Friday, December 12, 2008

The Will of God and the Gospel Offer

William Cunningham (1805-1861):
Assurances given by the Christian revelation
(Theological Lectures, p. 120)
Speaking of the assurances given to us in the gospel message, Cunningham couples God's "readiness to pardon" and "his desire to save men."

If natural religion, whatever measure of light it may be fitted to cast upon the character and moral government of God and a future state, plainly teaches men that they are sinners, or transgressors of God's laws, but does not plainly teach that God will forgive sin, or distinctly point out in what way, or upon what terms, forgiveness is to be secured; then men who have only the light of nature to guide them, even though they are making the best use of it, and indeed we might say just because they are making the best and fullest use of it, must be in a state of fearful anxiety and alarm as to the way and manner in which the sins they have committed are to tell upon their ultimate destiny. Now, in this state the Christian revelation presents itself to their notice, and challenges their investigation. And in doing so it holds out, as one of its leading recommendations, that it professes to give a full solution of these important and perplexing questions which natural religion could not solve. It confirms indeed all the fears and apprehensions of nature as to the intrinsic difficulties connected with the subject of the pardon of sin, and the insufficiency of repentance; but, at the same time, it fully reveals the mercy of God, assures us of his readiness to pardon, and of his desire to save men, and unfolds to us a great scheme through which God has provided for securing this object, in full consistency with all the attributes of his nature and all the principles of his moral government, and gives us full and explicit instructions as to what we must do in order that we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for our sins, and attain to the enjoyment of his favour and eternal happiness.

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