The Will of God and the Gospel Offer

Thomas Boston

These passages from classical Reformed theologians and preachers speak of God’s desire for or delight in the salvation of those who hear the gospel offer, inasmuch as his revealed will is an expression of his goodness and kindness toward the hearers of the gospel.

Thomas Boston (1676-1732):
Christ desires the hearers of the gospel to come in to him

(“Gospel-Compulsion,” a sermon on Luke 14:23, and “God’s Delay of Executing the Sentence of Condemnation Against Ungodly Men Often Miserably Abused By Them,” a sermon on Eccles. 8:11, in The Whole Works of the Late Reverend Thomas Boston of Ettrick, vol. 6, pp. 287, 497-98, and 500)


Sinners are desired to come in. They not only have leave to come in, but they are desired by the Master of the house to come in. Arise then, ye worst of sinners, the “Master calleth you.” Ye are called, not to a funeral, but a feast; not to a prison, but to the guest-chamber, where he may entertain you with all the delicacies of heaven. If ye were not desired, why would he send his servants to compel you to come in? and will ye refuse when ye are desired? Consider, I pray you, (1.) It ill becomes you, vile worms, to refuse his call. I am sure he might be for ever happy in himself, though you and I both were where, in strict justice, we should be, in the bottomless pit. He needs none of us. What are we that he should be pleased to trouble himself about us, whether we sink or swim? The angels adore him, his Father honours him, and vile wretches, whom he desires to come in, have the face to refuse him whom the Father heareth always. (2.) There are many as good as you, whom he never desired to come in. He does not call you because he has none other to call, who might fill his house. He might remove this gospel from you, and send it into the dark places of the earth, and compel the pagans to come in. Should he do it, it is very likely his offers would be better entertained amongst them than amongst us. Some divide the world into thirty parts, and find that nineteen of these are possessed by pagans, six of them by Jews, Turks, and Saracens, and only five by Christians; and of these five parts Christian, many are Antichristian, lying yet under the darkness of Popery. And has the Lord chosen us out from among so many, to give us the invitation to come in, and shall we refuse? Lastly, How will ye look him in the face, when ye appear before his tribunal, if ye will not come in now at his desire? How will ye look back on rejected love? What will ye do when he comes in wrath to you, that will not come to him now, upon his call?

“God’s Delay of Executing the Sentence of Condemnation Against Ungodly Men Often Miserably Abused By Them”

We shall account for this slow method of providence. And there is much need to do it, because there is a mystery of providence in it that is not easy to unriddle, and among men there are sad blunders about it. God has the glory of some perfections, which otherwise would not shine forth so illustriously. He has the glory of his universal good-will to sinners of mankind, II Peter 3:9. “The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I Tim. 2:4. “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Justice is his act, his strange act; but mercy is what he has a peculiar delight in. He is slow to anger, but ready to forgive. This is written in very legible characters in this method.

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