A Display of Arminianism: How the Doctrine of Predestination is Corrupted by the Arminians

Taken from: A Display of Arminianism, Chapter 6
Written John Owen


…wherewith the Arminians and their abettors have troubled the church of Christ, comes next unto our consideration. The eternal predestination of Almighty God, that fountain of all spiritual blessings, of all the effects of God’s love derived unto us through Christ, the demolishing of this rock of our salvation hath been the chief endeavor of all the patrons of human self-sufficiency; so to vindicate unto themselves a power and independent ability of doing good, of making themselves to differ from others, of attaining everlasting happiness, without going one step from without themselves. And this is their first attempt, to attain their second proposed end, of building a tower from the top whereof they may mount into heaven, whose foundation is nothing but the sand of their own free-will and endeavors. Quite on a sudden (what they have done in effect) to have taken away this divine predestination, name and thing, had been an attempt as noted as notorious, and not likely to attain the least success amongst men professing to believe the gospel of Christ; wherefore, suffering the name to remain, they have abolished the thing itself, and substituted another so unlike it in the room thereof, that any one may see they have gotten a blear-eyed Leah instead of Rachel, and hug a cloud instead of a Deity. The true doctrine itself hath been so excellently delivered by divers learned divines, so freed from all objections, that I shall only briefly and plainly lay it down, and that with special reference to the seventeenth article of our church, where it is clearly avowed; showing withal, — which is my chief intention, — how it is thwarted, opposed, and overthrown by the Arminians. Predestination, in the usual sense [in which] it is taken, is a part of God’s providence concerning his creatures, distinguished from it by a double restriction: 

First, In respect of their objects; for whereas the decree of providence comprehendeth his intentions towards all the works of his hands, predestination respecteth only rational creatures.

Secondly, In regard of their ends; for whereas his providence directeth all creatures in general to those several ends to which at length they are brought, whether they are proportioned unto their nature or exceeding the sphere of their natural activity, predestination is exercised only in directing rational creatures to supernatural ends: so that, in general, it is the counsel, decree, or purpose of Almighty God concerning the last and supernatural end of his rational creatures, to be accomplished for the praise of his glory. But this also must receive a double restriction before we come precisely to what we in this place aim at: and these again in regard of the objects or the ends thereof.

The object of predestination is all rational creatures, Now, these are either angels or men. Of angels I shall not treat. Secondly, The end by it provided for them is either eternal happiness or eternal misery. I speak only of the former, — the act of God’s predestination transmitting men to everlasting happiness: and in this restrained sense it differs not at all from election, and we may use them as synonyma, terms of the same importance; though, by some affirming that God predestinateth them to faith whom he hath chosen, they seem to be distinguished as the decrees of the end, and the means conducing thereunto, whereof the first is election, intending the end, and then takes place predestination, providing the means. But this exact distinction appeareth not directly in the Scripture.

This election the word of God proposeth unto us as the gracious, immutable decree of Almighty God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, out of his own good pleasure, he chose certain men, determining to free them from sin and misery, to bestow upon them grace and faith, to give them unto Christ, to bring them to everlasting blessedness, for the praise of his glorious grace; or, as it is expressed in our church articles, “Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ unto everlasting salvation, as vessels made unto honor; wherefore, they who are endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose,” etc.

Now, to avoid prolixity, I will annex only such annotations as may clear the sense and confirm the truth of the article by the Scriptures, and show briefly how it is overthrown by the Arminians in every particular thereof: 

First, The article, consonantly to the Scripture, affirmeth that it is an eternal decree, made before the foundations of the world were laid; so that by it we must needs be chosen before we were born, before we have done either good or evil. The words of the article are clear, and so also is the Scripture: “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4;  “The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, it was said,” etc., Romans 9:11,12;  “We are called 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,” 2 Timothy 1:9.

Now, from hence it would undoubtedly follow that no good thing in us can be the cause of our election, for every cause must in order precede its effect; but all things whereof we by any means are partakers, inasmuch as they are ours, are temporary, and so cannot be the cause of that which is eternal. Things with that qualification must have reference to the sole will and good pleasure of God; which reference would break the neck of the Arminian election. Wherefore, to prevent such a fatal ruin, they deny the principle, — to wit, that election is eternal. 1 So the Remonstrants, in their Apology: 2 “Complete election regardeth none but him that is dying; for this peremptory election decreeth the whole accomplishment and consummation of salvation, and therefore requireth in the object the finished course of faith and obedience,” saith Grevinchovius; which is to make God’s election nothing but an act of his justice, approving our obedience, and such an act as is incident to any weak man, who knows not what will happen in the next hour that is yet for to come. And is this post-destination that which is proposed to us in the Scripture as the unsearchable fountain of all God’s love towards us in Christ? “Yea,” 3 say they, “we acknowledge no other predestination to be revealed in the gospel besides that whereby God decreeth to save them who should persevere in faith;” that is, God’s determination concerning their salvation is pendulous, until he find by experience that they will persevere in obedience. But I wonder why, seeing election is confessedly one of the greatest expressions of God’s infinite goodness, love, and mercy towards us, if it follow our obedience, we have it not, like all other blessings and mercies, promised unto us. Is it not because such propositions as these, “Believe, Peter, and continue in the faith unto the end, and I will choose thee before the foundation of the world,” are fitter for the writings of the Arminians than the word of God? Neither will we be their rivals in such an election, as from whence no fruit, 4 no effect, no consolation can be derived to any mortal man, whilst he lives in this world.

Secondly, The article affirmeth that it is constant, — that is, one immutable decree; agreeably also to the Scriptures, teaching but one purpose, but one foreknowledge, one good pleasure, one decree of God, concerning the infallible ordination of his elect unto glory; although of this decree there may be said to be two acts, — one concerning the means, the other concerning the end, but both knit up in the “immutability of God’s counsel,” Hebrews 6:17. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,” 2 Timothy 2:19; “His gifts and calling are without recalling,” not to be repented of, Romans 11:29. Now, what say our Arminians to this?

Why, a whole multitude of notions and terms have they invented to obscure the doctrine. “Election,” say they, 5 “is either legal or evangelical, general or particular, complete or incomplete, revocable or irrevocable, peremptory or not peremptory,” with I know not how many more distinctions of one single eternal act of Almighty God, whereof there is neither “vola nec vestigium,” sign or token, in the whole Bible, or any approved author. And to these quavering divisions they accommodate their doctrine, or rather they purposely invented them to make their errors unintelligible.

Yet something agreeably thus they dictate: 6 “There is a complete election, belonging to none but those that are dying; and there is another, incomplete, common to all that believe: as the good things of salvation are incomplete which are continued whilst faith is continued, and revoked when that is denied, so election is incomplete in this life, and revocable.” Again: “There are,” they say in their Confession,7 “three orders of believers and repenters in the Scripture, whereof some are beginners, others having continued for a time, and some perseverants. The first two orders are chosen vere, truly, but not absolute prorsus, absolutely, but only for a time, — so long as they will remain as they are; the third are chosen finally and peremptorily: for this act of God is either continued or interrupted, according as we fulfill the condition.” But whence learned the Arminians this doctrine? Not one word of it from the word of truth; no mention there of any such desultory election, no speech of faith, but such as is consequent to one eternal irrevocable decree of predestination: They “believed” who were “ordained to eternal life,” Acts 13:48. No distinction of men half and wholly elected, where it is affirmed that it is impossible the elect should be seduced, Matthew 24:24, — that none should snatch Christ’s sheep out of his Father’s hand, John 10:28,29. What would they have more? God’s purpose of election is sealed up, 2 Timothy 2:19, and therefore cannot be revoked; it must stand firm, Romans 9:11, in spite of all opposition. Neither will reason allow us to think any immanent act of God to be incomplete or revocable, because of the mere alliance it hath with his very nature. But reason, Scripture, God himself, all must give place to any absurdities, if they stand in the Arminian way, bringing in their idol with shouts, and preparing his throne, by claiming the cause of their predestination to be in themselves. 

Thirdly, The article is clear that the object of this predestination is some particular men chosen out of mankind; that is, it is such an act of God as concerneth some men in particular, taking them, as it were, aside from the midst of their brethren, and designing them for some special end and purpose. The Scripture also aboundeth in asserting this verity, calling them that are so chosen a “few,” Matthew 20:16, which must needs denote some certain persons; and the “remnant according to election,” Romans 11:5; those whom “the Lord knoweth to be his,” 2 Timothy 2:19; men “ordained to eternal life,” Acts 13:48; “us,” Romans 8:39; those that are “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” Revelation 21:27; — all which, and divers others, clearly prove that the number of the elect is certain, not only materially, as they say,8 that there are so many, but formally also, that these particular persons, and no other, are they, which cannot be altered. Nay, the very nature of the thing itself doth so demonstratively evince it, that I wonder it can possibly be conceived under any other notion. To apprehend an election of men not circumscribed with the circumstance of particular persons is such a conceited, Platonical abstraction, as it seems strange that any one dares profess to understand that there should be a predestination, and none predestinated; an election, and none elected; a choice amongst many, yet none left or taken; a decree to save men, and yet thereby salvation destinated to no one man, either “re aut spe,” in deed or in expectation.

In a word, that there should be a purpose of God to bring men unto glory, standing inviolable, though never any one attained the purposed end, is such a riddle as no AEdipus can unfold. Now, such an election, such a predestination, have the Arminians substituted in the place of God’s everlasting decree. “We deny,”9 say they, “that God’s election extendeth itself to any singular persons as singular persons;” that is, that any particular persons, as Peter, Paul, John, are by it elected. No; how, then? Why,10 “God hath appointed, without difference, to dispense the means of faith; and as he seeth these persons to believe or not to believe by the use of those means, so at length he determineth of them,” as saith Corvinus. Well, then, God chooseth no particular man to salvation, but whom he seeth believing by his own power, with the help only of such means as are afforded unto others who never believe; and as he maketh himself thus differ from them by a good use of his own abilities, so also he may be reduced again unto the same predicament, and then his election, which respecteth not him in his person, but only his qualification, quite vanisheth. But is this God’s decree of election? “Yes,” say they; and make a doleful complaint that any other doctrine should be taught in the church.11 “It is obtruded,” say the true-born sons of Arminius, “on the church as a most holy doctrine, that God, by an absolute, immutable decree, from all eternity, out of his own good pleasure, hath chosen certain persons, and those but few in comparison, without any respect had to their faith and obedience, and predestinated them to everlasting life.” But what so great exception is this doctrine liable unto, what wickedness doth it include, that it should not be accounted most holy? Nay, is not only the matter but the very terms of it contained in the Scripture? Doth it not say the elect are few, and they chosen before the foundation of the world, without any respect to their obedience or any thing that they had done, out of God’s mere gracious good pleasure, that his free purpose according to election might stand, even because so it pleased him; and this that they might be holy, believe, and be sanctified, that they might come unto Christ, and by him be preserved unto everlasting life? Yea, this is that which galls them:12 “No such will can be ascribed unto God, whereby he so willeth any one to be saved as that thence their salvation should be sure and infallible,” saith the father of those children.

Well, then, let St Austin’s definition be quite rejected,13 “That predestination is a preparation of such benefits whereby some are most certainly freed and delivered from sin and brought to glory;” and that also of St Paul, “That (by reason of this) nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ.” What is this election in your judgment?14 “Nothing but a decree whereby God hath appointed to save them that believe in Christ,” saith Corvinus, be they who they will; or a general purpose of God, whereby he hath ordained faith in Christ to be the means of salvation. Yea, but this belongs to Judas as well as to Peter. This decree carrieth as equal an aspect to those that are damned as to those that are saved. Salvation, under the condition of faith in Christ, was also proposed to them; but was Judas and all his company elected? How came they, then, to be seduced and perish? That any of God’s elect go to hell is as yet a strange assertion in Christianity. Notwithstanding this decree, none may believe, or all that do may fall away, and so none at all be saved; which is a strange kind of predestination: or all may believe, continue in faith, and be saved; which were a more strange kind of election.

We, poor souls, thought hitherto that we might have believed, according unto Scripture, that some by this purpose were in a peculiar manner made the Father’s (“Thine they were”), and by him given unto Christ, that he might bring them unto glory; and that these men were so certain and unchangeable a number, that not only God “knoweth them” as being “his,” but also that Christ “calleth them by name,” John 10:3, and looketh that none taketh them out of his hand. We never imagined before that Christ hath been the mediator of an uncertain covenant, because there are no certain persons covenanted withal but such as may or may not fulfill the condition. We always thought that some had been separated before by God’s purpose from the rest of the perishing world, that Christ might lay down his life for his “friends,” for his “sheep,” for them that were “given him” of his Father. But now it should seem he was ordained to be a king when it was altogether uncertain whether he should ever have any subjects, to be a head without a body, or to such a church whose collection and continuance depend wholly and solely on the will of men.

These are doctrines that I believe searchers of the Scripture had scarce ever been acquainted withal, had they not lighted on such expositors as teach,15 “That the only cause why God loveth” (or chooseth) “any person is, because the honesty, faith, and piety wherewith, according to God’s command and his own duty, he is endued, are acceptable to God;” which, though we grant it true of God’s consequent or approving love, yet surely there is a divine love wherewith he looks upon us otherwise, when he gives us unto Christ, else either our giving unto Christ is not out of love, or we are pious, just, and faithful before we come unto him, — that is, we have no need of him at all. Against either way, though we may blot these testimonies out of our hearts, yet they will stand still recorded in holy Scripture, — namely, that God so loved us when we were his “enemies,” Romans 5:10, “sinners,” verse 8, of no “strength,” verse 6; that “he gave his only-begotten Son” to die, “that we should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. But of this enough.

Fourthly, Another thing that the article asserteth according to the Scripture is, that there is no other cause of our election but God’s own counsel. It recounteth no motives in us, nothing impelling the will of God to choose some out of mankind, rejecting others, but his own decree, — that is, his absolute will and good pleasure; so that as there is no cause, in any thing without himself, why he would create the world or elect any at all, — for he doth all these things for himself, for the praise of his own glory, — so there is no cause in singular elected persons why God should choose them rather than others. He looked upon all mankind in the same condition, vested with the same qualifications, or rather without any at all; for it is the children not yet born, before they do either good or evil, that are chosen or rejected, his free grace embracing the one and passing over the other. Yet here we must observe, that although God freely, without any desert of theirs, chooseth some men to be partakers both of the end and the means, yet he bestoweth faith, or the means, on none but for the merit of Christ; neither do any attain the end or salvation but by their own faith, through that righteousness of his. The free grace of God notwithstanding, choosing Jacob when Esau is rejected, the only antecedent cause of any difference between the elect and reprobates, remaineth firm and unshaken; and surely, unless men were resolved to trust wholly to their own bottoms, to take nothing gratis at the hands of God, they would not endeavor to rob him of his glory, of having mercy on whom he will have mercy, of loving us without our desert before the world began. If we must claim an interest in obtaining the temporal acts of his favor by our own endeavors, yet, oh, let us grant him the glory of being good unto us, only for his own sake, when we were in his hand as the clay in the hand of the potter. What made this piece of clay fit for comely service, and not a vessel wherein there is no pleasure, but the power and will of the Framer? It is enough, yea, too much, for them to repine and say, “Why hast thou made us thus?” who are vessels fitted for wrath. Let not them who are prepared for honor exalt themselves against him, and sacrifice to their own nets, as the sole providers of their glory. But so it is: human vileness will still be declaring itself, by claiming a worth no way due unto it; of a furtherance of which claim if the Arminians be not guilty, let the following declaration of their opinions in this particular determine: —
“We confess,” say they,16 “roundly, that faith, in the consideration of God choosing us unto salvation, doth precede, and not follow as a fruit of election.” So that whereas Christians have hitherto believed that God bestoweth faith on them that are chosen, it seems now it is no such matter, but that those whom God findeth to believe, upon the stock of their own abilities, he afterward chooseth. Neither is faith, in their judgment, only required as a necessary condition in him that is to be chosen, but as a cause moving the will of God to elect him that hath it,17 as the will of the judge is moved to bestow a reward on him who according to the law hath deserved it,” as Grevinchovius speaks: which words of his, indeed, Corvinus strives to temper, but all in vain, though he wrest them contrary to the intention of the author; for with him agree all his fellows.18 “The one only absolute cause of election is, not the will of God, but the respect of our obedience,” saith Episcopius. At first they required nothing but faith, and that as a condition, not as a cause;19 then perseverance in faith, which at length they began to call obedience, comprehending all our duty to the precepts of Christ: for the cause, say they, of this love to any person, is the righteousness, faith, and piety wherewith he is endued; which being all the good works of a Christian, they, in effect, affirm a man to be chosen for them, — that our good works are the cause of election; which whether it were ever so grossly taught, either by Pelagians or Papists, I something doubt.

And here observe, that this doth not thwart my former assertion, where I showed that they deny the election of any particular persons, which here they seem to grant upon a foresight of their faith and good works; for there is not any one person, as such a person, notwithstanding all this, that in their judgment is in this life elected, but only as he is considered with those qualifications of which he may at any time divest himself, and so become again to be no more elected than Judas.

The sum of their doctrine in this particular is laid down by one of ours in a tract entitled “God’s Love to Mankind,” etc.; a book full of palpable ignorance, gross sophistry, and abominable blasphemy, whose author seems to have proposed nothing unto himself but to rake all the dunghills of a few of the most invective Arminians, and to collect the most filthy scum and pollution of their railings to cast upon the truth of God; and, under I know not what self-coined pretences, belch out odious blasphemies against his holy name.

The sum, saith he, of all these speeches (he cited to his purpose) is,20 “That there is no decree of saving men but what is built on God’s foreknowledge of the good actions of men.” No decree? No, not that whereby God determineth to give some unto Christ, to ingraft them in him by faith, and bring them by him unto glory; which giveth light to that place of Arminius, where he affirmeth,21 “That God loveth none precisely to eternal life but considered as just, either with legal or evangelical righteousness.”

Now, to love one to eternal life is to destinate one to obtain eternal life by Christ, and so it is coincident with the former assertion, that our election, or choosing unto grace and glory, is upon the foresight of our good works; which contains a doctrine so contradictory to the words and meaning of the apostle, Romans 9:11, condemned in so many councils, suppressed by so many edicts and decrees of emperors and governors, opposed as a pestilent heresy, ever since it was first hatched, by so many orthodox fathers and learned schoolmen, so directly contrary to the doctrine of this church, so injurious to the grace and supreme power of Almighty God, that I much wonder any one, in this light of the gospel and flourishing time of learning, should be so boldly ignorant or impudent as to broach it amongst Christians. To prove this to be a heresy exploded by all orthodox and catholic antiquity were to light a candle in the sun; for it cannot but be known to all and every one who ever heard or read any thing of the state of Christ’s church after the rising of the Pelagian tumults.22 

To accumulate testimonies of the ancients is quite beside my purpose. I will only add the confession of Bellarmine,23 a man otherwise not overwell affected to truth. “Predestination,” saith he, “from the foresight of works, cannot be maintained unless we should suppose something in the righteous man, which should make him differ from the wicked, that he doth not receive from God; which truly all the fathers with unanimous consent do reject.” But we have a more sure testimony, to which we will take heed, even the holy Scripture, pleading strongly for God’s free and undeserved grace.

First, our Savior Christ, Matthew 11:26, declaring how God revealeth the gospel unto some, which is hidden from others (a special fruit of election), resteth in his will and good pleasure as the only cause thereof: “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” So, comforting his “little flock,” Luke 12:32, he bids them fear not, “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom;” — “His good pleasure is the only cause why his kingdom is prepared for you rather than others.” But is there no other reason of this discrimination? No; he doth it all “that his purpose according to election might stand” firm, Romans 9:11; for we are “predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1:11. 

But did not this counsel of God direct him to choose us rather than others because we had something to commend us more than they? No; “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; but because the LORD loved you,” Deuteronomy 7:7,8. “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy;” yea, “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger: as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” Romans 9:11-13.

In brief, wherever there is any mention of election or predestination, it is still accompanied with the purpose, love, or will of God; his foreknowledge, whereby he knoweth them that are his; his free power and supreme dominion over all things. Of our faith, obedience, or any thing importing so much, not one syllable, no mention, unless it be as the fruit and effect thereof. It is the sole act of his free grace and good pleasure, that “he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,” Romans 9:23. For this only end hath he  “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,” 2 Timothy 1:9.  Even our calling is free and undeserved, because flowing from that most free grace of election, whereof we are partakers before we are [i.e., exist]. It were needless to heap up more testimonies in a thing so clear and evident. When God and man stand in competition who shall be accounted the cause of an eternal good, we may be sure the Scripture will pass the verdict on the part of the Most High. And the sentence, in this case, may be derived from thence by these following reasons: —

First, If final perseverance in faith and obedience be the cause of, or a condition required unto, election, then none can be said in this life to be elected; for no man is a final perseverer until he be dead, until he hath finished his course and consummated the faith. But certain it is that it is spoken of some in the Scripture that they are even in this life elected: “Few are chosen,” Matthew 20:16; “For the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened,” chapter 24:22; “And shall, if it were possible, deceive the very elect,” verse 24, — where it is evident that election is required to make one persevere in the faith, but nowhere is perseverance in the faith required to election; yea, and Peter gives us all a command that we should give all diligence to get an assurance of our “election,” even in this life, 2 Peter 1:10: and, therefore, surely it cannot be a decree presupposing consummated faith and obedience.

Secondly, Consider two things of our estate, before the first temporal act of God’s free grace (for grace is no grace if it be not free), which is the first effect of our predestination, comprehendeth us: — First, “Were we better than others.” No, in no wise: both Jews and Gentiles were all under sin,” Romans 3:9. “There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” verse 23; — being all “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1; being “by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” verse 3; “far off,” until we are “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” verse 13. We were “enemies” against God, Romans 5:10; Titus 3:3. And look what desert there is in us with these qualifications, when our vocation, the first effect of our predestination, as St Paul showeth, Romans 8:30, and as I shall prove hereafter, separateth us from the world of unbelievers. So much there is in respect of predestination itself; so that if we have any way deserved it, it is by being sinners, enemies, children of wrath, and dead in trespasses. These are our deserts; this is the glory, whereof we ought to be ashamed. But, secondly, When they are in the same state of actual alienation from God, yet then, in respect of his purpose to save them by Christ, some are said to be his: “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6; — they were his before they came unto Christ by faith; the sheep of Christ before they are called, for he “calleth his sheep by name,” chapter 10:3; before they come into the flock or congregation, for “other sheep,” saith he, “I have, which are not of this fold, them also must I bring,” chapter 10:16; — to be beloved of God before they love him: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” 1 John 4:10. Now, all this must be with reference to God’s purpose of bringing them unto Christ, and by him unto glory; which we see goeth before all their faith and obedience.

Thirdly, Election is an eternal act of God’s will: “He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4; consummated antecedently to all duty of ours, Romans 9:11. Now, every cause must, in order of nature, precede its effect; nothing hath an activity in causing before it hath a being. Operation in every kind is a second act, flowing from the essence of a thing which is the first. But all our graces and works, our faith, obedience, piety, and charity, are all temporal, of yesterday, the same standing with ourselves, and no longer; and therefore cannot be the cause of, no, nor so much as a condition necessarily required for, the accomplishment of an eternal act of God, irrevocably established before we are.

Fourthly, If predestination be for faith foreseen, these three things, with divers such absurdities, will necessarily follow:

First, That election is not of “him that calleth,” as the apostle speaks, Romans 9:11, — that is, of the good pleasure of God, who calleth us with a holy calling, — but of him that is called; for, depending on faith, it must be his whose faith is, that doth believe. 

Secondly, God cannot have mercy on whom he win have mercy, for the very purpose of it is thus tied to the qualities of faith and obedience, so that he must have mercy only on believers antecedently to his decree. Which, 

Thirdly, hinders him from being an absolute free agent, and doing of what he will with his own, — of having such a power over us as the potter hath over his clay; for he finds us of different matter, one clay, another gold, when he comes to appoint us to different uses and ends.

Fifthly, God sees no faith, no obedience, perseverance, nothing but sin and wickedness, in any man, but what himself intendeth graciously and freely to bestow upon him; for “faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God;” it is “the work of God, that we believe,” John 6:29; he “blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3. Now, all these gifts and graces God bestoweth only upon those whom he hath antecedently ordained to everlasting life: for “the election obtained it, and the rest were blinded,” Romans 11:7; “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”’ Acts 2:47. Therefore, surely, God chooseth us not because he foreseeth those things in us, seeing he bestoweth those graces because he hath chosen us. “Wherefore,”24 saith Austin, “doth Christ say, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ but because they did not choose him that he should choose them; but he chose them that they might choose him.” We choose Christ by faith; God chooseth us by his decree of election. The question is, Whether we choose him because he hath chosen us, or he chooseth us because we have chosen him, and so indeed choose ourselves? We affirm the former, and that because our choice of him is a gift he himself bestoweth only on them whom he hath chosen.

Sixthly, and principally, The effects of election, infallibly following it, cannot be the causes of election, certainly preceding it. This is evident, for nothing can be the cause and the effect of the same thing, before and after itself. But all our faith, our obedience, repentance, good works, are the effects of election, flowing from it as their proper fountain, erected on it as the foundation of this spiritual building; and for this the article of our church is evident and clear. “Those,” saith it, “that are endued with this excellent benefit of God are called according to God’s purpose, are justified freely, are made the sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of Christ; they walk religiously in good works,” etc.

Where, first, they are said to be partakers of this benefit of election, and then by virtue thereof to be entitled to the fruition of all those graces. 

Secondly, it saith, “Those who are endued with this benefit enjoy those blessings;” intimating that election is the rule whereby God proceedeth in bestowing those graces, restraining the objects of the temporal acts of God’s special favor to them only whom his eternal decree doth embrace. Both these, indeed, are denied by the Arminians; which maketh a farther discovery of their heterodoxies in this particular.25 “You say,” saith Arminius to Perkins, “that election is the rule of giving or not giving of faith; and, therefore, election is not of the faithful, but faith of the elect: but by your leave this I must deny.” But yet, whatever it is the sophistical heretic here denies, either antecedent or conclusion, he falls foul on the word of God. “They ‘believed,”’ saith the Holy Ghost, “who were ‘ordained to eternal life,’” Acts 13:48; and, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” chapter 2:47. From both which places it is evident that God bestoweth faith only on them whom he hath pre-ordained to eternal life; but most clearly, Romans 8:29,30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. 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.” St Austin interpreted this place by adding in every link of the chain, “Only those.” However, the words directly import a precedency of predestination before the bestowing of other graces, and also a restraint of those graces to them only that are so predestinated. Now, the inference from this is not only for the form logical, but for the matter also; it containeth the very words of Scripture, “Faith is of God’s elect,” Titus 1:1.

For the other part of the proposition, that faith and obedience are the fruits of our election, they cannot be more peremptory in its denial than the Scripture is plentiful in its confirmation: “He hath chosen us in Christ, that we should be holy,” Ephesians 1:4; not because we were holy, but that we should be so. Holiness, whereof faith is the root and obedience the body, is that whereunto, and not for which, we are elected. The end and the meritorious cause of any one act cannot be the same; they have divers respects, and require repugnant conditions. Again; we are “predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ,” verse 5. Adoption is that whereby we are assumed into the family of God, when before we are “foreigners, aliens, strangers, afar off;” which we see is a fruit of our predestination, though it be the very entrance into that estate wherein we begin first to please God in the least measure. Of the same nature are all those places of holy writ which speak of God’s giving some unto Christ, of Christ’s sheep hearing his voice, and others not hearing, because they are not of his sheep; all which, and divers other invincible reasons, I willingly omit, with sundry other false assertions and heretical positions of the Arminians about this fundamental article of our religion

1. “Electio non est ab aeterno.” — Rem. Apol.
2. “Electio alia completa est, quae neminem spectat nisi immorientem. Electio peremptoria totum salutis complementum et consummationem decernit, ideoque in objecto requirit totam consummatam fidei obedientiam.” — Grevinch, ad Ames. p. 136, passim. dis.
3. “Non agnoscimus aliam praedestinationem in evangelio patefactam, quam qua Deus decrevit credentes et qui in eadem fide perseverarent, salvos facere.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 34.
4. “Electionis fructum aut sensum in hac vita nullum agnosco.” — Grevinch.
5. Episcop. Thes., p. 35; Epist. ad Walach., p. 38; Grevinch. ad Ames., p. 133.
6. “Electio alia completa est, quae neminem spectat nisi morientem, alia incompleta, quae omnibus fidelibus communis est; ut salutis bona sunt incompleta quae continu-antur, fide contlnuata, et abnegate, revocantur, sic electio est incompleta in hac vita, non peremptoria, revocabilis.” — Grevinch, ad Ames.
7. “Tres sunt ordines credentium et resipiscentium in Scripturis, novitli, credentes aliquandiu, perseverantes. Duo priores ordines credentium eliguntur vere quidem, at non prorsus absolute, nec nisi ad tempus, puta quamdiu et quatenus tales sunt,” etc. —Rem. Confess., cap. 18, sect. 6,7.
8. Aquinas.
9. “Nos negamus Dei electionem ad salutem extendere sese ad slngulares personas, qua singulares personas.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., fol. 76.
10. “Deus statuit indiscrimlnatim media ad fidem administrare, et prout has, vel illas personas, istis mediis credituras vel non credituras videt, ita tandem de illis statuit.” — Corv. ad Tilen., 76.
11. “Ecclesiae tanquam sacrosancta doctrina obtruditur, Deum absolutissimo et immutabili decreto ab omni retro aeternitate, pro puro suo beneplacito, singulares quosdam homines, eosque, quoad caeteros, paucissimos, citra ullius obedientiae aut fidei in Chris-tum intuitum praedestinasse ad vitam.” — Praefat. Lib. Armin. ad Perk.
12. “Nulla Deo tribui potest voluntas, qua ita velit hominem ullum salvari, ut salus inde illis constet certo et infallibiliter.”–Armin. Antip., p. 583.
13. “Praedestinatio est praeparatio beneficiorum quibus certissime liberantur quicunque liberantur.” — Aug, de Bono Per. Sen., cap. 14.
14. “Decretum electionis nihil aliud est quam decretum quo Deus constituit credentes in Christo justificare et salvare.” — Corv, ad Tilen., p. 13.
15. “Ratio dilectionis personae est, quod probitas, tides, vel pietas, qua ex officio suo et prrescripto Dei ista persona praedita est, Deo grata sit.” — Rem. Apol., p. 18.
16. “Rotunde fatemur, fidem in consideratione Dei in eligendo ad salutem antecedere, et non tauquam fracture electionis sequi.” —Rem. Hag. Coll., p. 85.
17. Grevinch. ad Amea, p. 24; Corv. ad Molin., p. 260.
18. “Electionis et reprobationis causa unica vera et absoluta non est Dei voluntas, seal respectus obedientise et inobedientise.” — Epis. Disput. 8.
19. “Cum peccatum pono causam merltoriam reprobationls, ne existlmato e contra me ponere justitiam causam meritoriam electionis.” — Attain. Antip.; Rein. Apol., p. 73.
20. God’s Love, p. 6.
21. “Deum nullam creaturam preecise ad vitam ,eternam amare, nisi consideratam ut justam sire justitia legali sire evangelica” — Armin. Artic. Perpend., fol. 21.
22. Vid. Prosp. ad Excep. Gen. ad Dub., 8,9. Vid. Car. de Ingratis., c. 2,3.
23. “Non potest defendi praedestinatlo ex operibus praevisis, nisi aliquid boni ponatur in homine justo, quo discernatur ab impio, quod non sit illi a Deo, quod sane patres omnes summa consensione rejiciunt.” — Bellar, de Grat., et Lib. Arbit., cap. 14.
24. “Non ob aliud dicit, ‘Non vos me eligistis, seal ego vos elegi,’ nisi quia non elegerunt eumut eligeret eos; sed ut eligerent eum elegit eos.” — Aug, de Bono Perse, cap. 16.
25. “Dicis electionem divinarn esse regulam fidei dandae vel non dandae; ergo, electio non est fidelium, sed tides electorum: seal liceat mihi tua bona venia hoc negare.” — Armin. Antip., p. 221.

