Calvinism:  Manifesto on God's Supremacy
and Almost a Manifesto on Christian Elitism

Table of Contents

~  Still Under Construction  ~

The editing of this is still in progress and some scan errors remain

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When I pursued information on the best work on Calvinism, Boettner was at the top of the list as the classic.  The following is not the total book, only about a third of its most salient topics, most all of the scripture references and several full chapters.  The table of contents in tagged to make navigation easy.  


Boettner, Loraine.  The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1951, 7th ed. (1st ed. 1932).  In this volume the author as copyright owner says:  “Any one is at liberty to use material from this book with or without credit…. He believes the material set forth to be a true statement of Scripture teaching, and his desire is to further, not restrict, its use.”

The Christian the theology of Predestination is all about God's supremacy.  In a way, and in the light of the Would You Lie to Save a Life, Calvinism could almost be called a manifesto for Christian Elitism (but we stop short).  Even Augustine a 1,000 years before Calvin articulated the doctrine of God’s supremacy.  There is hardly a biblical Christian who doubts the supremacy of God or doubts that the Christian has some degree of “free will” responsibility in the doing of God’s will—at least to the extent that the Christian is “responsible” in “free choice” to make simple decisions (like to help others and avoid criminal behavior).  The questions arise in how that supremacy impacts salvation and the individual’s eternal destiny.  Practically, the doctrine of God's supremacy informs us about the “nature” of our responsibility, and the most imponderable questions of all arise with respect to the degree of our free will in the light of God’s supremacy. 

~   Some Credits   ~

Christianity Today—"Not only a clear and cogent presentation of the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, but of all the great distinctive doctrines of the Reformed Faith."

The Sunday School Times—"A book that will live for years as one of the most scholarly, helpful and interesting discussions of a difficult subject."

The Expositor—"The mantle of Dr. Warfield, Calvin's most distinguished expositor and defender of the last generation, seems to have fallen on Dr. Boettner's shoulders."

United Presbyterian—"Whoever really wants to know what Calvinism teaches cannot do better than to read this book from cover to cover."


Contents  ~  top

         I.   Introduction


        II.   Statement of the Doctrine

       III.   God Has a Plan

       IV.   The Sovereignty of God

        V.   The Providence of God

       VI.   The Foreknowledge of God

      VII.   Outline of the Systems

    VIII.   The Scriptures Are the Final Authority By Which Systems Are to be Judged

       IX.   A Warning Against Undue Speculation

SECTION II:  The Five Points of Calvinism

        X.   Total Inability

       XI.   Unconditional Election

      XII.   Limited Atonement

    XIII.   Efficacious or Irresistible Grace

     XIV.   The Perseverance of the Saints

SECTION III:  Objections Commonly Urged Against the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

      XV.   1.  That It Is a Fatalism

     XVI.   2.  That It Is Inconsistent with the Free Agency and Moral Responsibility of Man

   XVII.   3.  That It Makes God the Author of Sin

  XVIII.   4.  That It Discourages All Motives To Exertion

     XIX.   5.  That It Represents God as a Respecter of Persons, or as Unjustly Partial

      XX.   6.  That It Is Unfavorable to Good Morality

     XXI.   7.  That It Precludes a Sincere Offer of the Gospel to the Non-Elect

   XXII.   8.  That It Contradicts the Universalistic Scripture Passages


  XXIII.   Salvation by Grace

  XXIV.   Personal Assurance That One Is Among the Elect

    XXV.   Predestination in the Physical World

  XXVI.   A Comparison with the Mohammedan Doctrine of Predestination

SECTION V:  XXVII.  The Practical Importance of the Doctrine

SECTION VI:  XXVIII.  Calvinism in History

I.  Introduction   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 1:  "The purpose of this book is not to set forth a new system of theological thought, but to give a re-statement of that great system which is known as the Reformed Faith or Calvinism….

"The doctrine of Predestination receives … is very imperfectly understood even by those who are supposed to hold it most loyally.  It is a doctrine, however, which is contained in the creeds of most evangelical churches and which has had a remarkable influence both in Church and state.  The official standards of the various branches of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Europe and America are thoroughly Calvinistic.  The Baptist and Congregational churches, although they have no formulated creeds, have in the main been Calvinistic if we may judge from the writings and teachings of the representative theologians.  The great free church of Holland and almost all the churches of Scotland are Calvinistic.  The Established Church of England and her daughter, the Episcopal Church of America, have a Calvinistic creed in the Thirty-nine Articles.  The Whitefield Methodists of Wales to this day bear the name 'Calvinistic Methodists.

"Among the past and present advocates of this doctrine [Predestination] are to be found some of the world's greatest and wisest men.  It was taught not only by Calvin, but by Luther, Zwingli, Melancthon (although Melancthon later retreated toward the Semi-Pelagian position), by Bullinger, Bucer, and all of the outstanding leaders in the Reformation. … Luther's chief work, 'The Bondage of the Will,' shows that he went into the doctrine as heartily as did Calvin himself.  He [Luther] even asserted it with more warmth and proceeded to much harsher lengths in defending it than Calvin ever did.  And the Lutheran Church today as judged by the Formula of Concord holds the doctrine of Predestination in a modified form.  [… in degrees the Puritans and early settlers, the Covenanters in Scotland, Huguenots in France.]  This faith was for a time held by the Roman Catholic Church, and at no time has that church every openly repudiated it….


"We call this system of doctrine 'Calvinism,' and accept the term 'Calvinist' as our badge of honor;  yet names are mere conveniences.  'We might,' says Warburton, 'quite as appropriately, and with equally as much reason, call gravitation "Newtonism," because the principles of gravitation were first clearly demonstrated by the great philosopher Newton.  Men had been fully conversant with the facts of gravitation for long ages before Newton was born.  These facts had indeed been visible from the first days of creation, inasmuch as gravitation was one of the laws which God ordained for governing of the universe.  But the principles of gravitation were not fully known, and the far-reaching effects of its power and influence were not understood until they were discovered by Sir Isaac Newton.  So, too, was it with what men call Calvinism.  The inherent principles of it had been in existence for long ages before Calvin was born.  They had indeed been visible as patent factors in the world's history from the time of man's creation.  But inasmuch as it was Calvin who first formulated these principles into a more or less complete system, that system, or creed, if you will, and likewise those principles where are embodied in it, came to bear his name.'[1]

"This doctrine of Predestination has perhaps raised a greater storm of opposition, and has doubtless been more misrepresented and caricatured, than any other doctrine in the Scriptures.  'To mention it before some,' says Warburton, 'is like shaking the proverbial red flag before an enraged bull.  It arouses the fiercest passions of their nature, and brings forth a torrent of abuse and calumny.  But, because men have fought against it, or because they hate it, or perhaps misunderstand it, is no reasonable or logical cause why we should turn the doctrine adrift, or cast it behind or backs.  The real question, the all-important question, is not:  How do me receive it? but, Is it true?'[2]

"'The consideration of this great doctrine,' says Cunningham, 'runs up into the most profound and inaccessible subjects that can occupy the minds of men—the nature and attributes, the purposes and the actings of the infinite and incomprehensible Jehovah—viewed especially in their bearings upon the everlasting destinies of His intelligent creatures.  The peculiar nature of the subject certainly demands, in right reason, that it should ever be approached and considered with the profoundest humility, caution, and reverence, as it brings us into contact, on the one side, with the subject so awful and overwhelming as the everlasting misery of an innumerable multitude of our fellow men….  There is probably no subject that has occupied more of the attention of intelligent men in every age…. Some, at least, of the topics comprehended under this general head have been discussed by almost every philosopher of eminence in ancient as well as in modern times….  All that the highest ability, ingenuity, and acuteness can effect, has been brought to bear upon the discussion of this subject;  and the difficulties attaching to it have never been fully solved, and we are well warranted in saying that they never will … perhaps, it would be more correct to say that, from the very nature of the case, a finite being can never fully comprehend it since this would imply that the could fully comprehend the infinite world.'[3]

"The question which faces us then, Has God from all eternity foreordained all things which come to pass?  If so, what evidence do we have to that effect, and how is the fact consistent with the free agency of rational creatures and with His own perfections?"

SECTION I.   II.  Statement of the Doctrine   [ Contents ~ Top ]

On the Doctrine of Predestination p. 13-18 

"In the Westminster Confession … which is the most perfect expression of the Reformed Faith, we read:  'God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeable ordain whatsoever comes to pass;  yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.'  And further, 'Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions;  yet hath He not decreed any thing because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.'

"This doctrine of Predestination represents the purpose of God as absolute and unconditional, independent of the whole finite creation, and as originating solely in the eternal counsel of His will.  God is seen as the great and mighty King who as appointed the course of nature and who directs the course of history even down to its minutest details.  His degree is eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise, and sovereign.  It extends not merely to the course of the physical world but to every event in human history from the creation to the judgment, and includes all the activities of saints and angels in heaven and of reprobates and demons in hell.  It embraces the whole scope of creaturely existence, through time and eternity, comprehending at once all things that ever were or will be in their causes, conditions, successions, and relations.  Everything outside of God Himself is included in this all-embracing decree, and that very naturally since all other beings owe their existence and continuance in existence to His creative and sustaining power.  It provides a providential control under which all things are hastening to the end of God's determining ….

"Since the finite creation through its whole range exists as a medium through which God manifests His glory, and since it is absolutely dependent on Him, it of itself could originate no conditions which would limit or defeat the manifestation of that glory.  From all eternity God has purposed to do just exactly what He is doing.  He is the sovereign Ruler of the universe and 'does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;  and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?' Dan. 4:35.  Since the universe had its origin in God and depends on Him for its continued existence it must be, in all its parts and at all times, subject to His control so that nothing can come to pass contrary to what He expressly decrees or permits.  Thus the eternal purpose is represented as an act of sovereign predestination or foreordination, and unconditioned by any subsequent fact or change in time.  Hence it is represented as being the basis of the divine foreknowledge of all future events, and not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originated by the events themselves.

"The Reformed theologians … saw the hand of God in every event in all the history of mankind and in all the workings of physical nature so that the world was the complete realization in time of the eternal ideal.  The world as a whole and in all its parts and movements and changes was brought into a unity by the governing, all-pervading, all-harmonizing activity of the divine will, and its purpose was to manifest the divine glory. … Calvin … [said] 'Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself, what He would have to become of every individual of mankind.  For they are not all created with a similar destiny;  but eternal life is foreordained for some and eternal death for others.  Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say he is predestined either to life or to death.'[4] …"

"That Luther was as zealous for absolute predestination as was Calvin is shown in his commentary on Romans, where he wrote:  'All things whatever arise from, and depend on, the divine appointment;  whereby it was foreordained who should receive the word of life, and who should disbelieve it;  who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them;  and who should be justified and who should be condemned.' …

"'Order is heaven's first law.'  From the divine viewpoint there is unbroken  order and progress from the first beginnings of the creation to the end of the world and the ushering in of the kingdom of heaven in all its glory.  The divine purpose and plan is nowhere defeated nor interrupted;  that which in many cases appears to us to be defeat is not really such but only appears to be, because our finite and imperfect nature does not permit us to see all the parts in the whole nor the whole in all its parts.  If at one glance would could take in 'the might spectacle of the natural world and the complex drama of human history,' we should see the world as one harmonious unit manifesting the glorious perfections of God.

"'Though the world seems to run at random,' says Bishop, 'and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion and rude disorder, yet, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them that he makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords.  It is most necessary that we should have our hearts well established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth, that whatever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God.  In respect to God, there is nothing casual nor contingent in the world.  If a master should send a servant to a certain place and command him to stay there till such a time, and, presently after, should send another servant to the same place, the meeting of these two is wholly casual in respect to themselves, but ordained and foreseen by the master who sent them.  They fall out unexpectedly as to us, but no so as to God.  He foresees and He appoints all the vicissitudes of things.'[5]

"The Psalmist exclaimed, 'O Jehovah our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth!'  And the writer of Ecclesiastes says, 'He hath made everything beautiful in its time."  In the vision which the prophet Isaiah saw, the seraphim sang, 'Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts:  The whole earth is full of His glory.'  When seen from this divine view-point every event in the course of human affairs is all ages and in all nations has, no matter how insignificant it may appear to us, its exact place in the development of the eternal plan…. And strictly speaking, no event is really small;  each one has its exact place in the divine plan, and some are only relatively greater than others.  The course of history, then is infinitely complex, yet a unit in the sight of God.  This truth, together with the reason for it, is very beautifully summed up in the Shorter Catechism which states that, 'The degrees of God are, His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.'

"Dr. Abraham Kyper, of Holland, who is recognized as one of the outstanding Calvinistic theologians in recent years, has given us some valuable thought in the following paragraph:  'The determination of the existence of all things to be created, or what is to be camellia or buttercup, nightingale or crow, hart or swine, and equally among men, the determination of our persons, whether one is to be born a boy or girl, rich or poor, dull or clever, white or colored or even Abel or Cain, is the most tremendous predestination conceivable in heaven and on earth;  and still we see it taking place before our eyes every day, and we ourselves are subject to it in our entire personality;  our entire existence, our very nature, our position in life being entirely dependent on it.  This all-embracing predestination, the Calvinist places, not in the hands of man, and still less in the hand of blind nature force, but in the hand of Almighty God, sovereign Creator and Possessor of heaven and earth;  and it is in the figure of the potter and the clay that that Scripture has from the time of the prophets expounded to us this all-dominating election.  Election in creation, election in providence, and so election also to eternal life;  election in the realm of grace as well as in the realm of nature.'[6]

"We can have no adequate appreciation of this world-order until we see it as one mighty system through which God is working out his plans.  Calvin's clear and consistent theism gave him a keen sense of the infinite majesty of the Almighty Person in whose hands all things lay, and made him a very pronounced predestinarian.  In this doctrine of the unconditional and eternal purpose of the omniscient and omnipotent God, he found the program of the history of the fall and redemption of the human race.  He ventured boldly but reverently upon the brink of that abyss of speculation where all human knowledge is lost in mystery and adoration.

"The Reformed Faith, then, offers us a great God who is really the sovereign Ruler of the Universe.  'Its grand principle,' says Bayne, 'is the contemplation of the universe of God revealed in Christ.  In all places, in all times, from eternity to eternity, Calvinism sees God.'…

"Foreordination is explicitly state in Scripture."

Acts 4:27, 28:  For of a truth in this city against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and they counsel foreordained to come to pass.

Eph. 1:5:  Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

Eph. 1:11:  In whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.

Rom. 8:29, 30:  For whom He foreknow, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren:  and whom He foreordained, them He also called:  and whom he called, them he also justified:  and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

1 Cor. 2:7:  But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory.

Acts 2:23:  Him [Jesus] being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hands of lawless men did crucify and slay.

Eph. 2:10:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

Rom. 9:23:  That He might make known the riches of His glory upon the vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory.

Psalm 139:16:  Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance;  and in thy book they are all written, even the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them.

III.  God Has a Plan   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p.20:  "It is unthinkable that a God of infinite wisdom and power would create a world without a definite plan for that world.  And because God is thus infinite His plan must extend to every detail of the world's existence.  If we could see the world in all its relations, past, present, and future, we would see that it is following a predetermined course with exact precision.  Among created things we may search where we will, as far as the microscope and the telescope will enable the eye to see, we find organization everywhere.  Large forms resolve themselves into parts, and these parts in their turn are but organized of other parts down as far as we can see into infinity.


"…We cannot conceive of God bringing into existence a universe without a plan which would extend to all that would be done in that universe.  As the Scriptures teach that God's providential control extends to all events, even the most minute, they thereby teach that His plan is equally comprehensive.  It is one of His perfections that He has the best possible plan, and that He conducts the course of history to its appointed end.  And to admit that He has a plan which He carries out is to admit Predestination….

"The Pelagian denies that God has a plan;  the Arminian says that God has a general but not a specific plan;  but the Calvinist says that God has a specific plan which embraces all events in all ages.  In recognizing that the eternal God has an eternal plan in which is predetermined every event that comes to pass, the Calvinist simply recognizes that God is God, and frees Him from all human limitations.  The Scriptures represent God as a person, like other persons in that His acts are purposeful, but unlike other persons in that He is all-wise in His planning and all-powerful in His performing.  They see the universe as the product of His creative power, and as the theater in which are displayed His glorious perfections, and which must in all its form and all its history, down to the least detail, correspond with His purpose in making it.

"In a very illuminating article … Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield … tells us that the writers of Scripture saw the divine plan as 'broad enough to embrace the whole universe of things, and minute enough to concern itself with the smallest details, and actualizing itself with inevitable certainty in every event that comes to pass.'  'In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in this unfolding of He eternal plan;  nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its peculiar fitness for its place in the working out of His purposes;  and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and accumulation of His praise.  This is the Old Testament (as well as the New Testament) philosophy of the universe—a world-view which attains concrete unity in an absolute decree, or purpose, or plan of which all that comes to pass is the development in time.'[7]

"The very essence of consistent theism is that God would have an exact plan for the world, would foreknow the actions of all the creatures He proposed to create, and through His all-inclusive providence would control the whole system.  If He foreordained only certain isolated events, confusion both in the natural world and in human affairs would be introduced into the system and He would need to be constantly developing new plans to accomplish what he desired…. But no one with proper ideas of God believes that He has to change His mind every few days to make room for unexpected happenings which were not included in His original plan….

"…And since He knew perfectly every event of every kind which would be involved in this particular world-order, He very obviously predetermined every event which would happen when He chose this plan.  His choice of the plan, or His making certain that the creation should be on this order, we call His foreordination or His predestination.

"Even the sinful acts of men are included in this plan.  They are foreseen, permitted, and have their exact place.  They are controlled and overruled for the divine glory.  The crucifixion of Christ, which is admittedly the worst crime in all human history, had, we are expressly told, its exact and necessary place in the plan (Acts 2:23,  4:28).  This particular manner of redemption is not an expedient to which God was driven after being defeated and disappointed by the fall of man.  Rather it is "according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord," Eph. 3:11.  Peter tells us that Christ as a sacrifice for sin was 'foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world,' I Peter 1:20.  Believers were 'chosen in Him before the foundation of the world' (or from eternity), Eph. 1:4….

"History in all its details, even the most minute, is but the unfolding of the eternal purposes of God.  His decrees are not successively formed as the emergency arises, but are all parts of one all-comprehending plan, and we should never think of Him suddenly evolving a plan or doing something which He had not thought of before…."

Scripture Proof.   God plan is eternal:  II Tim. 1:9, Ps. 33:11, Is. 37:26, Is. 46:9-10, II Thess. 2:13, Matt. 25:34, I Pet. 1:20, Jer. 31:3, Acts 15:18, Ps. 139:16.  God's plan is unchangeable:  James 1:17, Is. 14:24, Is. 46:10-11, Num. 23:19, Mal. 3:6.  The divine plan includes the future acts of men:  Dan. 2:28, John 6:64, Matt. 20:18-19 (All the Scripture prophecies which are predictions of future events come under this heading, especially:  Micah 5:2 cp. with Matt. 2:5-6, Luke 2:1-7;  Ps. 22:18 cp. with John 19:24;  Ps. 69:21 cp. with John 19:29;  Zech. 12:10 cp. John 19:37;  Mark 14:30;  Zech. 11:12-13 cp. with Matt. 27:9-10;  Ps. 34:19-20 cp. with John 19:33-36).  The divine plan includes the fortuitous events or chance happenings:  Prov. 16:33, Jonah 1:7, Acts 1:24-26, Job. 36:32 & 5:6, I Kings 22:28 & 34, Mark 14:30 (cp. Gen. 37:28 and 45:5;  I Sam. 9:15-16 and 9:5-10).  Some events are recorded as fixed or inevitably certain:  Luke 22:22, John 8:20, Matt. 24:36, Gen. 41:32, Hab. 2.3, Luke 21:24, Jer. 15:2, Job 14:5, Jer. 27:7.  Even the sinful acts of men are included in the plan and are overruled for good:  Gen. 50:20, Is. 45:7, Amos 3:6, Acts 3:18, Matt. 21:42, Rom. 8:28.

IV.  The Sovereignty of God   [ Contents ~ Top ]

"…It has been recognized by Christians in all ages that God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe, and that as the Creator and Ruler of the universe He is the ultimate source of all the power that is found in the creatures.  Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will;  and when we dwell upon this truth we find that it involves considerations which establish the Calvinistic and disprove the Arminian position.

"…He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made.  He exerts not merely a general influence, but actually rules in the world which He has created.…  And since he permits not unwillingly but willingly, all that comes to pass—including the actions and ultimate destiny of men—must be, in some sense, in accordance with what He has desired and proposed…. Naturally some problems arise here which we in our present state of knowledge are not fully capable of solving;  but that is no sufficient ground for rejecting what the Scriptures and the plain dictates of reason affirm to be true.

"…In the Scriptures He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion.  He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end.  He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think.  The category of the impossible has no existence for Him 'with whom all things are possible,' Matt. 19:26;  Mark 10:27….

"Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power.  It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love….

Scripture Proof.   The Sovereignty of God.  Dan. 4:35, Jer. 32:17, Matt. 28:18, Eph. 1:22, Eph. 1:11, Is. 14:24-27 & 46:9-11, Gen. 18:14, Job. 43:2, Ps. 115:3 & 135:6, Is. 55:11, Rom 9:20-21.

V.  The Providence of God   [ Contents ~ Top ]

"'God's works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.'[8]  The Scripture very clearly teach that all things outside of God owe not merely their original creation, but their continued existence, with all their properties and powers, to the will of God.  He upholds all things by the word of His power, Heb. 1:13.  He is before all things, and in Him all things consist, Col. 1:17….

"Yet as regards God's providence we are to understand that He is intimately concerned with every detail in the affairs of men and in the course of nature.  'To suppose that anything is too great to be comprehended in His control,' says Dr. Charles Hodge, 'or anything so minute as to escape His notice;  or that the infinite of particulars can distract His attention, is to forget that God is infinite…. The sun diffuses its light through all space as easily as upon any point.  God is as much present everywhere, and with everything, as though He were only in one place, and had but one object of attention.'  And again, 'He is present in every blade of grass, yet guiding Aucturus in his course, marshalling the stars as a host, calling them by their names;  present also in every human soul, giving it understanding, endowing it with gifts, working I nit both to will and to do.  The human heart is in His hands;  and he turneth it even as the rivers of water are turned.'[9]

p. 38:  "Man's sense of moral responsibility and dependence, and his instinctive appeal to God in times of danger, show how universal and innate is the conviction that God does govern the world and all human events.  But while the Bible repeatedly teaches that this providential control is universal, powerful, wise, and holy, it nowhere attempts to inform us how it is to be reconciled with man's free agency.  All that we need to know is that God does govern His creatures and that His control over them is such that no violence is done to their natures.  Perhaps the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom can best be summed up in these words:  God so presents the outside inducements that man acts in accordance with his known nature, yet does exactly what God has planned for him to do.

"This subject, as it relates to human responsibility, will be more fully treated in the chapter on Free Agency."

Scripture Proof.  The Providence of God Extends over:  a.  Nature and physical world:  Nahum 1:3, Ex. 9:26, Matt. 5:45, Gen. 41:32, Amos 4:7, Acts 14:17, Is. 4012.  b.  The animal creation:  Matt. 10:29, Matt. 6:26, Dan. 6:22, Ps. 104:21, Gen. 31:9.  c.  Nations:  Dan. 4:17, Is. 40:15, I Chr. 16:31, Ps. 47:7, Daniel 2:21, Ps. 33:10, Joshua 21:44, Judges 6:1, Amos 3:6, Hab. 1:6.  d.  Individual men:  Prov. 21:1, Ps. 37:23, Prov. 16:9, James 4:15, Rom. 11:36, I Cor. 4:7,Ps. 34:7, Daniel 3:17, Ps. 118:6, Is. 64:8, Ezra 8:31, Nehemiah 4:15, Ex. 11:7, Acts 18:9.  e.  The free acts of men:  Phil. 2:13, Ex. 12:36, Ezra 6:22 & 7:6, Ezek. 36:27.  f.  The sinful acts of men:  Acts 4:27-28, John 19:11, II Sam. 16:10-11, Ps. 76:10, Ex. 14:17.  g.  To the fortuitous events or "chance happenings" (see previous on The Divine Plan Includes the Fortuitous Events).

VI.  The Foreknowledge of God   [ Contents ~ Top ]

pp42-46:  "The Arminian objection against foreordination bears with equal force against the foreknowledge of God. What God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained;  and if one is inconsistent with the free agency of man, the other is also.  Foreordination renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain.

"Now if future events are foreknown to God, they cannot be any possibility take a turn contrary to His knowledge.  If the course of future events is foreknown, history will follow that course as definitely as a locomotive follows the rails from New York to Chicago.  The Arminian doctrine, in rejecting foreordination, rejects the theistic basis for foreknowledge.  Common sense tells us that no event can be foreknown unless by some means, either physical or mental, it has been predetermined.  Our choice as to what determines the certainty of future events narrows down to two alternatives—the foreordination of the wise and merciful heavenly Father, or the working of blind physical fate.

"The Socinians and Unitarians, while not so evangelical as the Arminians, are at this point more consistent;  for after rejecting the foreordination of God, they also deny that He can foreknow the acts of free agents.  They hold that in the very nature of the case it cannot be known how the person will act until the time comes an the choice is made…. 

"… Others have suggested that God may voluntarily neglect to know some of the acts of men in order to leave them free;  but this of course destroys the omniscience of God.  Still others have suggested that God's omniscience may imply only that He can know all things, if He chooses—just as His omnipotence implies that He can do all things, if He chooses.  But the comparison will not hold, for these certain acts are not merely possibilities but realities, although yet future;  and to ascribe ignorance to God concerning these is to deny Him the attribute of omniscience.  This explanation would give us the absurdity of an omniscience that is not omniscient.

"When the Arminian is confronted with the argument from the foreknowledge of God, he has to admit the certainty or fixity of future events.  Yet when dealing with the problem of free agency he wishes to maintain that the acts of free agents are uncertain and ultimately dependent on the choice of the person—which is plainly an inconsistent position.  A view which holds that the free acts of men are uncertain, sacrifices the sovereignty of God in order to preserve the freedom of men.

"Furthermore, if the acts of free agents are in themselves uncertain, God must then wait until the event has had its issue before making His plans.  In trying to convert a soul, then He would be conceived of as working in the same manner that Napoleon is said to gone into battle—with three or four plans in mind, so that if the first failed, he could fall back upon the second, and if that failed, then the third, and so on—a view which is altogether inconsistent with a true view of His nature.  He would then be ignorant of much of the future and would daily be gaining vast stores of knowledge.  His government of the world also, in that case, would be very uncertain and changeable, dependent as it would be on the unforeseen conduct of men.

"To deny God the perfections of foreknowledge and immutability is to represent Him as a disappointed and unhappy being who is often checkmated and defeated by His creatures….

"Speaking through the prophet Isaiah the Lord said:  'I am God, and there is none like me;  declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done;  saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,' Is. 46:10.  'Thou understandest my thoughts afar off,' said the psalmist, 139:2.  He 'knoweth the heart," Acts 15:8.  'There is no creature that is not manifest in His sight;  but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,' Heb. 4:13.

"Much of the difficulty in regard to the doctrine of Predestination is due to the finite character of our mind, which can grasp only a few details at a time, and which understands only a part of the relations between these.  We are creatures of time, and often fail to take into consideration the fact that God is not limited as we are.  That which appears to us as 'past,' 'present,' and 'future,' is all 'present' in His mind.  It is an eternal 'now.'  He is 'the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity,' Is. 57:15.  'A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.' Ps. 90:4.  Hence the events which we see coming to pass in time are only the events which He appointed and set before Him from eternity.  Time is a property of the finite creation and is objective to God.  He is above it and see it, but is not conditioned by it.  He is also independent of space, which is another property of the finite creation.  Just as He sees at one glance an road leading from New York to San Francisco, while w see only a small portion of it as we pass over it, so He sees all events in history, past, present, and future at one glance.  When we realize that the complete process of history is before Him as an eternal 'now,' and that He is the Creator of all finite existence, the doctrine of Predestination at least becomes an easier doctrine.

"In the eternal ages back of the creation there could not have been any certainty as to future events unless God had formed a decree in regard to them.  Events pass from the category of things that may or may not be, to that of things that shall certainly be, or from possibility to fruition, only when God passes a decree to that effect.  This fixity or certainty could have had it ground in nothing outside of the divine Mind, for in eternity nothing else existed.  Says Dr. R. L. Dabney:  'The only way in which any object can by any possibility have passed from God's vision of the possible into His foreknowledge of the actual, is by His purposing to effectuate it Himself, or intentionally and purposely to permit its effectuation by some other agent whom He expressly purposed to bring into existence.  This is clear from this fact.  An effect conceived in posse only raises into actuality by virtue of an efficient cause or causes.  When God was looking forward from the point of view of His original infinite prescience, there was but one cause, Himself.  If any other cause or agent is ever to arise, it must be by God's agency.  If effects are embraced in God's infinite prescience, which these other agents are to produce, still, in willing these other agents into existence, with infinite prescience, God did virtually will into existence, or purpose, all the effects of which they were to be efficients.'[10]

"And to the same effect the Baptist theologian, Dr. A. H. Strong, who for a number of years was President and Professor in the Rochester Theological Seminary, writes:  'In eternity there could have been no cause of the future existence of the universe, outside of God Himself, since no being existed but God Himself.  In eternity God foresaw that the creation of the world and the institution of its laws would make certain its actual history event to the most insignificant details.  But God degreed to create and to institute these laws.  In so degreeing He necessarily decreed all that was to come.  In fine, God foresaw the future events of the universe as certain, because He had decreed to create;  but this determination to create involved also a determination of all the actual results of that creation;  or, in other words, God decreed those results.'[11]

"Foreknowledge must not be confused with foreordination.  Foreknowledge presupposes foreordination, but is not itself foreordination.  The actions of free agents do not take place because they are foreseen, but they are foreseen because they are certain to take place.  Hense Strong says, 'Logically, though not chronologically, decree comes before foreknowledge.  When I say, "I know what I will do," it is evident that I have determined already, and that my knowledge does not precede determination, but follows it and is based upon it.'[12]

"Since God's foreknowledge is complete, He knows this destiny of every person, not merely before the person has made his choice in this life, but from eternity.  And since He knows their destiny before  they are created, and then proceeds to create, it is plain that the saved and the lost alike fulfill His plan for them;  for if He did not plan that any particular ones should be lost, He could at least refrain from creating them.

"We conclude, then, that the Christian doctrine of the Foreknowledge of God proves also His Predestination.  Since these events are foreknown, they are fixed and settled things;  and nothing can have fixed and settled them except the good pleasure of God—the great first cause—freely and unchangeably foreordaining whatever comes to pass.  The whole difficulty lies in the acts of free agents being certain;  yet certainly is required for foreknowledge as well as for foreordination."

VII.  Outline of the Systems   [ Contents ~ Top ]

Universalism holds that Christ died for all men and that all shall be saved.

Arminianism holds that Christ died equally for every person (saved and non-saved), that election is not eternal, that grace is offered to every man which may be received or rejected, and that a man may lose all and perish eternally.

p. 47-50 "Arminianism—which holds that Christ died equally and indiscriminately for every individual of mankind, for those who perish no less than for those who are saved;  that election is not an eternal and unconditional act of God;  that saving grace is offered to every man, which grace he may receive or reject just as he pleases;  that man may successfully resist the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit if he chooses to do so;  that saving grace is not necessarily permanent, but that those who are loved of God, ransomed by Christ, and born again of the Holy Spirit, may (let God wish and strive ever so much to the contrary) throw away all and perish eternally.  

"Arminianism in its radical and more fully developed forms is essentially a recrudescence of Pelagianism, a type of self-salvation.  In fact, the ancestry of Arminianism can be traced back to Pelagianism as definitely as can that of Calvinism be trace back to Augustinianism….

"…Its leading idea is that divine grace and human will jointly accomplish the work of conversion and sanctification, and that man has the sovereign right of accepting or rejecting.  It affirms that man is weak as a result of the fall, but denies that all ability has been lost.  Man therefore merely needs divine grace to assist his personal efforts.  Or, to put it another way, he is sick, but not dead;  he indeed cannot help himself, but he can engage the help of a physician, and can either accept or reject the help when it is offered.  He thus has power to co-operate with the grace of God in the matter of salvation.  This view exalts man's freedom at the expense of God's sovereignty.  It has some apparent, but no real, Scripture authority, and is plainly contradicted by other parts of Scripture….

"… Calvinism holds that as a result of the fall into sin all men in themselves are guilty, corrupted, hopelessly lost;  that from this fallen mass God sovereignly elects some to salvation through Christ, while passing by others;  that Christ is sent to redeem His people by a purely substitutionary atonement;  that the Holy Spirit efficaciously applies this redemption to the elect;  and that all of the elect are infallibly brought to salvation….

"Calvinism holds that the fall left man totally unable to do anything meriting salvation, that he is wholly dependent on divine grace for the inception and development of spiritual life.  The chief fault of Arminianism is its insufficient recognition of the part that God takes in redemption.  It loves to admire the dignity and strength of man;  Calvinism loses itself in adoration of the grace and omnipotence of God.  Calvinism casts man first into the depths of humiliation and despair in order to lift him on the wings of grace to supernatural strength.  The one flatters natural pride;  the other is a gospel for penitent sinners….

"Men constantly deceive themselves by postulating their own peculiar feelings and opinions as moral axioms.  To some it is self-evidently true that a holy God cannot permit sin;  hence they infer that there is no God.  To others it is self-evident that a merciful God cannot permit a portion of His rational creatures to be forever the victims of sin and misery, and consequently they deny the doctrine of eternal punishment.  Some assume that the innocent cannot justly be punished for the guilty, and are led to deny the vicarious and sustitutionary suffering and death of Christ.  And to others it is an axiom that the free acts of a free agent cannot be certain and under the control of God, so they deny the foreordination, or even the foreknowledge, of such acts."

Calvinism holds that God sovereignly elects some to salvation through Christ and passes over others, that Christ was sent to redeem His people, that the Holy Spirit efficaciously applies this redemption to the elect who are infallibly brought to salvation.

VIII.  The Scriptures Are the Final Authority By Which Systems Are to be Judged

   [ Contents ~ Top ]

The Scriptures are the guide.

IX.  A Warning Against Undue Speculation   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 54-55:  "Just at this point we shall give a few words of warning against undue speculation and curiosity in dealing with this lofty doctrine of Predestination.  Perhaps we can do no better than to quote the words of Calvin himself which are found in the first section of his treatment of this subject:  'The discussion of Predestination—a subject of itself rather intricate—is made very perplexed, and therefore dangerous, by human curiosity, which no barriers can restrain from wandering into forbidden labyrinths, and from soaring beyond its sphere, as if determined to leave none of the Divine secrets unscrutinized or unexplored … First, then, let them remember that when they inquire into Predestination, they penetrate into the inmost recesses of divine wisdom, where the careless and confident intruder will obtain no satisfaction to his curiosity … For we know that when we have exceeded the limits of the word, we shall get into a devious and irksome course, in which errors, slips, and falls will be inevitable.  Let us then, in the first place bear in mind, that to desire any more knowledge of Predestination than that which is unfolded in the word of God, indicates as great folly as to wish to walk through impassible roads, or to see in the dark.  Nor let us be ashamed to be ignorant of some things relative to a subject in which there is a kind of learned ignorance.'[13]

"We are not under obligation to 'explain' these truths;  we are only under obligation to state what God has revealed in His word, and to vindicate these statements as far as possible from misconception and objections.  In the nature of the case all that we can know concerning such profound truths is what the Spirit has seen fit to reveal concerning them, being confident that whatever God has revealed is undoubtedly true and is to be believed although we may not be able to sound its depths with the line of our reason.  In our ignorance of His inter-related purposes, we are not fitted to be His counselors.  'Thy judgments are a great deep,' said the psalmist [Ps. 36:6].  As well might man attempt to swim the ocean as to fathom the judgments of god.  Man knows far too little to justify him in attempting to explain the mysteries of God's rule.

"The importance of the subject discussed should lead us to proceed only with profoundest reverence and caution…. No matter how plainly it is taught in Scripture, the unenlightened mind considers it as absurd, for instance, that one God should exist in three persons, or that God should foreknow the entire course of world events, as that His plan should include the destiny of every person.  And while we can know only as much about Predestination as God has seen fit to reveal, it is important that we shall know that much;  otherwise it would not have been revealed.  Where Scripture leads we may safely follow."

SECTION II:  The Five Points of Calvinism   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 59, On the five points of Calvinism:  "…Prove any one of them true and all the others will follow as logical and necessary parts of the system.  Prove any one of them false and the whole system must be abandoned.  They are so many links in the great chain of causes, and not one of them can be taken away without marring and subverting the whole Gospel plan of salvation through Christ." 


T = Total Inability or Depravity

U = Unconditional Election

L = Limited Atonement

I = Irresistible or Efficacious Grace

P = Perseverance of the Saints

X.  Total Inability   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 61-64:  "In the Westminster Confession the doctrine of Total Inability is stated as follows:  'Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation;  so as a natural man, being altogether averse from good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.'[14]

"Paul, Augustine, and Calvin have as their starting point the fact that all mankind sinned in Adam and that all men are 'without excuse,' Rom. 2:1.  Time and again Paul tells us that we are dead in trespasses and sins, estranged from God, and helpless.  In writing to the Ephesian Christians he reminded them that before they received the Gospel they were 'separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world,' Eph. 2:12.  There we notice the five-fold emphasis as he piles phrase on top of phrase to stress this truth.

"2.  The Extent and Effects of Original Sin.  This doctrine of Total Inability, which declares that men are dead in sin, does not mean that all men are equally bad, not that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that anyone is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is evil in itself, nor that man's spirit is inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead.  What it does mean is that since the fall man rests under the curse of sin, that he is actuated by wrong principles, and that he is wholly unable to love God or to do anything meriting salvation.  His corruption is extensive but not necessarily intensive.

"It is in this sense that man since the fall 'is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil.'  He possesses a fixed bias of the will against God, and instinctively and willingly turns to evil.  He is an alien by birth, and a sinner by choice.  The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volitions, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.  And it is this phase of it which led Luther to declare that 'Free-will is an empty term, whose reality is lost.  And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.'[15]  In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater or lesser evil, which is not properly free will.  The fact that fallen man still has ability to do certain acts morally good in themselves does not prove that he can do acts meriting salvation, for his motives may be wholly wrong.

"Man is a free agent but he cannot originate the love of God in his heart.  His will is gree in the sense that it is not controlled by any force outside of himself.  As the bird with a broken wing is 'free' to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able.  How can he repent of his sin when he loves it?  How can he come to God when he hates Him?  This is the inability of the will under which man labors.  Jesus said, 'And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light;  for their works were evil,' John 3:19;  and again, 'Ye will not com to me, that ye may have life,' John 5:40.  Man's ruin lies mainly in his own perverse will.  He cannot come because he will not.  Help enough is provided if he were willing to accept it.  Paul tells us, 'The carnal mind is enmity against God;  for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be.  So they that are in the flesh cannot please God,' Rom. 8:7.


"In other words, fallen man is so morally blind that he uniformly prefers and chooses evil instead of good, as do the fallen angels or demons.  When the Christian is completely sanctified he reaches a state in which he uniformly prefers and chooses good, as do the holy angels.  Both of these states are consistent with freedom and responsibility of moral agents.

"Yet while fallen man acts thus uniformly he is never compelled to sin, but does it freely and delights in it.  His dispositions and desires are so inclined, and he acts knowingly and willingly from a spontaneous motion of the heart.  This natural bias or appetite for that which is evil is characteristic of man's fallen and corrupt nature, so that, as Job says, he 'drinketh iniquity like water,' 15:16.

"We read that 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him;  neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned,' I cor. 2:14.  We are at a loss to understand how any one can take a plain common sense view of this passage of Scripture and yet contend for the doctrine of human ability.  Man in his natural state cannot even see the kingdom of God, much less can he get into it.  An uncultured person may see a beautiful work of art as an object of vision, but he has no appreciation of its excellence.  He may see the figures of a complex mathematical equation, but they have no meaning for him.  Horses and cattle may see the same beautiful sunset or other phenomenon in nature that men see, but they are blind to all of the artistic beauty.  So it is when the Gospel of the cross is presented to the unregenerate man.  He may have an intellectual knowledge of the facts and doctrines of the Bible, but he lacks all spiritual discernment of their excellence, and finds no delight in them….


"Fallen man then lacks the power of spiritual discernment….  And since this state of mind is innate, as a condition of man's nature, it is beyond the power of the will to change it.  Rather it controls both the affections and volitions…."

"And such being the depth of man's corruption, it is wholly beyond his own power to cleanse himself.  His only hope of an amendment of life lies accordingly in a change of heart, which change is brought about by the sovereign re-creative power of the Holy Spirit who works when and where and how He pleases….  This transfer from spiritual death to spiritual life we call 'regeneration.'  It is referred to in Scripture by various terms:  'regeneration,' a 'making alive,' a 'calling out of darkness into light,' a 'quickening,' a 'renewing,' a taking away of the heart of stone and giving the heart of flesh, etc., which work is exclusively that of the Holy Spirit…."

p. 68:  "3.  The Defects in Man's Common Virtues.  The unregenerate man can, through common grace, love his family and he may be a good citizen… but he cannot give even a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of Jesus….  All of his common virtues or good works have a fatal defect in that his motives which prompt them are not to glorify God—a defect so vital that it throws any element of goodness as to a man wholly into the shade.  It matters not how good the works be in themselves, for so long as the doer of them is out of harmony with God, none of his works are spiritually acceptable….

p. 71:  "It follows also from what has been said that salvation is ABSOLUTELY AND SOLELY OF GRACE—that God is free, in consistency with the infinite perfections of His nature, to save none, few, many, or all, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will.  It also follows that salvation is not based on any merits in the creature, and that it depends on God, and not on men, who are, and who are no, to be partakers of eternal life.  God acts as a sovereign in saving some and passing by others who are left to the just recompense of their sins.  Sinners are compared to dead men, or even dry bones in their entire helplessness.  In this they are all alike.  The choice of some to eternal life is as sovereign as if Christ were to pass through a graveyard and bid one here and another there to come forth, the reason for restoring one to life and leaving another in his grave could be found only in His good pleasure, and not in the dead themselves.  Hence the statement that we are foreordained according to the good pleasure of His will, and not after the good inclinations of our own;  and in order that we might be holy, not because we were holy (Eph. 1:4-5).  'Since all men alike deserved only God's wrath and curse, the gift of His only begotten Son to die in the stead of malefactors, as the only possible method of expiating their guilt, is the most stupendous exhibition of undeserved favor and personal love that the universe has ever witnessed.'[16]

p. 72-73:  "4.  The Fall of Man.  The fall of the human race into a state of sin and misery is the basis and foundation of the system of redemption which is set forth in the Scriptures … "The consequences of Adam's sin are all comprehended under the term death, in its widest sense.  Paul gives us the summary statement that 'the wages of sin is death.'…

p. 75:  "5.  The Representative Principle.  Dr. Charles Hodge has very ably treated this subject in the following section:  "This representative principle pervades the whole Scriptures.  The imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity is not an isolated fact.  It is only an illustration of a general principle which characterizes the dispensations of God from the beginning of the world.  God declared Himself to Moses as one who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children unto the third and to the fourth generation, Ex. 34:6-6 …. The curse pronounced on Canaan fell on his posterity.  Esau's selling his birthright, shut out his descendents from the covenant of promise.  The children of Moab and Ammon were excluded from the congregation of the Lord forever, because their ancestors opposed the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.  In the case of Dathan and Abiram, as in the that of Achan, "their wives, and their sons, and their little children" perished for the sins their parents….  The imprecation of the Jews, when they demanded the crucifixion of Christ, 'His blood be on us and on our children,' still weighs down the scattered people of Israel…. This principle runs through the whole Scriptures.  When God entered into covenant with Abraham, it was not for himself only but also for his posterity.  They were bound by all the stipulations of the covenant…. Children suffered equally with adults in the judgments, whether famine, pestilence, or war, which came upon the people for their sins….  All this is what the Scriptures teach concerning the Atonement of Christ.  He bore our sins;  He was made a curse for us;  He suffered the penalty of the law in our stead.  All this proceeds on that ground that the sins of one man can be justly, on some adequate ground, imputed to another.'[17]"

p. 79:  "6.  The Goodness and Severity of God.  A survey of the fall and its extent is humiliate work…. it shows him that his only hope is in the sovereign grace of Almighty God….

"…It is true that 'God is love,' but along with this must be placed the other statement that 'our God is a consuming fire,' Heb. 12:29…."

"7.  Scripture Proof [Total Inability].  I Cor. 2:14, Gen. 2:17, Rom. 5:12, II Cor. 1:9, Eph. 2:1-3 & 2:12, Jer. 13:23, Ps. 51:5, John 3:3, Rom. 3:10-12, Job 14:14, I Cor. 1:18, Acts 13:41, Prov. 30:12, John 5:21, 6:53 & 8:19, Matt. 11:25, II Cor. 5:17, John 14:16 & 3:19.

XI.  Unconditional Election   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 83:  "1.  Statement of the Doctrine.  The doctrine of Election is to be looked upon as only a particular application of the general doctrine of Predestination or Foreordination as it relates to the salvation of sinners;  and since the Scriptures are concerned mainly with the redemption of sinners, this part of the doctrine is naturally thrown up into a place of special prominence…. And no aspect of this elective choice is more constantly emphasized than that of its absolute sovereignty.

"The Reformed Faith has held to the existence of an eternal, divine decree which, antecedently to any difference or desert in men themselves, separates the human race into two portions and ordains one to everlasting life and the other to everlasting death.  So far as this decree relates to men it designates the counsel of God concerning those who had a supremely favorable chance in Adam to earn salvation, but who lost that chance.  As a result of the fall they are guilty and corrupted;  their motives are wrong and they cannot work out their own salvation.  They have forfeited all claim upon God's mercy, and might justly have been left to suffer the penalty of their disobedience as all of the fallen angels were left.  But instead the elect members of this race are rescued from this state of guilt and sin and are brought into a state of blessedness and holiness.  The non-elect are simply left in their previous state of ruin, and are condemned for their sins.  They suffer no unmerited punishment, for God is dealing with them not merely as men but as sinners….

"… As Calvin rightly says, 'We shall never be clearly convinced as we ought to be that our salvation flows from the fountain of God's free mercy, till we are acquainted with this eternal election, which illustrates the grace of God by this comparison, that He adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation but gives to some what he refuses to others.  Ignorance of this principle evidently detracts from the divine glory, and diminishes real humility.'[18]  Calvin admits that this doctrine arouses very perplexing questions in the minds of some, for, says, he, 'they consider nothing more unreasonable than that of the common mass of mankind, some should be predestined to salvation;  and others to destruction.'

"The Reformed theologians consistently applied this principle to the actual experience of spiritual phenomena which they themselves felt and saw in others about them.  The divine purpose, or Predestination, alone could explain the distinction between good and evil, between the saint and the sinner…."

p. 85:  "2.  Proof from Scripture.  …Let us turn to Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  There we read:  "He chose us I Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love;  having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,' 1:4-5.  In Romans 8:29-30 we read of that golden chain of redemption which stretches from the eternity that is past to the eternity that is to com—'For whom he foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;  and whom He foreordained, them He also called:  and whom He called, them He also justified:  and whom He justified, them He also glorified.'  Foreknown, foreordained, called, justified, glorified, with always the same people included in each group;  and where one of these factors is present, all the others are in principle present with it.  Paul has cast the verse in the past tense because with God the purpose is in principle executed when formed, so certain is it of fulfillment.  'These five golden links,' says Dr. Warfield, 'are welded together in one unbreakable chain, so that all who are set upon in God's gracious distinguishing view are carried on by His grace, step by step, up to the great consummation of the glorification with realizes the promised conformity to the image of God's own Son.  It is "election," you see, that does all this;  for "whom He fore knew … them He also glorified.’[19]

“The Scriptures represent election as occurring in past time, irrespective of personal merit, and altogether sovereign—‘The children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said to her, The elder shall serve the young.  Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,’ Rom. 9:11-12…. ‘We are pointed illustratively to the sovereign acceptance of Isaac and rejection of Ishmael, and to the choice of Jacob and not of Esau before their berth and therefore before either had done good or bad;  we are explicitly told that in the matter of salvation it is not of him that wills, or of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy, and that He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardens;  we are pointedly directed to behold in God the potter who makes the vessels which proceed from His hand each for an end of His appointment, that He may work out His will upon them.  It is safe to say that language cannot be chose better adapted to teach Predestination at its height.’[20]…”

p. 89:  "When Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in the province of Asia, and was given the vision of a man in Europe calling across the waters, 'Come over into Macedonia, and help us,' one section of the world was sovereignly excluded from, and another section was sovereignly given, the privileges of the Gospel.  Had the divinely directed call been rather from the shores of India, Europe and America might today have been less civilized than the natives of Tibet.  It was the sovereign choice of God which brought the Gospel to the people of Europe and later to America, while the people of the east, and north, and south were left in darkness.  We can assign no reason, for instance, why it should have been Abraham's seed, and not the Egyptian or the Assyrians, who were chosen;  or why Great Britain and America, which at the time of Christ's appearance on earth were in the state of such complete ignorance, should today possess so largely for themselves, and be disseminating so widely to others, these most important spiritual privileges.  The diversities in regard to religious privileges in the different nations is to be ascribed to nothing else than the good pleasure of God….”

p. 90:  “We may perhaps mention a fourth kind of election [1st to eternal life, 2nd to national election of nations or communities, 3rd to an external means of grace in history or place or community] of individuals to certain vocations—gifts of special talents which fit one to be a statesman, another to be a doctor, or lawyer, or farmer, or musician, or artisan, gifts of personal beauty, intelligence, disposition, etc…. In each instance God gives to some what He withholds from others…. blessings bestowed are sovereign and unconditional, irrespective of any previous merit or action on the part of those chosen.  If we are highly favored, we can only be thankful for His blessings;  if not highly favored, we have no grounds for complaint.  Why precisely this or that one is placed in circumstances which lead to saving faith, while others are not so placed, is indeed, a mystery.  We cannot explain the workings of Providence;  but we do know that the Judge of all the earth shall do right, and that when we attain to perfect knowledge we shall see that He has sufficient reasons for all His acts. [Emphasis mine.]…"

p. 93:  "Further Scripture Proof  [Unconditional Election]:  II Thess. 2:13, Matt. 24:24 & 24:31, Mark 13:20, I Thess. 1:4, Rom. 11:7, I Tim. 5:21, Rom. 8:33 & 11:5, II Tim. 2:10, Titus 1:1, I Peter 1:1, 5:13 & 2:9, I Thess. 5:9, Acts 13:48, John 17:9, 6:37, 6:65, 13:18 & 15:16, Ps. 105:6, Rom. 9:23.

"3.  Proof from Reason….

"4.  Faith and Good Works Are the Fruits and Proof, Not the Basis, of Election….

"5.  Reprobation.  p. 106:  “Luther also as certainly as Calvin attribute the eternal perdition of the wicked, as well as the eternal salvation of the righteous, to the plan of God.  ‘This mightily offends our rational nature, that God should, of His own mere unbiased will, leave some men to themselves, harden them and condemn them;  but He gives abundant demonstration, and does continually, that this is really the case;  namely, that the sole cause why some are saved, and others perish, proceeds from His willing the salvation of the former, and the perdition of the latter, according to that of St. Paul, “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.”’  And again, ‘It may seem absurd to human wisdom that God should harden, blind, and deliver them over to evil, and condemn them for that evil;  but the believing, spiritual man sees no absurdity at all in this;  knowing that God would be never a whit less good, even though He should destroy all men.’  He goes on to say that this must not be understood to mean that God finds men good, wise, obedient, and makes them evil, foolish, and obdurate, but that they are already depraved and fallen and that those who are not regenerated, instead of becoming better under the divine commands and influences, only react to become worse.  In reference to Romans IX, X, XI, Luther says that ‘all things whatever arise from and depend upon the Divine appointment, whereby it was preordained who should receive the word of life and who should disbelieve it, who should be delivered from their sins and who should be hardened in them, who should be justified and who condemned.’[21]


p. 124:  "Let it be remembered that we are under no obligation to explain all the mysteries connected with these doctrines….

"Man cannot measure the justice of God by his own comprehension, and our modesty should not be such that when the reason for some of God's works lies hidden we nevertheless believe Him to be just….

p. 126:  "6.  Infralapsarianism and Supralabsarianism … The question here is, When the degrees of election and reprobation came into existence were men considered fallen or as unfallen?…"

p. 130:  "7.  Many Are Chosen…. 

p. 132:  "8.  A Redeemed World or Race….

p. 137:  "9.  The Vastness of the Redeemed Multitude….

p. 140:  "10.  The World Is Growing Better….

p. 143:  "11.  Infant Salvation….

p. 148:  "12.  Summary of the Reformed Doctrine of Election….

XII.  Limited Atonement   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 150:  “1.  State of the Doctrine.  …Did Christ offer up Himself a sacrifice for the whole human race, for every individual without distinction or exception;  or did His death have special reference to the elect?  In other words, was the sacrifice of Christ merely intended to make the salvation of all men possible, or was it intended to render certain the salvation of those who had been given to Him by the Father?  Arminians hold that Christ died for all men alike while Calvinists hold that in the intention and secret plan of God Christ died for the elect only, and that His death had only an incidental reference to others in so far as they are partakers of common grace.  The meaning might be brought out more clearly if we used the phrase ‘Limited Redemption’ rather than ‘Limited Atonement.’  The Atonement is, of course, strictly an infinite transaction;  the limitation comes in, theologically, in the application of the benefits of the atonement, that is in redemption….

“It will be seen at once that this doctrine necessarily follows from the doctrine of election.  If from eternity God has planned to save one portion of the human race and not another, it seems to be a contradiction to say that His work has equal reference to both portions, or that He sent His Son to die for those whom He had predetermined not to save, as truly as, and in the same sense that He was sent to die for those whom He had chosen for salvation.  These two doctrines must stand or fall together.  We cannon logically accept one and reject the other.  If God has elected some and not others to eternal life, then plainly the primary purpose of Chris’s work was to redeem the elect.

p. 151:  "2.  The Infinite Value of Christ’s Atonement.  This doctrine does not mean that any limit can be set to the value or power of the atonement which Christ made.  The value of the atonement depends upon, and is measured by, the dignity of the person making it;  and since Christ suffered as a Divine-human person the value of His suffering was infinite….  The atonement, therefore, was infinitely meritorious and might have saved every member of the human race had that been God’s plan.  It was limited only in the sense that was intended for, and is applied to, particular persons;  namely for those who are actually saved….

p. 152:  “3.  The Atonement Is Limited in Purpose and Application.  While the value of the atonement was sufficient to save all mankind, it was efficient to save only the elect.  It is indifferently as well adapted to the salvation of one man as to that of another, thus making the salvation of every man objectively possible;  yet because of subjective difficulties, arising on account of the sinner’s own inability either to see or appreciate the things of God, only those are saved who are regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  The reason why God does not apply this grace to all men has not been fully revealed.

“When atonement is made universal its inherent value is destroyed.  If it is applied to all men, and if some are lost, the conclusion is that it makes salvation objectively possible for all but that it does not actually save anybody.  According to the Arminian theory the atonement has simply made it possible for all men to co-operate with divine grace and thus save themselves—if they will.  But tell us of one cured of disease and yet dying of cancer, and the story will be equally luminous with that of one eased of sin and yet perishing through unbelief.  The nature of the atonement settles its extent.  If it [atonement] merely made salvation possible, it applied to all men.  If it effectively secured salvation, it had reference only to the elect.  As Dr. Warfield says, ‘The things we have to choose between are at atonement of high value, or an atonement of wide extension.  The cannot go together.’  The work of Christ can be universalized only by evaporating its substance.

“Let there be no misunderstanding at this point.  The Arminian limits the atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist.  The Calvinist limits the extent of it in that he says it does not apply to all persons (although as has already been shown, he believes that it is efficacious for the salvation of the large proportion of the human race);  while the Arminian limits the power of it, for he says that in itself it does not actually save anybody.  The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively;  the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively.  For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream;  for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes only half-way across…."

p. 153.  “4.  Christ’s Work as a Perfect Fulfillment of the Law.  If the benefits of the atonement are universal and unlimited … It would mean that God no longer demands perfect obedience as He did of Adam, but that He now offers salvation on lower terms.  God, then, would remove legal obstacles and would accept such faith and evangelical obedience as the person with a graciously restored ability could render if he chose, the Holy Spirit of course aiding in a general way.  Thus grace would be extended in that God offers an easier way of salvation—He accepts fifty cents on the dollar, so to speak, since the crippled sinner can pay no more.

“On the other hand Calvinists hold that the law of perfect obedience which was originally given to Adam was permanent, that God has never done anything which would convey the impression that the was too rigid in its requirements, or too severe in its penalty, or that it stood in need either of abrogation or of derogation.  Divine justice demands that the sinner shall be punished, either in himself or in his substitute.  We hold that Christ acted in a strictly substitutionary way for His people, that He made a full satisfaction for their sins, thus blotting out the curse from Adam and all their temporal sins;  and that by His sinless life He perfectly kept for them the law which Adam had broken, thus earning for His people the reward of eternal life.  We believe that the requirement for salvation now as originally is perfect obedience, that the merits of Christ are imputed to His people as the only basis of their salvation, and that they enter heaven clothed only with the cloak of His perfect righteousness and utterly destitute of any merit properly their own.  Thus grace, pure grace, is … in the substitution of Christ for His people.  He took their place before the law and did for them what they could not do for themselves.  This Calvinistic principle is fitted in every way to impress upon us the absolute perfection of unchangeable obligation of the law which was originally given to Adam….  In behalf of those who are saved, for whom Christ acted, and in behalf of those who are subjected to everlasting punishment, the law in its majesty is enforced and executed.

“If the Arminian theory were true it would follow that millions of those for whom Christ died are finally lost, and that salvation is thus never applied to many of those for whom it was earned.  What benefits, for instance, can we point to in the lives of the heathens and say that they have received them from the atonement?…

“‘The sin of Adam,’ says Charles Hodge, ‘did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible;  it was the ground of their actual condemnation.  So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought.’

“The Arminian view of the nature of the Atonement makes it possible … that all of Christ’s sufferings to save sinners might not have saved a single one had all men chosen to exercise their right of refusing His grace, that all for whom Christ died might nevertheless have perished forever, that the inheritance in heaven might never have been enjoyed by any of those for whom it was prepared, and that God Himself might thus have been entirely defeated in His work of redemption.

p. 155:  “5.  A Ransom.  Christ is said to have been a ransom for his people—‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many,’ matt. 20:28.  Notice, this verse does not say that He gave His life a ransom for all, but for many.  The nature of a ransom is such that when paid and accepted it automatically frees the persons for whom it was intended.  Otherwise it would not be a true ransom.  Justice demands that those for whom it is paid shall be freed from any further obligation.  It the suffering and death of Christ was a ransom for all men rather than for the elect only, then the merits of His work must be communicated to all alike and the penalty of eternal punishment cannot be justly inflicted on any.  God would be unjust if He demanded this extreme penalty twice over, first from the substitute and them from the persons themselves.  The conclusion then is that the atonement of Christ does not extend to all men but that it is limited to those for whom He stood surety;  that is, to those who compose His true Church.

p. 155:  "6.  The Divine Purpose in Christ’s Sacrifice.  If Christ’s death was intended to save all men, then we must say that God was either unable or unwilling to carry out His plan.  But since the work of God is always efficient, those for whom atonement was made and those who are actually saved must be the same people.  Arminians suppose that the purposes of God are mutable [changeable], and that His purposes may fail.  In saying that He sent His Son to redeem all men, but that after seeing that such a plan could not be carried out He ‘elected’ those whom He foresaw would have faith and repent, they represented Him as willing what never takes place—as suspending His purposes and plans upon the volitions and actions of creatures who are totally dependent upon Him….  We may rest assured that if some men are lost God never purposed their salvation, and never devised and put into operation means designed to accomplish that end.

“Jesus Himself limited the purpose of His death when He said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.’  If, therefore, He laid down His life for the sheep, the atoning character of His work was not universal….

“Since the work of God is never in vain, those who are chosen by the Father, those who are redeemed by the Son, and those who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit—or in other words, election, redemption and sanctification—must include the same persons.  The Arminian doctrine of a universal atonement makes these unequal and thereby destroys the perfect harmony within the Trinity.  Universal redemption means universal salvation.

“… Furthermore, when it is said that Christ gave His life for His Church, or for His people, we find it impossible to believe that He gave Himself as much for reprobates as for those whom He intended to save.  Mankind is divided into two classes and what is distinctly affirmed of one is impliedly denied of the others…. when it is said that Christ died for His people it is denied that He died equally for all men…."

p. 157:  "7.  The Exclusion of the Non-Elect.  It was not, then, a general and indiscriminate love of which all men were equally the objects, but a peculiar, mysterious, infinite love for His elect, which caused God to send His Son into the world to suffer and die…. Christ died not for an unorderly mass, but for His people, His bride, His Church….

p. 159:  "8.  The Argument From the Foreknowledge of God.  …Is not God's mind infinite?  Are not His perceptions perfect? … Since He knew beforehand who they were that would be saved—and the more evangelical Arminians admit that God does have exact foreknowledge of all events—He would not have sent Christ intending to save those who he positively foreknew would be lost.  For, as Calvin remarks, 'Where would have been the consistency of God's calling to Himself such as He knows will never come?' … They do but deceive themselves who, admitting God's foreknowledge, say that Christ died for all men;  for what is that but to attribute folly to Him whose ways are perfect?  To represent God as earnestly striving to do what He knows He will not do is to represent Him as acting foolishly."

p. 160:  "9.  Certain Benefits which Extend to Mankind in General.  In conclusion let it be said that Calvinists do not deny that mankind in general receive some important benefits from Christ’s atonement.  Calvinists admit that it arrests the penalty which would have been inflicted upon the whole race because of Adam’s sin;  that it forms a basis for the preaching of the Gospel and thus introduces many uplifting moral influences into the world and restrains many evil influences…. 

"There is, then a certain sense in which Christ died for all men, and we do not reply to the Arminian tenet with an unqualified negative.  But what we do maintain is that the death of Christ had special reference to the elect in that it was effectual for their salvation, and that the effects which are produced in others are only incidental to this one great purpose.”


XIII.  Efficacious or Irresistible Grace   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 162:  "1.  Teaching of the Westminster Confession.  The Westminster Confession states the doctrine of Efficacious Grace thus—‘All those whom God has predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and His Spirit, out of that state of death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;  enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of god;  taking away their heart of stone, and giving them a heart of flesh;  renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good;  and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

“‘This effectual call is God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it.’[22] …"

p. 163:  "2.  Necessity for the Change.  The merits of Christ's obedience and suffering are sufficient for, adapted to, and freely offered to all men.  The question then arises, Why is one saved, and another lost?  What causes some men to repent and believe, while others, with the same external privileges, reject the Gospel and continue in impenitence and unbelief?  The Calvinist says that it is God who makes this difference, that he efficaciously persuades some to come to Him;  but the Arminian ascribes it to the men themselves.

"As Calvinists we hold that the condition of men since the fall is such that if left to themselves they would continue in their state of rebellion and refuse all offers of salvation…. the effects of that sacrifice have not been left suspended upon the whim of man's changeable and sinful will.  Rather, the work of God in redemption has been rendered effective through the mission of the Holy Spirit who so operates on the chosen people that they are brought to repentance and faith, and thus made heirs of eternal life….

"… As Dr. Warfield says, 'Sinful man stands in need, not of inducements or assistance to save himself, but precisely of saving;  and Jesus Christ has come not to advise, or urge, or woo, or help him save himself, but to save him."

p. 164:  "3.  An Inward Change Wrought by Supernatural Power.  In the Scriptures this change is called a regeneration (Titus 3:%), a spiritual resurrection which is wrought by the same mighty power with which God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 29), a calling out of darkness into God's marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), a passing out of death into life (John 5:24), a new birth (John 3:3), a making alive (Col. 2:13), a taking away of the heart of stone and giving of a heart of flesh (Ezek. 11:19), and the subject of the change is said to be a new creature (II Cor. 5:17).  Such descriptions completely refute the Arminian notion that regeneration is primarily man's act, induced by moral persuasion or the mere influence of the truth as presented in a general way by the Holy Spirit.

“Necessity for the Change.  The merits of Christ’s obedience and suffering are sufficient for, adapted to, and freely offered to all men.  The question then arises, Why is one saved, and another lost?  What causes some men to repent and believe, and while others, with the same external privileges, reject the Gospel and continue in impenitence and unbelief?  The Calvinist says that it is God who makes this difference, that he efficaciously persuades some to come to Him;  but the Arminian ascribes it to the men themselves…."


p. 168:  "As the physical eye once blinded cannot be restored to sight by any amount of intensity of light falling upon it, so the soul dead in sin cannot acquire spiritual vision by any amount of Gospel truth presented to it.  Unless the surgeon's knife or a miracle restore the eye to its normal condition, sight is impossible;  and unless the soul be set right through regeneration it will never comprehend and accept the Gospel truth.  In regeneration God bids the sinner live;  immediately he is alive, filled with a new spiritual life…."

p. 171:  "4.  The Effect Produced in the Soul.  The immediate and important effect of this inward, purifying change of nature is that the person loves righteousness and trusts in Christ for salvation…. This effective and irresistible grace converts the will itself and forms a holy character in the person by a creative act…. Obedience has become not only the obligatory but the preferable good….

"At this point many people confuse regeneration and sanctification.  Regeneration is exclusively God's work, and it is an act of His free grace in which He implants a new principle of spiritual life in the soul.  It is performed by supernatural power and is complete in an instant.  On the other hand sanctification is a process through which the remains of sin in the outward life are gradually removed … we are enabled more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.  It [sanctification] is a joint work of God and man…."

p. 172:  "5.  The Sufficiency of Christ's Work—Evangelicalism.  … We believe that by His vicarious suffering and death He fully paid the debt which His people owed to divine justice, thus releasing them from the consequences of sin, and that by keeping the law of perfect obedience and living a sinless life He vicariously earned for them the reward of eternal life.  His work fully provided for their rescue from sin and for their establishment in heaven….

"Only those views which ascribe to God all the power in the salvation of sinners are consistently evangelical, for the word 'evangelical' means that it is God alone who saves.  If faith and obedience must be added, depending upon the independent choice of man, we no longer have evangelicalism….

p. 174:  "6.  The Arminian View of Universal Grace.  …A typical example of this is seen in the assertion of Prof. Henry C. Sheldon, who for a number of years was connected with Boston University.  Says he:  ‘Our contention is for the universality of the opportunity of salvation, as against an exclusive and unconditional choice of individuals to eternal life.’[23]  Here we notice not only (1) the characteristic Arminian stress on universalism, but also (2) the recognition that, in the final analysis, all that God does for salvation of men does not actually save anybody, but that it only opens up a way of salvation so that men can save themselves—and then for all practical purposes we are back on the plane of pure naturalism!


