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It is grace, all grace, nothing but grace from first to last

Spurgeon 35. But then the text, lest we should make any mistake, adds, “according to his own purpose and grace.” The purpose is not founded on foreseen merit, but upon grace alone. It is grace, all grace, nothing but grace from first to last. Man stands shivering outside, a condemned criminal, and God sitting upon the throne, sends the herald to tell him that he is willing to receive sinners and to pardon them. The sinner replies, “Well, I am willing to be pardoned if I am permitted to do something in order to earn pardon. If I can stand before the King and claim that I have done something to win his favor, I am quite willing to come.” But the herald replies, “No: if you are pardoned, you must understand it is entirely and wholly as an act of grace on God’s part. He sees nothing good in you, he knows that there is nothing good in you; he is willing to take you just as you are, black, and bad, and wicked, and undeserving; he is willing to give you graciously what he would not sell to you, and what he knows you cannot earn of him. Will you have it?” and naturally every man says, “No, I will not be saved in that style.” Well, then, soul, remember that thou wilt never be saved at all, for God’s way is salvation by grace. You will have to confess if ever you are saved, my dear hearer, that you never deserved one single blessing from the God of grace; you will have to give all the glory to his holy name if ever you get to heaven. And mark you, even in the matter of the acceptance of this offered mercy, you will never accept it unless he makes you willing. He does freely present it to every one of you, and he honestly bids you come to Christ and live; but come you never will, I know, except the effectual grace which first provided mercy shall make you willing to accept that mercy. So the text tells us it is his own purpose and grace.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866

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God hath ‘saved us’ and then ‘called us,’ according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord

Spurgeon 32. We next remark that grace is in this verse rendered conspicuous when we see that God pursues a singular method, “Who hath saved us and called us.” The peculiarity of the manner lies in three things first, in the completeness of it. The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, “who hath saved us.” Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as persons who are in a hopeful state and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. This is not according to the common talk of professors now-a-days, for many of them speak of being saved when they come to die; but it is according to the usage of Scripture to speak of us who are saved. Be it known this morning that every man and woman here is either saved at this present moment or lost, and that salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the dying bed and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised and enjoyed now. God hath saved his saints, mark, not partly saved them, but perfectly saved them. The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him unto salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also as to the price which has been paid for him; for this is done not in part but in whole. The substitutionary work which Christ has offered is not a certain proportion of the work to be done, but “it is finished” was the cry of the Savior ere he died. The believer is also perfectly saved in his covenant head, for as we were utterly lost as soon as ever Adam fell, before we had committed any actual sin, so every man in Christ was saved in the second Adam when he finished his work. The Savior completed his work, and in the sense in which Paul uses that expression, “He hath saved us.” This completeness is one peculiarity-we must mark another. I want you to notice the order as well as the completeness; “who hath saved us and called us. What! saved us before he called us? Yes, so the text says. But is a man saved before he is called by grace? Not in his own experience, not as far as the work of the Holy Spirit goes, but he is saved in God’s purpose, in Christ’s redemption, and in his relationship to his covenant Head; and he is saved, moreover, in this respect, that the work of his salvation is done, and he has only to receive it as a finished work. In the olden times of imprisonment for debt, it would have been quite correct for you to step into the cell of a debtor and say to him, I have freed you, if you had paid his debts and obtained an order for his discharge. Well, but he is still in prison. Yes; but you really liberated him as soon as you paid his debts. It is true he was still in prison, but he was not legally there, and no sooner did he know that the debt was paid, and that receipt was pleaded before proper authorities, than the man obtained his liberty. So the Lord Jesus Christ paid the debts of his people before they knew anything about it. Did he not pay them on the cross more than eighteen hundred years ago to the utmost penny? and is not this the reason why, as soon as he meets with us in a way of grace, he cries, “I have saved thee; lay hold on eternal life.” We are, then, virtually, though not actually, saved before we are called. “He hath saved us and called us.” There is yet a third peculiarity, and that is in connection with the calling. God has called us with an holy calling. Those whom the Savior saved upon the tree are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit unto holiness; they leave their sins, they endeavor to be like Christ, they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the stress of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness, just as naturally as aforetime they delighted in sin. Whereas their old nature loved everything that was evil, their new nature cannot sin because it is born of God, and it loveth everything that is good. Does not the apostle mention this result of our calling in order to meet those who say that God calls his people because he foresees their holiness? Not so; he calls them to that holiness; that holiness is not a cause but an effect; it is not the motive of his purpose, but the result of his purpose. He neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but he called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by his workmanship in them. The excellences which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself. This second point brings out very sweetly the fullness of the grace of God. First: salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it; and what motive but grace could move him to save the guilty? In the next place, salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is for ever excluded. Salvation is completed by God, and therefore not of man, neither by man; salvation is wrought by God in an order which puts our holiness as a consequence and not as a cause, and therefore merit is for ever disowned.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866

Paul reminds Timothy that the great doctrine that the grace of God reigns in the salvation of men

Spurgeon 3It is somewhat remarkable-at least it may seem so to persons who are not accustomed to think upon the subject-that the apostle, in order to excite Timothy to boldness, to keep him constant in the faith, reminds him of the great doctrine that the grace of God reigns in the salvation of men. He gives in this verse-this parenthetical verse as some call it, but which seems to me to be fully in the current of the passage- he gives in this verse a brief summary of the gospel, showing the great prominence which it gives to the grace of God, with the design of maintaining Timothy in the boldness of his testimony for Christ. I do not doubt but that a far greater power for usefulness lies concealed within the doctrines of grace than some men have ever dreamed of. It has been usual to look upon doctrinal truth as being nothing more than unpractical theory, and many have spoken of the precepts of God’s Word as being more practical and more useful; the day may yet come when in clearer light we shall perceive that sound doctrine is the very root and vital energy of practical holiness, and that to teach the people the truth which God has revealed is the readiest and surest way of leading them to obedience and persevering holiness.

May the Holy Spirit assist us while we shall, first, consider the doctrine taught by the apostle in this text; and, secondly, the uses of that doctrine.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 14-The Grace of God (Continued)

CHAPTER 14-THE GRACE OF GOD (Continued)

In the preceding chapter we gave several good and harmonious definitions of grace by others, and added our own thoughts in an attempt to help our readers understand the meaning of grace. In this chapter we wish to lead our readers into the various aspects of grace. Wherever grace operates it has a throne and so we shall write on

THE REIGN OF GRACE

“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (#Ro 5:21). Paul personifies SIN and GRACE and speaks of them as two royal figures, two queens on their thrones. He then shows what each gives to her subjects. Sin has death in her painted hand, while grace has eternal life in her white and charming hand.

1. Grace is more powerful than sin. Here is the sinner’s only hope, although until quickened by the Spirit of grace, he does not know it. No man can rescue himself from the tyranny of sin. Sin is too much for any man. Men are taken captive by the devil: “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (#2Ti 2:26). Men may reform, but they cannot regenerate themselves. They may give up their crimes and their vices, but they cannot give up their sins. “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).

2. Grace reigns lawfully. The reign of grace is a righteous reign. Grace is not against the law. Grace does not seek to destroy justice that would be to divide God against Himself. Grace honors the law by giving the Lord Jesus Christ, who satisfied the law by becoming our Surety, and bearing the guilt of our sins in His own body on the tree. God dealt with His Son in justice that He might deal with sinners in grace.

3. Grace reigns by Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is not the source but the medium of grace. Grace has its source in the heart of God, and operates according to the sovereign will of God. The word reign suggests a king or a queen on a throne. And a throne speaks of power, and resources. The power of grace is the power of God. This makes it fitting to speak of irresistible grace. Surely we can speak of an irresistible God! The resources of grace are to be found in God. The blood of God’s Son is the capital stock of grace. When His blood loses its value then grace has become bankrupt and the believer will be lost. But this shall never be!

“Thou dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.”

4. Grace reigns in every phase and step of salvation. “Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Salvation is a comprehensive term, including within its scope all the aspects and stages of deliverance from sin. Every aspect and every stage of salvation is of grace, and this precludes human merit at any and every point. Salvation from beginning to end is of grace.

4a) Grace reigns in foreknowledge. The first thing God ever did for His people was to foreknow them. In His foreknowledge He set His affection upon them. He foreknew them with the intention of blessing them. He loved them with an everlasting love, and this love was a gracious love, and in no wise was it merited.

4b) Grace reigns in election. Election is of grace: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (#Ro 11:5). Election was not on the ground of foreseen merit in sinners, but of gracious love in God. In #2Th 2:10 Paul speaks of “them that perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved;” and then exclaims with reference to the saints: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (#2Th 2:13). We have two things in this text: first, why men are saved; and second, how they are saved. They are said to be saved because God chose them unto salvation. And they are saved by being sanctified by the Spirit and by believing the truth, the truth of the Gospel. This is what made them differ from “them that perish: “because they received not the love of the truth.” Had it not been for the choice of God and the sanctification of the Spirit, the Thessalonians would also have rejected the truth. Therefore, God is to be thanked for their salvation. Now, why did God choose them? Was the ground of God’s choice foreseen faith, or some other good in them: or was it grace in Himself? #Ro 11:5,6 gives the answer: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

“Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me.”

4c) Grace reigns in predestination. To predestinate is to determine destiny beforehand. Predestination is never said to be unto damnation, but unto salvation. God causes nobody to be damned; sin is the thing that damns men. But God is the cause of salvation. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (#Ro 8:29). Why were people predestinated to such glory? Was it because of their foreseen faith or goodness? In #Eph 1:5,6 we have the answer: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

4d) Grace reigns in our calling. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (#Ro 8:30). The word “called” is never in the New Testament applied to those who are the recipients of a mere external invitation of the gospel. It always signifies an inward and effectual call, a call that brings to Christ and salvation. And this call is of grace according to #2Ti 1:9: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” and in #Ga 1:15: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace.”

“Twas sovereign mercy called me,
And taught my opening mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind.”

4e) Grace reigns in justification. Justification may be defined as the judicial act of God in which He declares the believer to be no longer under condemnation, but to have a standing of righteousness before Him. Justification and condemnation are antonyms. The justified person is free from the guilt of sin. Is this blessing a matter of merit or of grace? #Ro 3:24: “Being justified freely (without any cause in me, C. D. C.) by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Ro 8:30).

4f) Grace reigns in conversion. In conversion a change is wrought in the sinner. There is a change from darkness to light, from death to life, and from the power of Satan unto God. There is a change of opinion so that he believes what he once rejected; a change of affection so that he loves what he once hated. What explains such a change? Does the sinner convert himself? Does darkness create light? Does death beget life? Does filth produce purity? Then, and not till then, can the sinner convert himself. If God converts the sinner, does He do it as a matter of obligation or grace? Paul gives grace credit for his conversion. After speaking of himself as a persecutor of the saints, he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (#1Co 15:10).

“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be”

4g) Grace reigns in glorification. “Whom he justified them he also glorified” (#Ro 8:30). Glorification is the complete deliverance from every aspect and vestige of sin. It is the crowning work of redemption by which we will become personally glorious and in glorious surroundings. It takes in the body as well as the soul. Our salvation is not complete as long as these bodies of ours remain in the grave or, if living, continue mortal. Let time write wrinkles upon the brow; let sorrow’s scalding tears wet the cheeks; let sickness and pain twist and torture this body into a shapeless mass; and let death turn it into a veritable dust-heap; still grace shall win for us and fashion it into a glorious body like unto that of our dear Lord. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (#1Pe 1:13). “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (#1Joh 3:2).

PROVISIONS OF GRACE

Grace, like the Good Samaritan, not only meets the present emergency, but provides for future and eternal blessings. Let the trembling sinner be told that there are ample provisions of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every one who feels the plague of his own heart may come to Jesus Christ for healing. He gives all a gracious invitation and assures a hearty welcome. Hear His words: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (#Joh 6:37). Though vile as Manasseh, filthy as Magdalene, guilty as the cross thief, He will not turn away the poor in spirit. He turns no real beggar from his gate, though full of sores and vermin. His heart is lined with sweet compassion, and His hands are filled with the richest gifts. He has supplies for all needs: legs for a lame beggar, eyes for a blind one, cordials for a faint one, garments for a naked one, a fountain for a filthy one; Yes, and a rope for a sham beggar who asks for mercy and talks of merit. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (#1Ti 1:15).

“How firm A foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word;
What more can He say than to you He hath said-
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”

GOD’S GRACE IS MANIFOLD

There is sustaining grace for seasons of sorrow, triumphing grace for times of temptation, persevering grace for days of discouragement. There is teaching grace, living grace, and dying grace. But time and paper would fail me to tell of the sin of frustrating grace by teaching salvation by works, and of abusing grace, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, by pleading grace as a license to sin. Grace has delivered every believer from the guilt of sin, from the love of sin, and will yet deliver from the very presence of sin. Until the dear Lord returns to complete His work of grace, every believer will experience with Paul the inward workings of sin, and confess with him, that “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (#Ro 7:15).

“Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.”

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1

Without preaching predestination we cannot enjoy a lively sight and experience of God’s special love and mercy towards us

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

V.-Without the doctrine of predestination we cannot enjoy a lively sight and experience of God’s special love and mercy towards us in Christ Jesus. Blessings, not peculiar, but conferred indiscriminately on every man, without distinction or exception, would neither be a proof of peculiar love in the donor nor calculated to excite peculiar wonder and gratitude in the receiver. For instance, rain from heaven, though an invaluable benefit, is not considered as an argument of God’s special favour to some individuals above others: and why? because it falls on all alike, as much on the rude wilderness and the barren rock as on the cultivated garden and the fruitful field. But the blessing of election, somewhat like the Sibylline books, rises in value, proportionably to the fewness of its objects. So that, when we recollect that in the view of God (to whom all things are at once present) the whole mass of mankind was considered as justly liable to condemnation on account of original and actual iniquity, His selecting some individuals from among the rest and graciously setting them apart in Christ for salvation both from sin and punishment, were such acts of sovereign goodness as exhibit the exceeding greatness and the entire freeness of His love in the most awful, amiable and humbling light.

In order, then, that the special grace of God may shine, predestination must be preached, even the eternal and immutable predestination of His people to faith and everlasting life. “From those who are left under the power of guilt,” says Augustine, “the person who is delivered from it may learn what he too must have suffered had not grace stepped in to his relief. And if it was that grace that interposed, it could not be the reward of man’s merit, but the free gift of God’s gratuitous goodness. Some, however, call it unjust for one to be delivered while another, though no more guilty than the former, is condemned; if it be just to punish one, it would be but justice to punish both. I grant that both might have been justly punished. Let us therefore give thanks unto God our Saviour for not inflicting that vengeance on us, which, from the condemnation of our fellow-sinners, we may conclude to have been our desert, no less than theirs. Had they as well as we been ransomed from their captivity, we could have framed but little conception of the penal wrath due, in strictness of justice, to sin; and, on the other hand, had none of the fallen race been ransomed and set at liberty, how could Divine grace have displayed the riches of its liberality?”* The same evangelical father delivers himself elsewhere to the same effect. “Hence,” says he, “appears the greatness of that grace by which so many are freed from condemnation, and they may form some idea of the misery, due to themselves, from the dreadfulness of the punishment that awaits the rest. Whence those who rejoice are taught to rejoice not in their own merits (quae paria esse vident damnatis, for they see that they have no more merit than the damned), but in the Lord.”+

* Epist. 105, ad Sixt. Presb.

+ De Predest. Sanctor, lib. 1, cap. 9.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Predestination is to be preached because the grace of God (which stands opposed to all human worthiness) cannot be maintained without it

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

II.-Predestination is to be preached because the grace of God (which stands opposed to all human worthiness) cannot be maintained without it. The excellent St. Augustine makes use of this very argument. “If,” says he, “these two privileges (namely, faith itself and final perseverance in faith) are the gifts of God, and if God foreknew on whom He would bestow these gifts (and who can doubt of so evident a truth?), it is necessary for predestination to be preached as the sure and invincible bulwark of that true grace of God, which is given to men without any consideration of merit.”* Thus argued St. Augustine against the Pelagians, who taught that grace is offered to all men alike; that God, for His part, equally wills the salvation of all, and that it is in the power of man’s free-will to accept or reject the grace and salvation so offered. Which string of errors do, as Augustine justly observes, centre in this grand point, gratiam secundum nostra merita dari:that God’s grace is not free, but the fruit of man’s desert.

* De Bono Persever. cap. 21.

Now the doctrine of predestination batters down this delusive Babel of free-will and merit. It teaches us that, if we do indeed will and desire to lay hold on Christ and salvation by Him, this will and desire are the effect of God’s secret purpose and effectual operation, for He it is who worketh in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure, that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord. There neither is nor can be any medium between predestinating grace and salvation by human merit. We must believe and preach one or the other, for they can never stand together. No attempts to mingle and reconcile these two incompatible opposites can ever succeed, the apostle himself being judge. “If (says he) it (namely, election) be by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace:but, if it be of works, then be it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work” (Rom 11:6). Exactly agreeable to which is that of St. Augustine:”Either predestination is to be preached as expressly as the Scriptures deliver it, namely, that with regard to those whom He hath chosen, ‘the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,’ or we must roundly declare, as the Pelagians do, that grace is given according to merit.”* Most certain it is that the doctrine of gratuitous justification through Christ can only be supported on that of our gratuitous predestination in Christ, since the latter is the cause and foundation of the former.

* De Bono Persever. cap. 16.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

God from eternity elected some and rejected the rest

April 18, 2014 2 comments

Chapter IV

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 8. -Notwithstanding God did from all eternity irreversibly choose out and fix upon some to be partakers of salvation by Christ and rejected the rest (who are therefore termed by the apostle, the refuse, or those that remained and were left out), acting in both according to the good pleasure of His own sovereign will, yet He did not herein act an unjust, tyrannical or cruel part, nor yet show Himself a respecter of persons.

(1) He is not unjust in reprobating some, neither can He be so, for “the Lord is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works” (Psa 145:7). But salvation and damnation are works of His, consequently neither of them is unrighteous or unholy. It is undoubted matter of fact that the Father draws some men to Christ and saves them in Him with an everlasting salvation, and that He neither draws nor saves some others; and if it be not unjust in God actually to forbear saving these persons after they are born, it could not be unjust in Him to determine as much before they were born. What is not unjust for God to do in time, could not, by parity of argument, be unjust in Him to resolve upon and decree from eternity. And, surely, if the apostle’s illustration be allowed to have any propriety, or to carry any authority, it can no more be unjust in God to set apart some for communion with Himself in this life and the next, and to set aside others according to His own free pleasure, than for a potter to make out of the same mass of clay some vessels for honourable and others for inferior uses. The Deity, being absolute Lord of all His creatures, is accountable to none for His doings, and cannot be chargeable with injustice for disposing of His own as He will.

(2) Nor is the decree of reprobation a tyrannical one. It is, indeed, strictly sovereign; but lawful sovereignty and lawless tyranny are as really distinct and different as any two opposites can be. He is a tyrant, in the common acceptation of that word, who (a) either usurps the sovereign authority and arrogates to himself a dominion to which he has no right, or (b) who, being originally a lawful prince, abuses his power and governs contrary to law. But who dares to lay either of these accusations to the Divine charge? God as Creator has a most unquestionable and unlimited right over the souls and bodies of men, unless it can be supposed, contrary to all Scripture and common sense, that in making of man He made a set of beings superior to Himself and exempt from His jurisdiction. Taking it for granted, therefore, that God has an absolute right of sovereignty over His creatures, if He should be pleased (as the Scriptures repeatedly assure us that He is) to manifest and display that right by graciously saving some and justly punishing others for their sins, who are we that we should reply against God?

Neither does the ever-blessed Deity fall under the second notion of a tyrant, namely, as one who abuses his power by acting contrary to law, for by what exterior law is HE bound, who is the supreme Law giver of the universe? The laws promulgated by Him are designed for the rule of our conduct, not of His.

Should it be objected that “His own attributes of goodness and justice, holiness and truth, are a law to Himself,” I answer that, admitting this to be the case, there is nothing in the decree of reprobation as represented in Scripture, and by us from thence, which clashes with any of those perfections. With regard to the Divine goodness, though the non-elect are not objects of it in the sense the elect are, yet even they are not wholly excluded from a participation of it. They enjoy the good things of providence in common with God’s children, and very often in a much higher degree. Besides, goodness, considered as it is in God, would have been just the same infinite and glorious attribute, supposing no rational beings had been created at all or saved when created. To which may be added, that the goodness of the Deity does not cease to be infinite in itself, only because it is more extended to some objects than it is to others. The infinity of this perfection, as residing in God and coinciding with His essence, is sufficiently secured, without supposing it to reach indiscriminately to all the creatures He has made. For, was this way of reasoning to be admitted, it would lead us too far and prove too much, since, if the infinity of His goodness is to be estimated by the number of objects upon which it terminates, there must be an absolute, proper infinity of reasonable beings to terminate that goodness upon; consequently it would follow from such premises either that the creation is as truly infinite as the Creator, or, if otherwise, that the Creator’s goodness could not be infinite, because it has not an infinity of objects to make happy. *

* The late most learned and judicious Mr. Charnock has, in my judgment at least, proved most clearly and satisfactorily that the exclusion of some individual persons from a participation of saving grace is perfectly consistent with God’s unlimited goodness. He observes that “the goodness of the Deity is infinite and circumscribed by no limits. The exercise of His goodness may be limited by Himself, but His goodness, the principle, cannot, for, since His essence is infinite, and His goodness is not distinguished from His essence, it is infinite also. God is necessarily good in His nature, but free in His communications of it. He is necessarily good, affective, in regard of His nature, but freely good, effective, in regard of the effluxes of it to this or that particular subject He pitcheth upon. He is not necessarily communicative of His goodness, as the sun of its light or a tree of its cooling shade, which chooses not its objects, but enlightens all indifferently without variation or distinction: this were to make God of no more understanding than the sun, which shines not where it pleases, but where it must. He is an understanding agent, and hath a sovereign right to choose His own subjects. It would not be a supreme if it were not a voluntary goodness. It is agreeable to the nature of the Highest Good to be absolutely free, and to dispense His goodness in what methods and measures He pleases, according to the free determinations of His own will, guided by the wisdom of His mind and regulated by the holiness of His nature. He will be good to whom He will be good. When He doth act, He cannot but act well; so far it is necessary yet He may act this good or that good, to this or that degree; so it is free. As it is the perfection of His nature, it is necessary; as it is the communication of His bounty, it is voluntary. The eye cannot but see if it be open, yet it may glance on this or that colour, fix upon this or that object, as it is conducted by the will. What necessity could there be on God to resolve to communicate His goodness [at all]? It could not be to make Himself better by it, for he had [before] a goodness incapable of any addition. What obligation could there be from the creature? Whatever sparks of goodness any creature hath are the free effusions of God’s bounty, the offsprings of his own inclination to do well, the simple favour of the donor. God is as unconstrained in His liberty in all His communications as [He is] infinite in His goodness the fountain of them.” Charnock’s Works, Vol.1, p. 583, etc. With whom agrees the excellent Dr. Bates, surnamed, for his eloquence, the silver-tongued, and who, if he had a silver tongue, had likewise a golden pen. “God,” says he, “is a wise and free agent, and as He is infinite in goodness, so the exercise of it is voluntary, and only so far as He pleases.” -Harm. of Divine Attrib., chap. 3.

Lastly, if it was not incompatible with God’s infinite goodness to pass by the whole body of fallen angels and leave them under the guilt of their apostasy, much less can it clash with that attribute to pass by some of fallen mankind and resolve to leave them in their sins and punish them for them. Nor is it inconsistent with Divine justice to withhold saving grace from some, seeing the grace of God is not what He owes to any. It is a free gift to those that have it, and is not due to those that are without it; consequently there can be no injustice in not giving what God is not bound to bestow. There is no end of cavilling at the Divine dispensations if men are disposed to do it. We might, with equality of reason, when our hand is in, presume to charge the Deity with partiality for not making all His creatures angels because it was in His power to do so, as charge Him with injustice for not electing all mankind. Besides, how can it possibly be subversive of His justice to condemn, and resolve to condemn, the non-elect for their sins when those very sins were not atoned for by Christ as the sins of the elect were? His justice in this case is so far from hindering the condemnation of the reprobate that it renders it necessary and indispensable. Again, is the decree of sovereign preterition and of just condemnation for sin repugnant to the Divine holiness? Not in the least, so far from it, that it does not appear how the Deity could be holy if He did not hate sin and punish it. Neither is it contrary to His truth and veracity. Quite the reverse. For would not the Divine veracity fall to the ground if the finally wicked were not condemned?

(3) God, in the reprobation of some, does not act a cruel part. Whoever accused a chief magistrate of cruelty for not sparing a company of atrocious malefactors, and for letting the sentence of the law take place upon them by their execution? If, indeed, the magistrate pleases to pity some of them and remit their penalty, we applaud his clemency, but the punishment of the rest is no impeachment of his mercy. Now, with regard to God, His mercy is free and voluntary. He may extend it to and withhold it from whom He pleases (Rom 9:15,18), and it is sad indeed if we will not allow the Sovereign, the all-wise Governor of heaven and earth, the same privilege and liberty we allow to a supreme magistrate below.

(4) Nor is God, in choosing some and rejecting others, a respecter of persons. He only comes under that title who, on account of parentage, country, dignity, wealth, or for any other external consideration *, shows more favour to one person than to another. But that is not the case with God. He considers all men as sinners by nature, and has compassion not on persons of this or that sect, country, sex, age or station in life, because they are so circumstanced, but on whom, and because, He will have compassion. Pertinent to the present purpose is that passage of St. Augustine:+ “Forasmuch as some people imagine that they must look on God as a respecter of persons if they believe that without any respect had to the previous merits of men, He hath mercy on whom He will, and calls whom it is His pleasure to call, and makes good whom He pleases. The scrupulousness of such people arises from their not duly attending to this one thing, namely, that damnation is rendered to the wicked as a matter of debt, justice and desert, whereas the grace given to those who are delivered is free and unmerited, so that the condemned sinner cannot allege that he is unworthy of his punishment, nor the saint vaunt or boast as if he was worthy of his reward. Thus, in the whole course of this procedure, there is no respect of persons. They who are condemned and they who are set at liberty constituted originally one and the same lump, equally infected with sin and liable to vengeance. Hence the justified may learn from the condemnation of the rest that that would have been their own punishment had not God’s free grace stepped in to their rescue.”

* prosopolapsia, Personae acceptio, quum magis huic favemus, quam illi, ob circumstantiam aliquam, ceu qualitatem, externam, ei adhaerentem; puta genus, dignitatem, opes, patriam, etc. Scapula, in voc. So that elegant, accurate and learned Dutch divine, Laurentius:Haec vero est, quando persona personae praefertur ex causa indebita:puta, si judez absolvat reum, vel quia dives est, vel quia potens, vel quia magistratus est, vel quia amicus et propinquus est, etc. “That is respect of persons, when one man is preferred to another on some sinister and undue account, as when a judge acquits a criminal merely because he is rich, or powerful, or is his friend or relation, etc.” – Comment. in Epist. Jacob, p .92. Now, in the matter of election and preterition, God is influenced by no such motives, nor indeed by any exterior inducement or any motive, extra se, out of Himself. He does not, for instance, condemn any pennons on account of their poverty. But, on the reverse, hath chosen many who are poor in this world (James 2:5). Nor does He condemn any for being rich, for some, even of the mighty and noble, are called by His grace (1Co 1:26). He does not respect any man’s parentage or country, for the elect will be “gathered together from the four winds, from under one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:31), and He hath redeemed to Himself a select number “out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev 5:9; 7:9). So far is God from being in any sense a respecter of persons, that in Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female (Gal 3:28). He does not receive one nor reject another merely for coming or not coming under any of these characters. His own sovereign will, and not their external or internal circumstances, was the sole rule by which He proceeded in appointing some to salvation and decreeing to leave others in their sins. So that God is not herein a respecter of their persons, but a respecter of Himself and His own glory. And as God is no respecter of persons because He chooses some as objects of His favour and omits others, all being on a perfect equality, so neither does it follow that He is such from His actually conferring spiritual and eternal blessings on the former and denying them to the latter, seeing these blessings are absolutely His own, and which He may, therefore, without injustice, give or not give at His pleasure. Dr. Whitby himself, though so strenuous an adversary to everything that looks like predestination, yet very justly observes (and such a concession from such a pen merits the reader’s attention):”Locum non habet [scil. prosopolapsia] in bonis mere liberis et gratuitis:neque iis. in quibus, unum alteri praeferre, nostri arbitrii out privilegii est.” -Ethic. Compend., 1.2, c. 5, sect. 9, 1:e., “The bestowing [and consequently the withholding] of such benefits, as are merely gratuitous and undeserved, does not argue respect of persons; neither is it respect of persons to prefer one before another when we have a right and it is our pleasure so to do.” I shall only add the testimony of Thomas Aquinas, a man of some genius and much application, who, though in very many things a laborious trifler, was yet, on some subjects, a clear reasoner and judicious writer. His words are:” Duplex est datio; una quidem pertinens ad justitiam; qua scilicet, aliquis dat alicui quod ei debetur; et circa tales dationes attenditur personarum acceptio. Alia est datio ad liberalitatem pertinens; qua, scilicet, gratis datur alicui quod ei non debetur. Et talis est Collatio munerum gratiae, per quae peccatores assumuntur a Deo. Et, in hac donatione, non habet locum personarum acceptio; quia quilibet, absque injustitia, potest do suo dare quantum vult, at cui vult:secundum illud (Mat 20:). Annon licet mihi quod volo facere? tolle quod tuum est et vade,” 1:e., “There is a twofold rendering or giving, the one a matter of justice, whereby that is paid to a man which was due to him. Here it is possible for us to act partially and with respect of persons.” [Thus, for example’s sake, if I owe money to two men, one of whom is rich, the other poor, and I pay the rich man because he has it in his power to sue me, but defraud the other because of his inability to do himself justice, I should be a respecter of persons. But as Aquinas goes on]:”There is a second kind of rendering or giving, which is a branch of mere bounty and liberality, by which that is freely bestowed on any man which was not due to him: such are the gifts of grace whereby sinners are received of God. In the bestowment of grace respect of persons is absolutely out of the question, because everyone may, and can, without the least shadow of injustice, give as much of his own as he will and to whom he will, according to that passage in Mat 20:, ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I will [with my own]? take up that which is thine and go thy way.'” -Aquin. Summ. Theol. 2-2dae Qu. 63, A. 1. On the whole it is evident that respect of persons can only have place in matters of justice, and is but another name for perversion of justice, consequently it has nothing to do with matters of mere goodness and bounty, as all the blessings of grace and salvation are.

+ Tom. 2, Epist. 105, ad Sixtum Presb.

Before I conclude this head, I will obviate a fallacious objection very common in the mouths of our opponents. “How,” they say, “is the doctrine of reprobation reconcilable with the doctrine of a future judgment?” To which I answer that there need be no pains to reconcile these two, since they are so far from interfering with each other that one follows from the other, and the former renders the latter absolutely necessary. Before the judgment of the great day, Christ does not so much act as the Judge of His creatures as their absolute Lord and Sovereign. From the first creation to the final consummation of all things He does, in consequence of His own eternal and immutable purpose (as a Divine Person), graciously work in and on His own elect, and permissively harden the reprobate. But when all the transactions of providence and grace are wound up in the last day, He will then properly sit as Judge, and openly publish and solemnly ratify, if I may so say, His everlasting decrees by receiving the elect, body and soul, into glory, and by passing sentence on the non-elect (not for their having done what they could not help, but) for their wilful ignorance of Divine things and their absolute unbelief, for their omissions of moral duty and for their repeated iniquities and transgressions.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady