Saturday, March 14, 2015

What is Freer Than Gift?

There is a wonderful chapter in Daniel Rogers' “Practical Catechism” on the free offer of the gospel. Below are some extracts from it designed to whet the appetite, stir the appreciation of God’s free offer of grace in the gospel, and in his words, “teach thee to mend thy slow pace, and run, yea, fly to this offer and free gift.” Read the full chapter in the link below from pages 88 to 108. Daniel Rogers (1573–1652) was an English Puritan minister and scholar, son of Richard Rogers, and a student of William Perkins.

Article IV.
The gospel and the offer of grace in it, is the revealer of this deliverance.
 “That is his gracious offer, made to the soul therein: which is nothing else, but the expression of the covenant of grace, that he is willing a poor soul may come to him without doubting and fear, because he holds out the Golden Scepter unto it, and bids it, Be reconciled. Hither refer all those texts wherein this offer is made, both in the covenant and in the seal of Baptism, Isa. 55.1, Ho, every one that thirsteth come. And, Let him that thirsteth, drink freely, Rev. 22.17, and John 7.37, In the great days of the feast, Jesus cried, If any man thirst, let him come.
And surely whoso will profit by this Article, must get this lesson by heart: That the Lord who freely purposed, and faithfully sent his Son into the world, still continues his freedom, and doth offer the Lord Jesus with his excellency most freely. A bottom of most unspeakable comfort to all poor, bruised reeds and broken souls. For if he be freely offered, what poor soul should doubt to accept him? What is freer than gift? He that gave him freely, cannot withdraw him again, nor keep back his satisfaction from a needing soul, as if he repented. And having given him once, he cannot recall him, for why then gave he him? And if he be wholly given, even with all his excellency, what particular thing can be denied with him? It behooves us then much to understand the truth of this freedom: which in a few particulars I will name.
 First, God offers Christ of his own accord, therefore freely. It never came into the heart of Angel or man to dream of it, or desire it. Romans 5, When we were yet enemies. The sun doth not arise more freely over the head of a drunkard snoring in his bed, or wallowing in his vomit, than the Lord Jesus came and is offered to a sinner in his blood and woeful misery. Preventing kindness is free, ere we desired it. See Isa. 65.1.
He offers it to whom he pleaseth, passing by millions of people in the world, and offering it to such and such nations, as he did of old to Israel, neglecting the world; so that it is merely unconditional and free, as when Paul came to Athens or Ephesus, who had never heard of gospel before.
Q. What are you so large in opening of this?
 A. Because it’s the main hinge whereupon the door of hope and faith turneth: the offer of God satisfied, being the immediate object to which the soul is to resolve and empty itself. The offer I say assisted with a promise. For an offer is no otherwise differing from a promise, than as a general out of which a particular issueth; the promise is included in an offer, but yet in special expressing the Covenant of God to all that receive the offer, that he will receive them, be their God, both in pardon and in all-sufficiency. Into these the soul doth wholly pour forth herself: which that we may understand, consider this, that we have to do with the Father immediately, but with our Lord Jesus only mediately, as a means to lead us with confidence unto him. The Father properly looks at the Son as our surety, and us, for his sake: but we look at him directly, and to our Lord Jesus, as our Mediator. So that look what we can show for our reconciliation, must come from the Father, and that is his offer and promise, oath and covenant of mercy. Into that therefore the poor soul is to resolve itself, all her doubts, fears, temptations and distempers whatsoever, and so to remain settled. So that it mainly concerns the soul to understand the nature, ground, and properties of the offer and promise.
Fifthly, this should sear us from all infidelity and contempt of God’s offer: Oh! It’s free and from mere good will, the Lord is tied to none; He hath rejected millions of Jews and Turks and baptized ones, and chosen to offer grace to thee. And, shall the contempt of the free offer of that which thousands would have been glad of (upon the price of going from sea to sea for it) be pardonable? Do but consider what woeful punishment will lie upon thee, who refuseth such an offer laid in thy lap, when as many poor souls would rejoice if the spending of days and nights might procure them a tender and believing heart to receive it; and yet complain, that they cannot come by it. Oh, tremble at the freedom of this offer! Be humble and base thyself to consider but this; I am a poor wretch, standing to the mercy of a free God, who hath it to give where he will, and to deny it at his pleasure. If he gave it to a prodigal son, and deny it to a moral civilian: if he give it to one that came into the vineyard at the eleventh hour, and deny it to him that came in at the seventh: if he deny it to the willer and runner, and be found of such as sought him not, who shall allege against freedom? May he not do with his own as he pleases? Oh, despise none! Lest the Lord make the despisers to seek the despised (as the Gileadites sought to Jeptha) and be glad of their portion. Oh! Turn all emulation and scorn into humility; and deep adoring of this freedom.
Fourthly, let it teach thee to mend thy slow pace, and run, yea, fly to this offer and free gift. 

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