How Free is the Free-Will of Man in the Fallen State?

Taken and adapted from, “AN ANTIDOTE AGAINST ARMINIANISM or A TREATISE TO ENERVATE AND CONFUTE ALL FIVE POINTS OF IT” with extracts from Dr. John Gill, Dr. Isaac Watts, Augustus Toplady, John Newton, J. Hart, etc.  Recommended by Dr. John Owen, and published for the public good.
Written and edited by Christopher Ness
Fourth Edition published in London, in the Year 1700


1    The Fall implies the loss of that original righteousness and perfection in which man was created.

If the other faculties of the soul became depraved, and were stripped of their primitive luster by the Fall, then the will must also share in that depravation. Now the depravity of the will is proved by considering the good it has lost, and the evil it has gained, through Adam’s sin. The good it has lost is six-fold: it has lost power, order, stability, prudence, obedience, and liberty. The evil it has gained is a three-fold rebellion:

(a.) Against the counsel of the mind,
(b.) Against the controls of conscience, and
(c.) Against the commands of God.

This king of the Isle of Man (the will), when he first came out of God’s mint, was a curious silver-piece, and it shone most gloriously; but now, having fallen among thieves, it is robbed of everything; it has ashes for beauty and is a tyrant upon a dunghill; indeed, it is free from righteousness, but a slave to sin (Romans 6:17-20). Before the Fall, the will had liberty both to good or evil, to do or not to do; but since the Fall, the will is evil, only evil, and continually evil (Genesis 6:5). The whole heart is now extensively evil, intensively only evil, and continually adding evil.

2    If conversion is a new creation, then fallen man does not have a free-will towards good.

A convert is called a “new creature,” or a “new creation” in Galatians 6:15, and 2 Corinthians 5:17. Creation is producing something out of nothing; but if there is a free-will to do good in man before conversion, then there is something of its own nature that is spiritually good towards the work of conversion in unconverted man; so it cannot be called a new creature after conversion. I am sure that every experienced soul finds the contrary to be true in that work of conversion; the whole frame is out of frame in the unconverted state, and man is a confused chaos, a vast emptiness when this creating power comes upon him. In fact, a greater power is required to re-create this little world than was required to create the greater world at first; for in this work, there is no pre-existing good matter to work with, and yet there is resisting evil matter present. The creation of the greater world was the work of God’s Word (Psalms 33:6); of His fingers (Psalms 8:3); or of His hands (Psalms 102:25). But to restore (the little world) man, requires God’s arm (Luke 1:51); no, Christ set His sides to it (Luke 22:44); it cost Him tears and agony and blood. New qualities and operations are created in us; the will to will what is good, and the power to do what is good, are ascribed to this creative almighty power in the effectual conversion of souls to God. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

3    If conversion is a new-birth, or re-generation, then fallen man has no free-will to do what is good.

Generation is the movement toward being, and proceeding into being; it presupposes that there is no being beforehand; for we are not, we are nothing, before we are begotten; as it holds true in generation, so it is in regeneration: “Of His own will He birthed us” (James 1:18).37 It is not said that God birthed us of our wills (yet this would be said if there were a free-will in us to do good) but of God’s own will; and till then we do not exist ( 1 Corinthians 1:28).38

Unconverted men are nothing creatures.

(a.) A natural nothing; for what is the great womb from which all things come into being, but nothing?
(b.) A moral nothing; we are morally worse than nothing, and that is miserable; “Man is vanity,” or as in Hebrew, Adam is Abel, that is, vanity (Psalms 39:5); “and a lie” (Psalms 62:9). “The heart of the wicked has little worth” (Proverbs 10:20); neither for use nor for service; as a shadow is not useful for war, nor a statue for prayer, so fallen man is unfit to serve God, for his best actions are sinful. All this shows that we are nothing, and we do not have a free-will to do good, till we are begotten of God.

4    If conversion is a new birth, then fallen man has no free-will to do good.

We cannot have give birth to ourselves; a babe cannot be born of itself; nothing can have its original from itself, for it would then be before and after itself; it would be and it would not be, at the same time. Thus we are taught to look above ourselves for our new birth. “Unless a man is born again,” or from above (John 3:3). We are born not of the flesh, “but of the Spirit” (John 3:6). Our first birth is of the earth; it is earthy; our second birth is from the Lord; it is Heavenly; we are “born of God” (1 John 3:9).

