04 August, 2019

The Directory for Public Worship—“… standing out against many invitations and offers of grace in the gospel”

[Of Public Prayer before the Sermon] … After reading of the word, (and singing of the psalm,) the minister who is to preach, is to endeavour to get his own and his hearers hearts to be rightly affected with their sins, that they may all mourn in sense thereof before the Lord, and hunger and thirst after the grace of God in Jesus Christ, by proceeding to a more full confession of sin, with shame and holy confusion of face, and to call upon the Lord to this effect:

To acknowledge our great sinfulness, First, by reason of original sin, which (beside the guilt that makes us liable to everlasting damnation) is the seed of all other sins, hath depraved and poisoned all the faculties and powers of soul and body, both defile our best actions, and (were it not restrained, or our hearts renewed by grace) would break forth into innumerable transgressions, and greatest rebellions against the Lord that ever were committed by the vilest of the sons of men. And next, by reason of actual sins, our own sins, the sins of magistrates, of ministers, and of the whole nation, unto which we are many ways accessory: which sins of ours receive many fearful aggravations, we having broken all the commandments of the holy, just, and good law of God, doing that which is forbidden, and leaving undone what is enjoined; and that not only out of ignorance and infirmity, but also more presumptuously, against the light of our minds, checks of our consciences, and motions of his own Holy Spirit to the contrary, so that we have no cloak for our sins; yea, not only despising the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, but standing out against many invitations and offers of grace in the gospel; not endeavoring, as we ought, to receive Christ into our hearts by faith, or to walk worthy of him in our lives … (Directory for Public Worship, in The Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the Scripture-Proofs at Large: Together with The Sum of Saving Knowledge) … and Practical Use Thereof; Covenants, National and Solemn League; Acknowledgment of Sins, and Engagement to Duties; Directories for Public and Family Worship; Form of Church Government, etc. [Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1851], pp. 482-483)

“Sometimes it is held that ‘offer’ in the Confession and Catechisms does not imply that God has a gracious purpose to give what He offers, or that He does not desire the recipients to take the offer.  This, however, is shown not to be the case [as follows]:
Light on the interpretation and intention of the Confession and Catechisms is found in the Assembly’s Directory of Public Worship which says that these offers: are ‘invitations,’ express ‘God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering,’ and are proffered by ‘motions of his own Holy Spirit’. According to the Directory, some people presumptuously act contrary to the motions of the Holy Spirit.  That is, the Holy Spirit acts upon them in one direction, and they successfully resist such motions in going the contrary direction.  Then, notice that the Directory quotes the language of Rom. 2:4 (interpreting it in a Sincere Free Offer sense), which says, “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forebearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” These motions (according to Rom. 2:4 which the Directory quotes) are for the purpose of leading these people to repentance, which people (according to the Directory) yet stand out against the invitations and offers of the gospel.”


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

That this cannot possibly refer to a well-meant offer is clear from the following considerations. First, the Directory gives instruction for congregational prayers which are to be uttered within the church of Christ. It is the church praying. Secondly, the guidance for such prayers is to bring the worshipping church to a confession of sin by which they humble themselves before God. Thirdly, it is clear, therefore, that the invitations and offers of the gospel refer to the proclamation of the gospel in which Christ is set forth, a gospel which even God’s people often despise and against which they stand. To quote this as proof of the well-meant offer is to tear it out of its context of confession of sin.



More to come! (DV)

According to a number of Presbyterian divines, the “gospel offer” is particular in its scope and address—to the contrite and the repentant; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (though this good news is preached so that even the non-elect hear it).

This was, however, repudiated by the so-called “Marrow” men, as well as all Amyraldians and Moderate (aka, Hypo) Calvinists.

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