question. Do you again ask how? I answer again, if you are commissioned of Christ to the work and office of a minister, you ought to preach the Gospel in the encouragements of it unto conversion; but offers are no encouragements to conversion. Encouragements are what enlarges the heart. “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou hast enlarged my heart.” Psal. 119:32. A man feels when he gets courage. Encouragements are qualities, and these must have a proper subject. Courage is for the soul; argument is for the head. ‘Tis in the man, not in the book. ‘Tis in living epistles of saints, not in dead letters of offers. Offers lie without my heart, but encouragements come and lodge within my heart, or they are not encourage- ments. The offer is but the preacher’s sound ill managed, but true encouragement is the Holy Ghost’s work well marked. An offer is a man’s notion, but an encouragement is a man’s experience. There are God’s Operations of His Grace, but there are no offers of his Grace.

The seventeenth resolution of the question. We should preach the Gospel so spiritually and discerningly, that the more our preaching is examined, cavilled at, despised, struck at, and hated, the more it should discover, {both from the pulpit and the press,} how sweetly it accords with the Spirit’s work. But offers, the more they are examined, struck at, opposed, and argued down, the more injurious and unscriptural they are still found to the Spirit’s work. We must preach the Gospel spiritually in an exalting of spiritual enlivenings. But offers are dead preaching; and is it good news to come to the sinner with a heavy, dead offer? If this then be no good news, where is the evangelical offer? Preaching the Gospel is a lively Ordinance of Jesus Christ, preachers ought then preach livelily, which accords with the Spirit’s Work, and is a certain effect of his own work stamped on the Ministration. Whereas offers are dead, and proffers of Christ for the most part do argue a dead faith in the preacher. The offer part is the dead part of the sermon, a mere carcass in grave-clothes, and not the glorified Christ of an exhortation. Let us maintain and stand up for a lively preaching of Grace to sinners, to overthrow these dead offers.

What are dead works? Are they fit for the living God, or to be found within the ranges of his living temple? II Cor. 6:16. When the apostle argued against dead works, Heb. 9:14, he meant to the Jews the dead bodies of those beasts, dead performances, which the consciences of Gospel-worshippers are purged from, never to use them in their worship more; though some would fain have returned to them again. {“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Heb. 9:14.} But we need not these dead works in the slain beasts of the house of Israel. Acts 7:42. Dead sacrifices are gone, since we have a Living Advocate in Heaven, I Jn. 2:1, who was once the consummate sacrifice on Earth. {“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” – “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Heb. 10:10,14.} So I may say of your offers, as he of the dead bodies in abolished sacrifices, they are but dead works of the pulpit, as the others were their dead works of the altar. Lively preachers of the power do far more exalt the Spirit’s work at their worst, than dead preachers of the offer do, when they do their best. {“O priests that despise my name; and ye say, wherein have we despised thy name?” Mal. 1:6.} We may be sure of this, that whilst they are offering Christ to sinners, Christ is not being honoured in the pulpit. If he were, we should be as earthen vessels in Christ’s hand, II Cor. 4:7, to carry the treasure further than an offer. Oh, ‘tis must be very low water in our own souls, when the conduits of Grace, that should flow out from a sanctified treasure of the heart, stop at offers in our mouths! Jer. 13:25.