5    If conversion makes someone alive who was dead in sin, then fallen man has no free-will to do good.

This is proved from Ephesians 2:1: “He has made alive You who were dead” etc. He does not say half-dead, like the man who fell among thieves (Luke 10:30); but he is wholly dead as to spiritual life. There is no manner of good in us (Romans 7:18). And “we are not sufficient of ourselves to think” a good thought till Christ quickens us (2Corinthians 3:5). “Without Him we can do nothing” (John 15:5). From Him our fruit is found (Hosea 14:8); both the bud of good desires, the blossom of good purposes, and the fruit of good actions. Aaron’s rod (a dry stick without a root) is a fit emblem; it budded, blossomed, and brought forth almonds; this was not done by any inward principle or power of nature; it was solely and wholly the work of God. So Ezekiel’s dry bones were made to live; nothing of that life came from themselves, but all from God. Thus it is in this spiritual life; we can contribute nothing by which to dispose ourselves to will what is truly good; we cannot so much as call Christ Lord, except by the Spirit ( 1Corinthians 12:3). If there is no life except through union with Christ, then until we are grafted into that blessed and bleeding vine, we cannot produce fruit to God. No natural power or principle in us can graft us into Christ, for faith is the grafting grace, and that faith is “the gift of God” (Ephesians. 2:8), the grace by which the just shall live (Habakkuk 2:4), and by which Christ dwells in our hearts (Ephesians. 3:17). Till then we are dead, and have no free-will to do good.

6    If regeneration, or recovery from the state of degeneration, is a resurrection, then fallen man has no free-will to do good.

It is obvious that regeneration is a resurrection from the following scriptures: “Verily, verily, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now has come, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and those who hear shall live” (John 5:25). “When we were dead in sins, (He) made us alive us together with Christ” and “has raised us up” etc. (Ephesians. 2:5-6). It requires as much power to raise, quicken, and make alive a sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins as it does to raise Christ from the dead (Ephesians. 1:19-20). To raise up Christ, and to work faith in us, requires “the exceeding greatness of His power” (Ephesians. 1:19). Here are three gradations: power, greatness of power, and as if that were too little, the apostle adds, “according to the working of His mighty power.” The original words imply not only a working, but an effectual force at work; such strength as may be found in the arms of valiant men who can do great exploits. No, it is more; it is beyond all this, it implies a power that can do all things, an omnipotent power. Surely, had there been an internal principle in us toward this great work, or any free-will in us to do good, then Paul would not have used those gradations, nor such emphatic, and significant expressions. This work of regeneration would not then have required the effectual, forcible power of the valiant arm of God; it is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and by which He was declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4).

7    If moral persuasion is altogether insufficient of itself to recover man from his fallen state, then fallen man has no free-will to do good.

If moral persuasion could recover man, then faith would be an easy work, and it would not require such mighty power as has just been proved. Christ did more to raise Lazarus than morally persuade him to come out of the grave; when Christ said, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43) a mighty power went along with the command, which gave effect to it. It is not enough to persuade a prisoner to come forth; his chains must be struck off, and the prison doors must be opened (Acts 12:6, 7, 10); and man is more than a mere prisoner; he is dead in sin, and so he must have a grace that makes him alive; which moral persuasion can never accomplish.

8    If Christ is All in all (Colossians 3:11) in matters of salvation, then man is nothing at all as to that work, and he does not have in himself a free-will to do good.

(a.) Christ’s work is to open the ear, because it is stopped up like the deaf adder’s ear is to the voice of the charmer (Psalms 58:4-5). Christ gives us the understanding ear; “He opens also their ear to discipline, and commands that they return from iniquity” (Job 36:10). See Psalms 40:6, and Isaiah 50:4; these passages, although spoken of Christ, are also good concerning His people.
(b.) Christ opens not only the ear, but also the heart (Acts 16:14). The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, she did not open her own heart; which she might have done if she had a free-will to do good. The key of the heart hangs at Christ’s belt. “He who opens and no man shuts; and shuts and no man opens” (Revelation 3:7). Moral persuasion will never prove effectual to open the heart of man.
(c.) Besides Christ there is no Savior (Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4); but free-will Arminianism makes man a co-savior with Christ, as if the task was split between the grace of Christ and the will of man, and the latter divides the spoil with the former; indeed, as if the will of man deserved the greater share: for if Christ is only a monitor, and persuades us to do good, then man’s own will is the principal author of its own goodness; and he is the one who makes himself to differ from others, and who has something that he did not receive at conversion, something of which to boast before God. “Who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Persuasion leaves the admonished will to its own indifference, not changing it at all; so man becomes his own savior, or at least Christ is not the only Savior; how then is Christ All in all?

