THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
T. P. Simmons
Election is the fundamental principle in the saving grace of God. It is the sovereignty of God in respect to the salvation of man. It forms a part of God's decrees. It is an expression of His all-pervading providence. It concerns only a portion of the human race. Yet it "is the expression of God's infinite love towards the human race, redeeming man from sin through Christ, and by the Holy Spirit bringing him into this state of redemption, so far as it is consistent with the interests of God's great and final kingdom" (Smith, System of Christian Theology, p. 505). It presupposes the entire sinfulness of the human race, and is based on the atonement of Christ.
I. SOME PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS
The Bible doctrine of election is much misunderstood, much perverted, much abused, and much opposed. Nevertheless, to "full grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil' (Heb. 5:14), it is a blessedly and gloriously profitable doctrine, a veritable mine of spiritual wealth.
2. IT IS EMINENTLY SCRIPTURAL
This doctrine has a broad and deep foundation in the Scripture. It is woven into the very warp and woof of divine revelation. As a scarlet thread this gracious purpose of God runs through the fabric of the word. "The Bible not only teaches the doctrine, but makes it prominent--so prominent that you can get rid of election only by getting rid of the Bible" (Bishop, The Doctrines of Grace). "Let the Scripture be read with reference to this doctrine, and every passage marked which indicates God's dealing with men as an absolute sovereign, and also every declaration which ascribes election or the fruits of it to His choice and not to the will and acts of men, and every illustration afforded that this is Gods usual method, and it will appear that scarcely any book of Scripture will fail to furnish testimony to the fact that in the acts of grace, no less than those of providence, God "doeth according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth' (Dan. 4:3-5)" (Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology).
3. YET IT HAS MANY OPPOSERS
But since this doctrine is so stripping and humbling to the natural man and so thoroughly distasteful to the carnal mind, it has many opposers. It is even as the immortal J.. R. Graves said: "All men are by nature Arminians; and the absolute sovereignty of God is a doctrine hateful to the natural and depraved heart. False teachers have taken advantage of this natural feeling and have for ages inflamed the prejudices of Christian men and women against the exercise of sovereignty on the part of God" (The Seven Dispensations, pp. 95,96). Many false theories of election have arisen. These theories have come about through an effort at "measuring supernatural mysteries with the crooked mete-wand of degenerate reason" (Ness).
4. THE MEANING OF ARMINIANISM
Any system of doctrine that conditions the saving purpose of God on the acts or merits of men is essentially Arminian; just as, any system that makes the sovereign pleasure of God the ground of His saving purpose is essentially Calvinistic. If one holds to the former, he is an Arminian, although he may not go all the way with Arminius. And if a man holds to the latter, he is a Calvinist, although he may not go all the way with Calvin. There is no middle ground between Arminianism and Calvinism in their accepted meaning among theologians. Every man that takes my view of election whatsoever is one or the other. G. W. Northrup, himself practically an Arminian, says, in discussing the question of whether election is conditioned on something in man "Arminianism may be considered as representing all non-Calvinistic systems as regards the point under consideration" (Sovereignty of God, p. 48). And in the second part of this book, written by Prof. Robert Watts, of Belfast, Ireland, in reply to the first part, we have A. A. Hodge's "Outlines" quoted as follows: "What is the ground of the eternal predestination of individuals to salvation? Is it the foreseen faith and repentance of the individuals themselves, or the sovereign good pleasure of God? Every Christian must take one side or the other of this question. If he takes the side which makes foreseen faith the ground, (or if he, as is common today, makes faith the procuring cause of an election in time, which is essentially the same as the foregoing proposition), he is an Arminian, no matter what else he holds. If he takes the side which makes the good pleasure of God the ground, he is a Calvinist."
It needs to be understood that Calvinism and Arminianism are now theological terms. They do not signify all that Calvin and Arminius believed or wrote. They refer to two antithetic systems of doctrine, somewhat modified in transmission, and having respectively unconditional and conditional election as their chief points. So it has become common in theological discussions to classify men and systems of doctrine as Calvinistic or Arminian on the basis of these two chief points.
6. THE SPIRIT AND NATURE OF ARMINIANISM
The spirit of Arminianism is the spirit of Modernism. Arminianism is a system of rationalism, which, like Modernism, makes reason, instead of divine revelation, the standard of truth.
"The Church has been corrupted and cursed in almost every age by the undue confidence of men in their reasoning powers. They have undertaken to pronounce upon the reasonableness or unreasonableness of doctrines infinitely above their reason, which are necessarily matters of pure revelation. In their presumption they have sought to comprehend 'the deep things of God,' and have interpreted Scriptures, not according to their obvious meaning, but according to the decisions of their finite reason" (Rice, God Sovereign and Man Free, p. iii).
Let the reader be warned against that haughty spirit which rejects revealed truth because the twisted and vitiated mind of man cannot fully fathom it. This is the mainspring of infidelity and Modernism. "It was through pride of reasoning that man fell," and we may add that in the same way today man is falling farther and farther from God. Reason is a divine gift, and, when used aright, it is a pearl of great price. Its proper sphere in religion lies in the right dividing of the word of truth. But when it sets itself up as a standard by which the credibility of divine revelation is to be tried, it becomes a snare of the devil, and a sure road to hell. "Revelation constantly assails the arrogance which impiously arraigns the credibility of the divine word, unless our puny intellect can comprehend the things which it is the glory of God to conceal. The design of the gospel is to humble this temper and to nourish in us the spirit of 'a little child,' without which the mind will go on sounding its dim and perilous way, till it is lost in endless mazes bewildered and inextricable in dark, interminable labyrinths" (Richard Fuller, Baptist Doctrines, by C. A. Jenkins).
Arminianism is the slickest lie the devil has ever invented in all his age-long opposition to God. It is his supreme effort to efface the godhood of God. "Arminianism is man's religion, which can be accomplished by man. Man is the main power: with man it begins, and with man it shall perish" (Parks). It exalts man and insults God. It fosters human pride and detracts from divine glory.
"Arminianism is the spawn of Popery, which the warmth of favour may easily turn into frogs of the bottomless pit" (Rous). It is "the Pope's Benjamin . . . the elixir of Anti-Christianism; the mystery of the mystery of iniquity; the Pope's cabinet; the very quintessence of equivocation" (Leighton). It "puts God into the same extremity with Darius, who would gladly have saved Daniel but could not. Daniel vi. 14" (Ness). It pulls "the great Jehovah Himself out of His throne of glory, setting up Dame Fortune to be worshipped in His stead" (Ness). It "surrenders the government of the world to mere chance, to wild caprice and disorder. According to this system, nature, providence, and grace are only departments of atheism; God has no control over the earth and its affairs, or- if that be too monstrous and revolting- he exercises authority over matter, but none over the minds and hearts of men . . . consequently prophecy is an absurdity; providence a chimera; prayer is a mockery; since God does not interfere in mortal events, but abandons all to the wanton humors and passions of myriads of independent agents, none of whose whims and impulses he restrains, and by whom his will is constantly defeated and trampled under foot" (Richard Fuller, Baptist Doctrines, by C. A. Jenkins).
It is no wonder, then, that B. P. Riley says: "Whitfield was a Calvinistic Methodist, whatever that is, though it is quite as easy of definition as an Arminian Baptist. Neither is free of obliquity, and they are clearly a stand-off" (The Baptists in the Building of the Nation).
II. ELECTION DEFINED
"God, of His own purpose, has from eternity determined o save a definite number of mankind, as individuals, not for or because of any merit or work of theirs, nor of any value to Him of them; but of His own good pleasure" (J. P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, p. 347).
"Election is that eternal act of God, by which in His sovereign pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, He chooses certain ones out of the number of sinful men to be the recipients of the special grace of His Spirit and to be made voluntary partakers of Christ's salvation" (A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 427).
By this we mean that election is without actual origin. It always has been, just as God always has been.
(1) The Immutability of God
"By this we mean that the nature, attributes, and will of God are exempt from all change . . . All change must be to better or worse. But God is absolute perfection, and no change to better is possible. Change to worse would be equally inconsistent with perfection" (Strong, Systematic Theology). Because God has ever possessed all knowledge and all power there can be no occasion of change in Him.
The immutability of Cod teaches us that whatever God wills at any time, He always has willed. "There can be no more a new thought, a new intent, or a new purpose in God, than there can be a new God" (Ness). Consequently when God saves a man, He must always have intended and purposed to save him. That purpose and intent to save him involves an election of him to salvation. Hence election is eternal. To affirm otherwise is to deny the immutability of God.
Rom. 8:29 asserts that God foreknew those whom He saves. This foreknowledge involved a purpose to save these. And this purpose to save them involved election. Did this foreknowledge have a beginning? If so, then there was a time when God was not omniscient and, hence, not perfect and infinite. Without perfection and infinity there can be no God. Therefore the foreknowledge of God is eternal, and, consequently, election is eternal; because election is involved in foreknowledge, as pointed out above.
Thus we see how deleterious is the teaching that election takes place in time. Any denier of the eternity of election is logically an atheist. He really has no God; for having logically denied the immutability, perfection, and infinity of God, he has theoretically robbed him of His divinity. Yet those who teach the eternity of election are accused of raising new tests of fellowship.
(3) Plain Scripture Statements
We appeal here to the two following passages:
"God chose you from the beginning" (2 Thess. 2:13).
