Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) on God’s Love to Mankind With Regard to Matt 12:37, John 3:16, 1 John 2:2 and 2 Peter 3:9
Now, what unparalleled Love is this to self-destroying Sinners, to whom God may truly say, as in Hosea 13. 9. Oh Israel, host destroyed thy self; but in me is thine Help. This Love of God is very much celebrated in the holy Scriptures. Give me Leave to recite a few of the Passages wherein it is so. John 3. 16. For God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life, 1 John 4. 9,10. In this was manifested the Love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the World, that we might live thro’ him. Herein is Love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins. 2 Cor. 5. 18, 19, 20. God—hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the Ministry of Reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the World unto himself, not imputing their Trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the Word of Reconciliation. Now then we are Ambassadors for Christ, as tho” God did beseech you by us: We pray you in Christ’s Stead, be ye reconciled unto God. Matth. 23. 37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy Children together, even as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her Wings, and ye would not! Rom. 2.4. Or despiseth thou the Riches of his Goodness, and Forbearance, and Longsuffering; not knowing that the Goodness of God leadeth thee to Repentance. Hosea 11. 4. I drew them with Cords of a Man, with Bands of Love; and I was to them as they that take off the Yoke on their Jaws; and I laid Meat before them.
I am not ashamed to say, (if I were I should be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, contrary to Rom. i. 16.) that the Love of God thus manifested towards Sinners, has not a Relation to the Elect only, (tho’ principally unto them) but extends itself to the whole World, as in the mentioned John 3. 16. and in i John 2. 2. Mark 16. 15, 16, and 2 Cor. 5. 19, as I will, if I am put upon it, and God gives me Liberty, more fully show.
They are greatly mistaken who think that the Goodness and Kindness of God towards Mankind appearing, is only to be discovered and judged of, by what does in the Event befall them, and not at all by the Nature and Tendency of what he does for them. If God affords unto Sinners such Means and Aids as, according to the Nature of Things, are sufficient to put them in a Way to obtain eternal Life, they using proper Endeavors to that End: He therein displays his Kindness and Good-will towards them, what ever the issue be with Respect to them. Nor will God’s fore-knowing that these or those will neglect or misimprove the Means and Advantages with which he favors them, alter the Nature of the Thing, and make them no Benefits, which otherwise would have been such; if it would do so, it would be impossible that any should receive real Benefit who finally perish; for it is impossible that God should not know how they will improve, or rather misimprove them: And if God might not justly punish Sinners, either for not doing what they should, or doing what they should not, because he fore-knew what they would do, and what they would not, it would follow, that he could never justly punish any for Sin, because he could not be ignorant of what Men would do or omit, before such Things were done or omitted.
Now since we must judge of the Goodness of God to Mankind, by the Nature and Tendency of what he does, and not only by what eventually befalls them, we must acknowledge the great Goodness of God unto Sinners, even to those of them that shall at last perish; especially this may be affirmed on the Hypothesis I defend: And there is no Doubt but that God intends to gain unto himself a large Revenue of Glory, on the Account of what he does for them, who shall eternally perish for their Sins, as well as for those whom he will eternally save: And in the mean Time, those who never will attain eternal Life, are bound to give Thanks and Praise to God, for putting them in a Way in which they may attain it, if the Fault be not their own.
And it is a great Sin in God’s own People, if they do not confess to his Glory, that he deals very kindly by those, who, thro’ their own Fault and Negligence, fail of the Grace of God, and fall short of eternal Life. The Obstinacy and Unbelief of Sinners who despise his Goodness, and tread under Foot the Blood of his dear Son, whom he sent to save them, ought not to make us think meanly of what he does for them; but we should admire and magnify his Grace on the Account of it. And I confess I cannot but wonder that, many who treat of the Kindness and Compassion of God towards perishing Sinners, restrain all their Discourse about it, to what he has done for the Elect, as if others were no Ways concerned in it; which the Scriptures seem not to do, as appears in the Texts last above quoted, and in many others beside them, as in Isai. 53. 6. All we like Sheep have gone astray: We have turned every one to his own Way, and the Lord hath laid on him. the Iniquity of us all. Hos. 13. 9. 2 Pet. 3. 9. The Lord is not slack concerning his Promise (as some Men count Slackness) but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance, Can any possibly think that these Places and others like them, may be understood only of the Elect? and that particularly in Ezek. 18. 31. Cast away from you all your Transgressions whereby ye have transgressed., and make you a new Heart, and a new Spirit: For why will ye die, O House Israel.Experience Mayhew, Grace Defended in a Most Plea For an Important Truth; Namely, That the offer of Salvation made to Sinners in the Gospel comprises in it an Offer of the Grace given in Regeneration (Boston: Printed by B. Green, and Company, for D. Henchman, in Cornhil, 1744), 187-189. [Some spelling modernized; underlining mine.