Joseph Hussey, God's Operations Of Grace But No Offers Of His Grace (Complete)

Chapter 1: The Method Propounded, The Matter Stated, And Followed Into The Grand Plea For Offers, And These Briefly Examined And Defeated.

The order of this little writing will consist principally of three points. 1. Concerning offers of Grace. 2. Concerning invitation of sinners to come to Christ. 3. Concerning exhortations to sinners to come to Christ. And albeit I may insist mostly {if the Lord will} upon the first branch of these three laid down, thereby, through the Lord’s assistance, to rectify the mistaken doctrine about offers of Grace, and to advance the true doctrine of Free Grace Operations working efficaciously upon the elect of God; yet I may likewise add something, though very briefly, which belongs to the other two branches. To begin by laying down the method of handling the first, viz., the offers of Grace and Salvation.

I. To show how men do verbalize their offers of Christ, in name and thing.

II. To disprove them, and overthrow their scheme, as an ill, anti-evangelical state of the matter, and that by manifesting three principal points in the debate. 1. That to offer Christ to sinners, is not to preach Christ to sinners. 2. That to propound such an offer in the external means, is no means of the Spirit’s working an internal ability in sinners, to close savingly with any such offer. 3. That to suggest an offer of Christ, and a gift of Christ to be both one thing, is a barefaced error. {“Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds; lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.” Deut 22:9.}

III. To resolve the puzzling question, how then must we preach the Gospel unto sinners, if we do not propound an offer of Salvation to them? In the resolution of which doubt, proffers of Grace, offers of Christ, tenders of Salvation, etc., will be withstood and overthrown, as unscriptural and powerless forms.

IV. To make some reply unto the mis-adapting of divers texts of Scripture that are commonly mistaken upon this argument.

V. Lastly, to make a further reply to the more common and current pleas, used by weak men, for want of better arguments.

We begin and show, how these men state the doctrine of their offer.

1. As to the name, men have stored it with a show of wisdom and will worship as the Apostle says, Col 2:23, in a sufficient increase of their own procuring. {“Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?” Jer 2:17.} For the word “offer” is not to be found in Scripture in any other sense than to sacrifice; and to be sure, when these men offer Christ, they do not mean that they sacrifice him; no, they have another meaning in the term, as it relates to the preaching of the Gospel, though they thus express themselves. And therefore they speak sometimes of offers of Grace; sometimes propounding the offer; sometimes proposals of the Gospel offer; sometimes tenders of the Gospel; sometimes tendering Salvation, which are all Blind and Scripture-less forms! {“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30.} Methinks, if men had meant preaching the Gospel by these phrases, it is an intolerable assault upon the sacred text of both Testaments, to word it so perversely. The Oracles of God have an elegant variety of expression, to set forth the preaching of Jesus Christ. As for example, it is called speaking, I Cor 2:7,13, speaking the word, Phil 1:14, preaching, Acts 20:25, preaching the Gospel, Lk 30:1, preaching glad tidings, Isa.61:1, preaching the kingdom of God, Acts 28:31, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, Matt 4:23, teaching, Col 1:28, teaching the word of God, Acts 18:11, teaching the things that concern the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 28:31, showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God, Lk 8:1, declaring glad tidings, Acts 13:32, showing by the Scriptures, Acts 18:28, bringing glad tidings of good things, Rom 10:15, &c., and the like. But never once in all this variety of phrase, do the Scriptures call preaching the Gospel by the names and phrases of offering, proffering, propounding or tendering Grace, Christ, Salvation and glad tidings to sinners. How conceited must some men be of their own, or other men’s wisdom, who notwithstanding they have so little to say in behalf of these unscriptural phrases, are yet resolved, Deut 2:30, to keep them up. {“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” I Cor 1:19.} Whereas this very hint, {if no more could be said,} that the phrases are without any Scriptural support, I Pet 4:11, and their meaning unable to justify a correct understanding, or to make an agreeable signification to befit the Gospel, Acts 15:15; if no more could be said, is enough to make poor, humble, modest souls drop such expressions, even such of the children of God, who are sensible that their mouths are not filled with Gospel sweetness, unless as they have experienced the flowing rivers of living water, Jn 7:38, in the opening of their mouths wide, Ps 81:10, the Lord Christ having filled them. Now if men find as great a sweetness in phrases of human invention and imagination, and in defence of them, as they find in the Holy Ghost’s language of the Bible, which hath plentifully spoken the same things, and far better to instruct us, it is a sure sign that their mouths have not been opened wide, nor can it be any argument that Christ fills them. For in the Holy Scriptures the Lord uses expressions enough to fill a man’s mouth, when he speaks of the preaching of the Gospel, so as that he shall have no need to use these sickly terms and ill-worded phrases, into which the tongues of so many false preachers have been dipped and sunk.

2. As to the matter in hand, they have distributed the meaning of their terms into different classes. By which they persuade us, that they do not all speak with one mind, Rom 15:16, while they speak with one mouth, professing to glorify God and to save men by offers of Gospel Grace or by the proposals of the Gospel, and by the tenders of Salvation made unto them, in their way of supposedly preaching the Gospel. {“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” 2 Cor 2:17.} Some have looked upon these terms to be general redemption offers; and indeed men may easily see that without general offers of Grace they cannot preach consistent enough with general redemption doctrines, as without General Redemption Doctrine they cannot preach consistently with general offers of Grace. Moreover, what they call universal grace offers, or universal proposals, and general tenders of Grace to sinners, are the same things, while these general men strive to keep up a consistency in their notions of universal philanthropy towards every individual soul of mankind. These persons have also understood them to be Free will offers, &c., and have ascribed an indifference to the balance of the will, to poise its inclination equally towards accepting or rejecting these offers of Grace. {“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?” Job 42:3.} And as they admit a methodical offer of Grace, necessary for conveying the Grace of God, upon the supposition of a Free balance of self-power, to determine and incline the will to accept of God’s Salvation, they must then suppose a balance towards the Grace admitted, even so far as there are supposed offers or tenders of Grace made to those souls who receive them; inasmuch that such Free-willers and professors of Grace, are according to their own principles, consistent enough with themselves. {“And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” Ez 20:44.} The great difficulty is how to bring some men holding our principles of Grace to be consistent with themselves.

3. Others have set up with conditional offers, with conditional proposals, and with conditional tenders. That is, you shall enjoy Heaven and Salvation, if you will repent and believe, and perform sincere obedience to the conditions of a Gospelized Law. And thus the Neonomians interweave a coarse thread of Popery, {out of which the terms of New Law and Conditions first arose, as I have observed, by tracing the Popish writings extant through a long series of ages} as it runs through all their fine cloth they make up for heaven, spun out of other men’s spinnings, into a reformation of manners and sincere obedience, &c., but how short is this of the fine linen, clean and white, Rev 19:14, and the white raiment, Rev.3:18, which is the imputed righteousness of God, Rom 4:6, put upon the unrighteous, Rom.4:5, and thereby made the righteousness of saints, as the Holy Spirit calls it. “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Rev 19:8.

4. Another sort of men, who strictly seem to profess a renunciation all the three kinds, do yet stand up very resolutely to maintain a fourth sort of offer, which they would fain persuade us are Free offers, Effectual offers, Essential offers; and all of them, to be sure, of the Evangelical and Ministerial Grace variety. Whatever these may be, yet they have never once attempted to demonstrate what is the nature of an evangelical or Ministerial offer, proving it Free or Effectual by the Gospel, in the hands of him that ministers these offers; except what unavoidably in the tendency partakes with the other three kinds; viz., either with universal Grace, or Free Will, or with Conditionalism. This is certainly a strange apprehension about Gospel offers, to professedly separate from the other three, and yet to keep up it’s very being by mingling with the others. {“Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds; lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.” Deut 22:9-11.} Besides, all the other three are called evangelical tenders as well as this, and under that warranty of denomination are, by one or another, made to be a ministerial offer. For their sakes principally, and for some others who fall into this evil, merely through inadvertence, not perceiving the evil thereof, I have been made willing to write this small Treatise. For, as for a fourth sort of proposals and offers of Grace to sinners, it is, without doubt, a non-entity in point of true distinction from the other three. For, indeed, in setting the bias, whatever the pretence about principle and inclination may be, it’s so turned and fixed, that with all velocity the bowl runs to the Arminian side; and the truth is, it is impossible for fallen nature to keep against blasts towards Free Grace, though you bring in Free offers and Grace offers that sound plausible to an ear not in- tuned to the tenor of the true Gospel, and thereby “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Rom 16:18.

But still in a further stating of the matter it must be laid open negatively, what men do not content themselves to mean by these offers and proposals of Grace to sinners; and again positively, what they do mean likewise by the same.

I. Negatively, to show what they do not mean by them.

1. By offers of Grace and offers of Christ to sinners, they do not mean that the doctrine of Grace, and doctrine of Christ, and of Salvation ought to be preached to Jews and Pagans, if there were such in our assemblies. For, though this was the case in the days when the Apostles preached; yet in our days of universal profession, Jews or Pagans seldom attend our assemblies, Rom 11:19, to hear the doctrine of Christ preached. The object of our preaching therefore is much another thing as a matter of practice, than the object of preaching was in the former times. If there were such kinds of hearers now in our assemblies, yet there would be none amongst any of us who have received the common doctrine of the Gospel to deny, that the said doctrine of Grace was to be preached unto them, according to the precedent in which the apostles did it. Here then we all agree without dispute, in one and the same affirmative.

