Ryle’s Wresting of Matthew 23:37

J.C. Ryle begins by commenting on Luke 5:12-16:

“Who shall deliver us from this body of death? Let us thank God that Jesus Christ can. He is that divine Physician, who can make old things pass away and all things become new. In Him is life. He can wash us thoroughly from all the defilement of sin in His own blood. He can quicken us, and revive us by His own Spirit. He can cleanse our hearts, open the eyes of our understandings, renew our wills, and make us whole. Let this sink down deeply into our hearts. There is medicine to heal our sickness. If we are lost it is not because we cannot be saved. However corrupt our hearts, and however wicked our past lives, there is hope for us in the Gospel. There is no case of spiritual leprosy too hard for Christ. We see, secondly, in this passage, our Lord Jesus Christ’s willingness to help those that are in need. The petition of the afflicted leper was a very touching one. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘if you will, you can make me clean.’ The answer he received was singularly merciful and gracious. At once our Lord replies, ‘I will — be clean!’ Those two little words, ‘I will,’ deserve special notice” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels; underlining mine).

Calvinist J.C. Ryle speaks of “special notice” concerning the two little words, “I will.” Ryle continues:

“They are a deep mine, rich in comfort and encouragement to all laboring and heavy laden souls. They show us the mind of Christ towards sinners. They exhibit His infinite willingness to do good to the sons of men, and His readiness to show compassion. Let us always remember, that if men are not saved, it is not because Jesus is not willing to save them. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He has no pleasure in the death of him that dies. He would have gathered Jerusalem’s children, as a hen gathers her chicks, if they would only have been gathered. He would, but they would not. The blame of the sinner’s ruin must be borne by himself. It is his own will, and not Christ’s will, if he is lost forever. It is a solemn saying of our Lord’s, ‘You will not come unto me that you might have life’ (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; Ezek. 18:32; Matt. 23:37; John 5:40)” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels; underlining mine).

Ryle — just like his Arminian brothers in Satan — will take up the eisegetical shoehorn to Matthew 23:37. Ryle “quotes” this passage as “Jerusalem’s children” and “they” (i.e., the children) would not. But that is NOT what the passage says. It is NOT “they” would not, but “ye” would not.

[NOTE: J.C. Ryle is an adherent of “moderate Calvinism,” of which at least one defining tenet is that God desires the salvation of all men without exception by His revealed or preceptive/prescriptive will. Calvinists like Ryle present and preach their “god” as expressing a sincere and “ardent desire” for the salvation of those whom he has decreed NOT to save.]

“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!” (Matthew 23:37; NOTE: 1 Thessalonians 2:16 also describes those who “would not.” )

Ryle perverts this passage as saying “they would not,” when in reality it says “ye would not.” Ryle, not content with laying this false foundation, proceeds to erect an edifice of his impotent idol who is thwarted by the regnant wills of his refractory creatures. Presumably Ryle would deny that he paints this idol with the brush of failure despite this “desire” for the salvation of those who ultimately perish. I realize that these moderate Calvinists make a distinction between God’s “desire” (or will) by way of precept and God’s “desire” (or will) by way of decree. However, this distinction regarding different senses of the word “desire” or “will” vanishes in their preaching. And this vanishing act or blurring of the distinction between types of “desire” or “willing” is witnessed in Ryle’s wresting of Matthew 23:37.

“The difference between Calvinism and other forms of theistic thought, religious experience, evangelical theology is a difference not of kind but of degree” (B.B. Warfield; SOURCE).

I surmise that not all who call themselves Calvinist or Reformed would agree with Warfield’s implicit acknowledgement of Calvinism differing from Arminianism only in DEGREE, and not in KIND.  But when one reads about Charles Hodge’s spiritual fornication with Schleiermacher, Herman Bavinck’s “polemic against” the Roman Catholic Whore, and this wresting above by J.C. Ryle … then, wow — it really isn’t a difference in KIND, but only of DEGREE!

“For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Paul says that this slither toward a seeming orthodoxy is NO MARVEL and NO GREAT THING. Think about how a minister or even a “lay” professing Christian might (unwittingly) accomplish this. Begin the supposed “regenerate life” with damnable heresy and then “grow into” or transform into a “less damnable” or “more orthodox” perspective.

The aforementioned Calvinists masquerade as true Christians — but they are false. Much of their confessional Calvinism is damnable. And even those doctrines which do appear Biblical and orthodox on the surface, they judge to be non-essential doctrines. James R. White is a salient case in point:

Efficacious atonement is not a  core doctrine that every believer believes, let alone the very heart and lifeblood of the gospel. [NOTE: If you read the James R. White article I linked to just above, thoughtfully consider WHY White objects to Paul Owen’s contention that Mormons are Christians with a confused faith. The same (or similar) arguments employed to defend or give a pass to heretics of one sort, are also trotted out by others to defend heretics of a different sort.]