9    If fallen man must be drawn to goodness, then has he no free-will to do good.

It is proved from John 6:44 that moral persuasion will not bring a soul to Christ; that man cannot come of himself, but must be drawn: “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draws him.” Drawing is what brings anything out of its course and channel by an external influence, and not from an innate power or internal principle. In Song of Solomon 1:4,40 the word is not “lead” but “draw;” in drawing there is less will and more power than in leading; and though God draws us strongly, yet He does it sweetly. As we are drawn, we do not have a free-will to do good, or else man only fell in his understanding, not in his will; yet are we volunteers (Psalms 110:3), a willing people; it is not that Christ finds us so, but he makes us so “in the day of His power,” and when He speaks to us with a strong hand (Isaiah 8:11). We are naturally haters of God, and at enmity with Him (Romans 1:30; 8:7). But the Spirit gives a new power to the soul, and then he acts and influences that power to do good; and so he draws a God-hater to love Him. This is more than a bare persuasion to a stone to be warm, for God takes away the “heart of stone,” and gives a “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). God the Spirit gives us the inclination to come, and he gives us the very power to come to Christ; and Christ finds nothing good in us (Romans 7:18).

10    If the soul of man is passive in effectual calling, then there is no free-will to do good in fallen man.

The spirit of grace is compared to a precious liquor that is infused in us; and the called and chosen of God are called vessels of mercy. “I will pour upon the house of David … the spirit of grace” etc. (Zechariah 12:10); “the vessels of mercy prepared for glory” (Romans 9:23). Now a vessel is a passive receiver of liquor that is poured into it. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 5:5); that is, it is poured out and infused into God’s vessels of mercy. The atmosphere is passive when it receives light, and Adam’s body was passive when God inspired it with life. Although it was formed and organized, yet it was lifeless and breathless (Genesis 2:7). So the will of man (in respect to this first reception of grace) has neither concurrence nor cooperation active; the Lord is alone in that work. Apart from the influences of Divine grace, it is hell for anyone to be brought from hell; though it is also hell for us to stay there after God has opened our eyes and changed our hearts. Our corrupt nature neither can nor will contribute anything to destroy its own corruptions. In the first work of being made alive, the will does not move itself, but is moved by God. The will, as a creature, must obey its Creator; yet as a sinful depraved will, it does not willingly obey until it is “made willing” (Psalms 110:3). Man, and the will of man, while in an unregenerate state, may be compared to the tied-up colt in Mark 11:2 (tied and bound with sin’s chain). But when “the Lord has need of him,” and the “day of His power” has come, the sinner must then be loosed and let go.

11    Denying that grace, irresistible grace, special grace, is active in our conversion, is abominable; and the doctrine of free-will is a denial of this.

The advocates for free-will say, “If a man improves his naturals, God is bound to give him spirituals.” What is this but turning grace into debt? Saying that the reason one believes and another does not arises from the co-operation of the free-will of the one who believes, is to deny that special irresistible grace is specific to the elect. All of this is contrary to these scriptures: John 6:37, 45; Romans 8:14;  1 Corinthians 1:23-24; 1 John 4:13,41 and very many others. God’s dispensations towards His people are all of free grace. He enlivens whom He will (John 5:21). The heart of one sinner is caused to melt like wax before the fire and receive God’s seal, while the heart of another remains as immovable as marble, like a the rock that cannot be shaken; this is the work of God’s gracious dispensation. “He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and he hardens whom He will harden” (Romans 9:18). The Spirit blows where it intends (John 3:8). God may bestow grace even with the first breath of life, and regenerate a babe as soon as it is born; this is what he did with John the Baptist who was filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Others He may cast into the womb of the new birth at the very moment of leaving the world, at the eleventh, indeed, at the twelfth hour, just as he did with the thief on the cross. Oh, who can order the ways of grace, and set bounds to the spirit of God in its breathings on man!

12    Free-will brings with it so many absurdities that it cannot be accepted.

(a.) It makes man the cause of his own salvation.
(b.) It puts grace under man’s own power, not man’s will under the power of grace.
(c.) It robs God of the honor of making one man differ from another, and it ascribes it to man.
(d.) It allows man the liberty of boasting to God, saying, “God, I thank You that You gave me the power to will (yet You gave it to Judas as well as to me), but I thank myself for the Acts of my own willingness, since I receive from You no more than Judas did.”
(e.) It exempts the creature from the power of God, as if man, spider-like, could spin a thread out of his own bowels upon which to climb to Heaven.
(f.) It makes man the cause for why God wills this or that; so God must attend to the will of man, and not be infallible in His own decrees, or work all things according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians. 1:11 Psalms 115:3).
(g.) Then the apostle James lied in saying that “every good gift” is from God (James 1:17); and Paul was also mistaken in Romans 9:11. He should have said, “It is of man who wills and runs,” and not, “Of God who shows mercy.”