The Sum and Substance of All Theology

The unpublished notes of a sermon given by C. H. Spurgeon. 
Delivered at Bethesda Chapel, Swansea, June 25th, 1861.
Taken and adapted from the Sword and Trowel.


Note: On Tuesday, June 25th, 1861, the beloved C. H. Spurgeon visited Swansea. The day was wet, so he services could not be held in the open-air; and, as no building in the town was large enough to hold the vast concourses of people who had come from all parts to hear the renowned preacher, he consented to deliver two discourses in the morning; first at Bethesda, and then at Trinity Chapel. At each place he preached for an hour and a quarter. The weather cleared up during the day; so, in the evening, Mr. Spurgeon addressed an immense gathering of people in the open-air.—T.W.M.

 “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me;
and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

—John 6:37.

What a difference there is between the words of Christ, and those of all mere men!

Most men speak many words, yet say but little; Christ speaks few words, yet says very much. In modern books, you may read scores of pages, and scarcely come across a new thought; but when Christ speaks, every syllable seems to tell. He hits the nail on the head each time He lifts the hammer of His Word. The Words of Christ are like ingots of solid gold; we preachers too often beat out the gold so thin, that whole acres of it would scarcely be worth a farthing. The Words of Christ are always to be distinguished from those of His creatures, not only for their absolute truthfulness, but also for their profound fullness of matter. In all His language He is “full of grace and truth.” Look at the text before us. Here we have, in two small sentences, the sum and substance of all theology. The great questions which have divided the Church in all ages, the apparently contradictory doctrines which have set one minister of Christ against his fellow, are here revealed so simply and plainly, “that he may run that reads” (Habakkuk 2:2). Even a child may understand the Words of Christ, though perhaps the loftiest human intellect cannot fathom the mystery hidden therein.

Take the first sentence of my text: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” What a weighty sentence! Here we have taught us what is called, in the present day, “High Calvinistic doctrine”—the purpose of God; the certainty that God’s purpose will stand; the invincibility of God’s will; and the absolute assurance that Christ “shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.”

Look at the second sentence of my text: “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Here we have the richness, the fullness, the unlimited extent of the power of Christ to save those who put their trust in Him. Here is a text upon which one might preach a thousand sermons. We might take these two sentences as a life-long text, and never exhaust the theme.

Mark, too, how our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the whole truth. We have many ministers who can preach well upon the first sentence: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” Just set them going upon Election, or everlasting covenant engagements, and they will be earnest and eloquent, for they are fond of dwelling upon these points, and a well-instructed child of God can hear them with delight and profit. Such preachers are often the fathers of the Church, and the very pillars thereof; but, unfortunately, many of these excellent brethren cannot preach so well upon the second sentence of my text: “And him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” When they get to that truth, they are half afraid of it; they hesitate to preach what they consider to be a too open salvation. They cannot give the gospel invitation as freely as they find it in the Word of God. They do not deny it, yet they stutter and stammer sadly, when they get upon this theme.

Then, on the other hand, we have a large number of good ministers who can preach on this second clause of the text, but they cannot preach on the first clause. How fluent is their language as they tell out the freeness of salvation! Here they are much at home in their preaching; but, we are sorry to be compelled to say that, very often, they are not much at home when they come to doctrinal matters, and they would find it rather a difficult matter to preach fluently on the first sentence of my text. They would, if they attempted to preach from it, endeavor to cut out of it all that savors of Divine Sovereignty. They do not preach the whole “truth” which “is in Jesus.”

Why is it that some of us do not see both sides of God’s revealed truth? We persist in closing one eye; we will not see all that may be seen if we open both our eyes; and, sometimes, we get angry with a brother because he can see a little more than we do. I think our text is very much like a stereoscopic picture, for it presents two views of the truth. Both views are correct, for they are both photographed by the same light. How can we bring these two truths together? We get the stereoscope of the scripture, and looking with both eyes, the two pictures melt into one. God has given us, in His Word, the two pictures of divine truth; but we have not all got the stereoscope properly adjusted to make them melt into one. When we get to heaven, we shall see how all God’s truth harmonizes. If we cannot make these two parts of truth harmonize now, at any rate we must not dare to blot out one of them, for God has given them both.

Now, as God shall help me this morning, I want to expand both sentences of my text with equal fidelity and plainness. I shall not expect to please some of you while speaking on the first sentence, and I shall not be surprised if I fail to please others of you when I come to the second sentence; but, in either case, it will be a small matter to me if I have an easy conscience because I have proclaimed what I believe to be the whole truth of God. I am sure you will be willing to give a patient hearing to that which you may not fully receive, if you believe it to be declared in all honesty. Reject what I say, if it be not true, but if it be the Word of God, receive it; and, be it known unto you that it is at your peril if you dare to reject the truthful Word of the glad tidings of God

I.     I will begin with the first sentence of the text: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” We have here, first, THE FIRM FOUNDATION UPON WHICH OUR SALVATION RESTS.

It rests, you perceive, not on something which man does, but on something which God the Father does. The Father gives certain persons to His Son, and the Son says, “All that the Father gives Me Shall come to Me.” I take it that the meaning of the text is this,—that, if any do come to Jesus Christ, it is those whom the Father gave to Christ. And the reason why they come,—if we search to the very bottom of things,—is, that the Father puts it into their hearts to come. The reason why one man is saved, and another man is lost, is to be found in God; not in anything which the saved man did, or did not do; not in anything which he felt, or did not feel; but in something altogether irrespective of himself, even in the sovereign grace of God. In the day of God’s power, the saved are made willing to give their souls to Jesus. The language of Scripture must explain this point. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John i. 12, 13). “So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy” (Romans ix. 16). If you want to see the fount of grace, you must go to the everlasting God; even as, if you want to know why that river runs in this direction, and not in that, you must trace it up to its source. In the case of every soul that is now in heaven, it was the will of God that drew it thither. In the case of every spirit that is on its way to glory now, unto God and unto Him alone must be the honor of its salvation; for He it is who makes one “differ from another” (1 Cor. 4:7).

I do not care to argue upon this point, except I put it thus: If any say, “It is man himself who makes the difference,” I reply, “You are involving yourself in a great dilemma; if man himself makes the difference, then mark—man himself must have the glory.” Now, I am certain you do not mean to give man the glory of his own salvation; you would not have men throw up their caps in heaven, and shout, “Unto ourselves be the glory, for we, ourselves, were the hinge and turning point of our own salvation.” No, you would have all the saved cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus, and give to Him alone all the honor and all the glory. This, however, cannot be, unless, in that critical point, that diamond hinge upon which man’s salvation shall turn, God shall have the control, and not the will of man. You know that those who do not believe this truth as a matter of doctrine, do believe it in their hearts as a matter of experience.

I was preaching, not very long ago, at a place in Derbyshire, to a congregation, nearly all of whom were Methodists, and as I preached, they were crying out, “Hallelujah! Glory! Bless the Lord!” They were full of excitement, until I went on to say in my sermon, “This brings me to the doctrine of Election.” There was no crying out of “Glory!” and “Hallelujah!” then. Instead, there was a great deal of shaking of the head, and a sort of telegraphing round the place, as though something dreadful was coming. Now, I thought, I must have their attention again, so I said, “You all believe in the doctrine of Election?” “No, we don’t, lad,” said one. “Yes, you do, and I am going to preach it to you, and make you cry ‘Hallelujah!’ over it.” I am certain they mistrusted my power to do that; so, turning a moment from the subject, I said, “Is there any difference between you and the ungodly world?” “Ay! Ay! Ay!” “Is there any difference between you and the drunkard, the harlot, the blasphemer?” “Ay! Ay! Ay!” Ay! There was a difference indeed. “Well, now,” I said, “there is a great difference; who made it, then?” for, whoever made the difference, should have the glory of it. “Did you make the difference?” “No, lad,” said one; and the rest all seemed to join in the chorus. “Who made the difference, then? Why, the Lord did it; and did you think it wrong for Him to make a difference between you and other men?” “No, no,” they quickly said. “Very well, then; if it was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of Election.” Then they cried, “Hallelujah!” as I said they would.

The doctrine of Election is God’s purposing in His heart that He would make some men better than other men; that He would give to some men more grace than to other men; that some should come out and receive the mercy; that others, left to their own free will, should reject it; that some should gladly accept the invitations of mercy, while others, of their own accord, stubbornly refuse the mercy to which the whole world of mankind is invited. All men, by nature, refuse the invitations of the gospel. God, in the sovereignty of His grace, makes a difference by secretly inclining the hearts of some men, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to partake of His everlasting mercy in Christ Jesus. I am certain that, whether we are Calvinists or Arminians, if our hearts are right with God, we shall all adoringly testify: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” If that be not Election, I know not what it is.

II.     Now, in the second place, note THE CERTAINTY OF THE ETERNAL SALVATION OF ALL WHO WERE GIVEN TO JESUS; “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.”

This is eternally settled, and so settled that it cannot be altered by either man or devil. All whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, all whom God the Father designed to save when He gave up His well-beloved Son to die upon the cross of Calvary, shall in time be drawn by the Holy Spirit, and shall surely come to Christ, and be kept by the Spirit, through the precious blood of Christ, and be folded forever with His sheep, on the hill-tops of glory.

Mark! “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” Not one of those whom the Father hath given to Jesus shall perish. If any were lost, the text would have to read: “Almost all,” or, “All but one;” but it positively says “All,” without any exception; even though one may have been, in his unregenerate state, the very chief of sinners. Yet even that chosen one, that given one, shall come to Jesus; and when he has come, he shall be held by that strong love that at first chose him, and he shall never be let go, but shall be held fast, even unto the end. Miss Much-afraid, and Mrs. Despondency, and Mr. Feeble-mind, shall as certainly come to the arms of Christ, as Mr. Great-heart, and Mr. Faithful, and Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. If one jewel were lost from Christ’s crown, then Christ’s crown would not be all-glorious. If one member of the body of Christ were to perish, Christ’s body would not be complete. If one of those who are one with Christ should miss his way to eternal life, Christ would not be a perfect Christ.

“All that the Father gives Me Shall come to Me.” “But suppose they will not come?” I cannot suppose any such thing, for He says they “shall come.” They shall be made willing in the day of God’s power. God knows how to make a passage through the heart of man; and though man is a free agent, yet God can incline him, willingly, to come to Jesus. There are many sentences even in Wesley’s hymn-book which contain this truth. If God took away freedom from man, and then saved him, it would be but a small miracle. For God to leave man free to come to Jesus, and yet to so move him as to make him come, is a divinely-wrought miracle indeed. If we were for a moment to admit that man’s will could be more than a match for God’s will, do you not see where we should be landed? Who made man? God! Who made God? Shall we lift up man to the sovereign throne of Deity? Who shall be master, and have his way, God or man? The will of God, that says they “shall come”, knows how to make them come.

“But suppose it should be one of those who are living in the interior of Africa, and he does not hear the gospel; what then?” He shall hear the gospel; either he shall come to the gospel, or the gospel shall go to him. Even if no minister should go to such a chosen one, he would have the gospel specially revealed to him rather than that the promise of the Almighty God should be broken.

“But suppose there should be one of God’s chosen who has become so bad that there is no hope for him? He never attends a place of worship; never listens to the gospel; the voice of the preacher never reaches him; he has grown hardened in his sin, like steel that has been seven times annealed in the fire; what then?” That man shall be arrested by God’s grace, and that obdurate, hard-hearted one shall be made to see the mercy of God; the tears shall stream down his cheeks, and he shall be made willing to receive Jesus as Savior. I think that, as God could bend my will, and bring me to Christ, He can bring anybody.

“Why was I made to hear His voice,
And enter while there’s room;

When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
Twas the same love the spread the feast,
That sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perish’d in my sin.”

 Yes, “sweetly forced me in;”—there is no other word that can so accurately describe my case. Oh, how long Jesus Christ stood at the door of my heart, and knocked, and knocked, and knocked in vain! I asked: “Why should I leave the pleasures of this world?” Yet still He knocked, and there was music in every sound of His pleading voice; but I said, “Nay, let Him go elsewhere.” And though, through the window, I could see His thorn-crowned head, and the tears standing in His eyes, and the prints of the nails in His hands, as He stood and knocked, and said, “Open to Me,” yet I heeded Him not. Then He sent my mother to me, and she pleaded, “let the Savior in, Charlie;” and I replied, in action, though not in words, “Nay, I love you, my mother; but I do not love Christ, thy Savior.” Then came the black hours of sickness; but in effect I said, “Nay, I fear not sickness, nor death itself; I will still defy my Maker.” But it happened, one day, that He graciously put in His hand by the hole of the door, and I moved toward Him, and then I opened the door, and cried, “Come in! Come in!” Alas! Alas! He was gone; and for five long years I stood, with tears in mine eyes, and I sought Him weeping, but I found Him not. I cried after Him, but He answered me not. I said, “Whither is He gone? Oh, that I had never rejected Him? Oh, that He would but come again!” Surely the angels must then have said, “A great change has come over that youth; he would not let Christ in when He knocked, but now he wants Christ to come.” And when He did come, do you think my soul rejected Him? Nay, nay; but I fell down at His feet, crying, “Come in! Come in! Thou Blessed Savior. I have waited for Thy salvation, O my God!”

There is no living soul beyond the reach of hope, no chosen one whom Christ cannot bring up even from the very gates of hell. He can bare His arm, put out His hand, and pluck the brand “out of the fire” (Zechariah iii.2). In a horrible pit, in the miry clay, His jewels have been hidden; but down from the throne of light He can come, and thrusting in His arm of mercy, He can pull them out, and cause them to glitter in His crown forever. Let it be settled in our hearts, as a matter of fact, that what God has purposed to do, He will surely accomplish.

I need not dwell longer upon this point, because I think I have really brought out the essence of this first sentence of my text: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” Permit me just to remark, before I pass on, that I am sometimes sad on account of the alarm that some Christians seem to have concerning this precious and glorious doctrine. We have, in the Baptist denomination,—I am sorry to have to say it,—many ministers, excellent brethren, who, while they believe this doctrine, yet never preach it. On the other hand, we have some ministers, excellent brethren, who never preach anything else. They have a kind of barrel-organ that only plays five tunes, and they are always repeating them. It is either Election, Predestination, Particular Redemption, Effectual Calling, Final Perseverance, or something of that kind; it is always the same note. But we have also a great many others who never preach concerning these doctrines, though they admit they are doctrines taught in Sacred Scripture. The reason for their silence is, because they say these truths are not suitable to be preached from the pulpit. I hold such an utterance as that to be very wicked. Is the doctrine here—in this Bible? If it is, as God hath taught it, so are we to teach it. “But,” they say, “not in a mixed assembly.” Where can you find an unmixed assembly? God has sent the Bible into a mixed world, and the gospel is to be preached in “all the world”, and “to every creature.” “Yes,” they say, “preach the gospel, but not these special truths of the gospel; because, if you preach these doctrines, the people will become Antinomians and Hyper-Calvinists.” Not so; the reason why people become Hyper-Calvinists and Antinomians, is because some, who profess to be Calvinists, often keep back part of the truth, and do not, as Paul did, “declare all the counsel of God”; they select certain parts of Scripture, where their own particular views are taught, and pass by other aspects of God’s truth. Such preachers as John Newton, and in later times, your own Christmas Evans, were men who preached the whole truth of God; they kept back nothing that God has revealed; and, as the result of their preaching, Antinomianism could not find a foot-hold anywhere. We should have each doctrine of Scripture in its proper place, and preach it fully; and if we want to have a genuine revival of religion, we must preach these doctrines of Jehovah’s sovereign grace again and again. Do not tell me they will not bring revivals. There was but one revival that I have ever heard of, apart from Calvinistic doctrine, and that was the one in which Wesley took so great a part; but then George Whitefield was there also to preach the whole Word of God. When people are getting sleepy, if you want to arouse and wake them up thoroughly, preach the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty to them; for that will do it right speedily.

 III.    I shall now turn very briefly to the second sentence of my text: “And him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

“Now,” says somebody, “he is going to knock down all that he has been building up.” Well, I would rather be inconsistent with myself than with my Master; but I dare not alter this second sentence, and I have no desire to alter it. Let it stand as it is, all its glorious simplicity:— 


Let the whole world come, still this promise is big enough to embrace them all in its arms. There is no mistake here, the wrong man cannot come. If any sinner come to Christ, he is sure to be the right one. Mark, too, as there is no limitation in the person coming, so there is no limitation in the manner of the coming. Says one, “Suppose I come the wrong way?” You cannot come the wrong way; it is written, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” “No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (John vi.44,65). If, then, you come to Christ in any way, you are drawn of the Father, and He cannot draw the wrong way. If you come to Christ at all, the power and will to come have been given you of the Father. If you come to Christ, He will in no wise cast you out; for no possible or conceivable reason will Jesus ever cast out any sinner who comes to Him. There is no reason in hell, or on earth, or in heaven, why Jesus should cast out the soul that comes to Him. If Satan, the foul accuser of the brethren, brings reasons why the coming sinner should not be received, Jesus will “cast down” the accuser, but He will not “cast out” the sinner. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest,” is still His invitation and His promise, too.

Let us suppose a case by the way of illustration. Here is a man in Swansea,—ragged, dirty, coal-begrimed,—who has received a message from Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. It reads in this wise: “You are hereby commanded to come, just as you are, to our palace at Windsor, to receive great and special favors at our hand. You will stay away at your peril.” The man reads the message, and at first scarcely understands it; so he thinks, “I must wash and prepare myself.” Then, he re-reads the royal summons, and the words arrest him: “Come just as your are.” So he starts, and tells the people in the train where he is going, and they laugh at him. At length he arrives at Windsor Castle; there he is stopped by the guard, and questioned. He explains why he has come, and shows the Queen’s message; and he is allowed to pass. He next meets with a gentlemen in waiting, who, after some explanations and expressions of astonishment, allows him to enter the ante-room. When there, our friend becomes frightened on account of his begrimed and ragged appearance; he is half inclined to rush from the place with fear, when he remembers the works of the royal command: “Stay away at your peril.” Presently, the Queen herself appears, and tells him how glad she is that he has come just as he was. She says she purposes that he shall be suitably clothed, and be made one of the princes of her court. She adds, “I told you to come as you were. It seemed to be a strange command to you, but I am glad you have obeyed, and so come.”

I do think this is what Jesus Christ says to every creature under heaven. The gospel invitation runs thus: “Come, come, come to Christ, just as you are.” “But, let me feel more.” No, come just as you are. “But let me get home to my own room, and let me pray.” No, no, come to Christ just as you are. As you are, trust in Jesus, and He will save you. Oh, do dare to trust Him! If anybody shall ask, “Who are you?” answer, “I am nobody.” If anyone objects, “You are such a filthy sinner,” reply, “Yes, ’tis true, so I am; but He Himself told me to come.” If anyone shall say, “You are not fit to come,” say, “I know I am not fit; but He told me to come.” Therefore,—

“Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity join’d with power;
He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requires,
Is to feel you need of Him:
This He gives you;
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

 Sinner, trust in Jesus: and if you do perish trusting in Jesus, I will perish with you. I will make my bed in hell, side by side with you, sinner, if you canst perish trusting in Christ, and you shalt lie there, and taunt me to all eternity for having taught you falsely, if we perish. But that can never be; those who trust in Jesus shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand. Come to Jesus, and He will in no wise cast you out.

May the Lord bless the words I have spoken! Though hastily suggested to my mind, and feebly delivered to you, the Lord bless them, for Christ’s sake! Amen.


Chosen, before the foundation of the world…

Excerpt taken and adapted from “The Doctrine of Particular Unconditional Election (Before Time) Asserted and Proved by God’s Word, Against the Quakers, Papists, and Arminians”
Written by James Barry (1599-1680)
Edited for thought and sense.

947003_563411140369990_1772894959_n“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love..”
–Ephesians 1:3-4 (RSV)

What is God’s election of some to life eternal (including the means leading, thereto) and the birth or product being of God’s own counsel (Romans 9)?

And Oh! What an unspeakable cause of rejoicing is this very consideration to that man, or woman; who find in themselves the fruits (or effects) of the new birth.  To think and believe, that they (in particular) are chosen to life eternal by him who cannot change that purpose of his, wherewith he hath purposed to save so poor and miserable a sinner as the effectually called sinner looks on himself to be.

Neither is the poor weak believer to doubt, but that those sins and backslidings, both of his heart and life, for which he will be but too apt to fear and conclude, God will at length cast him off, were all perfectly known to God even then when he elected him to Salvation; notwithstanding which God fixed his love and embraced the poor sinner in the bosom of his irreversible decree, when nothing of loveliness, (but rather the contrary) appeared to the eye of God’s precognition (or foreknowledge) in the soul, so cast by his decree.

Whom God once loves with that electing love he loves them to the end (Jeremiah 31:8; Malachi 3:6. John 13:1; Romans 11:29). And as God’s act in electing is without change, so it was from eternity; though the work of effectual calling and saving conversion be in time, yet God’s decree and purpose of bestowing that grace and mercy on the elect sinner was before time (Acts 1 5: 17-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 17:8 ).

The electing love of God it is from one eternity to another, as it did commence before time so when time shall be swallowed up of endless eternity, this love of God (to his elect, and chosen in Christ) will be (and continue) the same forever.

For those that by faith are convinced of their sin and misery… But feel Lost!

Written by David Clarkson, (1622–1686) was an English ejected minister.
Taken fromThe Practical Works of David Clarkson,” “Of Faith,” pp. 127-128.
Edited for thought and sense.

tumblr_llypuguF0F1qd6pkuo1_500“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”  –Romans 8:29-30

Let me speak to those that are convinced of their sin and misery…

…who are apprehensive of the weight and burden of sin and wrath; who not only see, but feel an absolute necessity of Christ; who highly value Christ, and prefer him above all; and whose souls are drawn out in strong and restless desires after him.  These are they indeed whom Christ invites to come to him, and rest their weary souls on him.  But several discouragements there are ordinarily cast in their way by Satan and unbelief, which hinder them from complying with Christ, and closing with the promise.

One objection wherein humbled souls are ordinarily entangled is drawn from election. 

Oh, says the soul, I fear I am not elected; and then what ground have I to believe in Christ, to rest on him for pardon and life?  Faith is peculiar to chosen vessels, it is called the faith of God’s elect.  If I knew that I belonged to the election of grace, then I might believe indeed; but till then, I cannot, I dare not; till then, I cannot think that Christ or the promise belongs to me.  To this I answer, it is impossible to know election before faith; therefore to desire this is to go about to compass impossibilities. This was never done, nor ever will be.  If this had been stood upon, there had been no faith in the world, no soul had ever believed in Christ; for it is not possible for any to know he is elected till he believe. This is to desire to see thy name is writ in the book of life, written in heaven, before thou hast an eye to see it. 

It is the eye of faith that only sees this, that alone can read this; it is impossible you should see it without an eye, without this eye. 

It is impossible you should read this in the book of life till that book be opened; now it is a book shut and sealed till faith open it.  Election is a secret, it runs under ground till faith.  When the soul believes, then it first breaks forth; then, and not till then, is this secret made known and brought to light. When you desire assurance of it before, you desire to know that which cannot be known, to see that which cannot be discerned.

It is preposterous to attempt this, is to set the cart before the horse, to desire to be at the end before ye are in the way; as if a man would be at a good distance from him  before he set a foot out of his own door.  As if the Israelite’s would have been in Canaan, that pleasant land, before they were come out of Egypt.  This is to have a conclusion proved without any premises, without any good medium to prove it by. You must first have the ground and medium before you can reason and draw the conclusion. 

If ever you would conclude on good ground that you are elected, faith must be the ground on which you must conclude it.   I believe, therefore, I am elected and that is the method wherein the Lord would have you reason.  First, make that sure, I believe; and then this conclusion will be easy and certain, I am elected.  This is the apostle’s method, 1 Thes. 1:4, first the work of faith, and then the election of God.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: David Clarkson (1622–1686) was an English ejected minister.  The son of Robert Clarkson, he was born at Bradford, Yorkshire, where he was baptised on 3 March 1622. He was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and by virtue of a warrant from the Earl of Manchester was admitted fellow on 5 May 1645, being then B.A. Clarkson had pupils until 26 March 1650, among them John Tillotson, who succeeded him in his fellowship about 27 November 1651.

Clarkson obtained the perpetual curacy of Mortlake, Surrey, and held it till his ejection by the Uniformity Act 1662. After two decades of covert movement he became, in July 1682, colleague to John Owen as pastor of an independent church in London, and on Owen’s death in the following year he succeeded him as sole pastor. He died rather suddenly on 14 June 1686, and his funeral sermon was preached by William Bates

Character excerpts from Wikipedia

The Doctrine of Election: And the Sweet Assurance of Intercession

Written by John Hurrion
Taken from, “A Defence of Some Important Doctrines of the Gospel, In Twenty-Six Sermons”
Edited for thought and sense.

images (2)“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw
near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

–Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)

What encouragement is there for us to wait for salvation by Christ, to lie at his feet, and hope in his mercy?

The saved are a numberless number, sinners of all ages, sizes, and circumstances: the Savior set forth in the gospel, is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. Those who are left to their own wills perish; God works a work which they in no wise believe: they will not come to Christ that they may have life; but those committed to the care of Christ shall come; he makes them willing in the day of his power, by his word and Spirit, and the pastoral rod of his strength. It is good then to wait at wisdom’s gates; for such as find Christ, find life. There is encouragement to hope for mercy, if we wait for it, in the way which Christ has prescribed: he has said, “Seek, and ye shall find; search the Scriptures, they testify of me; come to me all ye that are weary, and I will give you rest.”

The Psalmist uses an argument which is grown much stronger since his time: “our fathers trusted in you, and they were delivered,” Psalm 22:4. We may say not only the patriarchs and prophets, but the apostles, the primitive church, and multitudes down to this present time, have trusted in Christ, and have been saved by him; therefore “it is good for us to wait and hope for the salvation of the Lord.” It is our business to prove our election and redemption by our effectual calling. If we believe, we shall be saved; if we never do, then there is no salvation for us. It is a great encouragement that there is a Savior, infinite in grace and merit, who will give the water of life freely, to every one that thirsts; and we have as fair an opportunity as thousands before us, who ventured their souls on Christ, and were kindly received by him.

Let us not sink under the greatest discouragements which we meet with in the course of providence. Valuable and useful instruments are taken away, or laid aside: faithful and able ministers die; but Christ lives still; and blessed be the Rock of our salvation. Christ is mighty to save; and with him is the residue of the Spirit: it is he that made those who are gone what they were; and he can give the same Spirit and gifts to others, or work the same effects, by less able and likely means. We should then cry to the Lord God of Elijah, to pour out more of his Spirit on his ministers and people, that salvation work may be carried on, not by human might and power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. Christ has promised to be with his ministers and people to the end of the world, if they teach and do what he has commanded, Matthew 28:20. Let us then, in his own way, depend upon his promise, and wait for his blessing, who “walks in the greatness of his strength, and is mighty to save; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”


(Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Hurrion (1675–1731) was an English Independent minister. The Rev. Mr. John Hurrion is well known by his valuable and elaborate writings. After being suitably qualified for the work of the holy ministry, by a stock of useful learning, and other ministerial gifts and endowments was called forth to labor in the Lord’s vineyard; and was first settled in a dissenting meeting-house at Denton, in the county of Norfolk, where he was highly, esteemed, and his ministry much countenanced by the Lord. His fame having spread, for being an able and evangelical preacher, and a strenuous defender of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, he was warmly invited, and got an unanimous call to labor in a church at London, that had greatly flourished for many years, under the ministrations of another eminent dissenting divine. Here he was much esteemed and respected, and his labors crowned with success.

When the Ravens Steal the Seed: A False Theology about God.

Written by Arthur W. Pink,
Taken from, “The Foreknowledge of God “

Common Raven in flightFalse theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect.


“When the solemn and blessed subject of divine foreordination is expounded, when God’s eternal choice of certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son is set forth, the enemy sends along some man to argue that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, and this ‘foreknowledge’ is interpreted to mean that God foresaw certain ones would be more pliable than others, that they would respond more readily to the strivings of the Spirit, and that because God knew they would believe, He accordingly, predestinated them unto salvation.

But such a statement is radically wrong.

It repudiates the truth of total depravity, for it argues that there is something good in some men. It takes away the independency of God, for it makes His decrees rest upon what He discovers in the creature. It completely turns things upside down, for in saying God foresaw certain sinners would believe in Christ, and that because of this, He predestinated them unto salvation, is the very reverse of the truth. Scripture affirms that God, in His high sovereignty, singled out certain ones to be recipients of His distinguishing favours (Acts 13:48), and therefore He determined to bestow upon them the gift of faith. False theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect. There are those today who are misusing this very truth in order to discredit and deny the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners, just as higher critics are repudiating the divine inspiration of the Scriptures; evolutionists, the work of God in creation; so some pseudo Bible teachers are perverting His foreknowledge in order to set aside His unconditional election unto eternal life.

Does Christ compel men against their wills to become subject unto him?


But shall God give his Son the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, and shall men withhold it?


Shall God give men unto Christ (“Thine they were and thou gavest them unto me.”) and shall they detain themselves from him?


What is it, that he gives unto his Son, but the souls, the hearts, the very thoughts of men to be made obedient unto his sceptre? 


And shall it then be within the compass of human power to effect as it is in their pride to maintain “fieri posse ut nulla sit ecclesia?” (to make possible that there be no church?)

We know one principal part of the kingdom and power of Christ is, “to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God;” and that not only unto conviction, but unto obedience, as the apostle shows; to send such gifts of the Spirit unto men, as should benefit the very rebellious, that God might dwell amongst them; for inasmuch as Christ came “to destroy the works of the Devil, that is, sin,” (as the apostle shows,) and in their place, to bring in the work of God, which is “faith in him” — for so that grace is frequently styled; therefore it is requisite, that none of Satan’s instruments, and confederates, such as the hearts of natural men are, should be too strong for the grace of Christ.

But what then doth Christ compel men against their wills to become subject unto him?

No, in no wise. He hath ordered to bring them in by way of voluntariness and obedience. And herein is the wisdom of his power seen, that his grace shall mightily produce those effects in men, to which their hearts shall most obediently and willingly consent.




Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Edward Reynolds (November 1599 – 28 July 1676) was a bishop of Norwich in the Church of England and an author.

In 1615, Reynolds became postmaster of Merton College and in 1620, probationer fellow. In 1622, he was made preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, from 1627 to 1628 served as the thirty-seventh vicar of All Saints’ Church, Northampton, and in 1631 rector of Braunston, also in Northamptonshire; but in the rebellion of 1642 he sided with the Presbyterians.

In 1643 he was one of the Westminster Assembly divines, and took the covenant in 1644. In 1648 he became dean of Christ Church and vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford. He preached before parliament in January 1657, and the same year he became vicar of St Lawrence Jewry, London, but was restored to his deanery in 1659.

After the death of Oliver Cromwell, he and other Presbyterians sought an accommodation with Richard Cromwell, and on 11 October 1658, on behalf of himself and other London Presbyterian ministers, Reynolds delivered an oral address to the new protector. In 1659 he preached at the opening session of parliament, and his sermons to parliament and London notables throughout 1659 and 1660 became increasingly pointed about the need for peace, unity, and moderation, codes for the restoration of the monarchy and a moderate episcopacy.

At the Restoration in 1660, he was made chaplain to Charles II. In the same year he was elected warden of Merton College, and made bishop of Norwich. His contribution to the Book of Common Prayer is The General Thanksgiving prayer which is part of the office of Morning Prayer. His collected works were published in 1658, again in 1679 and, with a memoir of his life by Alexander Chambers, in 1826.