The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, 1784
“The Reality and Efficacy of Divine Grace,” in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 2:554. Compiled by Tony Byrne
It is admitted that God’s love to man is in one sense universal. He bears good-will towards them, as the work of his hands; but it does not follow thence that he must do all that he could do for their salvation… As to God’s willingness that all should turn and God’s will, as live, has been observed, sometimes expresses what he approves, and sometimes what he purposes. God wills, approves, and desires a sinner’s turning unto him. It is that which, through the whole Bible, is required of him; and whosoever thus returns shall live. I may add, God is willing to receive and forgive every sinner that returns to him through Jesus Christ. He desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he would repent and live. But he has not purposed the salvation of every sinner, or to incline his heart to embrace the salvation exhibited in the gospel. In this sense, the salvation of some is neither desired nor designed: if it were, it would be effected; for “his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.”–“Whatsoever his soul desireth, even that he doeth,” Isa. xlvi. 10; Job xxiii. 13.
“On the Love of God, and Whether It Extends to the Non-Elect.” in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 3:770. Compiled by Tony Byrne.
“It appears to me an incontrovertible fact that God is represented in his word as exercising goodness, mercy, kindness, long-suffering, and even love towards men as men. The bounties of Providence are described as flowing from kindness and mercy; and this his kindness and mercy is held up as an example for us to love our enemies, Matt. v. 44, 45; Luke vi. 35, 36. And this the apostle extols; calling it, “The riches of his goodness,” &c., keenly censuring the wicked for despising it, instead of being led to repentance by it, Rom. ii. 4. And what if God never intended to render this his goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering effectual to the leading of them to repentance? Does it follow that it is not goodness? And while I read such language as this, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” – and that the ministry of reconciliation was in this strain – “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [men] by us; we pray [them] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” [2 Cor. 5:19-21] – I can draw no conclusion short of this, that eternal life through Jesus Christ is freely offered to sinners as sinners, or as Calvin, on John iii. 16, expresseth it, “He useth the universal note both that he may invite all men in general unto the participation of life, and that he may cut off all excuse from unbelievers. To the same end tendeth the term world; for although there shall nothing be found in the world that is worthy of God’s favour, yet he showeth that he is favourable unto the whole world, when he calleth all men without exception to the faith of Christ. But remember that life is promised to all who shall believe in Christ, so commonly, that yet faith is not common to all men; yet God doth only open the eyes of his elect, that they may seek him by faith.”
A Homiletic Encyclopedia, ed. R.A. Bertram, 1885, p. 419-20
We may form some idea of the manner in which the Gospel ought to be received from its being represented as an embassy. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” says the apostle, “as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” [2 Cor. 5:19-20] The object of an embassy, in all cases is peace. Ambassadors are sometimes employed between friendly powers for the adjustment of their affairs; but the allusion, in this case, is manifestly to a righteous prince, who should condescend to speak peaceably to his rebellious subjects, and, as it were, to entreat them for their own sakes to be reconciled. The language of the apostle supposes that the world is engaged in an unnatural and unprovoked rebellion against its Maker; that it is in His power utterly to destroy sinners; that if He were to deal with them according to their deserts, this must be their portion; but that, through the mediation of His Son, He had, as it were suspended hostilities, had sent His servants with words of peace, and commissioned them to persuade, to entreat, and even to beseech them to be reconciled. But reconciliation to God includes everything that belongs to true conversion. It is the opposite of a state of alienation and enmity to Him (Col. 1:21). It includes a justification of His government, a condemnation of their own unprovoked rebellion against Him, and a thankful reception of the message of peace; which is the same for substance as to repent and believe the Gospel. To speak of an embassy from the God of heaven and earth to His rebellious creatures being entitled to nothing more than an audience, or a decent attention, must itself be highly offensive to the honor of His majesty; and that such language should proceed from His professed friends must render it still more so.
“When the apostle beseeches us to be ‘reconciled’ to God I would know,” says Dr. Owen, “whether it be not a part of our duty to yield obedience? If not, the exhortation is frivolous and vain.” If sinners are not obliged to be reconciled to God, both as a Lawgiver and a Savior, and that with all their hearts, it is no sin to be unreconciled. All the enmity of their hearts to God, His law, His gospel, or His Son, must be guiltless. For there can be no neutrality in this case: not to be reconciled is to be unreconciled; not to fall in with the message of peace is to fall out with it; and not to lay down arms and submit to mercy is to maintain the war.