John Knox on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel




A Brief Exhortation to England for the speedy Embracing of the Gospel, 1558, from Geneva, from Knox’s Works, vol. 5

p. 503

I thought it my duty, in few words, to require of you (and that in God’s name, O England in general) the same repentance and true conversion unto God that I have required of those to whom before particularly I wrote.  For, in very deed, when in dolour [great sadness] of heart I wrote this former letter, I neither looked, nor could believe, that the Lord Jesus would so suddenly knock at your gate, or call upon you in your open streets, offering Himself to pardon your iniquity; yea, to enter into your house, and so to abide and make his habitation with you, who so inobediently had rejected his yoke, so disdainfully had trodden under foot the blood of his testament, and so cruelly had murdered those that were sent to call you to repentance.  This your horrible ingratitude considered, I did rather look for punishments and plagues universally to have been poured forth, than for mercy, by the sound of his trumpet so suddenly to have been offered to any within that miserable isle.


p. 504-5

And so this his love and fatherly care was so constant and unmovable, that nothing could utterly change it from the people [of Israel], until his dear Son, Christ Jesus, did come of them and amongst them, to notify and declare that sovereign felicity promised to Abraham; I mean, that all nations should be blessed in his seed, which was Christ Jesus; who, coming amongst his own, was of them rejected, denied, refused, and shamefully put to death upon a cross, betwixt two thieves. And yet, so tender was God’s care over them, that before their polluted and wicked hands were externally almost washed from his blood, He sent unto them the message of reconciliation, not only to those that were at Jerusalem, but even to such as were dispersed amongst the Gentiles, as in the Acts of the Apostles is plainly witnessed.  For this prerogative had ever the Jews, that first to them were offered the glad tidings of the kingdom, unto such time as they declared themselves, by open blasphemies, continual resistance, and cruel persecution, most worthy to be deprived of that honor.  This longsuffering and careful calling of that unthankful people, proceeded from the same fountain from the which their first vocation [calling] did proceed and flow; that is, from his eternal goodness, which did so long fight against their malice

The same order, I see, does God keep with you, O you happy and most unhappy England!…  But, O unhappy, and more than unhappy, that have declared yourself so unthankful and rebellious to so loving and so merciful a Father, who first gave you life, when you did lie polluted in blood and dead in your sin, and now does offer Himself to be your God, Governor, and Father, after that you, most traitorously conspiring with Satan by solemn oath, have renounced his truth.  O unhappy and more than unhappy are you, (I say) if that this your treasonable defection, and God’s loving kindness, yet calling you to his favors, does not pierce your heart with unfeigned repentance.  For as this mercy and love of your God far surmounts the reach of all men’s understanding, so cannot his just judgments long delay to power forth those horrible vengeances which your monstrous unthankfulness has long deserved, if you (as God forbid) now shut up your ears, blind your eyes, and so harden your heart, that neither you will hear, see nor understand the gravity of your fall, and that unestimable goodness of your God thus lovingly calling you to your ancient honors and dignity again.  I neither dare nor will cease now by my pen (be it never so rude) to cry unto you that which sometimes, from the mouth of my Master Christ Jesus, I have pronounced in the hearing of many, That if you shall not know this merciful visitation of the Lord your God, and so prepare yourself with a penitent and thankful heart to receive, yet while time is, his large graces offered, that then your habitation shall be left desolate [Matt 23:37-38]…


p. 507-8

And to the end that better you may try and examine yourself, I will shortly touch the stubborn inobedience [disobedience] of that people [Israel], the long patience and gentle dealing of God, with their most miserable and lamentable destruction.

…Against these and other vices from time to time did God send his prophets to call them [Israel] to repentance, and did also raise up some times good and godly kings to make public reformation as touching the religion.


p. 512

And so in despite of God, of his prophets, and of his Word revealed unto them, [Israel] departed from the land which the Lord had given to the seed of Abraham, unto Egypt infected with all idolatry. And thus, from their original [beginning], they continued in rebellion, even to the end, when they did utterly forsake God…

How long and patiently did God fight against this their rebellion, is easy to be understood by the histories and prophets


p. 513

This is the glass, this is the mirror, O England!  In which I would that daily you should behold what shall be the final end of those that do abuse the long suffering of God, most mercifully calling all to repentance.


p. 522

A Prayer

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of his Holy Spirit so illuminate and so move your hearts, that clearly you may see, and perfectly understand, how horrible has been your fall from his verity [truth]; how fearful and terrible it is to fall into his hands without hope of mercy; and what is that his unspeakable mercy which yet again He offers unto you




The Liturgy of John Knox, also known as The Book of Common Order, revised and adopted by the Church of Scotland in 1564, reprinted Glasgow, 1886

Editorial Note, p. 5

These formularies were in more or less general use [from 1564] down to the time of the Solemn League and Covenant [1643], when they were superseded by the [Westminster] Confession, Catechism, and Directions, prepared by the Westminster Assembly.  Numerous editions of Knox’s Liturgy continued to be printed, chiefly at Edinburgh and Aberdeen, till 1643.”


p. 127-8

The Form of Public Worship

A Prayer used in the Assemblies of the Church, as well Particular as General

Now (I mean) O Lord, thou hast revealed thyself and thy beloved Son Jesus Christ, clearly to the world again, by the true preaching of his blessed Evangel, which also of thy mercy is offered unto us within this Realm of Scotland; and of the same thy mercy has made us ministers, and burdened us with a charge within thy church.



Balnaves on Justification, 1548, first printed 1584, in Vol. 3 of Knox’s Works

The editor, David Laing, says (p. 4):

With this work of [Henry Balnaves] Knox was so much pleased, that having revised it carefully, divided it into chapters, and added a brief Summary of the book, it was conveyed with the Author’s permission to Scotland, probably for publication, with an Epistle by Knox…”


p. 13

The Summary of the Second Chapter [of Balnaves], by Knox

By Faith have we knowledge of God, whom we should seek in his Scriptures, and receive Him as He is offered to us thereinto: that is, [as] a Defender, Protector, Refuge, and Father, inquiring no further speculation of Him.  For, Philip desiring to see the Father, answered Christ, “Who has seen me, has seen the Father.”  Meaning that the love, goodness, and mercy, which God the Father bears unto mankind, He had expressed in doctrine and works; and also should show a most singular token of love, giving his own life for his enemies.  And therefore would all men come to Him, to whom the Father has given all power.



See Also

John Knox on God’s Common Love and Grace



Related Pages

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer

1500’s – Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel