05 August, 2019

The Sum of Saving Knowledge—“the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ”

... In the word of God preached by sent messengers, the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ; and whosoever do confess their sin, accept of Christ offered, and submit themselves to his ordinances, he will have both them and their children received into the honour and privileges of the new covenant of grace. (The Sum of Saving Knowledge, 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. 435)

In support of the well-meant gospel offer, appeal is made various phrases in this document, written in 1650, especially to where it speaks of “the Lord [making] offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ.”


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[To] read this important document in its entirety is to learn very quickly that it is particularistic throughout. The introduction itself reads:

The Sum of Saving Knowledge may be taken up in these four heads: 1. The woeful condition wherein all men are by nature, through breaking of the covenant of works. 2. The remedy provided for the elect in Jesus Christ by the covenant of grace. 3. The means appointed to make them (aka, the elect, HH) partakers of this covenant. 4. The blessings which are effectually conveyed unto the elect by these means ... [The Confession of Faith … p. 433, emphasis added].

When speaking of the way in which God works through the means of grace, this document says,

… By these outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate inexcusable, so, by the power of his Spirit, he applies unto the elect, effectually, all saving graces purchased to them in the covenant of redemption, and maketh a change in their persons … [The Confession of Faith … p. 435].

It is a strange well-meant offer, in which God expresses His love for the wicked and His intention and desire to save all, that is also used, by the same Lord, to make the reprobate inexcusable.

What, then, about the use of the word offer (“the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners”; “… Christ offered”)? The Sum of Saving Knowledge undoubtedly explains this expression itself when, almost immediately following the words quoted above, it says, “[The covenant] doth clearly hold forth Christ already crucified before our eyes.” Nothing is said about a well-meant offer.



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 Calvinists.

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