Again, to preach so as to exalt the Spirit’s work we ought to preach experimentally. Ministers, by harping on their offers, do seem to drop all experience; whereas, if the preacher saw clearly, and was affected deeply to see how himself came by Christ, through the great power of God, he would be a lively preacher of that power, which attends the small still voice of Christ in the heart, I Kings 19:12, and he would no longer be a preacher of the offer. For if he viewed Christ through all preaching, he ought to preach sights of Christ in all preaching too. {“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” I Jn. 1:3.} If he had tasted and savoured Christ, it’s strange that he doth not preach distinct and high evaluations of Christ. I should be starved for my own part, I profess, in the very pulpit, if I were to preach these offers, and not to preach just as I do. And it is such a riddle to me, how the people can feed upon that which would starve the preacher himself? Let Oedipus resolve it in a treatise of the problems of the offer, for I certainly cannot. Alas, if we are Christ’s Ministers, we do not only see for ourselves, handle for ourselves, and taste for ourselves, when we are in the pulpit, but for fellow petitioners to the throne of Grace, poor sinners, that is, just like ourselves, who are brought in, under the true sights and tastes of the glory of Christ, to see and feel with us. Let us not run then to offer-forms that kill all sound experience both in ourselves and others too. The more I see and taste in my own experience that the Lord is gracious in my opening of the word, Psal. 34:8, the more have I a proof of Christ speaking in me, II Cor. 13:3, and that the true interpretation of every text are written in the very spirit of the text on my own soul. We ought to preach the Gospel clearly, discerningly, and understandingly, but offers are blind and dark; no evidences are in them, whereby we can discern the Spirit’s work experimentally on our own souls.

We must preach to sinners according to the discoveries that God hath made of Christ to ourselves, for this is the way to direct them, and not to go on darkly, whilst offering Christ. {“I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” Psal. 40:10.} Let us preach forth that glorious Operation of the Spirit, which lay in the discovery of Christ as ours, and as ours, not in offers of Christ to be made ours, if we accept. We are Christ’s, if we can see that his desire is towards us, and ours towards Him. {“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” Song. 7:10.} We should preach the discoveries of the Gospel so as to clear it up to poor sinners under this very head of self-experience. {“We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.” Psal. 78:4.} Preach up Operations of the Holy Ghost, which make these discoveries; labouring to open the Object of faith clearly, as the Spirit hath opened the Object of faith to you. {“My soul shall make her boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” Psal. 34:2.} This is the only way the Lord hath enabled me to do, in the conversion of sinners, in all the seals of my ministry. But offers of Christ are blind; they only darken the Spirit’s work; and can this be good news? Then never preach offers more, which run upon proposals, but forget the discoveries of a soul’s interest under Operations of establishing a sensible union and communion with Christ, which is far above all proposals of compliance with Him. A man complies in his thoughts, upon the discovery of an object which his nature is suited to, so that his heart complies with his interest wherever he sees it. The soul that hath supernatural discoveries of a supernatural interest, must in his thoughts and soul perceive a supernatural compliance, with the same interest discoveries, Jn. 16:14-15, because these supernatural discoveries are attended with the same sort of power put forth for discovery. Exalt therefore the power that breaks in and discovers. Offers, I can confidently say, are blind. Offer-preaching leaves men altogether in the dark, as to God the Spirit’s work. I have never heard a sermon wherein offers of Christ and proposals and tenders of Salvation, have been much talked of, as to say, “here, we offer you Christ, sinners, come; how do you like him? Here we propose Christ for your acceptance, pray do not slight Him; take Him for your Salvation, now or never, &c.,” that ever in any part of the message discovered a clear advancement of God’s work in the soul. {“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Psal. 29:2.} For it plainly appears that all the stress is laid upon the creature for his conversion, as appears by the very form of this offer. Is it not an evidence of men’s blindness, when they make such offers, whereas, the way lies open in a Heavenly Object and Divine Operations? How blind is it in offers to expect that the Spirit should be given to convert a sinner in the very way that robs the Spirit of the glory thereof! It hath been often dreadful to my thoughts, and I fear the sad issues of it under the present formality of standing up for these proposals. How blindly do men run against the Holy Ghost, not considering that his glory is equal in the work of Salvation, with the glory of the Father and the Son, especially in the work of regeneration, by the efficacy of his applicatory works alone? It is inconsistent and blind to think that the Spirit and the creature can be advanced together in a sinner’s acceptance of Christ. I am also sure, that if the Spirit was duly honoured by us under a lively faith, as we walked by the light of Christ, the proposal would never be talked of, but God the Holy Ghost working in us from the Father and Christ, of God’s own good pleasure. The light, if we walked in the light, as he is in the light, we should be preserved from such blindness, and have fellowship one with another. {“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I Jn. 1:7.} That is, {as the plain coherence lies,} God with us, and we with God; God with us by virtue of the imputed righteousness of Christ, Rom.5:19, or through it, and the communion of his Spirit under it; and we with God, under that same righteousness of God, in a holy delighting in God, setting up the glory of his Grace, and with the small rain of his blessing in the dews of his Spirit, would lay the dust which proud flesh has raised before our eyes, by using men’s mouths for offers of Christ, which should be filled with the praises of Christ’s Operations. I am certain it is not my carnal judgment, it is not my dead opinion, but it is my life, my living experience, {as God’s word and God’s work hath met together in my soul,} that the mighty Operations of God, renewing the faculty, elevating the understanding, strengthening the will, purifying the conscience with the blood of Christ, {with which the heart is sanctified; even by a gracious touch of the Object, as the Object breaks in upon it, and draws out the heart towards it in the Person of Christ,} do leave no room in our thoughts to offer Christ to anyone. {“Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” Jer.33:6.} Why should we not employ all our light, influence and clearest experience to speak of the things of God, as we have found them upon our own souls under the Spirit’s work? {“But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Psal. 73:28.} So that if I go forth upon my Master’s work, under the Operations of this glorious Spirit, and in his work to believe that Christ’s Spirit is with me, {having both his infallible word and efficacious work meeting in my heart, Jer.15:16,} to what purpose should I, in seeking to reach the souls of the elect, and using such means to build them up, and instruct them in Christ, to pitch so low and poorly in the dark, blundering so upon nature, as to talk of offers of Christ, when as I come forth and preach Christ crucified, I Cor. 1:23, in the light and operations of the Everlasting Gospel, Rev.14:6, from my own experience of its power and authority upon my own heart, and do thereby, through this Effectual Grace, see which way I must proceed to win souls, and where I must pitch and anchor my hope in God’s power, that I may prevail, and see the elect from the Spirit’s work begun in the new birth, converted believingly, and their hearts drawn to Christ? {“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” Heb. 6:19-20.} Ah, but offers are blind, they stand in the way between the heart and the Object, but cannot see it. Isa. 59:2. They keep up a wall of separation which cuts off all prospects between the sinner’s receiving Christ, and the preachers proposing Him. Oh, sheer blindness! As if the Spirit which reaches the heart by gift, was less than the offer, than can only stand before the heart with an empty call. Well, we clearly see that an offer of Grace is but the good will of a poor dark preacher, who is at a loss to manage the practical or experimental part of divinity.

I shall therefore give one instance more of the blindness of offering Christ to sinners, and that is, that it tends to make natural men, who are under no trouble about their souls, readily reply within themselves, “Aye, I have accepted Christ, God forbid I should reject Him.

What! Me put away the Grace of God! No, never.” I Sam. 15:20. And this is the case with the majority of professors, in most of the mixed congregations in England. They all generally conclude that they have accepted the offer, though they be almost as ignorant of Christ as the wood of their preacher’s pulpit! {“And my people are bent to backsliding from me; though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him.” Hos. 11:7.} They are prodigiously zealous for they know not what. But the worst of it all is, when you ask them if they know what it is about, they will tell you they dare not withstand the offer of Christ. {“Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” Isa. 29:13.} Oh no; God forbid. On the other hand, some new-born souls who want to be led clearly into the mystery of Christ, and some new-born babes that desire the sincere milk of the word, I Pet. 2:2, to satisfy their new-born appetites, these under such dark preaching as at this day, are starving for lack of knowledge; they find they want something, but they do not know what to call it, poor hearts; they hear and they hear, but they are not refreshed; they come in the dark, and they go in the dark, and are ready to conclude all is dark under these dark offers. {“The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Rom. 13:12.} “Well,” says the poor drooping soul, “the preacher hath done his part faithfully; he offers me Christ, and bids me come and get an interest in Him. Oh, that is what I want! But the Lord knows I have not done my part therein; for I cannot do mine! He has been tendering me Christ bravely,” says the soul. “Oh, but still how shall I come at Him, and how shall I come at faith? Oh, I am hardened, and I cannot believe, I cannot venture, and I cannot depend. Oh! What will become of me forever! He hath been offering me Christ, but I have not once accepted him all this time. Oh! I have slighted Him. I have sinned against the love of Christ, and against all these free offers. I have sinned away my day of Grace. Thus, it is all over with me, &c.”