The Lie of Unlimited Atonement

Taken and adapted from, “AN ANTIDOTE AGAINST ARMINIANISM or A TREATISE TO ENERVATE AND CONFUTE ALL FIVE POINTS OF IT” with extracts from Dr. John Gill, Dr. Isaac Watts, Augustus Toplady, John Newton, J. Hart, etc.  Recommended by Dr. John Owen, and published for the public good.
Written and edited by Christopher Ness
Fourth Edition published in London, in the Year 1700


The Extent of the Atonement

God imposed his wrath, and Christ underwent the pains of hell either for,

1    All of the sins of all men,
2    All of the sins of some men, or
3    Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

A    That if the last is true, then all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved.
B    That if the second is true, then Christ suffered in their stead for all of the sins of all of the elect in the whole world – and this is the truth.
C    But if the first is the case, then why are not all men free from the punishment due for their sins?                                       –John Owen

You will say, “Because of unbelief; they will not believe.”

But this unbelief, is it a sin or is it not? If it is not a sin, then why should they be punished for it? If it is a sin, then Christ underwent the punishment for that sin or he did not. If he did, then why must that sin hinder them from partaking of the fruit of his death more than their other sins for which he died? If he did not die for it, then he did not die for all their sins. (John Owen).

Universal redemption, or asserting that Christ died for all men, cannot be a Gospel truth because of the following arguments and reasons.

1    God the Father’s election, God the Son’s redemption, and God the Holy Ghost’s sanctification, must all have equal extent and latitude; but universal redemption, in the Arminian sense of it, makes these operations unequal.

This is clear; for as the Father, Word, and Spirit are One in essence, so are they One in willing, working, and witnessing the redemption of sinners. Just as there are Three who bear witness on earth (the Spirit, the water, and the blood), so there are Three who bear record in Heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; “and these Three agree in one” (1 John 5:6-8). Those whom the Father elects, the Son redeems, and the Holy Ghost sanctifies. If then there is a universal redemption there must be a universal election, and a universal sanctification as well. And so, by consequence, there must be a universal salvation.

It is evident from two scriptures that the Son redeems no more than the Father elects. The first is John 5:23, which declares that the Son must be honored as equal with the Father; but, to say that the Son redeemed all, and the Father elected only a few, is to give greater honor to the One than to the Other, and to create an inequality in Their operations. The second scripture is John 17:9-10: “All yours are Mine and all Mine are yours,” etc. They were the Father’s by electing love, and they became the Son’s by gift and redemption: “Yours they were, and You gave them Me” (John 17:6). Christ redeems only those whom the Father gave to Him. Hence God’s “book of life” in which the number of the elect is recorded, is also called the “Lamb’s book of life,” intimating that the number of those elected by the Father is commensurate with those redeemed by the Son.

It is evident from 1 John 5:6-7 that Christ redeems no greater number than the Spirit sanctifies; there must be water to sanctify where there is blood to redeem. Christ’s oblation is no larger in extent than the Spirit’s operation. Thus it is most apparent that all three Persons in the Trinity have one object and one design of love. They are equal in essence, equal in honor, and equal in operation.

2    The benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection are of equal extent as to their objects; but the benefit of Christ’s resurrection is not extended to all.

It is acknowledged even by the Arminians that the benefit of Christ’s resurrection is not extended to all and everyone alike, but is specifically extended to believers. It is evident from Romans 8:33-34 (they are both put together) that the death and resurrection of Christ are equally extended to their objects. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect,” those for whom Christ died? Who can condemn those for whom Christ was raised? Those for whom Christ died and rose again cannot be condemned. “[Christ] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Those that have the fruit of Christ’s battle have the fruit of His victory also; but this cannot be said of all men, for the wrath of God abides on some (John 3:36).

3    The benefit of Christ’s death and intercession are of equal extent as to their objects; but Christ does not intercede for all.

This is expressly declared in Scripture: “I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me; for they are yours” (John 17:9). “They are not of the world” (John 17:14). Christ’s intercession is “not for the world” at large, but only for those whom His Father has given Him. And reason confirms this, for if Christ interceded for Judas, Pilate, etc., then He would have been repulsed, and was not always heard of the Father; contrary to John 11:42. Again, Christ is a High Priest. The two parts of His priestly office, oblation and presentation, cannot be separated: and what has a part in the former has part in the latter also. For the presentation necessarily implies the oblation, and it gives a perpetual force to it in the sight of God (Hebrews 9:12). Christ must intercede on behalf of those whom He has reconciled to God by His death; and His intercession is a personal presentation of Himself to His Father on behalf of those whom He personated [represented] on the Cross. We cannot say that there are some for whom Christ offered Himself upon earth but for whom he does not intercede in Heaven; this would make Christ only a half-priest to some, and therefore not a faithful High Priest, contrary to a number of scriptures, Isaiah 53:11-12; 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 9:11-12, and Hebrews 10:19-21.

4    Those for whom Christ died have Christ for their surety; but all do not have Christ for a surety.

All are sinners: and every sinner must die, either by himself or by his Surety, for “the wages of sin is death.” And the suretyship of Christ consists of this, that He died for us (Romans 6:23). He was “made a curse for us,” that is, in our stead (Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Judah was surety for Benjamin’s safety (Genesis 44:32), and Christ is the surety of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:22); He took upon Himself our sins in His death (Isaiah 53:4-8; 1 Peter 2:24). If Christ was a surety for all, then He offered up a satisfaction for all in becoming sin, and bearing the curse and wrath of God in their stead. But this is not done for all; for Christ does not know workers of iniquity; of them He says, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23); yet He knows His sheep, and He laid down His life for them (John 10:11-15).

5    If the covenant of grace does not extend to all, then Christ did not die for all.

Christ’s blood is called “the blood of the covenant” (Hebrews 9:20), and “the blood of the New Testament” (Matthew 26:28). It is evident that the covenant of grace is not extended to all, for it is made with the house of Israel only. “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days; says the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33). The covenant is only with those in whose hearts the conditions are effectually worked, i.e., putting God’s fear in them, and writing His law in their minds, which only the election obtains. None dare say that God entered into a covenant of grace with the “seed” of the serpent, but only with those whose “heel” the serpent hurts (Genesis 3:15).

6    If Christ died for His sheep, His friends, and His church only, then He did not die for all.

This is plain from several scriptures. “The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep … (I) know My sheep, and am known by My sheep … and I lay down My life for My sheep” (John 10:11-15). “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends” (John 5:13, 14). “Feed the church, which He has purchased with His own blood” (Act 20:28). “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ died for such as were Paul and Titus, not for such as were Pharaoh and Judas, who were “goats” and not “sheep” (Matthew 25:33). He died to save “His people from their sins,” and therefore His name was called Jesus (Matthew 1:21); who are called the “redeemed of the Lord” (Psalms 107:2). Now since those for whom Christ died are those who “hear His voice and follow Him,” to whom He “gives eternal life” (John 10:27-28), those He sanctifies and cleanses, and presents to Himself “without spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27), and those He has “redeemed from all iniquity, to purify to Himself a special people” (Titus 2:14). Such are His people, His chosen, His children. It cannot be intended for all unless we say that Pharaoh, Judas, etc., were of the sheep, friends, and church of Christ. It is true, He died for enemies (Romans 5:10), but it was to reconcile them to God; such were the believing Romans, who being Gentiles, Christ called “other sheep,” not of the Jewish fold.

7    It must be applied to those for whom Christ’s death was intended; but it is not applied to all, therefore it was not intended for all.

The end and the design cannot be severed from the action needed to accomplish that end. Christ’s aim is to bestow what he obtains; He obtains nothing that is not applied. He Himself speaks of some from whom the gospel was hidden, and of others to whom it was revealed or made known. “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes” (Matthew 11:25). The sum total of the intercession of Christ is that what He has obtained may be applied to those for whom he intercedes, (see John 17 throughout).

8    If Christ died for all, then must all be reconciled to God; but all are not reconciled.

Sin hinders reconciliation; and Christ’s death is a propitiation for sin (Romans 3:25). So all for whom Christ died must be reconciled to God; the death of Christ is the cause, and reconciliation is the effect following the cause. If all are reconciled, then all must be saved, and nothing can be laid to the charge of anyone. Take away the sin, and you acquit the sinner. But to grant such an acquaintance and reconciliation to all brings in many absurdities; for upon this hypothesis it follows, 1st that Cain, Pharaoh etc., were reconciled to God by Christ’s death when they were (at the time of Christ’s dying) in the torments of hell, and never to be delivered from there. 2nd, that God damns reconciled persons. 3rd, that God takes double-pay for one fault, in punishing both the Surety and the debtor. 4th, that Christ’s reconciling of some is ineffectual, etc. But these things are not so; for repentance is granted to those for whom Christ died, and remission of sins (Act 5:31); to them is given freedom from the slavery of sin, and regeneration to newness of life (Romans 6:6; Hebrews 2:14-15); on them is bestowed purifying grace, “purifying their hearts by faith” (Act 15:9); they have the blood of Christ to purge their conscience from dead works, so that they may serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14), and theirs is life eternal: “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28). All these fruits are evidences of our reconciliation by Christ’s death.

9    What Scripture does not affirm anywhere cannot be a truth; and it nowhere asserts that Christ died for all men, much less for every man individually; therefore it is not a truth.

It is true Christ is said to “give His life a ransom for all:” but not for all men, or for every man individually; the Scripture is the best expounder of itself, and the “all” is rendered “many in Matthew 20:28, and Mark 10:45: “The Son of man came to give His life a ransom for many.” “My blood is shed for many, for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). And it is so frequently restrained to His sheep, friends, church, believers, chosen, and those who are given to Christ, that it must mean some of all sorts; which, in equivalent terms, is clearly expressed in Revelation 5:9-10: “You have redeemed us out of every kindred and tongue, and people and nation.” Therefore the word “all” must be taken for all the elect, all His church, all His children that the Father has given Him, etc., not all men universally, and not every man individually.

10    Whatever opposes the attributes of God ought to be rejected; and universal redemption does so.

First, it opposes His justice. If Christ redeemed Pharaoh and Judas, then redeemed souls are unjustly damned; this hypothesis sets the death of Christ in direct opposition to God’s justice. And how could Christ die for Judas’ sin when Christ’s death was his very sin?

Second, it opposes His wisdom. As if God should love and hate the same person at the same time; Esau must be loved if Christ is given to die for him, yet hated, as being ordained to death from all eternity.

Third, it opposes His power. If Christ died intentionally for all, then God’s intentions are frustrated since all are not saved. God is not omnipotent if His designs are crossed by the work of His own hands. And to say that freedom was obtained by Christ’s death for those who are not set free is ridiculous; it makes a laughing-stock of religion.

Objections Against Particular Redemption Answered

Objection 1. What everyone is required to believe [about Christ] must be true, and it is the duty of all men to believe it; therefore Christ must have died for all men [or they would not be required to believe it].

Answer 1. Suppose we grant this position; would not the doctrine of discriminating love be destroyed by it? Would it not be poor comfort for a distressed soul to believe that Christ died for him no more than he died for Judas and all those who are damned in hell?

Answer 2. Those to whom the Gospel never came and who have never heard of the death of Christ are not bound to believe that Christ died for them. What God reveals is true; but God nowhere reveals that it is His intention that Judas should believe, or that all shall believe.

Answer 3. All do not have the Gospel preached to them; and many to whom it is preached only hear the sound of it with the outward ear: they come and go attending to it in the same way as a door swings on its hinges, in a way of mere formality. They are not impressed with a sight and sense of their state as sinners. They are not weary and heavy laden because of sin. The proclamation by the gospel trumpet of redemption for sin through Christ’s blood is not a joyful sound to them; they do not know their need of it. Evangelical repentance is the gift of free grace; faith is the gift of God. What is God’s, as a gift to bestow, cannot be man’s duty to perform, as a condition of salvation. Those who are invited to look to Christ, and to come to Him for salvation, are very minutely described: they are the weary and heavy laden with sin, the penitent, the hungry and thirsty soul, etc.; these are the characters invited to come to and believe in Christ, and not all men (Mathew 11:28; Isaiah 55:1; Mark 2:17).

Objection 2. The words “all” and “every,” often used in Scripture, must be taken universally.

Answer 1. “All” and “every” must not be taken for a universal affirmative collectively, nor for every man individually, in the commonly quoted scriptures; rather it is to be taken distributively, as in Mathew 9:35, where we are told that Christ went about healing every sickness and every disease among the people: that is, any and every kind of disease; for Christ did not heal every disease individually. This is also true in Colossians 1:28, where the word “every” is to be taken distributively, three times over, and must be restricted to those to whom Paul preached.

Answer 2. “All” in 1 Timothy 2:4, 26 cannot be taken for every man individually, since it is not the will of God that all men in this large sense should be saved: for it is His will that some men should be damned, and justly so, for their sins and transgressions. To some men it will be said, “Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire.” If God wills all men to be saved, then all men will be saved, for “He (God) does according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Daniel 4:35). God does not fail; He cannot be disappointed in His own will; for He works all things after the counsel of that will. Again, in Hebrews 2:9, Jesus is said to “taste death for every [man];” in the very next verse it is restricted to “sons brought to glory,” and in Hebrews 2:11, it is restricted to “sanctified” ones. 1 Timothy 2:6 (“who gave Himself a ransom for all”) is rendered in the parallel text in Titus 2:14, “who gave Himself for us.” Now, who are the persons called “us” in this text? Are they not particularized as “redeemed from all iniquity, purified, and made a special people?” Christ gave Himself as a ransom for “all” those described, and for no one else.

The prophet David says, “All men are liars;” if we take the word “all” strictly, then the one who said it must also be a liar.

Objection 3. In John 3:16, and in 1 John 2:2, it is declared that God gave Christ for the “world,” and for the sins of the “whole world;” which must be taken literally.

Answer 1. The word “world” has various meanings. A decree went out that “all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1); that is, it went out to all the Roman Empire and those countries in subjection to it. The faith of the Church of Rome was “spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8); that is, it was spoken of throughout all the churches, and among all the saints in the world. When the Pharisees said to Christ, “Behold, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19), by reference we find that they meant “many people” went out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus, crying, “Hosanna” (John 12:12-13). The Pharisees themselves, who so said, had not gone after Christ; therefore the whole world had not gone after him. So John 3:16: “God so loved the world” cannot be understood to mean the whole world in a strict sense, for birds, beasts, fishes, and all inanimate things are comprehended in that world, and these cannot have everlasting life. Nor can it be the whole world of men, except in the sense that God is the Preserver of both man and beast (Psalms 31:6). There is God’s love to creatures, His love to men, and His love to good men. God’s love was the cause of His sending Christ, and the word “whosoever” (in the verse) restrains this love of God to some and not to others. It must therefore be properly God’s love to good men, the third love; it does not refer to those He found to be good, but to those He made so.

Answer 2. There is a world of believers (Revelation 5:9); just as manna was only for Israel, so Christ, the true manna, the Bread from Heaven, gives life only to the world of believers (John 6:33). Christ was believed in only in the world of believers (1 Timothy 3:16); the reconciled world (2 Corinthians 5:19): and “all men do not have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2). There is also the world of unbelievers. “All the world wondered after the beast. And “they worshipped the dragon” (Revelation 13:3-4). “The whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). The believing world is a world in the world (“these are in the world,” John 17:11); and they are taken and chosen out of the world. They are in the world, and they sojourn among its inhabitants as strangers and pilgrims, because this is not their rest, their home; their desires are set towards a better country (Hebrews 11:13-16). It is clear from John 15:19 that they are taken and chosen out of the world and given to Christ: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you.” Also from John 17:6-9: “I have manifested your Name to the men You gave Me out of the world … I pray for them; I pray do not for the world.”

“Zion’s garden wall’d around,
Chosen and made special ground;
A little spot, enclosed by grace,
Out of the world’s wide wilderness.”

Answer 3. It is granted that God has a respect for all mankind. “We trust,” says Paul, “in the living God, who is the Savior,” i.e., the Preserver, “of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9). “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mathew 5:45). This only implies temporal providence and preservation, not eternal preservation; for otherwise the wages of sin would have been paid at the birth of it all, and the world (through confusion by sin) would have fallen about Adam’s ears, if Christ had not been the glorious undertaker.

All that are redeemed are redeemed by Christ; but only the elect are given to Him; they alone have an interest in Him, and are redeemed by Him, and they shall be glorified with Him.

Answer 4. The word “world” is sometimes in Scripture to indicate Gentiles in opposition to Jews, and it is used this way in 1 John 2:2. John wrote to the Jews, and ministered to those of the circumcision (see Galatians 2:9). He says to them, “Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” that is, not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. The Jewish nation considered themselves to be the special people of God; and so they were, for to them “pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.” And Christ was a Jew, “who came according to the flesh” (Romans 9:4-5). The Jews were always taught to appropriate the Messiah exclusively to themselves, to the utter rejection of the Gentiles whom they called “strangers,” “uncircumcised,” “common,” “unclean,” “dogs,” etc. It was unlawful for a Jew to keep company or have any dealings with a Gentile (see Mathew 10:5; Mark 7:17; Act 10:28, and Act 11:3). The salvation of the Gentiles in various parts of Scripture is called a “mystery,” “hidden mystery;” the “mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men … that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs” (Ephesians 3:4-6; Colossians 1:27). But when this mystery was revealed and made fully known by the divine mission given to Paul, who was sent by Christ to preach to the Gentiles (Act 26:17-18), and when it was declared in Peter’s vision of the unclean beasts and by the Lord’s consequent commission to Peter (Act 10:9-15, 20), then the contentions of the circumcision ceased (Act 11:2-3). They found “the middle wall of partition” between Jew and Gentile was “broken down;” the latter, who before were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise,” were now being “brought near by the blood of Christ.” They glorified God saying, “Then God has also granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles.” Jesus Christ is not only the propitiation for the sins of us Jews, but for the Gentiles also (Ephesians 2:11-18).

Answer 5. The foregoing is proved from Romans 11:12, where the two words, “world” and “Gentiles,” are both used as signifying one and the same thing. “If the fall of them (Jews) are the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them are the riches of the Gentiles, then how much more their fullness?”

“It was a controversy agitated among the Jewish doctors whether, when the Messiah came, the Gentiles, (the ‘world’) should have any benefit by Him. The majority was exceedingly large on the negative side of the question; only some few, such as old Simeon and others, knew that He should be ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles,’ as well as ‘the glory of His people of Israel.’ The rest concluded that the most severe judgments and dreadful calamities would befall the Gentiles; in fact, that they would be cast into hell in place of the Israelites” (Dr. John Gill).

Objection 4. Surely Christ has as much efficacy to save as to damn (see Romans 5:17).

Answer 1. There is a difference between a necessary extension and a voluntary one. Adam’s sin was a necessary extension, but salvation by Christ is of free grace, wholly of God’s pleasure, and it is therefore called the “free gift” (Romans 5:15).

Answer 2. Nowhere is Christ compared to Adam in the extent of the object [of his atonement], but only in the efficacy of His obedience. All and everyone are not radically in Christ as they were in Adam; all are not given to Christ; only “as many (says Christ) as You have given Me” (John 17:2). Just as all the offspring of Adam fell by Adam’s sin, so all who belong to Christ are saved by Christ’s death; just as all who are in Adam die, so all who are in Christ are made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Answer 3. So that the apostle might not be misunderstood, and so that the word “all” in Romans 5:18 will not be taken universally, the term which defines the object is varied in the following verse; and thus “all” is rendered “many”: “By the obedience of one, many shall be made righteous.”

Objection 5. In Romans 14:15, it is said, “do not destroy him for whom Christ died.” And in 2 Peter 2:1, persons are described as “denying the Lord who bought them.”

Answer 1. Everlasting destruction cannot be meant by the word “destroy” in Romans 14:15, and the context shows this; for the apostle, throughout the chapter, is exhorting the believing Romans not to condemn one another on account of things that are indifferent; nor to destroy the weak believer’s peace of mind by doing anything (which although it is indifferent and not evil in itself) may yet prove a stumbling-block to him. I “am persuaded,” says Paul, “that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteems anything unclean, to him it is unclean. If your brother is grieved with your eating meat, then you are not walking charitably. Do not destroy” (by your conduct in eating meat considered by your brother to be unclean) the peace of mind of one of the weaklings of that flock “for whom Christ died.” Don not put a stumbling-block, or an occasion of falling or offence in your weak brother’s way (Romans 14:13-15). “Therefore, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no one offense” (1 Corinthians 10:31-32). 1 Corinthians 8 is written for the same purpose throughout.

Answer 2. The persons spoken of in 2 Peter 2:1, as “denying the Lord who bought them,” are described by the apostle as “false teachers” – these are hypocritical professors, tares among the wheat (Mathew 13:25, 38), those in whom the root of the matter was not present; they were not bought and redeemed by Christ from eternal death, but had merely escaped or abstained from the pollutions of the world through a theoretical knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:20). To answer certain purposes, they made an outward profession of the gospel, which obliged them for a time to be outwardly moral; they associated with the people of God and insinuated themselves into churches. They secretly introduced damnable heresies into the churches. Many followed their pernicious ways, causing evil to be spoken of the way of truth; and they made merchandise of true believers. They continued thus for a while, and then either their sheep’s clothing was stripped off them, or they threw it off themselves, and returned again into the world. All this while they were “goats” and not “sheep;” ravening wolves and not gentle lambs. And Peter closes the chapter concerning them by saying, “It has happened to them according to the true proverb. The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was washed has returned to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-3, 17-22).

Answer 3. The apostle (2 Peter 2:1) does not appear to be speaking there concerning the purchase by the Redeemer’s blood. The name or title “Lord” (Greek depotes) is nowhere else applied to Christ in the New Testament, except to the Father, as it is in Luke 2:29; Act 4:24; 2 Timothy 2:22; and this is especially true in Jude 4, where “the only Lord God” is distinguished from “our Lord Jesus Christ.” And even though it could be proved to apply to Christ in the above text, it may be explained upon the principle that it is not an unusual thing with the inspired writers to speak of things not as they actually are, but only according to the profession of the party involved. Thus, for instance, (Matthew 13:12): “Whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even what he has;” that is, “what he seems to have,” as explained in Luke 8:18.34 Thus apostates are said to be “twice dead,” which would seem to imply that they had been spiritually alive, though in fact that was never the case; it was merely what they professed to be.

Answer 4. So, even if we grant the premises, it only follows that those who think themselves redeemed, or are thought to be redeemed by others, may blaspheme and perish; yet this does not make all the world redeemed; this can by no means establish the doctrine of Universal Redemption.