That which took place before the foundation of the world, took place before the beginning of time: for in the beginning of time the world was created (Gen. 1:1). The first passage above, then, definitely puts election in eternity. The second passage means that ever since the beginning our election has been a completed act. Thus it took place before the beginning, and, since in eternity there is no before or after, there never was a time when election had not taken place. This is the meaning of eternal.
2. OBJECTIONS ANSWERED
To the eternity of election it is objected by some-
(1) That election takes place when we are saved because we are elected "in" Christ.
The statement that we were elected "in" Christ means no more than that Christ was the ground of our election (election being on the basis of His saving work), and that we were foreknown as being in Christ in the purpose of God. The language here is the language of Him who, in His purpose, "calleth things that are not, as though they were" (Rom. 4:17). We have another example of this in Rom. 8:29,30, where the calling, justification, and glorification of all the elect are put in the past tense. We were not actually and experientially in Christ in eternity, nor were we actually and experientially called, justified, and glorified in eternity; but we were in the purpose of God, and this is the meaning of the passage just cited.
(2) That we are elected when we are saved on the ground that the Scripture never applies the term "elect" to any except the saved.
It is true that the term "elect," in some places in the Scripture, has exclusive reference to saved persons. Such a use of the term may be seen in Matt. 22:24; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:23; 1 Peter 1:2. These passages refer only to those in whom election has been applied and made experiential. But it is not to these only that the term "elect" and its equivalents are applied. In Eph. 1:4 and 2 Thess. 2:13, as we have seen, the elect are said to have been such from eternity. Then the term "sheep" is equivalent to the term "elect," and in John 10:16 we have Christ's application of the term "sheep" to the lost Gentiles that were yet to be saved. This passage reads:
But, to the further discomfiture of Arminians, we find that 2 Tim. 1:10 applies the term "elect" in its possessive form to those who were not yet saved. The passage reads.
"I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
It is a fact that sometimes the Scripture, in referring to both the calling and election of believers, or in alluding to the called and elected, mentions the former first. See Matt. 22:14; 2 Pet. 1:10; Rev. 17:14. The "called" of Matt. 22:14 (the Greek word being an adjective used substantively) are those to whom only the general, external, and, for the most part, ineffectual call, through the preaching of the gospel, is sounded. This class is composed of many. But of these only a few, comparatively speaking, belong to the chosen, elect, as evidenced by the fact that only the few believe the gospel. "Thee other two passages cited mention calling and election in the order in which they are realized in the experience. One knows his election only by the calling (quickening) that he has received of the Holy Spirit. That the passages given above do not fix the chronological or even the logical, order of calling and election is evident from the proofs that have been given of the eternity of election, and from Rom. 8:29,30, where the order is manifestly the true logical order. There foreknowledge and predestination, which involve election, are placed before calling. Then Rom. 8:28 asserts that we are called (particularly, internally, and effectually) "according to his (God's) purpose." And this purpose involves election. Thus election must precede calling, just as the purpose to call must precede the actual call since the calling is according to the divine purpose.
Those who urge this objection against the eternity of election need to note that the Scripture does not always name things in either their logical or chronological order. For instance, 2 Tim. 1:9 puts salvation before calling.
This objection is based on the King James translation of 2 Thess. 2:13 and 1 Pet. 1:2. This first passage says, in the King James version, that we were elected "to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The second passage says, according to the same version, that we are "elect . . . through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." The Greek preposition translated "through" by the King James translators is "en." And it is rather disconcerting to Arminians to note that the Revised Version translates this preposition "in" instead of "through." But it is ruining to them to note that N. M. Williams says of this preposition: "It expresses a state, not an act; not 'through,' but 'in.' The Greek preposition seldom expresses instrumentality" (An American [Baptist] Commentary on the New Testament).
3. FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Before passing we wish to point out a few other passages which are as a death knell to the infidel theory that election and salvation take place at the same time.
(1) "All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me" (John 6:87).
It is manifest that this passage represents the Father's giving of people to the Son as preceding their coming to the Son. The Father's act of giving people to the Son (by which is here meant the divine efficacy in bringing them into the actual possession of the Son through repentance and faith, the verb "giveth" being in the present tense) involves an election of those thus given, inasmuch as all are not given. And since this giving precedes salvation, then election must precede salvation. This giving, of course, proves the eternity of election in the light of the immutability of God. But we are here concerned only with showing that election precedes salvation. The divine efficacy in bringing men to Christ is alluded to in John 6:44,65, and Eph. 1:19,20.
(2) "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48).
This passage puts ordination to eternal life before faith, and, consequently, before salvation. This ordination to eternal life involves election on the same grounds that the giving of the former passage involves election.
So far as the form of the Greek word is concerned, it could be either middle or passive; but the preponderance of scholarly opinion considers it as being definitely passive. Thus Hackett gives the translation: "As many as were appointed unto eternal life believed," and then adds: "This is the only translation the philology of the passage allows." Further Hackett says: "Some translate the Greek participle (tetagmenoi) disposed, inclined; but this term as passive, though it may signify disposed externally--as e. g., drawn up in military order- was not used of an act of the mind." Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's commentary makes this significant comment on the words under consideration: ". . . cannot . . . be interpreted of anything lower than this, that a divine ordination to eternal life is the cause, not the effect, of any man's believing."
Some have tried to turn the passage around and make it read: "As many as believed were ordained to eternal life," which is the way it would have to read in order to even permit the interpretation that election and salvation take place at the same time. But the Greek construction will not allow this transposition. Thayer says the passage refers to "as many as were appointed to obtain eternal life, or to, whom God had decreed eternal life."
(3) "God chose you . . . unto salvation' (2 Thess. 2:13).
IV. ELECTION WAS PERSONAL, INDIVIDUAL, PARTICULAR, AND DISCRIMINATORY
It is said that God chose Israel as a nation, then, in New Testament days, rejected her, and substituted the Gentiles as a whole. It is believed by those who hold this view that the classic discussion of election in Rom. 9 and 11 refers not to individual election to eternal life, but only to such corporate election as set forth above. The fact that any man can hold such a position as this only shows to what lengths of folly prejudice will lead one.
(1) That in Romans 9 and 11 we have an individual election of Jews to eternal life, as well as the national election of Israel to position and advantage, is evident from-
Such a declaration is not applicable to national or corporate election and rejection. It can be applied only to God's dealings with individuals. And that it does so apply becomes more evident as we pursue Paul's discussion further.
B. The anticipated objection to this manner of dealing with men. Rom. 9:19.
What is this objection in plain words? As stated by A. N. Arnold it is this: "If it is God's will to harden a man, since His will cannot be successfully resisted, how can He blame hardened sinners?" By Prof. David Brown the objection is stated as follows: "This doctrine is incompatible with human responsibility; if God chooses and rejects, pardons and punishes, whom He pleases, why are those blamed who, if rejected by Him, cannot help sinning and perishing?" And this same commentator goes on to say that this objection shows "the real nature of the doctrine objected to-that it is Election and Non-election to eternal salvation prior to any difference of personal character; this is the only doctrine that could suggest the objection here stated."
C. The mention of "vessels of mercy" and "vessels of wrath." Rom. 9:21-23.
This is not applicable to national or corporate election to position and advantage. In such an election, the non-elect nations and groups cannot justly be represented as "vessels of wrath," because such election does not represent them wholly abandoned to wrath. During the days of God's special dealing with the Jews as an elect nation, other nations were not entirely shut out. Individuals of them could partake of the theocratic blessings of Israel by submitting to, and observing, the rites of Israel.
D. The mention of a portion of Israel as "the election" and "a remnant according to the election of grace." Rom. 11:5,7.
"In this elect remnant, gathered from an elect nation, we have an election within an election, an election of individuals to eternal life, who belonged to a people whom God elected to the privileges of grace" (An American Commentary on the New Testament).
(2) That the Gentiles were not substituted for Jews is evident from-
A. The fact that Israel has not been rejected in the sense that her election has been revoked.
Israel has been temporarily rejected from her national position in God's plan, but, "as touching election," she is still beloved, and will yet be restored to her place (Rom. 11:25-31). The calling of God, whether national, corporate, or individual, is unchangeable (Rom. 11:29). Hence all talk of the Gentiles having been substituted for the Jews is pure drivel.
B. Paul's argument in Rom. 9:6.
Paul's argument is that the unbelief of the great body of the Jews did not make void God's promise to Abraham on the ground that the promise did not apply to all the seed of Abraham. But if the Jews had been rejected as pertaining to election and the Gentiles substituted in their stead, Paul's argument would have run something as follows: "The choice of Abraham and his seed has not failed: because though Israel has been rejected, the Gentiles have taken their place; and God has a right to choose what nation He will to the privileges of His visible kingdom" (commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown).
(3) That there is an individual election of Gentiles as well as of Jews to eternal life is evident from-
A. Rom. 9:24.
In this verse, Paul follows his reference to "vessels of mercy . . .afore prepared unto glory" with the statement: "Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." This shows us clearly that the "vessels of mercy," which are manifestly elect individuals, are made up of both Jews and Gentiles. Thus we have an individual election of Gentiles as well as of Jews. On this verse Prof. Brown remarks illuminatingly: "Here for the first time in this chapter the calling of the Gentiles is introduced; all before having respect, not to the substitution of the called Gentiles for the rejected Jews, but to the choice of one portion of the same Israel. Had Israel's rejection been total, God's promise to Abraham would not have been fulfilled by the substitution of the Gentiles in their room; but Israel's rejection being only partial, the preservation of a 'remnant,' in which the promise was made good, was but 'according to the election of grace.' And now, for the first time, the apostle tells us that along with this elect remnant of Israel it is God's purpose to 'take out of the Gentiles a people for His name' (Acts 15:14)."
B. References to election in other New Testament books.
These references appear somewhere in this discussion. Hence they need not be mentioned here. Let the reader turn the pages of this chapter and note these references, marking how certainly they refer to an individual election to salvation. Note especially 2 Thess. 2:13 in contrast to the theory that election is only to position and advantage and not to salvation.
C. All the arguments which we now address to the second theory, which denies that election was individual.
The second theory is:
2. THAT ETERNAL ELECTION APPLIES ONLY TO THE "WHOSO-EVER-WILLS" AS A CLASS.
The falseness of this theory is proved by-
(1) Gods foreknowledge of those He saves.
Rom. 8:29 asserts God's foreknowledge of those He saves. And since God foreknew those whom He saves, His election of them could not have been mere class election. To elect a class with full knowledge beforehand as to rust who will compose that class is equal to an individual election of each one in the class.
(2) The fact that the names of the elect were written in the book of life.
"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into perdition. And they that dwell an the earth shall wonder, they whose names hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall come."
This passage, in speaking of those whose names were not written in the book of life, distinctly implies that there were some whose names were written in the book of life "from the foundation of the world." "From the foundation of the world," says Justin A. Smith, "is the New Testament mode of representing what took place in the remote past, before time, measured in the periods of this world, had existence" (An American Commentary on the New Testament).
(3) The fact the God saves people as individuals.
The immutability of God, as we have indicated already, binds us to believe that God eternally purposed to do everything He does. Therefore, since He saves people as individuals, He must have an eternal purpose to save them as individuals. This eternal purpose is equal to election, and thus election is proved to be individual.
All of these arguments show also that election in no sense had respect to all men. It pertains only to those whom God actually saves. All others He passed by, leaving them to suffer the just penalty of their sins in hell.
V. ELECTION WAS NOT BASED ON THE FORESEEN FAITH OF THE ELECT
It is certain that Cod foresaw the faith of the elect. And it is also certain that this was not the ground of election. We proceed to prove that election was not based on the foreseen faith of the elect by urging some scriptural objections to this theory. We will then show that this theory does not eliminate some of the strongest objections that Arminians urge against the doctrine of unconditional election.
1. OBJECTIONS TO THE THEORY THAT ELECTION WAS BASED ON THE FORESEEN FAITH OF THE ELECT
Before giving these objections, we wish to point out the fact that they apply with equal force to the theory that we are elected when we are saved, because both of these theories alike condition election on faith.
No sensible advocate of this theory can hold that faith is the gift of God- that it is wrought in us by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. The noted Augustine, in his book of Retractations, cleverly acknowledges his error in having once thought that election is based on foreseen faith, saying: "I could never have asserted that God in choosing men to life had any respect to their faith, had I duly considered that faith is His own gift." Faith is salvation in the germ. Therefore, to say that God gives faith, and then elects us to salvation because of that faith as foreseen, is equivalent to saying that God saves and then because of that, elects us to salvation. Hence the only sensible view that can be taken by those who believe that election is based on foreseen faith is that faith precedes the quickening power of the Holy Spirit and is, therefore, an exercise of the natural heart. This implies the following things which the Scripture denies:
Faith is certainly a clean or a holy thing. The natural heart is certainly an unclean or an unholy thing. Jer. 17:9 teaches that the natural heart is desperately wicked. And in Rom. 7:18 Paul says that in his fleshly nature there was no good thing. Moreover, the doctrine of total depravity, as taught in Scripture and believed by Baptists, affirms that every faculty in man is tainted by sin, and, therefore, is unclean and unholy.
(a) The inexorable law that like begets like. This is a universal law. It operates in every realm. It is an axiom. This law is expressed figuratively in the saying that water cannot rise above its level.
(b) The statement of Job. We refer here to Job 14:4, which reads: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an un- clean? not one."
B. That one who is accustomed to do evil may turn and do good.
The sinner is accustomed to do evil. Faith is a good thing. Then can the sinner exercise it so long as he is in the natural state? Jeremiah strongly affirm the impossibility of the sinner's doing this. He says: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil" (Jer. 13:23). Thus Jeremiah says that it is as impossible for the natural man to do good and, therefore, to exercise faith, as it is for the Negro to make himself white or the leopard to divest himself of his spotted robe.
C. That one who is in the flesh can please God.
Faith is pleasing to God. Until one is quickened by the Holy Spirit, he is in the flesh, that is, he is under the dominating power of the fleshly nature. Then can one exercise faith until he is quickened? Not according to Paul, who says: "The mind of the flesh is enmity against cod; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: and they that are in the flesh cannot Please God" (Rom. 8:7,8).
D. That the natural man can receive spiritual things.
Saving faith is the reception of Jesus Christ as one's Saviour. Christ as Saviour is certainly a spiritual thing. To receive Christ as one's Saviour, one must do more than receive truth intellectually. He must have a heart realization of his lost condition and of his utter inability to save himself. He must also have a heart conviction as to Christ's saving power and as to how men partake of that power. There must be a real appreciation of these things. And these things, when properly appreciated in their deep significance, are certainly spiritual things. And it was with reference to "Christ and Him crucified" that Paul was writing when he said: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged" (1 Cor. 2:14).
(2) This theory makes election depend upon the running and willing of man.
Yet Paul says, in discussing election: "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy" (Rom. 9:16).
(3) This theory denies salvation by grace and gives men ground for glorying before God.
If God is represented as looking down through the centuries and foreseeing that certain ones would believe apart from any sovereign purpose to bring them to believe and as having elected these because of this foreseen faith, it cannot be denied that God saves only those who are better than the common lot of mankind. The great majority of men go on in unbelief, which indicates in there a much worse spirit than would he indicated in them by their believing. Hence men who believe, on Arminian principles, are better, in and of themselves, than those who do not believe; for faith, if it be a condition of election, must, as we have shown already, precede the quickening power of the Holy Spirit and come, therefore, from the natural heart. Consequently it follows, as the night the day, that God saves only those who are better than others. And this goodness, even though it consist only of faith, cannot be excluded from the category of meritorious acts. Faith is the germ of holiness. Yea, more, it is the very expression of a holy disposition. So one who believes that God elected men on condition of their faith, must, if he is capable of thinking, accept the proposition that God elected to save men on the ground of their own partial merit. No believer in election conditioned on faith can consistently hold to salvation by grace.
The Arminians commonly hold that God may not in justice pass by fallen men, as unconditional electionists represent Him as passing by all the non-elect. But "if God might not, in justice, have passed by man when he fell, He would have done him an injustice to have passed him by, and when, instead of passing him by, He visited him, He was simply performing toward him an act of justice. Surely it is a gross misuse of language to call such interposition an act of grace. Arminians are ever claiming that they are the advocates of 'free grace,' but their principles ... prove to a demonstration, that the claim is absolutely destitute of warrant either in the nature of the economy or in the history of its administration" (Watts, Sovereignty of God, p, 13).
"There are only two systems of theology. One of these gives all the glory to God, the other divides it with man" (J. W. Porter, Random Remarks (on election), p. 41).
According to the theory now being refuted, a saved man may say: "Father, I thank thee for sending Christ to die for me, and I thank thee for offering salvation to me; for unless thou hadst done these things I could never have been saved. And I thank thee that thou didst influence me by the Spirit. But, Father, I can thank only myself that I accepted thy offer of mercy. The credit for that belongs to me, since nothing that thou hast done was sufficient to irresistibly cause my acceptance of thy free mercy. Thou did do as much for others that are still lost as thou didst do for me before I believed, therefore I have made myself to differ from them. Father, you can't in justice deny me the right to glory in this and boast of it throughout all eternity, as I will be especially moved to do when I think of the plight of the lost in hell and remember that it was my act that kept me from being in Hell. Somehow, either through heredity or training or something else, I was better than they; for I submitted myself to thee and they did not. Thus, even though salvation was mostly of thy grace, yet it was not wholly so; for thou wouldst not have saved me if I had not been better than those who perish."
On the contrary, we are told in holy writ that God has arranged the economy of His grace "that no flesh should glory before God" (1 Cor. 1:29).
"If men were foreseen as possessed of faith and holiness, prior to their election and independent of it; it is hard to conceive what occasion there was for their being elected. There could be no necessity for it to secure their final happiness. For the judge of all the earth must do right: and eternal misery was never designed to be the portion of any who believe and are holy; for peace and salvation are inseparably joined to such a state, and to such characters. To have ordained those to happiness and glory that were foreseen to be thus qualified, would, therefore, have been altogether unnecessary" (A Booth, Reign of Grace, p. 63).
Thus Arminianism makes election an unnecessary and meaningless term.
(5) This theory represents us as being elected because we were foreseen as holy rather than that we should be holy.
The believer is holy; that is, he is a sanctified person. Thus to teach that we were elected because we were foreseen as believing is to teach that we were elected because we were foreseen as being holy. But the Scripture teaches that we were chosen in Christ "that we should be holy" (Eph. 1:14).
(6) This theory makes election because of adoption rather than unto adoption.
All believers have been adopted; for adoption is through faith (Gal. 3:26). Thus, if election bad been based on foreseen faith, it would have been based also on foreseen adoption. But the Scripture teaches that predestination (which involves election) is "unto adoption" (Eph. 1:5).
(7) This theory destroys the sovereignty of God.
According to Arminianism, God is powerless to save any except those who will of themselves allow Him to save them. Thus "God stands powerless before the majesty of man's lordly will. Sinners have the glory of their own salvation. To pray to God to convert a man is absurd. God elects the man, because He foresees that the man will elect himself (S. R. Mason, as quoted approvingly by A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 433).
2. THE FUTILITY OF THE THEORY THAT ELECTION WAS BASED ON THE FORESEEN FAITH OF THE ELECT
Arminians have imagined this theory to eliminate certain objections they have invented against unconditional election. They object to the certainty that prevails under unconditional election, because they fancy this certainty abrogates the free agency of man. But the theory under consideration involves no less a degree of certainty. If God foresees that a thing is going to be, it is absolutely certain to be. Nothing could make it more certain.
They do not like to think of some men as having been born into the world with no possibility of salvation. But the theory under consideration involves the same thing. Certainly, if God foresaw those who would believe, He also foresaw those who would not believe, and there is no possibility that these will be saved.
They think that unconditional election places the responsibility for those that perish upon God. But their admission of God's foresight is equally open to the same objection, as shown in the following quotation: "I at once admit that the mere foreseeing of an event, which we cannot hinder and have no agency in accomplishing, does not involve us in any responsibility. But when the Creator, of His own sovereign pleasure calls an intelligent agent into being, fashions him with certain powers and appetites and places him amid scenes where he clearly sees that temptations win overcome him-in such a case it is self-evident that our feeble faculties cannot separate foreknowledge from fore-appointment. The denial of preordination does not, therefore, relieve any objection. It only conceals the difficulty from the ignorant" (Richard Fuller, Baptist Doctrines, by C. A. Jenkins).
3. THE NATURE OF GOD'S FOREKNOWLEDGE
Rom. 8:29 and I Pet. 1-2 have been appealed to in support of the theory that election is based on God's foresight of the faith of those elected. But foreknowledge and foresight are by no means identical in meaning. In commenting on Rom. 8:29, Prof. Brown says: "In ch. 11:2, and Psalm 1:6, God's 'knowledge' of His people cannot be restricted to mere foresight of future events, or acquaintance with what is passing here below . . . God's foreknowledge of His own people means His peculiar, gracious complacency in them" (Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown). To say that Rom. 8:29 means, whom He foreknew as those who would of themselves believe, "is to thrust into the text what is contrary to the whole spirit, and even letter, of the apostle's teaching" (ibid). The same word in Rom. 8:29 appears again, in its participial form, in 1 Pet. 1:20, where it refers to Christ in His redemptive work. There it certainly cannot be limited to the mere meaning of foresight. It is a common notion that 1 Pet. 1:2 represents foreknowledge as logically prior to election, but no such notion is contained in this passage. This passage teaches simply that election is agreeable to the foreknowledge of God. The expression "elect . . . according to the foreknowledge of God" has the same meaning as "elect in the foreknowledge of God." Those referred to were elect in that God, before the world was, looked upon them with peculiar, gracious complacency. The word for foreknowledge in 1 Pet. 1:2 is defined in Thayer's Lexicon as meaning "forethought, prearrangement."
Any foreknowledge that implies certainty, as is the case in both passages under discussion, must be considered as logically subsequent to God's purpose or decree. See Acts 2:23. "Logically, though not chronologically, decree comes before foreknowledge" (Strong). "Whence is God's knowledge of the futurity of any events, except from the knowledge of His purpose to cause or permit them to come to pass?" (Boyce). "God's foreknowledge rests on His determinate counsel." (Graves, The Seven Dispensations, p. 100).
This truth is declared in 2 Thess. 2:13, which reads:
"God chose you from the beginning unto salvation."
Note three things from this passage:
1. ELECTION IS NOT SALVATION
Arminians charge that unconditional election means unconditional salvation, and that we teach that men were actually saved in eternity. Both charges are groundless, for election is not salvation. We were unconditionally elected in eternity to a conditional salvation in time. And when we speak of salvation as being conditional we do not mean that the salvation of the elect is in any way fortuitous or uncertain, but only that certain conditions (repentance and faith) must be fulfilled before they come to possess salvation. A condition is "something that necessarily precedes a result, but does not produce it." In eternity the salvation of the elect was purposed, and the elect are spoken of in the purpose of God as called, justified, and glorified (Rom. 8: 29, 30), but this is simply the language of Him, who in His purpose, "calleth the things that are not, as though they were" (Rom. 4:17). Many passages clearly teach that actual salvation takes place in time. For this we strongly contend. We have no patience whatsoever with the theory that the salvation which takes place in time is only temporal salvation, or salvation as it respects this life.
The Devil is never tired of inventing notions contrary to the truth. He has led some to assert that Bible election is merely unto service. But God's Word has set itself squarely against this silly notion by revealing that we were chosen "Unto salvation."
3. ELECTION IS UNTO SALVATION RATHER THAN BEING MERELY UNTO EXTERNAL PRIVILEGES
VII. ELECTION INCLUDES ALL THAT EVER WILL BE SAVED
Some have the idea that election includes only so many in every generation as necessary to guarantee that the gospel will be believed and proclaimed. Others have the notion that, in addition to the elect, room must be made for the "whosoever wills." The above affirmation denies both of these views. That election includes all that ever will be saved is certain, because-
1. GOD'S IMMUTABILITY PROVES IT
Man, in his natural condition, is unable to come to Christ. Cf. Jer. 17:9; Prov. 4:23; Job 14:4; Jer. 18:23; John 12:39,40; Rom. 8:7,8; 2 Cor. 2:14. The ability to come to Christ, therefore, is divinely given, as stated in John 6:65. Hence none can come to Christ and be saved except those to whom God imparts the ability to come. Now we have previously noted that the immutability of God teaches us that whatever God does at any time He must always have purposed to do. Consequently, in eternity, He purposed to give the ability to come to Christ to all that He actually gives it to in time. This purpose is equal to election. And since none can come except those to whom this ability is given, and them were all included in the purpose of God, which is equal to election; it follows that none will ever be saved except the elect. The elect and the "whosoever-wills" are one, since none can will to turn to Christ until God works in them to will.
2. GOD'S OMNISCIENCE PROVES IT
Salvation is of the Lord. Since God is omniscient, He knew just whom He would save. This knowledge involved a purpose to save them. This purpose, as we have remarked before, equals election. Thus election includes all that ever will be saved, because it includes all that God knew He would save.
3. THE FACT THAT NONE EXCEPT THE ELECT WILL ENTER NEW JERUSALEM PROVES IT
Rev. 21:27 tells us who the inhabitants of New Jerusalem will be-"only they that are written in the Lambs' book of life." We have seen that the writing of names in the book of life took place in the remote past, before the beginning of time, as we know it, and that it is, therefore, equivalent to election. Then New Jerusalem will be inhabited by the elect only. If others are saved, they had better carry a tent with them; for they will have to camp outside of New Jerusalem. Only the elect will get on the inside.
At the same time God chose His people He ordained all the means necessary to accomplish their full and final salvation. See Rom. 8:29,30. These means were inseparably joined to election in the decree of God. We have no sympathy with Hardshellism, hypercalvinism. To say that the elect will be saved whether they ever hear the gospel or not is to misunderstand completely the connection between election and the means God has ordained for the accomplishment of the end of election.
Salvation- spiritual, temporal, and eternal- is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 8:26). All the heathen that die without hearing the gospel will be lost (Rom. 1:19,20; 2:12). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).
Wherever God has an elect soul, in the fullness of His own time, He will in some way send the gospel to call that one from darkness to light. See 2 Thess. 2:14. Thus Philip was sent to the elect eunuch, and thus it was given to Paul to endure that the elect might obtain eternal salvation (11 Tim. 2:10). Thus we have the divine tie between election and missions.
Some charge that unconditional election makes all means useless. They say if the case is so with man that he cannot by nature receive spiritual things and must be quickened by the Spirit before he can turn from sin, being sure to turn when he is quickened, then why preach to him? We preach to him, first of all, because God has commanded it. We accept God's Word whether we can reason out why He speaks thus and so or not. We do not make our reason the standard of obedience or truth, as is the case with Arminians. But, on the other hand, we find God's Word to teach that God calls His elect by the Word, since the Word is the instrument of the Spirit in regeneration (John 3:5; Eph. 5:25,26; Titus 3:5; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). There is no more incongruity in preaching the gospel to the spiritually dead than there was in Christ's standing before the tomb of Lazarus, dead four days, and saying, "Lazarus, come forth."
As long as he remained dead Lazarus could not hear, much less obey, the command. But the life-giving power of God accompanied the Word of God, and Lazarus both heard and came forth. It is ours to preach the gospel to every creature, for so has Christ commanded. It is God's part to bring the dead to life. See also the parable of the dry bones in the valley, where we have a picture of conversion through preaching (Ezek. 37). The dry bones represent the state of sinners by nature. The bones were lifeless; yet preaching to them was not in vain.
And Arminians ask, "'Why pray for the lost, since all God's elect will be saved and none others can be saved?" We pray for the lost for the same reason that Paul prayed for men, even though he taught unconditional election. We pray for the lost for the same reason that Christ prayed for the security of believers, even though that security was already certain. See John 17:11. Christ also prayed for a restoration of His former glory with the Father. See John 17:5. Was that in any sense uncertain? Prayer, as well as preaching, is a means of God in carrying out His will His purposes are sovereignly fixed and eternally immutable, but He did not fix them independent of means.
IX. ELECTION IS NOT HARDSHELLISM
It is customary for Arminians to reproach the Bible doctrine of election by referring to it as "Hardshellism." May God forgive them, for they know not what they do. That election is not Hardshellism is proved by the following facts:
I. ELECTION IS INDISSOLUBLY JOINED TO THE GOSPEL AS GOD'S MEANS OF CALLING HIS ELECT TO SALVATION
This is proved by the Scriptures given above that show that regeneration is through the Word. And it is also proved by 2 Thess. 2:13,14. The elect have been chosen to "salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." To this, Paul says, they are "called by our gospel." Typical Hardshells deny the indispensable necessity of the knowledge of the gospel in regeneration. For that reason they show little concern in the carrying out of the great commission.
2. THE HARDSHELLS AND MISSIONARIES DID NOT SPLIT OVER ELECTION
(1) They split over "mission, education, support of pastors, and other religious enterprises" (Jarrell, p. 431).
(2) In the split both parties held to unconditional election.
It will not be challenged that the Hardshells held to this doctrine. That the Missionaries did too is proved by the testimony of Spencer, who says that the Missionaries, "which embraced the main body of the denomination, held the doctrinal sentiments of Andrew Fuller," who believed in unconditional election, even though he taught an atonement of universal sufficiency. See History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, p. 645.
3. THERE IS YET NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MISSIONARIES AND HARDSHELLS ON THE MATTER OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
This is proved by-
(1) The fact that both accept the statement on election in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.
Hardshells still accept this. And among the Missionaries this confession "is stiff widely used, and in the South it is probably the most influential of all confessions" (McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, p. 298).
See proof of this under later discussion of unconditional election as a Baptist doctrine.
(3) The fact that all our standard theological text books and all doctrinal books written by representative and recognized Baptists teach this doctrine.
For proof of this see discussion referred to immediately above.
4. BAPTIST BELIEVERS IN UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION, COUPLED WITH THE GOSPEL AS AN INDISPENSABLE MEANS IN REGENERATION, HAVE EVER BEEN MOST AGGRESSIVE IN THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL
Modem missionary vision and effort originated, not among the General (Arminian) Baptists, nor yet among any other Arminian denomination, but among the Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists of England. See the record in most any Baptist history. Robert Hall, Sr., Andrew Fuller, and William Carey were the leading lights.
American world-wide missionary effort originated in the Philadelphia Association, which adopted the hated Philadelphia Confession of Faith. See "The Story of Baptists," Cook, p. 327. "The Philadelphia Association speedily became the leading body of American Baptists- a position that it has not wholly lost to this day (1897). Pretty much everything good in our history, from 1700 to 1850, may be traced to its initiative or active cooperation" (Vedder, Short History of Baptists, p. 204).
X. ELECTION IS NOT TWO-SEEDISM
This is another epithet that Arminians delight to apply to the Bible doctrine of election. In brief, two-seedism holds that Adam and Eve brought forth two seeds, one the seed of God and the other the seed of the serpent. Daniel Parker, who gave currency to this doctrine, taught that the seed of God "were actual sons of God from eternity," and that the seed of the serpent were "begotten of the devil" (Minutes of General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1837, p. 11).
No such teaching as this is involved in unconditional election. We have shown that election is unto salvation, and, therefore, is not salvation. Salvation takes place in time. All men are children of the devil until they become children of God by regeneration and faith. 1 John 3:9,10.
XI. ELECTION DOES NOT INVOLVE FATALISM
Those who cannot see the difference between election and fatalism need to consult a good dictionary. "Fate is heathen, an irresistible, irrational power determining all events with no manifest connection with reason or righteousness." "Foreordination and predestination are Christian, denoting the rational and righteous order or decree of the supreme and all-wise God." A. R. McGehee once said the following concerning the difference between fatalism and predestination: "Fatalism is that theory of life which teaches that all destiny is fixed from the beginning, and that intermediate circumstances and acts do not affect that fixed destiny. The end in view, whether good or bad, is reached by sheer fiat or caprice, and little account is taken of morality or purpose, with meager emphasis on either divine or human personality. It is a philosophy and not a religion. In contrast, Determinism holds that the end or destiny in view is effected by a combination of all preceding acts and circumstances. Election, on the other hand, is moral and personal and purposeful, and events are divinely ordered and controlled to produce certain moral values."
But the Arminian must either deny the foreknowledge of God or shut himself up to blank fatalism. If God foreknew the final destiny of every man, then that destiny was settled and fixed in eternity. By what then was it fixed? Arminians have on the one hand a vacant throne, and on the other a fixed future. There are just two ways out for them. They can either pursue their infidelity toward its logical terminus and deny the foreknowledge of God, or they can acknowledge fate as the determiner of human events. Let every Arminian make his choice and then write us about it.
We have said there are but two ways out for the Arminian. That is true so long as he remains an Arminian. But there is, after all, a way out of the dilemma that is safe and happy. That way is to acknowledge the truth of God's absolute sovereignty. We wish every Arminian could know the comfort and joy that an acceptance of that truth brings.
XII. ELECTION IS PERFECTLY CONSISTENT WITH THE FREE AGENCY OF MAN
The Bible doctrine of election represents man, in his natural condition, as completely enslaved by sin, with no ability in spiritual things. It also represents God as taking the initiative in conversion by quickening the dead sinner into life logically prior to his repentance and faith. But for proof that this does not involve a conflict between free agency and election see in Chapter XIX the discussion under "Free Agency of the Natural Man" and "Free Agency and Conversion."
When Paul wrote his marvelous epistle to the Romans, be anticipated the objection that is often made to God's sovereign dealing with men on the ground that it destroys the responsibility of the sinner. He says: "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doeth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" (Rom. 9:19). In other words, "if Cod chooses and rejects, pardons and punishes, whom He pleases, why are those blamed who, if rejected by Him, cannot help shining and perishing?" Or, if God saves all He chooses to save, leaving the rest in a state of spiritual impotency, from which they cannot liberate themselves, being certain to persist in sin unto their eternal doom, why does He blame those who continue in sin? This shows clearly, as we have already pointed out, that Paul taught unconditional election and the total spiritual inability of the natural man. Such an objection would not be suggested by any other doctrine.
In reply to this objection, Paul says: "Nay but, 0 man, who are thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (Rom. 9: 20). Paul replied, as we reply to similar objections, that man has no right, under any circumstances, to question anything God does. God is under no obligation to give an account of Himself to man. The Arminian deserves no further consideration.
But the reverent inquirer, who readily accepts all that Cod has revealed and desires, for his own spiritual edification, to know all that he can learn from God's Word concerning the infinitely wise and holy ways of him whose presence is as a flame of fire and whose glory He has set above the heavens, deserves further consideration. Hence, for the sake of such an inquirer, we note further:
We have said that God saves all He chooses or wills to save. On the other hand, God "commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). He has also commanded that the gospel be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15), and the gospel is God's general call,* also being properly accompanied with a general invitation, such as Christ gave (Matt. 11:28). This makes it evident that a distinction must be made in dealing, with the will of God. God has made that distinction for us. You will find it in Deut. 29:9. There God's will is divided into His secret and revealed will. This distinction is brought out there because it is indicated in the 29th and 30th chapters that the Israelites would he permitted of God to so disobey Him and that He would send the captivity upon them and finally scatter them to the four winds of the earth. It was His secret will to permit this. But His revealed will was that they should obey. That fixed their responsibility, as Deut. 29:29 clearly indicates.
This distinction between God's secret will and His revealed will does not, as has been charged, "put an intolerable dualism into the being of God and charge Him-sit venia verbo- with falsehood and deceit" (Schaff). It is based on a fact of human experience.
*By a general call and a general invitation we mean such as are extended to others as well as the elect. We take Christ's invitation to expressly include those striving for salvation through legal observances, being thus heavy laden. It is too much to assume that all of this class that heard these words came to Christ. Thus this invitation was general.
God's secret will is the same as His will of purpose.
God's revealed will is the same as His will of approbation.
God's revealed will expresses His immanent preference in things considered within themselves and apart from His perfect and holy purpose. That there should be a difference between God's immanent preference in things abstracted from the whole and His consummate purpose is imperfectly illustrated in the following instance. A loving parent takes no pleasure in the suffering of a child, yet, in order to the child's future good and happiness, the parent inflicts suffering by way of chastisement. The parent thus employs a thing that is displeasing within itself for the attainment of a purpose. God is not Pleased with sin, within itself considered; but in the accomplishment of His purpose it has pleased Him to permit sin and to overrule it for His glory.
3. ELECTION AND THE NON-ELECT
Election imposes no restraint on the non-elect. It actively affects them in no way. It leaves them in exactly the same condition they would be in if there were no such thing as election- a condition of spiritual impotence and condemnation, such as all sinners are in by nature. An election of some to life does not imply an election of some to death. The death of the wicked is not the result of election, but of God's just dealings with them as sinners. It is their rightful wages (Rom. 6:23). In election God simply chooses out of the whole mass of depraved mankind those whom He pleases to save for just and holy reasons known only to Himself. The rest He simply leaves to the just consequences of their sin. If a rich man chooses out one beggar and gives him wealth, can it be justly said that in so doing he elects all other beggars to suffer perpetual poverty?
After reading the foregoing, one asked: "Does not the author believe in reprobation?" The answer is, He most certainly does. And the foregoing is in nowise inconsistent therewith, but rather implicitly affirms reprobation. The author is in full and happy agreement with Warfield in the following statement concerning reprobation: "Were not all men sinners, there might still be an election, as sovereign as now; and there being an election, there would still be as sovereign a rejection; BUT THE REJECTION WOULD NOT BE A REJECTION TO PUNISHMENT, TO DESTRUCTION, TO ETERNAL DEATH. BUT TO SOME OTHER DESTINY CONSONANT TO THE STATE IN WHICH THOSE PASSED BY SHOULD BE LEFT. It is not indeed, then, because men are sinners that men are left unelected; election is free, and its obverse of rejection be equally free; BUT IT IS SOLELY BECAUSE MEN ARE SINNERS THAT WHAT THEY ARE LEFT TO IS DESTRUCTION"
4. RESPONSIBILITY AND SPIRITUAL INABILITY
The sinner is without ability in spiritual things, but that does not destroy his responsibility. That responsibility depends upon present ability is a tenet of chimney-corner (or street-corner) theology that cannot stand in the light of scriptural facts. The heathen is responsible for living up to the light of conscience that he has concerning the law of God. Cf. Rom. 2:12-16. But he can't do this; for if some should do it, there would he no basis for their condemnation, according to the above Scripture, and they would he saved by works, by which the Scripture declares that none can be saved. Then those that bear the law are to be judged by it. This means that they are held responsible to obey the law. But they cannot do this; for the voice of the law shuts every mouth (Rom. 3:19). Hence responsibility does not depend upon present ability, and spiritual inability does not destroy responsibility.
5. MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS SPIRITUAL INABILITY
But while responsibility does not depend upon present ability, it does rest upon former ability. Originally man had ability in spiritual things. This ability he sinned away in the fall of Adam. The whole race participated in this fall. This is the teaching of Rom: 5:12. "Have sinned" of King Tames Version is the translation of the aorist tense in the Greek. The aorist tense in the indicative mode (and some other modes) expresses pointed action in past time. Rom. 5:12 therefore, does not allude to a course of sin followed by each individual but to one apostasy, the apostasy of Adam, in which all participated. The way in which all of Adam's race took part in the fall is forcefully set forth by A.H. Strong as follows:
"The total life of humanity was then in Adam; the race as yet had its being only in him. Its essence was not yet individualized; its forces were not yet distributed; the powers which now exist in separate men were then unified and localized in Adam; Adam's will was yet the will of the species. In Adam's free act the will of the race revolted from God and the nature of the race corrupted itself. The nature which we now possess is the same nature that corrupted itself in Adam-not the same in kind merely, but the same as flowing to us continuously from him." (Systematic Theology, p. 328).
Having sinned in Adam, each descendant of Adam is responsible for the depravity and spiritual inability thus incurred.
Paul also anticipated this objection to his doctrine (Rom. 9:14), which shows that he taught unconditional election; for no other theory of election would have suggested this objection. If by chance one who misunderstood his doctrine had offered the objection, this was the place for him to clearly state that his doctrine of election was not open to that objection because it taught that election was based on the foreseen faith of the elect. He certainly would have done this, if he had been an Arminian. But instead, he dismissed it as being preposterous, with "God forbid." Then he proceeded to answer the objection with God's own declaration concerning His sovereign dealing with men.
Examining the objection further, we note:
1. JUSTICE AND PARTIALITY
Among other crude and unscriptural notions, the idea that justice and partiality are necessarily antagonistic deserves an important place. We are commanded not to be partial, but God nowhere says that He is not partial. God's wisdom, sovereignty, and independence give Him rights that our ignorance, subjection, and dependence deny to us. The Scripture shows that God is partial. He is partial to fallen men in comparison with fallen angels, in that for some of the former He has provided redemption while all the latter are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). He is partial to people of so-called Christian lands in comparison with the people of heathen lands, in that the former have the light of the gospel while the latter in many cases live on through life in ignorance of the gospel which is the only way of salvation.
Whether partiality is unjust depends upon the circumstances. The minister, in his dealing with those who persist in sin, is not to allow anything to cause him to excuse some where all are equally guilty (1 Tim. 5:21). And we are not to prefer some men in favor or honor because of wealth or any such thing (Jas. 2:4). In other words, we are to deal with men according to what they really deserve. But in salvation God deals with the wholly ill-deserving; for grace is unmerited favor and favor that is not owed as an obligation. Hence God may distribute His grace among men as His perfect wisdom and holiness dictate. In doing this, He elected some to life and left others to perish as the just consequences of their sins. Who will dare deny Him this right?
"May not the sovereign God of all,
Choose some to life, while others fall,
And yet be just and holy still?"
2. GOD OWES MAN NOTHING
This needs to be emphasized. If God owed man anything, then salvation would be of debt instead of grace. Some will say that God owes man a "chance" to be saved. Has He given this "chance" to the heathen that have died without the gospel? A "chance" to be saved accomplishes nothing for man. One might as well talk of giving a totally paralyzed man a "chance" to walk. Every such man that is not physically bound has every possible "chance" to walk. But the "chance" is of no value to him in the absence of ability. Lost men are spiritually dead. They must have ability to come to Christ (John 6:65). Some will say that God owes this ability to man but this ability is salvation in the germ; and hence if God owes this ability, salvation is not of grace.
And suppose God should give to all men such ability as Arminians contend for and then they should refuse to employ this ability. Would not Cod then be liberated from any obligation to renew that ability? This is man's position. He once had ability. There came a time when he squandered it and thus lost it. This took place in Adam, in whom God says all sinned. Is God now under obligation to renew that ability?
3. GOD MAY DO WHAT HE WILL WITH HIS OWN
God asserts the same right over humanity that the potter has over the clay (Rom. 9:21-23). "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish" (Acts 13:41). However let it be said in order to prevent misunderstanding that God's method of making "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction" is different from His method of making "vessels of mercy." The latter is an act of sovereign grace. The former is an act of permissive justice. The latter He accomplishes by the efficient working of His grace; the former He does not efficiently cause, but only permits for wise and holy reasons fully known to Himself only.
When the Scriptures tell us that God is not a respecter of persons they mean that His dealings with men are not determined by the outward differences of race, wealth, social position, or any such thing. This the Scripture distinctly intimates. See 2 Sam. 14:14; Acts 10:34; 1 Pet. 1:17. To have respect of persons is to make a difference between the equally deserving. But it involves no respect of persons to make a difference between the wholly ill-deserving. God has done this in various cases, as pointed out in the preceding discussion of justice and partiality.
God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked, as a thing within itself. On the contrary, the salvation of men is a thing that is, within itself, pleasing to God. But He made man for His own glory. Somehow, in a way that is not fully comprehensible to the finite mind, it subserves that glory that some men perish. Thus He has willed to permit it, but not because He is one who exults in man's suffering. We can rest assured that God will save the greatest number that He can save without prejudice to the most glorious manifestation of His character as a whole. And finally we shall see in full the holiness of God's purpose.
The believer in unconditional election is no more under obligation to answer this objection than is the believer in the foreknowledge of God who denies unconditional election. For to such an one there comes the inevitable question, Why did God create those whom He knew would perish? Richard Fuller was exactly right in saying that foreknowledge on the part of God and fore appointment cannot be separated. The denial of foreordination "only conceals the difficulty from the ignorant" (Richard Fuller).
We come now to show that the doctrine of unconditional election is a Baptist doctrine. In proof of this we call attention to the following:
(2) Waldenses and Albigenses.
"That God saves from corruption and damnation those whom He has chosen from the foundation of the World, not for any disposition, faith, or holiness that He foresaw in them, but of His mercy in Christ Jesus His Son, passing by all the rest, according to the irreprehensible reason of His own free will and justice" (Spurgeon's Sermons, Vol. 2, P. 69).
"Amongst the earlier believers in the system of doctrine called Calvinistic, we may, with great propriety, mention the Waldenses and Albigenses,- those eminent and honored witnesses for the truth, during the long period when the Church and the world were overrun with gross error and immorality" (Rice, God Sovereign and Man Free).
"Gualtier, a Jesuitical monk, in his chorographical tables, drew up a catalogue consisting of seven and twenty particulars, in which he shows that the principles of the Waldenses and those of the Calvinists coincided with each other.
"Lindanus, a Catholic bishop of the see of Ghent, who wrote in defense of the tenets of the church of Rome, about 1550, terms Calvin 'the inheritor of the doctrines of the Waldenses'" (Jones's Church History, p. 357).
The faith of Anabaptists with regard to election is set forth by one of their leaders as follows.
"Christ, the Lamb of God, has been from the beginning of the world a mediator between God and men, and will remain a mediator to the end. Of what men? Of you and me alone? Not so, but of all men whom God has given him for a possession."
American Baptists are directly descended from the Particular Baptists of England, with whom such men as John Bunyan, Andrew Fuller, and William Carey were associated. They were denominated "Particular" because they believed in an atonement for the elect only. This would be enough to show their position on election. But we have explicit proof of this position in their great confession of faith, called the London Confession. This confession was adopted by the Philadelphia Association in America, and its testimony concerning election will be found
(1) The Philadelphia Confession
The Philadelphia Confession of Faith says: "Although God knoweth whatsoever may, or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass on certain conditions. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice
(2) The New Hampshire Confession.
The New Hampshire confession originated in the midst of strong Arminian influence. Consequently its position on election is mildly expressed. Nevertheless, it speaks of election as "the eternal purpose of God." There is no election in time here. And the article on repentance and faith binds this confession to the teaching that God's eternal elective purpose was unconditional.
"We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God." Then the article on regeneration speaks of repentance and faith as fruits of regeneration. No denier of unconditional election can accept either of these statements. They ran be harmonized with unconditional election alone. All deniers of unconditional election believe that repentance and faith are at least logically, if not chronologically, prior to regeneration
(3) Other Confessions.
According to Prof. W. J. McGlothin, unconditional election is taught in German, French, Belgian, Swiss, Danish, Hungarian, and Russian Baptist confessions. See "Baptist Confessions of Faith," p. 330, 334.
J. W. Porter, eminent preacher, editor, author, and scholar:
F. F. Gibson, erstwhile pastor of the largest Baptist church in Kentucky, the Walnut Street Church of Louisville-.
"First, election is personal. Second, election is eternal Third, election was not in view of foreseen faith and good works" (From a letter to the author).
John Clark, founder of first Baptist church in America-
"Election is the decree of God, of His free love, grace, and mercy, choosing some men to faith, holiness, and eternal life, for the praise of His glorious mercy . . ."
Roy Mason (Tampa, Fla.) author of "The Church That Jesus Built" and other books:
"God, in sovereign grace, acting upon good and righteous grounds known only to Himself, in eternity, before the foundation of the world, chose certain persons from among the race of mankind for Himself. At the same time that God unconditionally elected these unto eternal life, He likewise ordained the means efficient to bring the elect in time to a saving knowledge of Himself. This election is not apart from, but is in Christ and the end-the salvation of the elect is inseparably connected with the means ordained of God to bring to pass the thing He has ordained" (From a letter to the author).
David Burris (Oakdale, Tenn.):
"The purpose of election cannot be conditional upon any merit or faith of those chosen, since there is no such merit. This is especially true since man's faith is foreseen only as the result of God's work of grace ... Faith, as the effect of election, cannot at the same time be the cause of election" (The Baptist Sentinel, Aug. 1934).
R. A. Venable:
"I cannot agree with them (Methodists) as to the doctrine of election and predestination. They hold that God's election unto salvation was based upon His foreknowledge; that God foreknew that some would believe and as many as He knew would believe He elected to salvation. The sovereign will of God had nothing to do in deciding His electing grace. This I believe to be contrary both to reason and revelation." (Why Baptist and Not Methodist, in Baptist Why and Why Not, p. 123, published by Baptist Sunday School Board, Nashville, Tenn.)
Robert Watts, Belfast, Ire., in articles written at the request of T. T. Eaton and published in the Western Recorder during Eaton's editorship, and later published in book form by the Baptist Book Concern:
"On behalf of Calvinism it can be claimed that it is the doctrinal system deduced from the Scriptures." And further, in speaking of the Arminian notion that election is based on foreseen faith: "It is not manifest that it takes the government of His moral agents out of the hands of God? and does it not represent Him as occupying the position of a mere spectator, whose line of action is determined by the creatures of His hand?" (Sovereignty of God, pp. 63,128).
J. B. Moody, author of more than forty books, when ninety five years old, said:
"Election to salvation is sovereign, eternal, unconditional, with predestinated means and agencies to secure the betrothal of a bride to become the Lamb's wife, vicariously redeemed' (The Plan and Way of Salvation, p. 5).
D. F. Estes, in 'New Testament Theology,' p. 180:
"Upon what this divine choice depends we have no basis for assertion, but we note that the divine choice is never made to depend on a previous choice of God by men, but is made to anticipate their action."
D. B. Ford, in comment on Rom. 8:29:
"That ... election ... does not depend on God's fore knowledge of our faith or goodness is also evident from the declaration of the . . . apostle, that we are chosen in Christ 'before the foundation of the world that we should be holy.' See Eph. 1:4." (An American [Baptist] Commentary on the New Testament).
A. N. Arnold, in comment on same passage:
"This foreknowledge must not be explained as merely foreknowledge of their future repentance and faith; for this would make their repentance and faith the cause, and not, as they truly are, the consequence, of their foreordaination. See 1 Cor. 4:7" (An American Baptist] Commentary on the New Testament).
Alvah Hovey, general editor of the above commentary, as quoted by Strong:
"The Scriptures forbid us to find the reasons for election in the moral action of man before the new birth, and refer us merely to the sovereign will and mercy of God, that is, they teach the doctrine of personal election" (Systematic Theology, p. 427).
"The doctrine of election means that God saves us in pursuance of an eternal purpose. This includes all the gospel influences, work of the Spirit and so on, that lead a man to repent of his sins and accept Christ. So far as man's freedom is concerned, the doctrine of election does not mean that God decrees to save a man irrespective of his will. It rather means that God purposes to lead a man in such a way that he will freely accept the gospel and be saved."
B. H. Carroll, in Commentary on Ephesians, page 79:
"To ordain is to decree, and foreordination is a decree beforehand. Who were ordained? The individuals that were chosen. Unto what were they ordained. Unto adoption as sons. Through whom were they adopted as sons? Through Christ. According to what was this foreordination of adoption as sons through Christ? According to the good pleasure of His will. It could not be according to anything in us; it was anterior to our being."
J. R. Graves, in "The Seven Dispensations," p. 100:
" 'The Seed of Abraham' were those who had Abraham's faith, a Spiritual Seed, -believers; they were all whom God foresaw from the beginning would believe on His Son Jesus Christ, and come to Him. But as God's foreknowledge rests upon His determinate counsel, this 'seed' is composed of all, in all ages, whom God determined to save, and those in time, He effectually would by His Holy Spirit, and without doing violence to their wills or moral agency, draws to His Son."
John A. Broadus, in his comment on Matt. 22:14
J. M. Pendleton, in "Christian Doctrines," pages 107 and 108:
"There are some who make faith and good works the ground of election. That is, they suppose that God elected His people because He foresaw their faith and good works. This view transposes cause and effect, for it makes election dependent on faith and good works, whereas faith and good works are scripturally dependent on election . . .The Arminian view is without foundation in the Word of God; for election is the source, The only source, whence spring faith, holiness, and good works."
E. C. Dargan in "The Doctrines of our Faith," page 128:
"Are there conditions to God's choice? Does He choose because He foresees that men will repent, or on the condition of faith? No; in choosing to save men God is sovereign, free, untrammeled, gracious; acting on His own initiative."
A. H. Strong in "Systematic Theology," page 427:
"Election is that eternal act of God, by which in His sovereign pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, He chooses certain of the number of sinful men to be recipients of the special grace of his Spirit, and so to be made voluntary partakers of Christ's salvation."
"Does God choose men to salvation because of their good works or because He foresees that they will believe the gospel when it is preached to them? Beyond doubt God foresees their faith. Beyond doubt faith is a condition of salvation. The question is whether it is also the ground of salvation. The Scriptures answer this question in the negative. The gospel is efficacious with some and not efficacious with others because God's grace is operative in the one case beyond the degree of its action in the other."
"God of His own purpose, has from eternity determined to save a definite number of mankind as individuals, not for or because of any merit or work of theirs, nor of any value to Him of them; but of His own good pleasure."
XVIII. ELECTION, AS SET FORTH HEREIN, IS A PROFITABLE DOCTRINE
Unconditional election has proved itself in the lives of its advocates. The most eminent, the most courageous, the most aggressively missionary, and the most holy men of the religious world have held it. The greatest religious revolution in history- the Reformation, was wrought by Calvinists. Calvinists have furnished nearly all the martyrs. Arminianism does not generate the stuff that martyrs are made of. It is built largely on sentiment, and sentiment never made a martyr. "Whatever there is of evangelical doctrine and of civil and religious liberty in the world, must be traced, under God, to the writings and preaching of Calvinists" (Rice, God Sovereign and Man Free, p. 15). "During the dark ages, sound doctrine and pure morality found a retreat in the fastness of the Alps, and were wonderfully defended and preserved by the Calvinistic Waldenses and Albigenses" (ibid, p. 14). Of the Calvinistic army of Cromwell, Macaulay says: "That which distinguished the army of Cromwell from other armies was the austere morality and fear of God which pervaded all ranks." Present day world-wide missionary effort was born among Calvinists in both hemispheres. Speaking of Calvinism, Spurgeon says: "By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian or a believer in free will (in the erroneous sense), I should have to walk for centuries alone. Here and there a heretic, of no very honorable character, might rise up and calls me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my Faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren" (Sermons, Vol. 2, p. 69). Looking into the immediate past, we fin that nearly every Baptist worthy taught unconditional election.
The profitableness of unconditional election, as evidenced in the foregoing, if based on the fact that-
When Moses had told Israel of God's sovereign choice of them, not because of anything in them, he said: "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God" (Deut. 7:9). It is one of the purposes of election to teach this. The God of Calvinists is "high and lifted up" and "the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isa. 6:1,3). The god of Arminians is constantly trampled under the feet of men and the whole earth is full of his defeat. With the God of Calvinists, "all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35). But with the god of Arminians, the earth is peopled with giants that are bigger than he is. He does his best to do his will among men, but alas! the lordly will of man is too strong for him. His hand is woefully stayed, for he is trying to save all men, yet succeeding in saving only a minority of accountable adults. He dare not discriminate between men; for then haughty man could rightfully challenge him and demand "What doest thou?" This is in reality the imaginary god that the Arminian worships. An exalted God works fear in men. With such a God men attempt great things and expect great things. They also possess a holy boldness.
All the questions involved in election cannot be reasoned out to the full satisfaction of the carnal mind. Hence the Word of God on election must be accepted by faith. When one has thus accepted it, he will find that his faith has been tested and strengthened. An exalted God also inspires indomitable faith.
3. IT PREPARES THE WAY FOR THE ACCEPTANCE OF OTHER TRUTHS
When one has accepted the mystery of election by faith, he has been led away from reason as the standard of his faith. He is then prepared to take the Word of God on every subject without doubtful questions.
4. IT LEADS TOWARD THE PREACHING OF THE WHOLE COUNCIL OF GOD
So many preachers make diplomacy the guide of their preaching instead of seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is that they do not have the faith to trust God to bless the portions of His Word that are not so readily accepted by men generally. But when one has learned to believe and preach election, he has learned to trust God to bless His Word even when it is calculated to evoke the opposition of men. This prepares the way for preaching other much needed, but unwelcome truths.
5. IT IS THE MOST FORMIDABLE BARRIER AGAINST MODERNISM
Not only is this true for the reasons just stated. It is also true because so long as man believes in his absolute spiritual impotency by nature, he cannot logically deny the need of a supernatural revelation and a supernatural intervention of grace for his salvation. "The history of the Christian church affords not an instance of a sect holding the doctrines of Devine Decrees and man's Free Agency and rejecting any doctrine fundamental to Christianity" (Rice, God Sovereign and Man Free, p. 18).
6. IT GIVES THE MOST ENDURING FOUNDATION FOR THE SECURITY OF THE SAVED
Without sovereign election, the security of the saved rests in mid air with no logical support. And most of those who have denied sovereign election have also denied the security of the saved. They are consistent. The two rightfully stand and fall together, from a logical viewpoint.
7. IN EXCLUDES ALL BOASTING AND BEGETS HUMILITY, GRATITUDE AND DEVOTION
God has arranged the economy of His grace so that boasting is excluded (Rom. 3:27) and "that no flesh should glorify before God" (1 Cor.1:29). This is accomplished through the sovereign bestowal of His grace upon His chosen ones wholly out of His own good pleasure and not for or because of anything in them. Under election, the believer can say nothing more than "by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor.15:10). And in response to the question, "Who maketh thee to differ?" (1 Cor. 4:7), he must answer, "God." Only unconditional election teaches this. Conditional election gives man occasion to boast. According to it, the saint has made himself to differ from the unbeliever. But, according to unconditional election, the difference between the saint in the sanctuary and the drunkard in the ditch is due wholly to the efficacy of God's sovereign grace. This fact begets humility. It also begets deep gratitude to know that God, by His sovereign, irresistible grace, has saved us when He might, in justice to us, have left us to suffer the deserved consequences of our sins in the fires of gehenna. This gratitude will produce devoted service by "faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6), for "we love, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
8. IT ENCOURAGES THE USE OF MEANS
We have already emphasized the fact that election is inseparably joined to the means ordained of God for bringing about the salvation of the elect. Seeing that means are included in God's plan, if our hearts are right with Him, we shall be glad to employ them. Then we have the encouragement of knowing that God will ever bless our use of means when we are directed of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit will never lead us otherwise than in accordance with God's plan. It is only on the basis of unconditional election that God can promise us that His Word shall not return unto Him void. And it is thus that we can know that our labor "is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
The doctrine of unconditional election, held in its proper setting and connection, will ever make believers in it missionary. It furnished Paul his missionary motive (2 Tim. 2:10). It will furnish our motive, too, when we believe the whole truth concerning it. It is not strange that all the great early missionary leaders were believers in unconditional election.
9. IT PROVIDES THE RIGHT MOTIVE IN EVANGELISM
God saves men for His own glory (Eph. 1:12). The glorification of God, then, should be our prime motive in evangelism, rather than keeping men out of Hell. It is unconditional election that impresses this deeply upon our hearts.
Conditional electionists imagine that God is doing His best to save as many as possible. For that reason they become obsessed with counting noses and reporting numbers. This obsession leads them to compass land and sea for professions. And they make most of their converts twofold more children of Hell than before. Thus we have in our churches an uncircumcised throng that speaks the language of Ashdod and constantly lusts after the flesh pots of Egypt. Unscriptural high pressure evangelism has been the greatest single curse Baptists have ever suffered.
But unconditional election teaches us, as Alvah Hovey says, that "God has some other reason than that of saving as many as possible for the way in which He distributes His grace." For that reason, unconditional electionists do not go out after numbers, but simply to do the will of God. Like Paul, they "endure all things," not for the sake of numbers, but "for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10). For that reason, unconditional electionists are willing to stay within God's plan in evangelism and "strive lawfully," knowing that God is able to accomplish His will and that no human high pressure is needed; since none can come to Christ without the sovereign drawing of God, and since all that God draws come through the preaching of the Word of God. Thus unconditional electionists preach the Word "in season, out of season," both publicly and privately, and then prayerfully wait on God for results; for they know that it is "God that giveth the increase" (1 Cor. 3:7).
11. IT TENDS TOWARD THE SALVATION OF SINNERS
Election is not specifically for sinners. It is theirs to be thinking about their need, rather than to be wondering about whether they were elected to salvation or not. Every man that will come to Christ will find that he was elected. But, while election is not specifically for sinners in general; yet Christ preached it to hardened sinners (Matt. 11:25,26; John 6:37,44,65; 10:26). And, if it is preached at all, sinners are sure to hear it. They having heard it, it is better that it be cleared of its misrepresentations. Thus it is folly to talk of not preaching election to sinners. C. H. Spurgeon, the greatest modern evangelist, preached it often to sinners, and on one occasion be said that he had never preached it without conversions. When properly presented, election, being the truth of Cod, is profitable, even to sinners, as God is pleased to use it. It tends toward the salvation of sinners in the following ways:
(1) It tends to drive the sinner from all hope in his own efforts.
Election teaches that salvation is wholly of God. Hence man's efforts at saving himself are absolutely futile. Thus we may observe with Spurgeon: "in the first place, the doctrine of election, applied by the Holy Ghost, strikes dead forever all the efforts of the flesh. It is the end of Arminian preaching to make men active,-to excite them to do what they can; but the very end and object of gospel preaching is to Make men feel that they have no power of their own, and to lay them dead at the foot of God's throne (Spurgeon's Sermons, Vol. 8. p. 235).
(2) It tends to awaken careless sinners.
There are two causes for the lack of concern on the part of sinners with regard to their salvation. (1) Either the sinner's mind is so filled with thoughts of worldly things that thoughts about salvation are crowded out, or (2) the sinner comforts himself with the thought that e'er he dies be will turn to Christ. Election is so contrary to the carnal mind that it obtrudes its way into the mind of the first class of sinners when it is preached. They cannot keep it out when they have heard it. When once in the mind, election prepares the way for the question of whether the individual sinner is one of the elect or not. Having come to reflect on this question, the sinner is ready for the message on how he may know that he is one of the elect. That message is "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." A contemplation of the doctrine of election should lead the sinner to say. "Is it so? Am I absolutely in God's hands? Can He save me or damn me as He will? Then I will cry to him, 'O God save me from wrath to come-from eternal torment-from banishment from thy presence! Save me, 0 God What wouldst thou have me do? Oh! what wouldst thou have me do, that I may find favor and live?'" (Spurgeon's Sermons, Vol. 8, p. 239).
Then election shows to the second class of sinners mentioned above that they have no reason to hope that they will be able to turn to Christ in the eleventh hour, since ability to turn is not in mark by nature. This should awaken them to present thought and direct their minds along the course outlined above.
(3) It gives encouragement to the awakened sinner.
It does this in the two following ways, as pointed out by Spurgeon:
A. "We are all prisoners, condemned to die, God, as sovereign, has a right to pardon whom He pleases. Now, imagine a number of us shut up in a condemned cell, an guilty. One of the murderers says within himself: 'I know that I have no reason to expect to be delivered. I am not rich: if I had some rich relations . . . I might be found insane, and delivered . . . If I had the education of some men, I might expect some consideration. I am not a man of rank or position; I am a man without merit and influence, therefore I cannot expect that I should be selected as one to be saved. No; I believe that if the present authorities of our land were the persons to be taken into consideration, a man who was poor might have a very poor chance of expecting any gratuitous deliverance. But when God is the great sovereign, the case is different. For then we argue thus: 'Here am I; my salvation depends entirely upon the will of God: is there a chance for me?' We take down the list of those whom He has saved and we find that He saves the poor, the illiterate, the wicked, the godless, and the worst of the worst, the base things, and the things that are despised. Well, what do we say? 'Then why may He not choose me? Why not save me? If I am to look for some reason in myself why I should be saved, I shall never find any, and consequently never shall have hope. But if I am to be saved for no reason at all but that God wills to save me, ah! then there is hope for me. I will to the gracious King approach; I will do as He bids me; I will trust His dear Son, and I shall be saved.' So this doctrine opens the door of hope to the worst, and the only persons it discourages are the Pharisees, who say, lord I thank thee that I am not as other men are,-those proud, haughty spirits who say, 'Oh; if I am not saved for something good in myself, then I will be damned!' as damned they will be, with a vengeance, too" (Spurgeon's Sermons, Vol. 8, p. 236).
B. "Moreover, do not you see, dear friends, how the doctrine of election comforts the sinner in the matter of power? His complaint is, 'I find I have no power to believe; I have no spiritual power of any kind.' Election stoops down and whispers in his ear, 'But if God wills to save you, He gives the power, gives the life, and gives the grace; and therefore, since He has given that power and might to others as weak as you, why not you? Have courage; look to the cross of Christ, and live"' (ibid, p. 237).