Thus the best of God’s children, accustomed to such dark preaching, go away ordinarily in a cloud of dark unbelief, sadness, and desponding. Whereas, some of the worst of the congregation, who have got a few head- notions, never spiritually digested in a new-born heart, but are the religious talkatives of the age, not understanding the meaning of what they talk of. They are flushed up, buoyed up, maintain the party-form, rely upon their accepting of the offer; and do count all is well, Isa.36:6, if the Antinomians {as they call them} would be quiet, and did not come and spoil their pride, disturb their peace, and tear their nest to pieces.

We must preach the Gospel in a Gospel way. Offers are legal; and is legal preaching good news? Heb. 12:19. No! Then preach Christ, and do not offer Christ. Preach the Object evangelically. Preach Christ’s interest, as the glass in which reflexively the soul may behold its own interest. {“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” II Cor. 3:18.} Divert not into offers of Christ, they are legal, not evangelical; then where is your evangelical offer? How are offers legal, you will say? Why they press sinners who never felt a work of Grace, to serve or accept of Christ in the oldness of the letter, {which old letter or Law administration commanded the old man to do as much as it commanded the new man; and this is to propose the Gospel as the Law was proposed at Mount Sinai, and promiscuously to command every man alike,} while they instruct not sinners to serve in the newness of the Spirit. {“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Rom. 7:6.} It is legal to preach the Gospel to sinners as proposed; it is only evangelical to preach it as imposed or poured forth upon them, put upon them by Grace, Heb. 8:10, irresistibly, in defiance of corruption, but with an experience of freeness and spontaneousness in the faculty, under the Operation of Grace, and thereby discharged of Sin, so as to have no more dominion over them, to hold them in bondage to the Law, and to any work or act as a legal piece of service. {“For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Rom. 6:14.} So long as you are offer-men, you are not able ministers of the New Testament. Your proposals are legal in the form, though you think them evangelical in the matter. Whereas, you should be ministers not of the letter, but of the Spirit, for the letter killeth, {and you may see, as I have instanced before, what a killing stroke your offer carries with it to the new- born soul,} whereas the Spirit gives life. II Cor. 3:6. Offers run in the form of ministration, which is called the ministration of death. II Cor. 3:7. Do this and live, neglect this and die. Accept the proposal and be saved, refuse Christ and perish. This is legal stuff; for take a man that is thoroughly convinced of sin and moral impotency, to fit under this, and there will not be one word of good news in it to his soul. Where then is your evangelical offer? How have you shut out the ministration of the Spirit? And by mere shifts of proposals turned from the Gospel, into the very ministration of death and condemnation. What is an offer of Grace to a saint under trouble, then pray what is it to a sinner under terror, in one that never saw his interest? The Gospel shows a sinner as in a glass, that by God’s Operations of Grace all his bolts are taken off, and under the power of the Gospel he feels that he is free indeed. But your offer is a mere legal bar in the way.

Again, we must preach the Gospel substantially, but offers are noisy and quite empty of the benefit. And is this good news? Then you ought to be ashamed of your free offers. Sinners want to receive of Christ’s fullness by conveyance, Jn. 1:16, and you starve them with empty tenders that propose acceptance. You lead them to rest on external signs, and neglect the advancement of Operations in God’s internal grace, making it impossible to distinguish between the children and dogs, Phil. 3:2, under your common offers. And indeed, when I consider that men will extend the noisy offer, and the empty shell of preaching to all within the sound, I must confess, that a bare bone may be sufficient for dogs, but it is a pity that the children of the kingdom were not under a substantial distribution of the Gift of God, because unto these Christ has given His flesh to be meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed. Jn. 6:55.

We must, in exalting the Spirit’s work, be found to preach the Gospel closely as to its own points. But offers being wide and wandering, and wholly destitute of the Spirit’s guidance, wander into blind paths besides, to reach all souls, inasmuch that they never effectually reach any lost sheep of the house of Israel. They occasion man’s thoughts to roam up and down so loosely upon everybody, till the heart is kept close upon nobody to gain them. Whereas, when God the Spirit teaches me to preach home to the case of one soul, the Lord thereby reaches the case of many individuals, with the same efficacy of power. The man does not keep close to the foundation of God, when he holds forth his offers. He doth not lie close to Election in the Building. {“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his; and, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” II Tim. 2:19.} No, for he ever wanders about aimlessly. Nor is the offer fitted indeed to be laid upon the One Foundation, for it is but wood, hay, and stubble. I Cor. 3:12.

We must in exalting the Spirit’s work preach the Gospel faithfully. But offers are deceitful. They speak much from the minister’s lips, but they perform nothing in the sinner’s heart. Offers could not help Paul after conversion, “for the good that I would,” says he, “I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Rom. 7:19. How then can offers help a sinner to Conversion? It was a communication of the Spirit which Paul looked for. He found no relief by proposals. How then do we think that poor sinners should be relieved and brought to Christ by them? {“For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” Isa. 29:10.} Men in the very act of offering, pretend to reach out the golden sceptre of mercy to a poor sinner, {nothing less,} and this is spiritual wickedness in high places. Whereas, it is God’s prerogative and none other’s, an act of the King, not an act of the minister to do so. It is to be done by God Himself, through Jehovah our Righteousness, and by Jehovah the Spirit, not by God’s servants. So that it is deceitful to put these offers in the place of God’s Operations of His Grace. II Cor.4:2. Besides, coming to the golden sceptre in that act of Esther, is no fit parallel to resemble this case of proposing Christ to sinners, who have not so much as the life of Grace to move, nor the light of Grace to discern, nor indeed any eye of faith, to behold their marriage relation, as Esther saw it, and in which she stood to Ahasuerus. Est. 2:17. Once more, they propose what is never decreed of God, Eph. 1:11, and what was never intended to be given from above.

We must, in exalting the Spirit’s work, preach the Gospel powerfully, but offers are weak and impotent. They strengthen not the soul, and is this good news? Where then be your grace offers and evangelical offers? A poor sinner is never the better for your impotent remedies; for he must have the power of God unto Salvation. Offers are not so, because they can never close with the man; the man must, {that is, if he can,} first close with the offer, and indeed when he does close with the offer, it is but a natural closure, a rational choice; and the offer closed with, being nothing more than letter, doctrine, forms, and words, can neither strengthen his soul, nor supply his wants. The man is but where he was, and what he was, as to his condition and state; only you have brought him to change his opinion, and somebody else may change it again for him. He is of another judgment, but the same creature that ever he was. Now what mighty thing have your proposals done towards the conversion of this man, who is a natural man still, and still to be converted to the Christ of God in Gift and Power, though he be already converted to the Christ in form and offer? For this is certain, consistently with an impotency to Salvation, that if the offer takes with some in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, to let in some notion of Christ into the soul by a rational eye {there being something in Christ fitted to the reasonable nature} yet that soul still rebels; but when he is let in by a renewed eye, the soul otherwise receives him with desire, even as he is fitted to God’s Glory, and to our wants above reason. In essence, if ever saved, he will be saved by power, from your bastard {both false and illegitimate} conversion and forms of reformation.

The eighteenth resolution of the question. Do you still ask how must we preach the Gospel of Christ, if we do not offer the Gospel? Or how must we preach Christ, if we do not offer Him? I answer, preach the Gospel so as Christ may see in it the travail of his soul, and be satisfied. Isa. 53:11. Men that deceive with a show of offers do therein drop the Gospel-Satisfaction, or seem to forget what they profess, and have undertaken to preach, even Christ and him crucified. I Cor. 2:2. For as upon the cross there was a pouring out of his blood, so in our preaching of the cross, we must preach the certain communication of it to the soul, and that communication works acceptance, works consideration, works recollection; and we must not tell a soul, here you may have it if you will accept it. {“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” I Pet. 1:2.} Doth Christ see of the travail of his soul by such language? No, and I am abundantly persuaded, that because men preach so little of the fruitfulness of the blood of Christ, Zech. 9:11, and that he shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied, that therefore the Lord in his Justice does not honour those individual instruments with seals to their ministry; and from his Justice towards them on this account, they find so little success. {“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God; they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.” Isa. 58:1-2.} His justice, I say, is the immediate cause of executing the decree, because ministers in the preaching part have left God, and have refused to exalt his Grace to the utmost. They exchange preaching for proposing, and offering Christ for opening Christ; and so God’s justice executes his wise decree, Job 23:13, in their unprofitable ministry; though yet it was his Sovereignty which fixed the Decree, Psal. 33:11, and originally appointed that their ministry should be brought to desolation. {“And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, thus saith God, why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.” II Chron. 24:20.}

The nineteenth resolution of the question. We should preach the Gospel so as the ministers of Satan do not, nay, cannot. That is, we should exalt Operations of Grace, which have from God an irresistible influence to overpower our corruptions, Ezek. 36:26, and free our wills of slavery and bondage to sin; whereas Satan can work so in none towards the conceiving of lust and bringing forth of sin. Offers are Satan’s way of pleasure, profit, and worldly friendship to ensnare the non-elect; therefore they can be none of God’s ways in bringing deliverance to the elect, though you sugar the lure with the name of Gospel-offers. No, no; God carries on all his work by Gospel Operations. Offers and proposals are Satan’s way to bring poor souls unto utter destruction. {“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev. 20:10.} Therefore, offers and proposals of truth are none of God’s way to save the elect among sinners; and as God in using of truth will not take the devil’s way in using a temptation, II Tim. 2:26, so the devil shall not, cannot take God’s way to approach the heart.

The twentieth and last resolution of the question. We are to preach the Gospel with a humble confidence in Christ, and a holy cautionary fear as to ourselves, that we do not lean with too much stress upon the creature, but express the whole of our confidence, as to the success of our preaching, in the Lord alone. {“Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD.” Psal. 25:15.} But offers are presumptuous, as they do rob the Gospel of Christ of its properties, privileges, and glory; and that is in its freeness and effectualness to clothe itself in its elevation of Christ. Again, they usurp Christ’s authority and prerogative, affecting to say to dead Lazarus, “Come forth.” Jn. 11:43. Whereas, we have no authority from the word to say this to any, except we really believe it shall be done. Mt. 21:21. Our work is absolutely to sow the seed of good doctrine, and leave it in Christ’s hands to bring it forth in his own time. Further, it is a presumptuous thing to alter an ordinance into an offer, for this is to turn God’s Institution into man’s invention. {“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” Isa. 24:5.} The Lord’s ordinance and institution is preaching salvation by Jesus Christ alone; their invention is a proposal for acceptance. Ezek. 13:6-12. His is a gift, theirs is but a tender; his is Effectual, theirs altered into a weak device that can effect nothing. It is therefore presumption to propose a less means of conversion to sinners, than what would become effectual to edification and increase of faith in saints. For saints stand, grow, and increase, and sin is trodden down, by power, and not by proposals. Saints are acted on by one that is able to keep them from falling. Jude 24. Then how presumptuous is it to imagine that sinners are converted by a proposal of Grace? The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ is of power to establish saints, according to the institution of preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began. Rom. 16:25. What a vain presumption is it then to go and offer Christ to sinners, and think God will bless this useless means to convert them! Saints have to do with Christ, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that they ask or think, according to the power that worketh in them. Eph. 3:20. How then can sinners be converted to Christ by offers; which God hath nowhere revealed to be the means of putting forth this power of God upon them? Saints are kept by the power of God through faith unto Salvation. I Pet. 1:5. How can sinners then be expected to be brought to God by proposals, without great presumption in substituting such offers in room of God’s Operations of his Grace? And so much in Answer to the Question.



Comments

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2019, The Association of Historic Baptists