Some men were, from all eternity, ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc.
OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.
FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.
POSITION 2. -Some men were, from all eternity, not only negatively excepted from a participation of Christ and His salvation, but positively ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc., and that the just judgment of God. (See Exodus 9:1Sa 2:25; 2Sa 17:14; Isa 6:9-11; 2Th 2:11,12.) Nor can these places of Scripture, with many others of like import, be understood of an involuntary permission on the part of God, as if God barely suffered it to be so, quasi invitus, as it were by constraint, and against His will, for He permits nothing which He did not resolve and determine to permit. His permission is a positive, determinate act of His will, as Augustine, Luther and Bucer justly observe. Therefore, if it be the will of God in time to permit such and such men to continue in their natural state of ignorance and corruption, the natural consequence of which is their falling into such and such sins (observe God does not force them into sin, their actual disobedience being only the consequence of their not having that grace which God is not obliged to grant them)-I say, if it be the will of God thus to leave them in time (and we must deny demonstration itself, even known absolute matter of fact, if we deny that some are so left), then it must have been the Divine intention from all eternity so to leave them, since, as we have already had occasion to observe, no new will can possibly arise in the mind of God. We see that evil men actually are suffered to go on adding sin to sin, and if it be not inconsistent with the sacred attributes actually to permit this, it could not possibly be inconsistent with them to decree that permission before the foundations of the world were laid.
Thus God efficaciously permitted (having so decreed) the Jews to be, in effect, the crucifiers of Christ, and Judas to betray Him (Acts 4:27,28; Mat 26:23,24). Hence we find St. Augustine* speaking thus: “Judas was chosen, but it was to do a most execrable deed, that thereby the death of Christ, and the adorable work of redemption by Him, might be accomplished. When therefore we hear our Lord say, ‘Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ we must understand it thus, that the eleven were chosen in mercy, but Judas in judgment; they were chosen to partake of Christ’s kingdom; he was chosen and pitched upon to betray Him and be the means of shedding His blood.”
* De Corr. and Grat. cap. 7.
Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady
1. What is the Sabbath?
It is one day of the week, which God requires to be kept as a day of rest, and holy to Him.
2. What day of the week did the Jews observe?
The seventh, which we commonly call Saturday.
3. What day do Christians keep?
The first day of the week or Sunday.
4. Why do Christians keep Sunday as the Sabbath?
Because it was on that day of the week that Christ rose from the dead.
5. What name is given to it on this account?
The Lord’s Day.
6. Did the Apostles and the Christians of their day observe the first day of the week?
They did, and that is our authority for observing the first instead of the seventh day.
7. What truth was the Sabbath appointed to commemorate?
The completion of God’s work of Creation.
8. What additional truth does the Christian Sabbath teach?
The triumphant completion of the still more glorious work of Redemption.
James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
A. The ninth commandment is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism
The Decrees of God
The decrees of God may be defined as that just, wise, and holy purpose or plan by which eternally, and within himself, he determines all things whatsoever that come to pass.
I. This purpose or plan is just, wise, and holy. Since it is formed by God it must have this character. His nature forbids that anything otherwise shall proceed from him. Though what he permits may be unrighteous, or foolish, or sinful, these characteristics belong to it because of others; while his will, purpose, or plan continues just, wise, and holy.
It is needful that this fact be always remembered.
1. Since, on account of the ignorance of man, there must be much in connection with this subject, which cannot be comprehended; because (1.) man’s finite knowledge cannot compass the nature, and mode, and reasons of the will, and action of the infinite God, (2.) because of the difficulty of reconciling the free agency and responsibility of man, with the pre-existent knowledge and purposes of God, and (3.) because of the perplexities which arise from the existence of sin in a world planned, created and governed by a holy, all-wise, and almighty God.
2. The same fact should also not be forgotten, because of the natural corruption of the human heart, which makes it (1.) revolt against the sovereignty of God, (2.) seek refuge from the condemnation justly due to sin, and (3.) endeavor to find excuses for continuance therein.
It is our duty, therefore, (1.) to seek to learn all the facts made known by reason and revelation, (2.) to accept them, (3.) to recognize them as the testimony of God, (4.) to admit that our knowledge is still imperfect, (5.) to believe that further information will still further remove the difficulties, (6.) to refuse on account of the difficulties to reject what God has actually taught, and (7.) amid all, to believe that whatever that teaching is, it must accord with justice, wisdom and holy perfection, because it is God of whom these things are affirmed.
II. These decrees are properly defined to be God’s purpose or plan.
The term “decree” is liable to some misapprehension and objection, because it conveys the idea of an edict, or of some compulsory determination. “Purpose” has been suggested as a better word. “Plan” will sometimes be still more suitable. The mere use of these words will remove from many some difficulties and prejudices which make them unwilling to accept this doctrine. They perceive that, in the creation, preservation, and government of the world, God must have had a plan, and that that plan must have been just, wise and holy, tending both to his own glory and the happiness of his creatures. They recognize that a man who has no purpose, nor aim, especially in important matters, and who cannot, or does not, devise the means by which to carry out his purpose, is without wisdom and capacity, and unworthy of his nature. Consequently, they readily believe and admit that the more comprehensive, and, at the same time, the more definite is the plan of God, the more worthy is it of infinite wisdom. Indeed they are compelled to the conclusion that God cannot be what he is, without forming such a purpose or plan.
III. Any such plan or purpose of God must have been formed eternally, and within himself.
1. It must have been eternally purposed, because God’s only mode of existence, as has been heretofore proved, is eternal, and therefore his thoughts, and purpose, and plan must be eternal. The fact also that his knowledge is infinite, and cannot be increased, forbids the forming of plans in time, which, as they become known to him, would add to that knowledge. It is also to be remembered that the plan must precede its execution, but as time began with that execution, the plan must not have been formed in time, and must be eternal.
2. In like manner, also, was it formed within himself. He needed not to go without himself, either for the impulse which led to it, or the knowledge in which it was conceived. He had all knowledge, both of the actual and the possible, all wisdom as to the best end and means, all power to execute what he devised in the use, or without the use of appropriate secondary means, and free will to select, of all possible plans and means, whatever he himself should please, and the impulse which moved him existed alone in that knowledge and will.
IV. By this plan or purpose God determined all things which it included.
This is manifestly true, even if all things whatsoever were not thus embraced.
To say the least, all the parts of it, as well as the whole, were known to him. But this knowledge, apart from any decree, determines, marks out, and fixes the nature, limits, time, sequence and relation to each other of the whole, and of all the parts. Things which are known by God as future, must certainly be future. A determination, or decree to bring them to pass, and even their actual existence, does not make them more certain.
But 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? The knowledge of the futurity of any event, over which any one has absolute control, is the result of his purpose, not its cause. And, as God has such absolute control over all things, his knowledge that they will be, must proceed from his purpose that they shall be. It cannot be from mere perception of their nature, for he gives that nature, and in determining to give it, determines what it shall be, and thus determines the effects which that nature will cause. Nor is it from mere knowledge of the mutual relations which will be sustained by outward events or beings, for it is he that establishes these relations for the accomplishment of his own purposes. To say that this nature and these relations are from God, and are not from his purpose, is in the highest degree fatalistic, for it would involve that they originate in some necessity of the nature of God, because of which he must give them existence without so willing, and even against his will. In this way alone could God be said to know, and yet not to purpose them. His knowledge would arise from knowledge of his nature, and of what that nature compels him to do, and not from knowledge of his purpose and of his will involved in that purpose. This, and this alone, would make equally certain and known what will come to pass, without basing that knowledge upon his purpose; but it would not only be destructive of his free agency and will, but, from the nature of necessity, would make the outward events eternal and prevent the existence of time, and the relation to it of all things whatsoever.
V. This plan, or purpose, includes all things whatsoever that come to pass; not some things, but all things; not all things in general, but each thing in particular.
So interwoven are all these things, that the lack of purpose, as to any one, would involve that same lack as to multitudes of others, indeed as to every other connected in the slightest degree with the one not purposed.
This is evidently true as to all subsequent events; but it is equally so as to those that are antecedent, for these thus connected antecedent events have been established with efficient causative power, relative to all their effects. God knows the existence of this power; he has in fact ordained and bestowed it. He knows also what will be its effects. With this knowledge, God must, therefore, either allow them to act, because he purposes that the result shall follow, or he must hinder, or restrain, or accelerate their action because he would change the effect. In each case he purposes, in the one to effect, in the other to permit, and his purpose thus extends to all things. Any limitation of his purpose involves limitation of his knowledge, and this cannot be true of the omniscient God.
To such an extent is the force of this realized, that it is admitted by all, that, in the mechanical universe, and even in the control of the lower animals, this is true. But the free agency of man, and of other rational and moral agents, is supposed to prevent God’s purposing, or willing, all things with reference to them. It is said that such purposing would take away that free agency, and consequent responsibility.
The Scriptures recognize both the sovereignty of God, and the free agency, and accountability of man. Consciousness assures us of the latter. The nature of God, as has just been shown, proves the former. The Bible makes no attempt to reconcile the two. Paul even declines to discuss the subject, saying, “Nay but, oh man, who art thou that repliest against God?” Rom. 9:20. The two facts are plainly revealed. They cannot be contradictory, they must be reconcilable. That we cannot point out the harmony between them is a proof, only of our ignorance, and limited capacity, and not that both are not true. It is certain, however, that, whatever may be the influences which God exercises, or permits, to secure the fulfilment of his purposes, he always acts in accordance with the nature, and especially with the laws of mind he has bestowed upon man. It is equally true, that his action is in full accord with that justice, and benevolence, which are such essential attributes of God himself.
Acting, however, upon the belief that the purpose of God, accomplishing his will in his rational creatures, is inconsistent with their free agency, several classes of theologians have presented theories in opposition to the scriptural doctrine of decrees above set forth.
1. The most objectionable theory is that of the Socinians, who deny that God can know what a free agent will choose, or do, before he acts, or wills. They maintain that the will is, at the moment of its choice, in such perfect equilibrium, that there are no tendencies in any direction which prevent an absolute freedom of choice. No knowledge, therefore, of the will itself, nor of the circumstances which surround its action, will enable any one to say, before it is exercised, what will be its choice. Its act, therefore, is entirely undetermined and indeterminable, until the free agent wills. It cannot even be known beforehand by God himself.
The objections to this theory are obvious.
(1.) It is based upon a wrong conception of the nature of free agency; for it supposes each act of the will to be an arbitrary choice. But such arbitrary choice is not found even in God. As regards man, we know, from consciousness and experience, that his will is influenced by motives. Indeed, so truly is it governed by the nature of the man, and the attendant influences, that even we can predict his will and action in many cases, and only fail to do so perfectly in all because of our limited knowledge. The omniscient God cannot fail to know everything that affects the decision, and, therefore, what the decision will be.
(2.) This theory is also opposed to the independence of God. It supposes him to have made beings of such a nature, that his own actions and will must depend upon theirs, and that he must await their decision, wherever it will have any influential bearings on anything future, before he can know or purpose what he himself will do.
(3.) It is also manifest, from what has been said under the first objection, that this theory is opposed to the omniscience of God. It expressly puts a limitation, upon that omniscience, by declaring that he is limited in his knowledge, at least, so far as not to know beforehand the decision of the will of his creatures. But ignorance of this would also involve ignorance of all things in the future, with which it may be connected. This would, in a world inhabited by free agents, constitute no small part of all that will occur.
(4.) It is opposed to the instances mentioned in Scripture of the prediction beforehand by God, even of the bad actions of certain men. See as to Pharaoh, Ex. 7:3, 4; Hazael, 2 Kings 8:13; Judas, Matt. 26:21; Peter, Matt. 26:34, &c., &c.
(5.) It is opposed to the power of forming habits, which is a matter of universal experience. Such habits, when known, constitute a source of information, upon which, to some degree, reliance can be placed in foretelling what any man will do. A perfect knowledge of his habits, as well as of all else that influences, would secure infallible prediction of the choice. God has this perfect knowledge, and if he cannot foreknow the decision, it must be because it is not true that habits can be formed which according to the law of habit will influence and control.
2. Another theory has been advanced by some Arminians, who maintain that God does not know the free actions of men, not because he cannot know them, but because he chooses not to do so.
(1.) The first objection to this theory is, that, were it true, it would not give greater freedom to the will, than does the orthodox statement.
Though this theory honours God more than the former, it is inferior to it with respect to the object for which it is introduced. If it could be true as the first theory claims, that so indeterminate is the future will of a free agent, that even God cannot know it, then that future will would certainly be entirely under the control of the free agent, and he would to the utmost extreme be free. His will would be in absolute equilibrium in the act of choosing. Neither would any motive exist to influence that choice. It would be thoroughly arbitrary.
But the second theory has not this advantage, for it does not suppose this condition of equilibrium. In claiming, that God does not choose to know, what he might know if he should so choose, it admits that there are the same surrounding circumstances and conditions, and the same prevailing motive, through foresight of which God could know if he should so will. But, if this be true, there can be no state of equilibrium. The certainty of what will occur is as much fixed as though known to God. It is not his knowledge of these things, and of their certain result in the act of the will, that makes it certain what it will be. It is the fact, that these things are such as they are, which makes it possible for him to know them. If he barely determines to permit what his knowledge perceives will surely take place, the event is not made any more certain by that knowledge, than it was before. Unquestionably, therefore, so far as the permissive decrees of God are involved, this theory has no advantage over that of the Scriptures.
The same fact is true as to God’s effective decrees, for the fact that God does not choose to know the result, does not prevent his introduction of active influences towards that result. Because a man does not know the decision which a judge will make in a case in court, and does not choose, because of the impropriety of so doing, to ascertain from the judge what will be his decision, he does not, therefore, refrain from using all proper arguments to influence the judge. There can be no reason why God, in ignorance of what will be the decision, could not exert every influence which would be possible if that decision were known to him. He could only exert such influences as, under the circumstances, would be just and right. He could do this only in accordance with the nature of his creatures, in strict conformity to the laws of the human mind. Therefore, it may be affirmed as true, that, even under his efficient decrees, when he knows the result, his creatures are left as f’ree as they could be, were that result unknown to him.
(2.) The chief objection, to this theory is, that it is based upon a wrong conception of the relation of the will of God to his nature. That will does not confer the attributes of his nature, nor does it control them, but is itself influenced by them. God knows all things, not because he wills to know them, but, because, from his nature, he has infinite knowledge, knowledge of all things possible, and knowledge of all things certain. If, by his will, he could refrain from knowing, he would change his nature. As well speak of a man not choosing to see, with his eyes open, the objects presented to his sight, as of God not choosing to know anything, whether that be only something which is possible, or something which in any way has been made certain.
3. There is, beside the theories already referred to, the ordinary Arminian theory. This is, that God knows all things that will come to pass, but does not decree all, but only some of them. The decisions of free agents are among those things which he is supposed not to decree.
(1.) The manifest objection to this theory is, that it does not accord with the statements of the Bible. This will be subsequently shown, by the passages of Scripture which will be advanced, in proof of the various points involved in the ordinary Calvinistic theory.
(2.) But a second objection will be found in the fact that this theory does not thus secure that freedom from certainty in the decisions of free agents, which is the great reason of the objections to the decrees of God concerning them.
If by decreeing such decisions, is meant effectively causing them, it is true that God does not decree all things; for, while he effectually causes some, he only permissively decrees others. Hence the objection to the word “decree,” and the previous suggestion of the words “purpose” or “plan.”
But, if God knows that any event will occur, and can prevent it, and does not, it is evident that he purposes that it shall exist, and makes it a part of his plan.
His knowledge of the futurity of any event makes it as certain as any purpose he could form effectively to cause it. That knowledge is perfect and infallible. What he knows will come to pass, must necessarily take place. Otherwise, he would know a thing as future which will not be future. His knowledge of it would be false. He would be himself deceived. To suppose, then, that he knows it as certain, when it is not certain, is to deny his infinite knowledge, and to reduce this theory to the plane of one or the other of those previously mentioned.
(3.) Neither does this theory accomplish another object for which it is introduced, namely, to secure such a relation of God to any free act of man as shall take away the influence upon it exerted by his decree
His decree to permit it, is as hidden from his creatures as his knowledge that they will so act, and can have no other influence upon them than that knowledge.
The only apparent advantage is that God is supposed thus not to interfere with their free agency, so as to destroy their accountability. But we have seen that, so far as the permissive decree is concerned, the knowledge of the event is as effective in making it certain, and in influencing the free agent, as would be any decree, purpose or plan of God. It is only when the decree is effective, and introduces the means for its accomplishment, that the free agency is affected. In this case, God does not destroy the free agency, although he exerts an influence towards the result. But that God is thus active, sometimes, as in his gracious influences upon men, is held as firmly by Arminians as Calvinists. In all such gracious acts, both parties claim that he is both merciful and just. Calvinists extend these no further than do Arminians, for they deny as strenuously as others, that God acts effectively to lead men to wicked decisions and deeds. So far as the nature of God’s actions upon free agents is concerned, both parties agree. But the Arminian theory, in asserting foreknowledge without purpose, and in alleging that the foreknowledge is all that there is in God, is contrary to the relations of God’s will to his knowledge, as well as to the statements of Scripture about the decrees of God; and while it leaves the event equally certain, supposes fully as much influence over the will of the creature, and has equal difficulty in reconciling the free agency, and consequent responsibility, with the inevitable certainty of the event.
The chief difficulty connected with the doctrine of decrees arises from the existence of’ sin. According to that doctrine, sin has not accidentally occurred, nor was it simply foreknown, but it was a part of the plan and purpose of God, that it should exist. The difficulty is freely admitted. In this respect the dispensation of God is surrounded with “clouds and darkness.”
The following statements, however, may be made:
(1.) That its being a part of the purpose or plan of God, renders its presence no more difficult of explanation than that he should have foreknown its appearance, and not exerted his unquestioned power to prevent it.
(2.) That, amid all the darkness, we can yet see that God is so overruling sin as to cause it greatly to redound to his glory and the happiness of his creatures.
(3.) That even without any explanation of it, we can rest in our knowledge of the justice, wisdom, and goodness of God.
(4.) That we cannot see how its possible entrance into the world could have been prevented, consistently with the creation and putting upon probation of beings with moral natures, endowed with free will, and necessarily fallible because mere creatures; while the right thus to put on probation, without such influence as would make his creatures certainly persevere in holiness, is one which none could justly deny to God. But that which God could possibly (under any contingency) permit, cannot, if it has actual existence, militate against his pure and holy character.
The Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees will appear from the following statements and references, gathered with slight modifications from Hodge’s Outlines, pp, 205-213:
1. God’s decrees are eternal. Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7.
2. They are immutable. Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46:9.
3. They comprehend all events.
(1.) The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees. Dan. 4:34, 35; Acts 17:26; Eph 1:11.
(2.) They affirm the same of fortuitous events. Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:29, 30.
(3.) Also of the free actions of men. Eph. 2:10, 11; Phil. 2:13.
(4.) Even the wicked actions of men. Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen. 37:28, with Gen. 45:7, 8, and Gen. 50:20. See also Ps. 17:13, 14; Isa. 10:5, 15.
4. The decrees of God are not conditional. Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 14:24, 27 ; 46:10; Rom. 9:11.
5. They are sovereign. Isa. 40:13, 14; Dan. 4:35; Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:11, 15-18; Eph. 1:5, 11.
6. They include the means. Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2.
7. They determine the free actions of men. Acts 4:27, 28 ; Eph. 2:10.
8. God himself works in his people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation. Eph. 2:8 ; Phil. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25.
9. The decree renders the event certain. Matt. 16:21; Luke 18:31-33; 24:46; Acts 2:23; 13:29; 1 Cor. 11:19.
10. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been none the less responsible. Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27, 28.
Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D.D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887
There are certain theological words and phrases which gain such a clear and defined meaning in the history of theology that to affirm that one holds to them is tantamount to affirming their meaning in that history. To affirm such words and phrases and not hold to their historical meaning is simply to mislead both ourselves and others as to our real theological convictions. For instance, to affirm the Trinity, but to hold views which have more in common with historic Modalism than with Trinitarianism (as some contemporary Modalists do) is to deceive ourselves and mislead others.1 Again, to affirm sola fide, but hold views which are parallel to those of Rome (as do some modern evangelicals and devotees of the new perspective on Paul) is frankly deceptive.2 Similarly, to affirm the regulative principle of worship, and yet hold views which are more like the normative principle held by the opponents of the regulative principle is simply misleading.
The backdrop of the debates over the regulative principle among Protestants must, of course, be found in the debates over sola scriptura which came to light at the time of the Reformation. The conflict between the two viewpoints which at the Reformation became characteristic of Romanism and Protestantism respectively had in the centuries prior to the Reformation been crystallizing in Medieval theology.3 When the Reformation churches affirmed sola scriptura, the question had to be asked whether the Scriptures alone were sufficient to regulate the worship of the church or whether, on the other hand, tradition might have a place in ordering the government and worship of the church. This question gave rise to two answers on the part of the churches of the Reformation. Some gave tradition substantially no part in this construction process. This view became known as the regulative principle. Others regarded tradition as having a part to play in constructing the worship and government of the church. This became known as the normative principle.
Read the entire article here.
Having exposed the cardinal errors promulgated by the “Divine healing” cults, we turn now to the positive side of the subject. And there is pressing need to do so, for the pulpit has failed grievously here as in so many other directions. Of old God complained,
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6),
and history has repeated itself. It was prophesied,
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11),
and that fearful prediction is now in course of fulfillment. In the vast majority of places rank error rather than the Truth is being given out, and even in the few remaining centers of orthodoxy the preacher confines himself to such a narrow compass that his people are scarcely any better indoctrinated at the end of the year than they were at the beginning: there is no longer a bringing forth of “things new” as well as “things old” (Matthew 13:52). How many of our readers, we wonder, ever heard a sermon on their duties and privileges in connection with sickness! Very, very few we fear. Little wonder that so many ill-informed members of “evangelical churches” fall such easy victims to modern religious fads.
It is no sufficient reply for preachers to say, We have far weightier and more essential themes to expound. True, the salvation of the soul is immeasurably greater than the healing of the body, nevertheless the Scriptures have much to say concerning the body, and it is to our very great loss if we ignore or remain ignorant about the same. Is it of no moment at all whether the Christian be healthy or sickly? Has our loving heavenly Father left His children without any instruction concerning the laws of health? And when they fall ill is their situation no better than that of the unbelieving world? Must they too lean upon the arm of flesh when sickness overtakes them, and seek the help of a doctor—often an infidel? The Lord is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1): does that mean nothing more than that the saint must, in every instance, seek grace from Him to patiently endure his afflictions? God has promised to supply “all the need” of His people (Philippians 4:19): does that include nothing better than drugs and medicines, such as the Christ-rejector has access to, when I am ill? These are not questions to be lightly dismissed, but prayerfully pondered in the light of Holy Writ.
If the Divine healing cults have gone to one extreme, that of unbalanced fanaticism, have not most of the Lord’s people in this matter gone to the opposite extreme—that of unbelieving stoicism or fatalistic inertia? Is not the attitude of only too many something like this? O well, man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward, so as I cannot expect immunity from physical sufferings, hence I must take what remedies I can for relief, and then make the best of a bad job; or, since this be my appointed lot, I must endeavor to bear it as patiently as I can. Of course when pain is acute they cry unto the Lord and beg Him to ease their anguish, just as Pharaoh did when God’s sore plagues were upon his land. And when Christians pray for recovery, how many of them really do so with the expectation of its being granted? how many know where to turn for a pertinent promise and then plead the same prevailingly? Yet some of them feel they are living beneath their privileges as sons and daughters of the Almighty, and when they hear or read what is advanced by the “faith healing” people wonder how much of it is true and how much false.
Arthur W. Pink-Divine Healing-Is It Scriptural?
The Reign of Grace available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats
READ THE INTRODUCTION HERE…
THE gospel of Reigning Grace, being a doctrine truly divine, has ever been the object of the world’s contempt. It was of old a stumbling-block to the self-righteous Jew, and foolishness to the philosophic Greek. Paul, who was a resolute asserter of the honours of grace, and indefatigable in preaching Christ, found it so by repeated experience; and that not only among the illiterate and profane, but also among the learned and the devout. Nay, he had frequent occasion to observe, that the religious devotees of his age were the first in opposing the doctrine he preached, and the most hardened enemies against the truth of God. The polite, the learned, the religious, were all agreed to load both his character and his doctrine with the foulest reproaches. Nor was this treatment peculiar to Paul, but common to all his contemporaries, who espoused the same glorious cause, and laboured in the same beneficent work. The doctrine they preached was charged with licentiousness. Their enemies boldly affirmed that they said; Let us do evil that good may come. Thus were their character and their labours impeached: that, as hateful to God; these, as destructive to man.
But what was the ground of this impious charge! Were they loose in their morals, or scandalous in their lives. No such thing. Had they not as much regard for practical religion and true morality as any of their objectors! More, far more than they all. Did they never mention good works as necessary to answer any valuable end in the Christian life? They often pressed the performance of them, as absolutely necessary to answer various important purposes, both in the sight of God and man. What then could be the reason of’ so hateful a charge? Because their doctrine was not in the least adapted to, gratify the pride of man. They taught, that without the atonement made on the cross, and the grace revealed in redeeming blood, the state of the best men would have been absolutely desperate ? desperate as that of the devils, and of those already damned. And as the apostles were free to declare, that the state of the most respectable part &mankind was evil ? dreadfully evil ? evil as to those things, for the sake of which they most highly esteemed themselves; so they boldly preached a perfect Saviour, and s finished salvation, to the most worthless and vile.
These primitive teachers and infallible guides were not in the least acquainted with those terms and conditions, prerequisites and qualifications, the performing and attaining of which are, by many, accounted so necessary to acceptance with God. They knew but of’ one way in which a sinner might be accepted of God, and justified before him; and that was entirely of grace, through the perfect work of Christ alone. The way of justification which they taught is absolutely pure and unmixed. In their doctrine, on this important subject, grace does not only appear; it shines, reigns, triumphs: it is the only thing. There is not discernible in it the least tincture of those notions which foster pride, or cherish self-esteem. All those fine distinctions, invented by the proud philosopher, or the self-righteous moralist, which tend in any degree to support the opinion of human worthiness, and to obscure our views of divine grace, are by them entirely set aside, and totally annihilated. The most shining deeds and valuable qualities that can be found among men, though highly useful and truly excellent, when set in their proper places, and referred to suitable ends, are, as to the grand article of justification treated as nonentities. In this respect, the most zealous professor, with all his laboured performances, stands on a level with the most profane. The apostolic truth addressing an to whom it comes, as guilty, condemned, perishing wretches, leaves no room for preference or boasting in any; that so the whole glory of our salvation may be secured to that grace which is infinitely rich and absolutely free.
At this, the devout Pharisee and the decent moralist are highly offended. Such doctrines being advanced, they think it incumbent upon them to stand up in defence of what they call an holy life: and to support the sinking credit of good works, as having a considerable efficacy in procuring our acceptance with God. This many persons frequently do, much more by talking about their necessity, than by performing them. Now they think it their duty to rail at the preacher as an avowed enemy to holiness; nor will they spare to give him the honourable title of, A friend of publicans and sinners. Now innumerable slanders are cast on the doctrine of grace, as being licentious; and on the ministers of it, as opening the floodgates of all iniquity. For they suppose that every thing bad may be justly expected from those who openly disavow all dependence on their own duties; and whose hope of eternal happiness arises, not from services which they perform, but from grace which the gospel reveals ? not from the worth which they possess, but from the work which Christ has wrought. Thus they despise the gospel under the fair pretence of a more than common concern for the interests of holiness.
Nor is this the only offence which the gospel gives. For as it is entirely inconsistent with the natural notions of men concerning acceptance with God, and contrary to every scheme of salvation which human reason suggests; as it will admit of no copartner in relieving a distressed conscience, or in bringing deliverance to a guilty soul, but leaves every one that slights it and seeks for assistance from any other quarter, to perish under an everlasting curse; so the pride of the self-sufficient kindles into resentment against it, as a most uncharitable doctrine and quite unsociable. Nor can the faithful dispensers of sacred truth fail to share in the honour of these reproaches. For while they dare to affirm that this gospel, so hateful to the sons of pride, exhibits the only way of a sinnner’s access to his offended Sovereign; and that all who oppose it, and all who embrace its counterfeit, are left in the hands of divine justice without a Mediator; they are sure to be accounted persons of contracted minds, and very far from a liberal way of thinking. They are considered as the dupes of bigotry, and little better than the enemies of mankind. He, indeed, who pretends to be a friend to revealed truth, but is cool and indifferent to its honour and interest; whose extensive charity is such, that he can allow those who widely differ from him in the capital articles of the Christian faith, to be safe in their own way; may enjoy his peculiar sentiments without much fear of disturbance. But though such conduct may be applauded, under a false notion of Christian can-dour, and of a catholic spirit; though it may be the way to maintain a friendly intercourse among multitudes whose leading sentiments are widely different; yet it will be deemed, by the God of truth, as deserving no better name, than a joint opposition to the spirit and design of his gospel. For such a timid and lukewarm profession of truth is little better than a denial of it ? than open hostility against it. To seek for peace at the expense of truth, will be found in the end, no other than a wicked conspiracy against both God and man. Such, however, as love the truth, will boldly declare against all its counterfeits, and every deviation from it: and, whatever may be the consequence, they will say with him of old; Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel, let him be accursed.
Thus the genuine gospel will always appear like an insult on the taste of the public. Wherever it comes, if it be not received, it awakens disgust and provokes abhorrence. Nor can it be otherwise. For its principal design is to mortify the pride of man, and to display the glory of grace; to throw all human excellence down to the dust, and to elevate, even to thrones of glory, the needy and the wretched; to show that every thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of Christ, is an abomination in the sight of God; and that He who is despised of men and abhorred by the nations, is Jehovah’s eternal delight. (Isa. xlix. 7 Matt. iii. 17) The ancient gospel is an unceremonious thing. It pays no respect to the academic because of his profound learning; nor to the moralist on account of his upright conduct. It has not the least regard to the courtier, because of his pompous honours; nor to the devotee, for the sake of his zeal or his righteousness. No, the potent prince and the abject slave, the wise philosopher and the ignorant rustic, the virtuous lady and the infamous prostitute, stand on the same level in its comprehensive sight. Its business is with the worthless and the miserable, whomsoever they be. If these be relieved, its end is gained. If these be made happy, its Author is glorified, whatever may become of the rest. Towards these it constantly wears the most friendly aspect, and rejoices to do them good. But the self-sufficient of every rank are treated by it with the utmost reserve, and beheld with a steady contempt. The hungry it filleth with good things, but the rich it sendeth emptor away.
These considerations may serve to show us the true state of the case, as it stood between Paul and his opponents. The situation of things was much the same between Protestants and Papists, at, and for some time after the Reformation. Nor will the apostolic doctrine ever fail to be attended with strenuous opposition and foul re-preaches, while ignorance of its real nature, and legal pride, prevail in the hearts of men. Many, indeed, are the methods that have been devised, to render the unpalatable truth more generally acceptable, and to obviate the offence of the cross. But what have been the consequences I The gospel has been corrupted; the consciences of awakened sinners have been left to grope in the dark, for that consolation which nothing but the unadulterated truth could give; and, instead of promoting holiness, the reverse has been awfully manifest. It therefore behooves every lover of sacred truth, to let it stand on its own basis, and not to tamper with it. To leave all its credit and all its success in the world, to its own intrinsic worth ? to that authority with which it is closed, and to the management of that sovereign Being who ordained it for his own glory.
But however the doctrine of reigning grace may be despised by the self-sufficient, it will ever he revered by the poor in spirit. For by it they are informed of an honourable way of escape from the wrath to come, which they know they have justly deserved. To the sensible sinner, therefore, it must always be a joyful sound. And though such persons as are ignorant of its nature, tendency, and design, are always ready to imagine that it has an unfriendly aspect upon morality and good works, when preached in its glorious freeness; yet we may boldly affirm, that it is the grand instrument ordained by a holy God, for informing the ignorant, comforting the disconsolate, and rescuing the profligate from that worst of vassalage, the servitude of sin, and subjection to Satan. Such is the benign tendency of the glorious gospel! Such is its friendly and sanctifying influence on the hearts of men!
It will indeed be acknowledged that this doctrine may be held in licentiousness by those that profess it. But then it will be as confidently maintained, that whoever holds it in unrighteousness never received the love of that sacred truth, or experienced the power of it. For, to have a bare conviction of divine truth in the mind, and to experience its power on the heart, are very different things. The former may produce an outward profession: the latter will elevate the affections, turn the corrupt bias of the will, and influence the whole conduct. With the steadiest persuasion, therefore, of the holy nature and tendency of the doctrine of divine grace, as it is in itself, and as it operates on the minds and manners of all those who know it in truth; I proceed to give, not a full display, (that is infinitely too high for mortals,) but some brief hints concerning that grace which reigns; and of the way in which it is manifested, so as to demonstrate its power, glory, and majesty, in the salvation of sinners. This I shall do by endeavouring to illustrate that important and charming passage, recorded in Romans the fifth and twenty-first; EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN, THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS, UNTO ETERNAL LIFE, BY Jesus CHRIST OUR LORD. And while the author, conscious of his own insufficiency, looks up to the Spirit of wisdom for divine illumination, that he may write with all the precision and sanctity of truth, in opening the noble subject of the ensuing treatise; he would entreat the reader to peruse, with candour and impartiality, the contents of the following pages.
In our original article we wrote “Of course, [Coyne] believes in moral obligations and the significance of the individual.” It seems we were much too generous, for his commitment to moral reality is far from clear. It is rather difficult to tell if Coyne is a realist or an anti-realist about moral principles. Indeed, he may be rather confused himself. Does he believe in moral facts? If he does, he is a moral realist who needs a materialist explanation for morality. If, however, he believes that moral principles have no truth values and that in making moral judgements we merely project attitudes or emotions on to the world, he is a moral anti-realist who claims he can explain morality away.
Can science explain morality away? It’s difficult to see how any scientific explanation of moral feelings would allow us to live as if there are no moral demands on us. It seems impossible to live as if morality is an illusion; Dawkins calls morality a “blessed, precious mistake”, and he believes it. But if morality is a mistake nothing is truly blessed or precious. Suppose our moral……..
Read the entire article here.