Matthew Barker on the Sincere Free Offer


Barker authored, Natural Theology, or the Knowledge of God from the Works of Creation, Accomodated and Improved to the Service of Christianity (1674) and contributed several of the Cripplegate Sermons.  He wrote the commentary on the letters of Thessalonians that appear in Matthew Poole’s Annotations.




Puritan Sermons, 1659-1689 (also known as the Cripplegate Sermons), vol. 4, “Wherein, and Wherefore, the Damnation of those that Perish under the Gospel will be more Intolerable than the Damnation of Sodom, or the Worst of the Heathens, at the Day of Judgment”

p. 208

4. This impenitency is a disappointing God in his end [design].—It is a frustrating of his great design; which is, to recover lost man to Himself by Jesus Christ.  And man is not recovered and brought back to God but by true repentance; and it is his great end [design] in sending his gospel to a people, to bring them to repentance; and this end of God is now made void, when sinners repent not.  Men are sometimes grieved, and sometimes angried, when they are disappointed in their end; so is God said to beHe complains often of this in the scriptures: when He is disappointed in the end of his corrections, He complains, “In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction.” (Jer. 2:30And in the end of his showing favor: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.” (Isa. 1:2)  And [He] complains of his vineyard disappointing the end of his care and cost about it: “When I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes.” (Isa. 5:4)

Our Savior is said to “rejoice” when sinners were brought to repentance; He now enjoyed the end [design] of his coming. (Luke 10:21But then, at another time, He “grieved, because of the hardness of men’s heart’s.” (Mark 3:5)  and Christ’s faithful ministers rejoice also, when sinners repent; for they now attain their end [design] which they come upon, and will give up their account with joy concerning such, as they will do with grief concerning others. (Heb. 13:17)  Whereupon the apostle as a “co-worker with” God, beseeches the Corinthians “that they receive not the grace of God in vain;” (2 Cor. 6:1) that neither God nor himself [Paul] may be disappointed in the end of their work, being “co-workers.”  And grace is bestowed in vain, when it brings not sinners to repentance, and when men accept not of the reconciliation mentioned in the foregoing chapter, which grace has provided for them.  It was a sad complaint of the prophet, when He says, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain;” (Isa. 49:4) much more, for an apostle and a minister of the New Testament thus to complain; and much more, for Christ to complain thus, as sometimes He did [John 5:40]; and most of all, for God Himself to complain, as He does in the case of sinners’ impenitency under the gospel must needs be very sinful.

5. This impenitency has much folly in it, as well as sin.—For men to run themselves into the destruction which they might avoid, and refuse the offers of God’s mercy and grace in the gospel,–is not this folly?… for they have, set before them, the fairest price and the richest seasons.

6. Impenitency under the gospel shows greater willfulness in sin.—… The more light and knowledge men sin against, the more will there is in sin; and the fairer the offers are made to men of heaven and salvation, the more willful is the refusal: and this is the case of sinners under the gospel.

7. Lastly. Impenitency under the gospel is attended with the greatest resistance of the Spirit.—Greater than in former times.  There is more of the Spirit [that] goes along with the gospel-ministration, than with any before it; and there cannot be a disobedience to the gospel, without resisting that Spirit that goes along with it.  Upon some the Spirit prevails, and brings them to repentance; and in others He is resisted; and some resist to that degree, that they are said to offer “despite unto the Spirit of grace.” (Heb. 10:29)…

III.  Now I come to the last particular,–to show wherein the greater intolerableness will consist.

1. Such will suffer greater torments from their own consciences.–… By how much men have sinned against greater light and mercy, by so much the remembrance of this will be the more afflictive.  It was some aggravation of Dive’s [the rich man’s] torments in hell,–the remembrance of former good things enjoyed: much more will the remembrance of a day of salvation lost, and of the refusal or neglect of gospel-grace and mercy, be afflictive to sinners in a state of damnation.

The light [which] they have sinned against will be hell-fire in their consciences for ever; and the clearer the light, the hotter the fire: and [the] higher they have been lifted up by the opportunities of grace toward heaven, the lower they will fall under the weight of guilt and rebukes of conscience.

3. Christ Himself will appear in greatest severity against such.—… His first coming was in a flame of love, to save men; but when men are impenitent, and reject his salvation, He will come next in flames of wrath, to take vengeance…

4. Witnesses will rise up against these more than any other sinners.–…

The good angels may come in as witnesses; who, having been present in the church-assemblies, have heard the calls there given to sinners to repent.

The bad angels may come in, and plead against them, that they never refused the calls of the gospel to believe and repent; for they never had any.

Ministers may come in as witnesses; who spent their pains and strength upon them, to invite and call them to repentance; but they would not hear


The Application

Use [Application] 2. Hence it appears, that what is in itself a great favor and privilege to a people, may be the occasion of the greatest evil.—As the gospel is in itself [a great privilege], yet [it] will be an occasion to many of a damnation that will be most inexcusable and most intolerable.  Christ was first preached to the Jews which was their privilege: but they rejecting Him, it brought sorer calamities upon their nation than ever before…. And how will it fare with them in the day of judgment, [when] He tells them, in John 12:48: “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you at the last day.”  And what judgment will be more severe than theirs, who have refused and rejected words that came immediately from the mouth of the Son of God?  Words so full of grace and mercy, truth and faithfulness, wisdom and understanding!

Use 3.  We may hence take notice, how ineffectual the best outward means are of themselves to bring a people to repentance–…

Objection: “But God can bring man to repentance if He will.”

Answer: God has a twofold power,–potestas absoluta, et ordinata; [being roughly translated] “a power that He exerts immediately, or in the use of means.”  God can by his absolute power preserve a man’s life without eating or drinking; but He maintains it ordinarily in the use of means, which man is obliged to use, and, if he reject them, will be guilty of his own death.  God affords sinners means to bring them to repentance; and, if they reject them, God is not obliged to work by his immediate power.  Hereupon God is said to be “willing that all” should be saved, and “come to repentance,” (2 Pet. 3:9) by his calling them, and affording means to repentance.


Use 5…

2. And it is true that his day is delayed; but it is because God waits for sinners’ repentance, and would have men saved, and enter in before the door be shut. (2 Pet. 3:9)



Matthew Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible (the letters of Thessalonians were completed by Barker)

“because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

2 Thess. 2:10

‘Because they received not the love of the truth’: and the apostle gives the reason why they are thus deceived.  He says not [that] they had not received the truth, but the love of it, and so hold it not fast, but are carried away with the general apostasy.  Truth is either natural, which the heathen had, and detained in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18; or supernatural, from Divine revelation. This is meant, for he speaks not of heathens, but Christians; not the world, but the church.

‘That they might be saved’: and the truth here meant is saving truth, as the gospel is called ‘the word of truth’, Ephesians 1:13 Colossians 1:5; for had they received it in love they might have been saved, but for want of that they perish; so that it is unsound, notional professors that are carried away by the man of sin, and deceived by him.  Truth, if it be not received into the heart as well as the head, will not secure against apostasy or popery, nor prevent perishing.  And the amiableness that is in gospel truth calls for love, as the certainty of its revelation calls for faith; and had they so received the truth they might have been saved.




Related Pages

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

1600’s Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel