Edward Reynolds on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel



Reynolds was one of the seven English divines who were the principal authors of the Westminster Confession, together with the commissioners from the Church of Scotland. 


The Sinfulness of Sin, from his Three Treatises

God has patience toward sinners, and waits for their repentance, and does not presently pour out all his wrath; if in this interim men will be persuaded in the day of their peace to accept of mercy offered, and to break of sins before the ephah [a basket of measure] be full, then their sinnes shall not end in Death.  But if they neglect all God’s mercy, and go on still, till there be no remedy, then sin grows to a ripeness, and will undoubtedly bring forth Death.

[Margin Note: Dan. 4. 27; Ezek. 18:30]



The Life of Christ, from his Three Treatises

Secondly, we must from hence be exhorted to take heed of usurping Christ’s honor to our selves, of being our own rule or way.  The Lord is a jealous God, and will not suffer any to be a self mover, or a God unto himself.  It is one of God’s extremest judgments to give men over to themselves, and leave them to follow their own rules.  When He has first woo’d men by his Spirit, and that is resisted; enticed them by his mercies, and they are abused; threatened them with his judgments, and they are mis-attributed to second causes; cried unto them by his prophets, and they are reviled; sent his own Son to persuade them, and He is trampled on and despised: when He offers to teach them, and they stop their ears; to lead them, and they pull away their shoulder; to convert them, and they hardened their heart; when they set up mounds against the Gospel, as it were to non-plus and pose the mercies of God, that there may be no remedy left; then after all these indignities to the Spirit of Grace, this is the judgement with which God uses to revenge the quarrel of his Grace and Covenant, to leave them to the hardness and impenitency of their own hearts, to be a rule and way unto themselves.  My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me.  So I gave them up unto their own hearts lust; and they walked in their own counsels.

Now we must observe, that a Branch may be in a Tree two ways.  First, by a mere corporeal adherency, or continuation with the stock; by cleaving and sticking to the body of the Tree; and so every dead branch is in the Tree, as well as those that live: but this alone is not that which our Savior requires, for such branches the husbandman will cut off and cast into the fire.

Secondly, by a real participation of the life, sap, and influences of the root, which unto the former sort of branches, though offered, yet is not received, because of the inward deadness and indisposition that is in it: thus it is between Christ and Christians.  That which makes us to be in Christ after any kind of way is Faith.  And according to the differences of Faith are these differences of being in Christ to be discerned.  Saint James makes mention of a dead Faith, when men are in Christ by some general acknowledgement, by external profession

Lastly, this Union unto Christ is compared unto Marriage, Ps. 45, Eph. 5:32, whereby the Church has a right and propriety created to the body, name, goods, table, possessions, purchases of Christ, and does reciprocally become all His, resigning its will, ways, desires unto His government.  Now for the discovery of this we may consider either the essentials, or the consequents of marriage.  The former has for the genus the most general requisite, consent: and that must have these differences and restrictions.  

First, it must be a mutual consent: for though Christ declare His good will, when He knocks at our doors, and beseeches us in the ministry of His Word; yet if we keep our distance, reject His tokens of Love and Favour, and stop our ears to His invitations, there is then no covenant made; this is but a wooing, and no marriage. 


[Reynolds below is describing Christ’s offers, wooings and entreaties both before and after conversion, which is clear from the beginning and end of the quote]

We see then, to conclude all, what an absolute necessity lies upon us of having Christ, because with Him we have All things, and can do all things: without Him we are poor and can do nothing.  And the more necessary the duty, the more sinful the neglect: especially considering that Christ withholds not Himself, but is ready to meet, to prevent, to attend every heart that in truth desires Him.  If a man have a serious, simple, sincere will, to come wholly to Christ, not to be held back from him by His dearest and closest corruptions, by the sweetest pleasures, or strongest temptations, which can allure or assault him, he may draw near unto Him with boldness, and assurance of acceptation: he has a call, Christ invites [Margin Note: Rev. 22:17], yea entreats him, and therefore he may come: he has a command, Christ requires it of him, and therefore he must come.  

And now when we have Christ, how careful should we be to keep Him; how tender and watchful over all our behaviors towards Him, lest He be grieved and depart again.  The Spirit of the Lord is a delicate spirit, most sensible of those injuries which his friends do Him.  Let us therefore take heed of violating, afflicting, discouraging, grieving this Spirit (which is the bond of all our union and interest with Christ) in any of those his sacred breathings and operations upon the Soul.  But when He teaches, let us submit and obey, receive the belief and the love of His Truth: when He promises, let us neither distrust nor despise, but embrace as true, and admire as precious, all the offers which He makes to us: when He contends with our lusts in His Word and secret suggestions, let him not always strive, but let us give up our fleshly affections to be crucified by Him: when He woos and invites us, when He offers to lead and to draw us, let us not stop the ear, or pull away the shoulder, or draw backward like froward children, or cast cold water in the face of Grace, by thwarting the motions, and rebelling against the dictates thereof, but let us yield our selves unto Him, captivate all our lusts, and consecrate all our powers, and submit all our desires to His rule and government; and then when He has been a Spirit of union, to incorporate us into Christ’s Body; and a Spirit of unction, to sanctify us with His Grace, He will undoubtedly be a Spirit of comfort and assurance, to seal us unto the day of our full redemption.




Related Page

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel