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Quotes Against the Well-Meant Offer

Augustine (354-430): "Since the Creator is truly eternal, his substance is utterly unchanged in time and his will is not something from his substance ... It follows that he does not will first one thing and then another, but that he wills all that he wills simultaneously, in one act, and eternally. He does not repeat his act of will over and over again or will different things at different times, and he neither starts to will what he did not will previously nor ceases to will what he willed before. A will which acts in this way is mutable and nothing mutable is eternal. But our God is eternal" (Confessions, 12.15).

Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415): "Likewise, it is not possible that at any time Christ does not love his bride or any part of her, for he necessarily loves her as he loves himself. But it is not possible that he should love any reprobate in this way; therefore it is not possible that any reprobate should be a member of the church. The antecedent is clear from that notable principle, 'that God is not able to know or love anything de novo,' as Augustine says, de Trinitate, 6 [Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 103]. For God is not able to begin to know anything or to give up knowing anything or to call forth an act of his will, for he is unchangeable and also because the divine knowledge or volition is not conditioned by anything from without. From this it is evident that Christ loves the whole church as he loves himself, because he loves her now, just as he will love her after the day of judgment, when she will reign with him as is plain from the Canticles. For, otherwise, there would not be a true marriage out of the never-ending love of Christ, a party to the divine nuptials, if the bridegroom who is one person with the bride did not love her even as he loves himself. To this the apostle was speaking when he said: 'Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he might purify it, washing it in the laver of water, the word of life, that he might present it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish,' Eph. 5:26-27. For this reason Bernard, in his 12th homily on the Canticles [Migne, vol. 183, p. 831] says: 'The church is Christ's body, dearer to him than the body he gave to the grave.' It is plain, therefore, that it is befitting that Christ always love his bride, the holy church, just as he will love her after the day of judgment; and in the same way he hates every reprobate, just as he will hate him after the day of judgment. For, inasmuch as God knows fully what the end of every reprobate will be, and what penance every predestinate person who falls will, with God's unending grace, do — it is evident that God loves a predestinate person who sins more than he loves any reprobate person, no matter what measure of grace the latter may enjoy in time, because God wills that the predestinate have perpetual blessedness and the reprobate eternal fire. Thus, the Psalmist [5:6] says: 'Thou hatest all who work iniquity'" (The Church, trans. David S. Schaff [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915], pp. 30-32).

David Dickson (1583-1663) on Psalm 81:13: "This lamenting of God for his people’s misery, is borrowed from the manner of men, lamenting the misery which their disobedient children have brought upon themselves; and is not to be taken so, as if there were in God any passion or perturbation, or miserable lamentation: but this speech is to be conceived, as other like speeches in Scripture, which are borrowed from the affections of men, and are framed to move some holy affection in men, suitable to that affection from which the Lord taketh the similitude; and so, O that my people had hearkened unto me, serveth to move his people (who would hear this expression), to repent and lament their not hearkening unto God; and to study in all time to come to be more obedient unto him, even as they would eschew the curse which came upon misbelieving and disobedient Israel, and as they desired to obtain the blessings whereof carnal Israelites came short, and deprived themselves" (Commentary on Psalms, vol. 2, p. 57; italics supplied).

William Twisse (Prolocutor [Chairman] of the Westminster Assembly): "Can you perswade your self that ever the world will bee brought about to beleeve, or any intelligent or sober man amongst them, that God desires the repentance and life of them, whom hee hath determined from everlasting to deprive of those helps without which no man can repent and bee saved?" (A Treatise of Mr. Cotton’s, Clearing certaine Doubts concerning Predestination, Together with an Examination Thereof [London: Printed by J. D. for Andrew Crook, 1646], p. 233).

John Owen (1616-1683):

[1] "Now, if this be not extreme madness, to assign a will unto God of doing that which himself knows and orders that it shall never be done, of granting a thing upon a condition which without his help cannot be fulfilled, and which help he purposed not to grant, let all judge. Is this any thing but to delude poor creatures? ... Were not this the assigning such a will and purpose to Jesus Christ:—' ... That is, I do will that that shall be done which I do not only know shall never be done, but that it cannot be done, because I will not do that without which it can never be accomplished'? No, whether such a will and purpose as this beseem the wisdom and goodness of our Saviour, let the reader judge. In brief; an intention of doing good unto any one upon the performance of such a condition as the intender knows is absolutely above the strength of him of whom it is requires, – especially if he know that it can no way be done but by his concurrence, and he is resolved not to yield that assistance which is necessary to the actual accomplishment of it, – is a vain fruitless flourish" (The Death of Death [Great Britain: Banner, 1989], pp.129, 130).

[2] "In just what sense they would have us believe that God truly wills the security of those whom He voluntarily allows to walk in the darkness of their own paths, who are never actually saved, who are never called to new-birth, nor are given the revelation of the only name on which men might call for salvation, is something which I confess myself unable to understand" (Biblical Theology [Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994], pp. 50-51).

James Durham (1622-1658) on Revelation 3:15: "[T]he Lord’s expression is to be understood after the manner of men, (as was said) that is, as men use to express their hating of anything, by this, I wish it were, or had been any other way: that same is the Lord’s intent here. I cannot therefore but somewhat wonder, that a Learned man (Joannes Dallaus [i.e., Jean Daille, an Amyraldian] in his Apology, etc.) doth draw this place of the Lord’s wishing that Laodicea were hot, to confirm that assertion of the Lord’s having a will and desire of the salvation of all men, besides His signifying of what is acceptable to Him as considered in itself, by His Word" (Commentary Upon the Book of the Revelation [Willow Street, PA: Old Paths Publications, 2000], pp. 267-268).

Francis Turretin (1623-1687):

[1] "God cannot in calling intend the salvation of those whom he reprobated from eternity and from whom he decreed to withhold faith and other means leading to salvation. Otherwise he would intend what he knows is contrary to his own will and what he knew would never take place (and that it would not because he, who alone can, does not wish to do it.) This everyone sees to be repugnant to the wisdom, power and goodness of God" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, p. 505).

[2] "We now treat of the first head (viz., the will or universal purpose of having mercy upon all unto salvation). That there is no such will or purpose in God we prove: (1) from the decree of election and reprobation. Because the Scripture makes the purpose of having mercy particular, not universal (since it testifies that God had mercy upon some certain persons only, loves them and inscribes them in the book of life, but hates, hardens, appoints to wrath and ordains to condemnation others, Rom. 9:11, 12, 13, 18, 22; 1 Thess. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:8). Who would say that God willed to pity unto salvation those who he reprobated from eternity; and most seriously intended for them the end under a condition, whom by the same act of will he excluded from the means of ever arriving at that end? And who does not see that the conditional purpose to give salvation to innumerable persons is destroyed by the absolute purpose conderning the not giving of faith to them?" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, p. 399).

[3] "Nor can it be said that the promises are universal of themselves and from the intention of God, inasmuch as God seriously wishes all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth; but that all do not obtain it, is accidental on account of the wickedness and unbelief of men, who obstinately resist the Holy Spirit and hinder his operation. For it is falsely supposed that God seriously intends the salvation of all; this cannot be said of those whom he reprobated from eternity and to whom he wishes to give neither the gospel nor faith, without which the promise can neither be known nor received. (2) Although it is true that men resist the Holy Spirit and hinder his work, it is no less true that God does not furnish to all that grace by which the resistance of the heart may be taken away; that this is the special gift of God (Mt. 13:11; Rom. 11:7), which destroys the universality of the promise" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology [Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 1992], vol. 2, p. 215).

Matthew Poole (1624-1679): "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! the failure hath not been on my part, but on thine: I gave thee my counsels and commands, but thou hast neglected and disobeyed them, and that to thy own great disadvantage. Such wishes as these are not to be taken properly, as if God longed for something which he gladly would but could not effect, or as if he wished that to be undone which was irrevocably past and done; which is a vain and foolish wish even in a man; and much more are such wishes inconsistent with the infinite perfection and happiness of the Divine nature; but they are only significations of God’s good and holy will, whereby he requires and loves obedience, and condemns and hates disobedience" (Comm. on Isa. 48:18).

Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675): "The same Holy Scriptures testify that the counsel and the will of God change not, but stand immovable, and God in the heavens doeth whatsoever he will (Ps. 115:3; Isa. 46:10); for God is infinitely removed from all that human imperfection which characterizes inefficacious affections and desires, rashness, repentance, and change of purpose."

Thomas Halyburton (1674-1712): "We have the way wherein God takes notice of this, ‘O that there were in them!’ or, as it is in the Hebrew, ‘Who shall give them to have such a heart?’ [Deut. 5:28-29] God condescends to speak after the manner of men that we may understand him, and here we are not to think that God wants anything needful to him, he is God blessed for ever, or that he labours under any defect of power that he cannot accomplish what he would have, nor that he is capable of any uneasiness or desire of what he has not. To admit of any of those, which commonly are found in men when they wish, were to blaspheme the Lord. What meaneth then this wish, will ye say? I answer: (1.) It speaks the want of that which is wished for. (2.) God’s knowledge of this defect, which others could not discern. (3.) The acceptableness of such a heart to him. (4.) The necessity of it in order to the performance of these engagements. (5.) His real kindness to the people" (Works [Scotland: James Begg Society, 2005], vol. 4, p. 288).

Thomas Boston (1676-1732): "The other part of the verdict follows in the text; 'O that there were such an heart in them!' [Deut. 5:29] By which he discovers their hypocrisy, and precipitancy, their tongues running before their hearts in their engaging themselves to the Lord. The Lord speaks thus after the manner of men, so that they who would hence conclude, that man’s will by nature is such, as that it is of himself flexible, either to spiritual good or evil, while the Lord stands by as an idle spectator, and puts to no band of power, may as well conclude, that God hath eyes and hands of flesh, and that he who is not the son of Man that he should repent, and with whom there is no variableness, may even with propriety repent as to what he has done. Inefficacious wishing, properly understood, argues imperfection. (Hebrew, who will give such a heart; Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 'A new heart also will I give you.' And if he will do it, who can hinder him? Job xi. 10. (Works, vol. 10, p. 57; italics added).

William Cunningham (1805-1861):

[1] "On the other hand, it should be remembered, that [the Arminian view of] Christ’s dying for all men necessarily implies that God loved all men individually, and loved them so as to have, in some sense, desired and intended to save them; and that everything which proves that God did not desire and intend to save all men, equally proves that Christ did not die for them all; and that everything which must be taken in, to limit or modify the position that God desired and intended, or purposed, the salvation of all men, must equally limit or modify the position that Christ died for all" (Historical Theology [London: Banner, 1969], vol. 2, p. 339).

[2] "The way in which this matter naturally and obviously presents itself to the mind of a believer in the doctrine of election is this,—and it is fully accordant with Scripture,—that God must be conceived of as, first, desiring to savesome of the lost race of men, and electing or choosing out those whom He resolved to save,—a process which Scripture uniformly ascribes to the good pleasure of His will, and to no other cause whatever; and then,—that is, according to our mode of conceiving of the subject, for there can be no real succession of time in the infinite mind,—decreeing, as the great mean in order to the attainment of this end, and in consistency with His perfections, law, and government, to send His Son to seek and save them,—to suffer and die in their room and stead. The mission of His Son, and all that flowed from it, we are thus to regard as a result or consequence of God’s having chosen some men to everlasting life, and thus adopting the best and wisest means of executing this decree, of carrying this purpose into effect. If this be anything like the true state of the case, then it is plain that God never had any real design or purpose to save all men,—or to save any but those who are saved; and that His design or purpose of saving the elect continued to exist and to operate during the whole process,—regulating the divine procedure throughout, and determining the end and object contemplated in sending Christ into the world, and in laying our iniquities upon Him" (Historical Theology, vol. 2, pp. 361-362; italics Cunningham's).

[3] "We would only remark, that the substance of the answer given to these views of the Calvinistic universalists, may be embodied in these positions,—leaving out the general denial of the universality of the atonement, which is not just the precise point at present under consideration, though sufficient of itself, if established, to settle it.—First, that the general will or purpose to save all men conditionally is inconsistent with scriptural views of the divine perfections,—of the general nature and operation of the divine decrees,—and of the principles by which the actual salvation of men individually is determined; and really amounts, in substance, to a virtual, though not an intentional, betrayal of the true Calvinistic doctrine of election into the hands of the enemies" (Historical Theology, vol. 2, p. 363).

John Kennedy of Dingwall (1819-1884):

[1] "Salvation is in Christ near to all to whom the Gospel is preached. It is the will of God that it should be so. This is an exercise of God’s sovereign will. It is only on that ground we have the offer of Christ in the Gospel. Not on the ground of a universal reference of the atonement, or of a universal love, but on the ground of a divine appointment" (Expository Lectures [Berith Publications, 1997], p. 86).

[2] "But it may be asked, “In what relation do sinners, who hear the gospel, stand to the Father and to His love?' There are two relations, at any rate, in which they stand to the Father. They are the subjects of His government, and are quite at the disposal of His absolutely sovereign will. Thus they are as rational beings. And as sinners they are in such a relation to Him as 'Judge of all' that they are under a sentence of condemnation to eternal death. Let neither of these relations to the Father be ignored by any of us. 'But,' it may be asked, 'how are we, who hear the gospel, related to the Father’s love?' Not so, that you have any warrant to conclude, because of what the gospel tells you of His love, that it now, and as you are, embraces you. It speaks to you of that love, it exhibits the glorious proof given of the sovereignty, freeness, and riches of that love, in the mission and death of the Son, as the Christ and 'the Lamb of God,' but it cannot, by possibility, assure you of being an object of that love till you first come to Christ, and be embraced by it in Him. Aught else would be utterly inconsistent with the mode in which His love was revealed, as well as with the source whence it flows. Love, that could not approach a sinner except through Christ’s rent body and shed blood, cannot, apart from Christ crucified, be approached by a sinner. It cannot come but through divine blood to you, and you must not attempt to come to it except through the same channel. Let there be movements in desire and faith towards it as it is revealed in Christ, but let there be no attempt to embrace it, as a loved one, till first, as a sinner, you embrace 'Jesus Christ as He is freely offered to us in the gospel.' The revelation of the Father’s love, in the mission of His Son, is not a declaration that all to whom the gospel comes are loved by God. This cannot be; for if so, all who are in a state of nature on the earth must be equally regarded as objects of the Father’s love, whether they have heard the gospel or not. And how can we conceive of those as objects of His love to whom He has never told of His love, and who derive no opportunity of benefit from it? But if the revelation of the gospel declares sinners who hear it to be loved by God, must we not ascribe this advantage to the sovereign will of God, and thus from the marshes of Arminianism be constrained to repair for a firm footing to the sure ground of Calvinism? Thus far, at any rate, must the sovereignty of God be acknowledged. The distribution of the gospel is quite as unaccountable, except by referring it to the sovereign good pleasure of God, as is the salvation of some an not of others to whom the gospel has been sent. The mode in which God distributes the gospel is a palpable exhibition of the sovereign grace of the salvation of which the gospel testifies. But any sinner who is required to acknowledge the Father’s sovereignty is entitled to contemplate the Father’s love. O what a privilege it is to be told that the drawing of a sinner to Christ is in the hands of Him who commended His love in the mission of His Son. He to whom you are shut up in your impotence to believe, as the only One who can help you, is He who so loved the world as to give His Son to make atonement for sin by 'the blood of His cross.' That is one grand association with the Father. 'Yes,' you say, 'but what encouragement can I derive from thinking of the Father’s love, unless I may think of it as love to myself?' At any rate, you may think of it as love to sinners, while you regard it as sovereign love to each one of all who are its objects. Being love to sinners you may appeal to it as the fountain of all saving grace. Friend, your difficulty arises from your thinking so much of yourself, that you are disposed to regard yourself as an ill-used man, if God does not, without any regard to His holiness, and to the honour of His Christ, come to tell you where you are, and as you are, that you are an object of His love. You would surely act more wisely if you took, before the Father, your place as a sinner, at the disposal of His sovereign will, and appealed to His love as love that was expressed in sending His Son, as 'the Son of man,' 'to seek and to save that which was lost'" ("The Father’s Drawing [John 6:44]," in Sermon Notes [Scotland: James Beggs Society]).

[3] "The gospel of God is 'the gospel of His grace—the God of the gospel is 'the God of all grace.' In its light is seen how 'God is love' to Himself and to His people. His Son has been actually given as a Lamb for the sacrifice. All He is, in His divine dignity, and all He is to the Father, as His only Begotten Son, must be considered in thinking of the bounty of the love that gave Him. This gift expressed divine love to sinners—guilty, loathsome enemies. For these the given Son has died, that through His blood they might be reconciled to God; and, as their Head, He has risen, that He might save them by the power of His life. But this love is Sovereign. If God loved, because He was love, and not because He was pleased to love—if the actings of His love were required as an expression of what He was–then its exercise was necessary, and its embrace must be universal. But it is the love of the Almighty, and it must be gratified. It cannot be a fruitless affection. Its purposes must take effect. The final results of His government can furnish no disappointment to His love. It shall have secured at last the perfect blessedness of all whom it embraced. Therefore, the love of God must be sovereign, electing love. And the salvation of the gospel is the provision of love. It is, throughout, a provision suitable, and therefore intended, for sinful persons. The Almighty cannot provide in vain. The benefit He designed must be secured to those for whom it was intended. His love is saving love. He cannot love and not save. Salvation is the necessary expression of His love–this is His one way of making it known. But salvation requires sinful persons as its subjects; therefore love required certain persons as its objects" (Man’s Relations to God [Scotland: James Beggs Society, 1995], p. 43).

[4] "There are some who try to imagine an abstract benevolence of Jehovah, different from, and something, as they fain would have it, even higher than, His saving grace, which is discovered through the mediation of His Son. They desire not quite to leave it in the region of the abstract; but they cannot extricate it. They try to think that it may, somehow, find expression in God’s general dealings with mankind, by means of the gospel; because they can think of nothing definite. But where, in the firmament of Scripture, does this nebulous thing appear? What is this benevolence, apart from the goodness of God, as Sovereign, which He meantime extends to all, in order to His having an opportunity of fulfilling His purposes of grace? It is one love, and only one, which is revealed in Scripture, the love that gave the Son, and that giveth all things with Him. It is in the outcome of this love that God manifests Himself in Jesus Christ" (Man’s Relations to God [Scotland: James Beggs Society, 1995], p. 44).

[5] "How many reason thus—'God loved the world; but I am of the world; therefore God loves me.’ A most unexceptionable syllogism this, if the premises were true. But in order to determine this, they must follow the world, in the light of Scripture, along the whole line of its revealed connection with the love of God. When they do so, they will discover that the world which the Father loved, He sent His Son to save; that for the life of that world the Son gave His flesh; and that this same world the Spirit convinces 'of sin, righteousness, and judgment.' They would thus discover that He who can truly say, ‘God loves me,’ is he, and only he, who has certified his calling by its appropriate fruits, and to whom these have been sealed as evidence of his being in Christ, a son of God, an heir of life eternal. To tell men that God loves them before they have believed, is to tell them what God has not revealed even to His chosen, and what can give no encouragement to a wounded spirit. Such assurance of God’s love does not meet the anxious sinner’s case. To tell him that God loves him as He hath loved millions who are already in hell, is but to dishearten him, and it dishonours God. This is but to cheat him with 'a delusion,' and to decoy him with 'a snare.' His desire is to know how God may express His love to a sinner, and at the same time display His love to Himself. There is no love to which he can lift his eye in hope but free sovereign love, whose exercise consists with all that God is, and with all that God hath said, and whose provision fully and exactly meets such a case as his” (Man’s Relations to God [Scotland: James Beggs Society, 1995], p. 45).

[6] "The difficulty felt by many minds in dealing with the second question, is not owing to the necessary mysteriousness of the divine, but is one of their own creation. Regarding the call of the gospel as necessarily an expression of love, they cannot reconcile it with the doctrine of election. But is the call of the gospel an expression of love to each individual to whom it is addressed? True, the doctrine of the gospel is a revelation of God’s love to sinners and the embrace of divine love is assured to all who close with the call of the gospel. But is not this something very different from the call being an expression of love to all to whom it is addressed?” (Man’s Relations to God [Scotland: James Beggs Society, 1995], p. 46).

[7] "Especial care should ever be taken not to dissociate God’s love from Christ. There must be zeal for the holiness as well as for the freeness of the love of God. But to tell a sinner that God loves him apart from Christ, is to represent the love of God so as to provoke contempt–as a love adapting itself to the sinner’s convenience, rather than as a love which God becomingly expresses. How can the love of God be fitly expressed but in providing Christ as a Saviour, in bringing sinners unto Him, and in blessing them with all spiritual blessings in Him when they come?” (Man’s Relations to God [Scotland: James Beggs Society, 1995], p. 47).

"The question of the attitude of the United Presbyterians as the heirs of the New Light Seceders to the doctrine of the atonement came into the filed of discussion again when the Old School minority of the Free Church, in their critical attitude to proposals for the union of their Church with the United Presbyterians, raised the matter. In the course of these negotiations there was published, over and above an earnest tract from the pen of Dr J. Julius Wood of Dumfries, an elaborate pamphlet discussing the subject from the pen of James Macgregor, who was one of the school of Cunningham. In this work, from the standpoint of the older Calvinism, he treats of the situation created by the decision arrived at by the United Secession Synod in the case of Dr Brown. He was of one mind with his master, [William] Cunningham, that on the side of Brown and his friends there was a renewal substantially of the tendency of Amyraut and his school in the French Protestant Church of the 17th century. These are the terms in which Macgregor canvasses and criticises the value of the Amyraldian scheme: 'The more malignant aspects of Amyraldianism are as follows:-First, the notion of any saving purpose of God that does not infallibly determine salvation; or, in other words, of a frustrated intention or a disappointed desire of His; this notion is not only on the face of it unscriptural, but, in the heart of it, offensive even to our natural reason, because inconsistent with the very nature and perfections of Deity. Nor does the notion gain anything, in respect of spiritual seemliness, when transferred from God’s eternal decree to the execution of that decree in time on the Cross. For the notion of any substitution of Christ that does not infallibly secure by purchase the salvation of all for whom He died, is deeply dishonouring to the personal work of the adorable Substitute. Again, the two notions alike (or the notion in its two applications alike) must, when seriously entertained, tend to undermine the believer’s assurance of hope. For that assurance is ultimately founded on the truth, that all God’s purposes are unchanging and effectual, and that no sinner can ever perish for whom Christ gave His life on the Cross. The assurance, therefore, is fatally undermined by the notion, that there is a changeable or ineffectual purpose of God, and that many of those for whom Christ gave His life shall nevertheless fall into death eternal. Once more the two notions alike (or the notion in its two applications alike) must tend, when seriously entertained, to prevent unbelievers from coming to God in ‘full assurance of faith’ It is at this third point that the Amyraldians deem themselves strongest. Hence, as I have said, in France they assumed the name of Methodists under the impression that their doctrine constitutes a method or way, more excellent than had previously been known among Calvinists, of leading sinners to salvation through faith, and particularly of helping them over the difficulty, already referred to, in the way of believing. And it is at this point–their strongest–that I find them weakest'” (John Macleod, Scottish Theology [Edinburgh: Publications Committee of the Free Church of Scotland, 1946], pp. 249-251).

Duncan Mathieson of Gairloch: "The French Calvinistic Universalists maintained that ‘God, from His universal love and grace towards all men, appointed Christ to be the Mediator, and to suffer death and make satisfaction for the sins of all men universally, provided all men should believe.’ This is just the doctrine of the ‘general reference’ of Christ’s work to all men, stated in a new kind of phraseology; for the Universalists maintained the doctrine of a ‘special reference’ also, as our modern Universalists do. Now the doctrine of God’s universal love and grace towards all men has no solid foundation in Scripture. It is contrary to the history of the Church and the world, under the supreme government of God. When the Lord revealed Himself and His glory to Moses, in clearer language than He had ever done before to any man, He said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy to whom I will show mercy,’–Exod. 33:19. In the history of the Church and of the world, God has written in capital letters the doctrine of the Divine Sovereignty of grace and love as He has recorded it in the Holy Scriptures. He said to Moses, ‘I will make all my goodness to pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.’ The divine glory shines most brightly in the face of Jesus Christ in His mediatorial work. The gospel is the light in which that glory shines externally–the glory of the gospel is, that the glory of Christ shines in it, and in His face the glory of God shines. The apostle says, ‘If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.’ Now what love, what universal love, can we conceive to be in God towards thousands and ten thousands of our race, from whom this glory is altogether hid, who live and die, some mere formal professors, but into whose hearts God did never shine, to give the knowledge of the God of glory, who appeared to Abraham, when He appointed him the father of believers; millions of others who live and die, some of them cannibals, and some devil worshippers?” (in The Watchword [November 1, 1870], pp. 363-364).

[2] "The history of the Church, and of the world, clearly illustrates the doctrine of God’s free and sovereign love, and that there is no universal love in God towards the whole of our fallen race. The Word of God in Scripture is said to be like fire! it is also light, and in the fire and light of the text (Rom. viii. 34), 'He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.' I see all the perversions of this text by Arminians, Calvinistic Universalists, Marrow men, and United Presbyterians, burnt up as wood, hay, and stubble, and nothing left but ashes, on which they who are led astray by a deceived heart, a strong delusion, believing a lie, feed. In the text the authentic gospel offer is contained, and the word world is to me precious in its place there; in the text (John iii. 16), the gospel offer is contained in the last clause of the text, 'That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish;' but the last clause limits the meaning of the word world, and the objects of the love, inasmuch as millions never heard of Christ or of the love of God" (in The Watchword [June 1, 1871], p. 116).

Gordon H. Clark (1902-1985): "But if it was his [i.e., God’s] pleasure that all be saved, how could Isaiah say, 'He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied'? Job 42:2 says, 'No purpose of thine can be thwarted.' And is not a purpose a desire? And does not God do all his will? In Psalm 135:6 God says, 'Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he.' Had he pleased to save everybody he would have saved them. He did not save them. Therefore he had not pleased to" (The Atonement, pp. 89-90).

Hugh M. Cartwright (1943-2011): "William Cunningham sums up the position of our [Westminster] Standards and of our pulpits: 'God has commanded the gospel to be preached "to every creature". He has required us to proclaim to our fellow men, of whatever character, and in all varieties of circumstances, the glad tidings of great joy, to hold out to them, in His name, pardon and acceptance through the blood of atonement, to invite them to come to Christ, and to receive Him, and to accompany all this with the assurance that whosoever ‘cometh to [Him], [He] will in no wise cast out’. God’s revealed will is the only rule, and ought to be held to be the sufficient warrant for all that we do in this matter, in deciding what is our duty, in making known to our fellow men what are their privileges and obligations, and in setting before them reasons and motives for improving the one and discharging the other'. Cunningham’s last sentence puts Professor Murray’s booklet into context. The booklet begins: 'It would appear that the real point of dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men'. The significant question is said to be: 'What is implicit in, or lies back of, the full and free offer of the gospel to all without distinction?' The author interprets various scriptures as proving that 'there can be no room for question but that the Lord represents Himself in some of these passages as earnestly desiring the fulfilment of something which he had not in the exercise of His sovereign will actually decreed to come to pass' ... In 'Some Necessary Emphases in Preaching' (Collected Writings, vol. 1) Professor Murray states that 'it is only with the definiteness and particularism which characterises our reformed faith that Christ can be presented in all His fulness and freeness as a Saviour ... It is on the crest of the wave of the divine sovereignty that the full and free overtures of God’s grace in Christ break upon the shores of lost humanity.” He does not ascribe the preaching of the gospel to sinners to a universal saving love any more than to a universal atonement. But here and elsewhere he grounds the gospel call in desires on God’s part which He has purposed should not be fulfilled, and in a universal love which accounts for His providential dealings with men. It seems to this reviewer that, in his concern to find something additional to the mere command of God on which to base the overtures of grace, the author is betrayed uncharacteristically into strained exegesis, connecting what Scripture does not connect and reaching unconvincing conclusions which lack clarity. Criticising the Declaratory Act of 1892, Rev J S Sinclair wrote: 'We are fully agreed that all who hear the gospel are under obligation to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. But this obligation, we hold, rests upon the direct command of God, and the suitableness of the gospel provision to men as sinners, and not upon supposed universal love, or universal atonement, as seems to be the case here'. The preacher who goes forth to preach Christ to sinners has authority and sufficient reason for warmth, freeness and earnestness in the fact that he has the command of God behind him and that he has a Saviour to proclaim in whom even the chief of sinners may taste God’s saving love" ("Review of 'The Free Offer of the Gospel' by John Murray," in Free Presbyterian Magazine [Oct. 2002], pp. 310-311).

John W. Robbins (1959-2008): "Most churches in the United States  that call themselves Christian reject the Gospel. They teach, if they are liberal, that Jesus was a good man—even a martyr—but he died in no one's place; or, if they are conservative, that Jesus died in everyone's place, desires all men to be saved, and offers salvation to all. But it really makes no difference whether a church is large, respectable, liberal, and teaches that Jesus died for no one; or enthusiastic, growing, conservative and teaches that Chris died for everyone. The result is the same: Jesus Christ actually saves no one—no one at all.  Both liberals and conservatives agree that people save themselves by an exercise of their wills. The conservative 'Christ' makes salvation possible, if people will only let him  into their hearts; the liberal 'Christ' points the way to salvation, if people will but follow his example. Neither 'Christ' saves. The liberals are perhaps more forthright in denying the Gospel; they say that Jesus was  just a good example or a good teacher. They don't pretend  to present a Saviour. The conservatives  disguise the fact that they have no Gospel—no good news—by saying that God loves everyone and offers salvation to all. But the meaning of both the liberal message and the conservative message is the same: Neither a good moral teacher nor a mere offer of salvation saves. Neither the liberals nor the conservatives, the humanists nor the Arminians, have a Saviour. The liberal 'Christ,' at best, is a brave soul who endures injustice rather than renounce his belief in humankind; the conservative 'Christ' is a wimp who begs people to let him into their hearts" ("Foreword" in Gordon H. Clark, The Atonement [Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1987]).

Joseph Hill (Associate Professor emeritus of Biblical Studies and Greek, Geneva College): "I would call your attention to Calvin's superb sermon on I Timothy 2:3-5, which states that God 'desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.' My book, Grace and Its Fruits (Evangelical Press, 2000), a selection John Calvin's sermons on the pastoral epistles (faithfully translated into modern English), includes Calvin's sermon on that puzzling text, which is often wrongly cited as support for the free offer of the gospel. Calvin states that Paul has in view all nations, not Jews only, and not 'all men' individually. God, according to Calvin, desires all His elect people in all nations and 'men of all ranks and social positions' to be saved and come to know the truth as it is in Jesus. this is vastly different from the Arminians' and the Federal Vision's conditional offer of the gospel" (The Standard Bearer, vol. 90, no. 2, p. 32).