2. By offers of Grace, &c., to sinners, these proponents of a Free offer System are not satisfied to mean, that the doctrine merely of some special branches of the Gospel, as for instance imputed righteousness, justification without conditions, &c., are not to be preached to some present rejecters of the doctrine of Grace and doctrine of Christ; for here again, so far as we are merely Orthodox, we do all agree, that the said doctrines are and ought to be preached to all despisers and neglecters, and ought to be so preached to all men, though the particular truths are rejected. {“Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” Acts 13:41.}

3. By offers of Grace, and proffers of Christ, or tenders of Salvation, the tenderer thinks it not enough to mean, that the mere doctrines of Salvation are preached and to be preached to the whole unregenerate part of our auditory. For none of us have ever denied or argued down this particular, nor are we going about it now. And so there can be no room for debate here.

II. Now positively, and more directly, to show how men do state their meaning of the thing, touching offers of Grace.

1. By offers of Grace, tenders of Christ, and of Salvation to sinners, they must mean by these terms, that Grace itself, that Salvation itself; that is to say, a true and Saving interest in Christ, as well as the doctrine of Christ, is and ought to be made by them into an offer, Proposition, Bargain or Agreement; so that by accepting this offer and by their improving the so-called means of Grace men may be saved. This is the thing which these Gospel Conditionalists do mean by preaching the Gospel; but this continued error of the day, notwithstanding so many fallacious books have been written in its defence, I do, for the honour of the Spirit and his work utterly deny; yea, must, through help obtained of the Lord, Acts 26:22, both oppose and disprove. I know that a labour in the Gospel of this nature, though not so large as men’s labours have been when otherwise employed, will be to the glory of Free Grace in the substance of that Grace, and will take down the notions of men walking in a vain show, Ps 39:6, by propounding their offers of the Free Grace of God, as they term it. Herein may be a discovery as to that which is professed of this nature to be offered, propounded and laid before sinners, is not indeed the preaching of the Gospel at all; much less is it preaching the true Grace of the Gospel, unto us which are saved, I Cor 1:18, being the “power of God unto Salvation.” Rom 1:16. For though the bulk of matter and method in a discourse may be propounded, with arguments brought to convince the rational judgment, I Cor 10:15, of men that hear or look into these things; because this outer face of the letter in doctrine and argument, is but the exercise of common gifts unsanctified by the Holy Ghost; yet, as to Salvation in the hidden wisdom and power of the doctrine, {“we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory,” I Cor 2:7,} and the true Saving Grace of the Gospel, there can be no propounding of this, for its all laid transcendently out of their reach, in the eternal streams of love, beyond proposals and tenders; so that it flows out of the heart of God alone, and is plenteously shed forth upon all the elect of God, {“having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear,” Acts 2:33,} in the gracious bestowment of the Holy Spirit and His graces from God the Father, through Jesus Christ, under the true preaching of the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, Lk 8:1, without which effusion of Salvation, {“which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,” Tit 3:6,} none ever did, and none ever could partake thereof.

2. By offers of Grace, tenders and proffers of Salvation, &c., ‘tis evident that men do thereby imply that Free Grace and full Salvation is propounded, tendered, and offered to all sinners within the sound of the Gospel trumpet; or why do they make the tender of Salvation for acceptance to all that hear, but to imply thereby, that all who hear may be saved if they but comply with these terms of Salvation. This they call preaching the Gospel; howbeit this conceit, in such as profess against the notion of a General Redemption doth bring them in self- condemned. {“Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Tit 3:11.} Therefore this idolatrous offer must be struck at, and opposed by the ark, till it be fallen down; for it cannot stand before the Gospel in the Evidence of Operation, whilst God the Spirit is discovered, the Free worker of the Operations in Effectual Grace; but it must tumble as Dagon was fallen before the ark, I Sam 5:4, and be shamefully handled too in being cut off to the very stump.

3. By offers of Grace, &c., men do urge that Salvation itself, as well as the doctrine of Salvation, proposed and tendered to all sinners in our assemblies indiscriminately, is so necessary as a branch in the work of the ministry, and if this be not done, that is, if we do not propound the offer of Salvation to all within the sound of our doctrine, {according to these prophets, diviners, and dreamers, Jer 27:9,} we do not preach as we ought, nor take heed to fulfil our ministry, Col 4:17, which we have received in the Lord. And further, this omission by some is condemned in the Ministers of Christ, as the tenth Antinomian error,[1] namely, that if they preach or assert as follows, “that ministers of the Gospel ought not to propound the offers of Salvation unto all those whom God calls them to preach; seriously inviting them to improve the Lord’s channels of Effectual Grace that they may be saved; and assuring them, in the way of their Ministerial duty, of the Salvation of all such as believe in Christ; yet because some want ability to close with the offer, all shall not be saved.” And then the antithesis or opposition to what they call the error, is this, “that though men want ability to believe savingly, yet it is the duty of Gospel ministers to make the offer, and testify unto them, that whoever believes and repents shall be saved. And that it is the duty of the people to make use of their natural faculties, with such external means and workings which the Spirit of God affords them, that they may believe, repent, and be saved.”

Here is now the true state of the matter, faithfully represented on both sides. But are there none of the honest, zealous, and mistaken brethren, Lk 19:11, who easily discern the feebleness of the plea? As if the all, or any of the all, who shall not be saved, could improve the conveyances of God’s Grace in Christ, that they may be saved! Was ever anything more nakedly expressed among men, who glory in their profession of being Congregational or Orthodox? And again, as if Grace might be put off so notoriously, as with the bare offer in a proposition; for instance, that whosoever believes and repents shall be saved. Why is it that we cannot discern the truth of the matter that just as here is their total plea that is laid down for an offer, so here is a total exclusion of the efficacy of the Grace that must save. Is not this a piece of robbery committed against the LORD Himself in the Operations of his Holy Spirit, Mal 3:8, or, in effect, denying His Effectual Operations of Grace, while they make an external show of an ineffectual, incompetent, weak and useless offer of Grace? Does not the plea confine the Operations of the Holy Spirit to mere common and external workings? Wherein hath it once advanced to give Jehovah the Spirit his due honour in the internal and mighty workings of his Grace on the hearts of those whom he would bring to Christ, and that these believe, repent and are saved? It therefore necessitates me to suppose, that our brethren looking upon the said plea to be a poor fortification of their offers of Grace to sinners, to resist assaults upon the doctrine of the offer as their own way of preaching, will still undertake to mend it. Now I am sure, if they will bestow a little labour upon the ramparts broken down to build them up again, and if they do it to any purpose it must be thus; that whilst the offer of Christ is propounding in the external means to sinners, the Spirit of Christ may be setting in with them, and working an internal ability in these sinners, to close savingly with their offer. For if they do not say this, they say nothing in effect to make any debate.

Whatever it be, all is still built upon a very loose supposition. For it’s a sure thesis, that offers of Salvation to sinners are no preaching of Salvation unto sinners. For, though men through their own darkness mistake the preaching of the Gospel, and turn the notion of it, or their own way of preaching it, into what they call offers of Salvation; yet still preaching the Gospel, according to the mind of Christ, I Cor 2:16, is quite another thing than tendering the Gospel, and proffering the Gospel, as the Lord may help me sufficiently to clear afterwards, and prove in this treatise. At present, I shall fairly return a thought or two upon the mending clause, suggested on the behalf of these offers. It cannot be denied, but if it was absolutely true, that an offer of Salvation was the means of Salvation, yet the notion could not be kept close to the particular principles of the Orthodox, while they propound the offers of Salvation to all those to whom God calls them to preach. The Spirit is neither working Christ in the hearts of all sinners to whom men expressly incline to propound their Grace-offer, nor have the Orthodox any reason from their own first Principles of the Gospel, to expect that he should be so setting in and working in any, Eph 1:11, even of the elect of God themselves. Because, as ‘tis no means of the Spirit’s working faith and forming Christ in the heart, Gal 4:19, so their universal or promiscuous propounding of their offer of Salvation to all to whom they feel that God calls them to preach, is an open contradiction to their own first principles of Gospel Truth; for they {the creedal orthodox in their mix} own a particular Election only to Salvation. What have they to do then to make Universal offers of Salvation? And, they confess a natural inability in all men to all spiritual good? What have they then to do to propound Salvation, which is a spiritual good in the object, and requires a spiritual act of the faculty, where yet they do not insist upon a change of nature? For as the separating of Salvation from the effectual operation of Salvation is inconsistent, so the conjoining of Salvation with some mere external work of human nature, as the fore-mentioned plea does, is downright Arminianism. But if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth, 2 Tim 2:25, a few things may be afterwards made known to that end, while the Lord may be pleased to make the same effectual, even to eliminate and slaughter these wild pleas which are so injurious to the Grace of God.

[1] “Declaration of the Congregational Ministers in and about London, against Antinomian Errors,” 1699, pages 41, 42.

Joseph Hussey (1660-1728) was a Congregational preacher. He was converted to Christ in 1686 after reading Stephen Charnock’s, “The Existence And Attributes Of God.” In 1688, he was ordained to the Gospel Ministry and was appointed the Pastor of a church in Hitchen. In 1691, he was appointed the Pastor of a church in Cambridge. In 1719, he was appointed the Pastor of a church in Petticoat Lane, London. He nurtured high views of sovereign grace, setting out a clear case against the free offer of the gospel. His teachings on this subject were published in a book called, “God’s Operations Of Grace But No Offers Of His Grace” (1707).

Joseph Hussey, God's Operations Of Grace But No Offers Of His Grace (Complete)