“Certainly, if God loves all men alike, and if Christ died for all men alike, and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of that redemption to all men alike, one of two conclusions follows.  (1) All men alike are saved (which is contradicted by Scripture), or, (2) all that God does for man does not save him, but leaves him to save himself!  What then becomes of our evangelicalism, which means that it is God alone who saves sinners?  If we assert that after God has done all His work it is still left for man to ‘accept’ or ‘not resist,’ we give man veto power over the work of Almighty God and salvation rests ultimately in the hand of man.  In this system no matter how great a proportion of the work of salvation God may do, man is ultimately the deciding factor.  And the man who does come to salvation has some personal merit of his own;  he has some grounds to boast over those who are lost.  He can point the finger of scorn and say, ‘You had as good chance as I had.  I accepted and you rejected the offer.  Therefore you deserve to suffer.’  How different is this from Paul’s declaration that it is ‘not of works, that no man should glory,’ and ‘He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord,’ Eph. 2:9;  I Cor. 1:31….”


p. 176:  "7.  No Violation of Man's Free Agency.  Calvinist hold no such opinion [that men are forced or reduced to machines], and in fact the full statement of the doctrine excludes and contradicts it…. The power by which the work of regeneration is effected is not of an outward and compelling nature.  Regeneration does no more violence to the soul than demonstration does to the intellect, or persuasion the heart.  Man is not dealt with as if he were a stone or a log.  Neither is he treated as a slave, and driven against his own will to seek salvation.  Rather the mind is illuminated, and the entire range of conceptions with regard to God, self, and sin, is changed.  God sends His Spirit and, in a way which shall forever redound to the praise of His mercy and grace, sweetly constrains the person to yield.  The regenerated man finds himself governed by new motives and desires, and things which were once hated are now loved and sought after.  This change is not accomplished through any external compulsion but through a new principle of life which has been created within the soul and which seeks after the food which alone can satisfy it.


"But some may ask, Do not the many passages in the Bible such as, 'If thou shalt obey,' 'If thou turn unto Jehovah,' 'If thou do that which is evil,' and so forth, at least imply that man has free will and ability?  It does not follow, however, that merely because God commands man is able to obey.  Oftentimes parents play with their children in telling them to do this or that when their very purpose is to show them their inability and to induce them to ask for the parent's help….  In these passages man is taught not what he can do, but what he ought to do;  and woe to the one who is so blind that he cannot see this truth, for until he does see it he can never adequately appreciate the work of Christ….

"The special grace which we refer to as efficacious is sometimes called irresistible grace…. somewhat misleading since it does suggest that a … power is exerted … contrary to his desires, whereas the meaning intended … is that the elect are so influenced by divine power that their coming is an act of voluntary choice."

p. 178:  "8.  Common Grace.  … general influences of the Holy Spirit which to a greater or lesser degree are shared by all men.  God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends the rain upon the just and the unjust….

"Common grace, however, does not kill the core of sin, and therefore it is not capable of producing a genuine conversion.  Through the light of nature, the workings of conscience, and especially through the external presentation of the Gospel it makes known to man what he should do, but does not give that power which man stands in need of…."

XIV.  The Perseverance of the Saints   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 182:  "1.  Statement of the Doctrine.  The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is stated in the Westminster Confession in the following words:  ‘They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace;  but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.’[24]  Or in other words we believe that those who become true Christians cannot totally fall away and be lost—that while they may fall into sin temporarily, they will eventually return and be saved.

“This doctrine does not stand alone …. The doctrines of Election and Efficacious Grace logically imply the certain salvation of those who receive these blessings.  If God has chosen men [and women] absolutely and unconditionally to eternal life, and if His Spirit effectively applies to them the benefits of redemption, the inescapable conclusion is that these persons shall be saved.  And historically, this doctrine has been held by all Calvinists, and denied by practically all Arminians.

“Those who have fled to Jesus for refuge have a firm foundation upon which to build…. No one can pluck them out of His hands.  Those who once become true Christians have within themselves the principle of eternal life, which principle is the Holy Spirit;  and since the Holy Spirit dwells within them they are already potentially holy…."

p. 184:  "2.  Our Perseverance Not Dependent on Our Own Good Works But on God's Grace….

"The infinite, mysterious, eternal love of God for His people is a guarantee that they can never be lost.  This love is not subject to fluctuations but is as unchangeable as His being.  It is also gratuitous, and keeps a faster hold on us than we of it.  It is not founded on the attractiveness of its objects.  'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,' I John 4:10…."

"The more we think on these matters, the more thankful we are that our perseverance in holiness and assurance of salvation is not dependent on our own weak nature, but upon God's constant sustaining power…."

p. 187:  "3.  Though Truly Saved the Christian May Temporarily Backslide and Commit Sin." 

p. 189:  "4.  An Outward Profession of Righteousness Not Always a Proof that the Person Is a True Christian."

p. 193:  "5.  Arminian Sense of Insecurity.  A consistent Arminian, with his doctrine of free will and of falling from grace, can never in this life be certain of his eternal salvation…."

p. 195:  "6.  Purpose of the Scripture Warnings Against Apostasy.  … The primary purpose of these passages … is to induce men to co-operate willingly with God for the accomplishment of His purposes.  They are inducements which produce constant humility, watchfulness, and diligence.

p. 196:  "7.  Scripture Proof.   The Scripture proof for this doctrine is abundant and clear.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril, or sword?  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom. 8:35-39.

"Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace," Rom. 6:14.  "He that believeth hath eternal life," John 6:47.  "He that heareth my word, and believeth Him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life," John 5:24.  The moment one believes, eternal life becomes a reality, a present possession, and not merely a conditional gift of the future.  "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever," John 6:51.  He does not say that we have to eat many times, but that if we eat at all, we shall live for ever.  "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life," John 4:14.

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ," Phil. 1:6.  "Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me," Ps. 138:8.  "The gifts and calling of God are not repented of," Rom. 11:29.  "The witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life," I John 5:11.  "These things have I written unto you that ye may know that ye have eternal life," I John 5:13.  "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," Heb. 10:14.  "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto His heavenly kingdom," II Tim. 4:18.  "For whom He foreknew, He also foreordained.... and whom He foreordained, them He also called;  and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified," Rom. 8:29.  "Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will," Eph. 1:4.

Jesus declared, "I give unto them (the true followers, or 'sheep') eternal life;  and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand," John 10:28.  Here we find that our security and God's omnipotence are equal;  for the former is founded on the latter.  God is mightier than the whole world, and neither men nor Devil can rob Him of one of His precious jewels.  It would be as easy to pluck a star out of the heavens as to pluck a saint out of the Father's hand.  Their salvation stands in His invincible might and they are placed beyond the peril of destruction.  We have Christ's promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church; yet if the Devil could snatch one here and another there and large numbers in some congregations, the gates of hell would  a great extent prevail against it.  In principle, if one could be lost, all might be lost, and thus Christ's assurance would be reduced to idle words.

When we are told that "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, who shall show great signs and wonder; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect," Matt. 24:24, the unprejudiced believing mind readily understands that it is impossible to lead astray the elect.

The mystic union which exists between Christ and believers is a guarantee that they shall continue steadfast.  "Because I live, ye shall live also," John 14:19.  The effect of this union is that believers participate in His life.  Christ is in us, Romans 8 :10.  It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, Gal. 2 :20.  Christ and the believers have a common life such as that which exists in the vine and the branches.  The Holy Spirit so dwells in the redeemed that every Christian is supplied with an inexhaustible reservoir of strength.

Paul warned the Ephesians, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption," Eph. 4:30.  He had no fear of apostasy for he could confidently say, "Thanks be to God who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ," II Cor. 2:14.  The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love," 31:3—one of the best proofs that God's love shall have no end is that it has no beginning, but is eternal.  In the parable of the two houses, the very point stressed was that the house which was founded on the rock (Christ) did not fall when the storms of life came.  Arminianism sets up another system in which some of those who are founded on the rock do fall.  In the twenty-third Psalm we read, "And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  The true Christian is no temporary visitor, but a permanent dweller in the house of the Lord.  How those rob this psalm of its deeper and richer meaning who teach that the grace of God is a temporary thing!

Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:34 ; Heb. 7:25), and we are told that the Father hears Him always (John 11:42).  Hence the Arminian, holding that Christians may fall away, must deny either the passages which declare that Christ does make intercession for His people, or he must deny those which declare that His prayers are always heard.  Let us consider here how well protected we are: Christ is at the right hand of God pleading for us, and in addition to that, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26.

In the wonderful promise of Jer.32:40, God has prom­ised to preserve believers from their own backslidings:  "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and I will not turn away from following them, to do them good; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me."  And in Ezek. 11 :19, 20, He promises to take from them the "stony heart," and to give them a "heart of flesh," so that they shall walk in his statutes and keep his ordinances, and so that they shall be His people and He their God.  Peter tells us that Christians cannot fall away, for they "by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time," I Peter 1:5.  Paul says, "God is able to make all grace to abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work," II Cor. 9:8.  He declares that the Lord's servant "shall be made to stand;  for the Lord hath power to make him stand," Rom. 14:4.

And Christians have the further promise, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, and win not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it," I Cor. 10:13.  Their removal from certain temptations which would be too strong for them is an absolute and free gift from God, since it is entirely an arrangement of His providence as to what temptations they encounter in the course of their lives, and what ones they escape.  "The Lord is faithful and will establish you and guard you from the evil one," II Thess. 3:3.  And again, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them," Ps. 34:7.  Amid an his trials and hardships Paul could say, "We are pressed on every side, yet not straightened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; . . . . knowing that He that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ shall raise us also with Jesus," II Cor. 4:8, 9, 14.

The saints, even in this world, are compared to a tree that does not wither, Ps. 1:3;  to the cedars which flourish on Mount Lebanon, Ps. 92:5;  to Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but which abideth forever, Ps. 125:1;  and to a house built on a rock, Matt. 7:24.  The Lord is with them in their old age, Is. 46:4, and is their guide even unto death, Ps 48:14, so that they cannot be totally and finally lost.

Another strong argument is to be noticed concerning the Lamb's book of life.  The disciples were told to rejoice not so much over the fact that the demons were subject to them, but that their names were written in the Lamb's book of life.  This book is a catalogue of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, and can neither be increased nor diminished.  The names of the righteous are found there; but the names of those who perish have never been written there from the foundation of the world.  God does not make the mistake of writing in the book of life a name which He will later have to blot out.  Hence none of the Lord's own ever perish.  Jesus told His disciples to find their chief joy in the fact that their names were written in heaven, Luke 10:20;  yet there would have been small grounds for joy in this respect if their names written in heaven one day could have been blotted out the next.  Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Our citizenship is in heaven," 3:20;  and to Timothy he wrote, "The Lord knoweth them that are His," II Tim. 2: 19.  For the Scripture teaching concerning the book of life, see Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27.

Here, then, are very simple and plain statements that the Christian shall continue in grace, the reason being that the Lord takes it upon Himself to preserve him in that state.  In these promises the elect are secured on both sides.  Not only will God not depart from them, but He will so put His fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from him.  Surely no Spirit-taught Christian can doubt that this doctrine is taught in the Bible.  It seems that man, poor, wretched ,and impotent as he is, would welcome a doctrine which secures for him the possessions of eternal happiness despite all attacks from without and all evil tendencies from within.  But it is not so.  He refuses it, and argues against it.  And the causes are not far to seek.  In the first place he has more confidence in himself than he has any right to have.  Secondly, the scheme is so contrary to what he is used to in the natural world that he persuades himself that it cannot be true.  Thirdly, he perceives that if this doctrine be ad­mitted, the other doctrines of free grace will logically follow.  Hence he twists and explains away the Scripture passages which teach it, and clings to some which appear on the surface to favor his preconceived views.  In fact, a system of salvation by grace is so utterly at variance with his every-day experience, in which he sees every thing and person treated according to works and merits, that he has great difficulty in bringing himself to believe that it can be true.  He wishes to earn his own salvation, though certainly he expects very high wages for very sorry work.

SECTION III:  Objections Commonly Urged Against the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

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XV.  1.  That It Is a Fatalism   [ Contents ~ Top ]

p.205:  "1. That It Is Fatalism.  Much misunderstanding arises through confusing the Christian Doctrine of Predestination with the heathen doctrine of Fatalism.  There is, in reality, only one point of agreement between the two, which is, that both assume the absolute certainty of all future events.  The essential difference between them is that Fatalism has no place for a personal God.  Predestination holds that events come to pass because an infinitely wise, powerful, and holy God has so appointed them.  Fatalism holds that all events come to pass through the working of a blind, unintelligent, impersonal, non-moral force which cannot be distinguished from physical necessity, and which carries us helplessly within its grasp as a mighty river carries a piece of wood.

"Predestination teaches that from eternity God has had one unified plan or purpose which He is bringing to perfection through this world order of events.  It holds that all of His decrees are rational determinations founded on sufficient reason, and that He has fixed one great goal 'toward which the whole creation moves.' Predestination holds that the ends designed in this plan are, first, the glory of God; and second, the good of His people.  On the other hand Fatalism excludes the idea of final causes.  It snatches the reins of universal empire from the hands of infinite wisdom and love, and gives them into the hands of a blind necessity.  It attributes the course of nature and the experiences of mankind to an unknown, irresistible force, against which it is vain to struggle and childish to repine.

"According to the doctrine of Predestination the freedom and responsibility of man are fully preserved.  In the midst of certainty God has ordained human liberty.  But Fatalism allows no power of choice, no self-determination.  It makes the acts of man to be as utterly beyond his control as are the laws of nature.  Fatalism, with its idea of irresistible, impersonal, abstract power, has no room for moral ideas, while Predestination makes these the rule of action for God and man.  Fatalism has no place for and offers no incentives to religion, love, mercy, holiness, justice, or wisdom, while Predestination gives these the strongest conceivable basis.  And lastly, Fatalism leads to skepticism and despair, while Predestination sets forth the glories of God and of His kingdom in all their splendor and gives an assurance which nothing can shake.

"Predestination therefore differs from Fatalism as much as the acts of a man differ from those of a machine, or as much as the unfailing love of the heavenly Father differs from the force of gravitation.  'It reveals to us,' says Smith, 'the glorious truth that our lives and our sensitive hearts are held, not in the iron cog-wheels of a vast and pitiless Fate, nor in the whirling loom of a crazy Chance, but in the almighty hands of an infinitely good and wise God.'[25]!

"Calvin emphatically repudiated the charge that his doctrine was Fatalism.  'Fate,' says he, 'is a term given by the Stoics to their doctrine of necessity, which they had formed out of a labyrinth of contradictory reasonings; a doctrine calculated to call God Himself to order, and to set Him laws whereby to work.  Predestination I define to be, according to the Holy Scriptures, that free and unfettered counsel of God by which He rules all mankind, and all men and things, and also all parts and particles of the world by His infinite wisdom and incomprehensible justice.' And again, ' … had you but been willing to look into my books, you would have been convinced at once how offensive to me is the profane term fate; nay, you would have learned that this same abhorrent term was cast in the teeth of Augustine by his opponents.'[26]

"Luther says that the doctrine of Fatalism among the heathen is a proof that 'the knowledge of Predestination and of the prescience of God, was no less left in the world than the notion of divinity itself.'[27]!  In the history of philosophy Materialism has proven itself essentially fatalistic.  Pantheism also has been strongly tinged with it.

"No man can be a consistent fatalist.  For to be consistent he would have to reason something like this:  'If I am to die today, it will do me no good to eat, for I shall die anyway.  Nor do I need to eat if I am to live many years yet, for I shall live anyway.  Therefore I will not eat.'  Needless to say, if God has foreordained that a man shall live, He has also foreordained that he shall be kept from the suicidal folly of refusing to eat.

"'This doctrine,' says Hamilton, 'is only superficially like the pagan "fate."  The Christian is in the hands not of a cold, immutable determinism, but of a warm, loving heavenly Father, who loved us and gave His Son to die for us on Calvary!  The Christian knows that "all things work together for good to them that love God, even to them that are called according to His purpose." The Christian can trust God because he knows He is all-wise, loving, just and holy.  He sees the end from the beginning, so that there is no reason to become panicky when things seem to be going against us.'

"Hence, only a person who has not examined this doctrine of Predestination, or one who is maliciously inclined, will rashly charge that it is Fatalism.  There is no excuse for anyone making this mistake who knows what Predestination is and what Fatalism is.

"Since the universe is one systematized unit we must choose between Fatalism, which ultimately does away with mind and purpose, and this biblical doctrine of Predestination, which holds that God created all things, that His providence extends to all His works, and that while free Himself  He has also provided that we shall be free within the limits of our natures.  Instead of our doctrine of Predestination being the same with the heathen doctrine of Fatalism, it is its absolute opposite and only alternative."

XVI.  2.  That It Is Inconsistent with the Free Agency and Moral Responsibility of Man

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p. 208:  "1.  The Problem of Man's Free Agency.  The problem which we face here is, How can a person be a free and responsible agent if his actions have been foreordained from eternity? By a free and responsible agent we mean an intelligent person who acts with rational self-determination; and by Foreordination we mean that from eternity God has made certain the actual course of events which takes place in the life of every person and in the realm of nature.  It is, of course, admitted by all that a person's acts must be without compulsion and in accordance with his own desires and inclinations, or he cannot be held responsible for them.  If the acts of a free agent are in their very nature contingent and uncertain, then it is plain that Foreordination and free agency are inconsistent.

"The philosopher who is convinced of the existence of a vast Power by whom all things exist and are controlled, is forced to inquire where the finite will can find expression under the reign of the Infinite.  The true solution of this difficult question respecting the sovereignty of God and the freedom of man, is not to be found in the denial of either, but rather in such a reconciliation as gives full weight to each, yet which assigns a preeminence to the divine sovereignty corresponding to the infinite exaltation of the Creator above the sinful creature.  The same God who has ordained all events has ordained human liberty in the midst of these events, and this liberty is as surely fixed as is anything else.  Man is no mere automaton or machine.  In the Divine plan, which is infinite in variety and complexity, which reaches from everlasting to everlasting, and which includes millions of free agents who act and inter-act and re-act upon each other, God has ordained that human beings shall keep their liberty under His sovereignty.  He has made no attempt to give us a formal explanation of these things, and our limited human knowledge is not able fully to solve the problem.  Since the Scripture writers did not hesitate to affirm the absolute sway of God over the thoughts and intents of the heart, they felt no embarrassment in including the acts of free agents within His all-embracing plan.  That the makers of the Westminster Confession recognized the freedom of man is plain;  for immediately after declaring that 'God has freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass,' they added, 'Yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.'

"While the act remains that of the individual, it is nevertheless due more or less to the predisposing agency and efficacy of divine power exerted in lawful ways.  This may be illustrated to a certain extent in the case of a man who wishes to construct a building.  He decides on his plan.  Then he hires the carpenters, masons, plumbers, etc., to do the work.  These men are not forced to do the work.  No compulsion of any kind is used.  The owner simply offers the necessary inducements by way of wages, working conditions, and so on, so that the men work freely and gladly.  They do in detail just what he plans for them to do.  His is the primary and theirs is the secondary will or cause for the construction of the building.  We often direct the actions of our fellow men without infringing on their freedom or responsibility.  In a similar way and to an infinitely greater degree God can direct our actions.  His will for the course of events is the primary cause and man's will is the secondary cause; and the two work together in perfect harmony.

"In one sense we can say that the kingdom of heaven is a democratic kingdom, paradoxical as that may sound.  The essential principle of a democracy is that it rests on 'the consent of the governed.'  Heaven will be truly a kingdom, with God as the supreme Ruler;  yet it will rest on the consent of the governed.  It is not forced on believers against their consent.  They are so influenced that they become willing, and accept the Gospel, and find it the delight of their lives to do their Sovereign's will."

p. 210:  "2. This Objection Bears Equally Against Foreknowledge.  Let it be noticed that the objection that Foreordination is inconsistent with free agency bears equally against the doctrine of the foreknowledge of God.  If God foreknows an event as future, it must be as inevitably certain as if fore-ordained; and if one is inconsistent with free agency, the other is also.  This is often frankly admitted; and the Unitarians, while not evangelical, are at this point more consistent than the Arminians.  They say that God knows all that is knowable, but that free acts are uncertain and that it is doing no dishonor to God to say that He does not know them.

We find, however, that the Scriptures contain predictions of many events, great and small, which were perfectly fulfilled through the actions of free agents.  Usually these agents were not even conscious that they were fulfilling divine prophecy.  They acted freely, yet exactly as foretold.  A few examples are: the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, the parting of Jesus' garments and the casting lots by the Roman soldiers, Peter's denials of Jesus, the crowing of the cock, the spear thrust, the capture of Jerusalem and the carrying away of the Jews into captivity, the destruction of Babylon, etc.  It is plain that the writers of Scripture believed these free acts to be fully foreknown by the divine mind and therefore absolutely certain to be accomplished.  The foreknowledge of God did not destroy the freedom of Judas and Peter—at least they themselves did not think so, for Judas later came back and said, 'I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood;'  and when Peter heard the cock crow and remembered the words of Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly.

"In regard to the events which were connected with Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem it is written:  'These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him,' John 12 :16.  Because we know beforehand that an upright judge will refuse a bribe, and a miser will clutch a nugget of gold, does this alter the nature or prejudice the freedom of their acts?  And if we, with our very limited knowledge of other men's natures and of the influences which will play upon them, are able to predict their actions with reasonable accuracy, shall not God, who understands perfectly their natures and these influences, know exactly what their actions will be?

"Hence the certainty of an action is consistent with the liberty of the agent in executing it;  otherwise God could not foreknow such actions as certain.  Foreknowledge does not make future acts certain but only assumes them to be so; and it is a contradiction of terms to say that God foreknows as certain an event which in its very nature is uncertain.  We must either say that future events are certain and that God knows the future, or that they are uncertain and that He does not know the future.  The doctrines of God's foreknowledge and foreordination stand or fall together."

p. 211:  "3.  Certainty Is Consistent with Free Agency.  Nor does it follow from the absolute certainty of a person's acts that he could not have acted otherwise.  He could have acted otherwise if he had chosen to have done so.  Oftentimes a man has power and opportunity to do that which it is absolutely certain he will not do, and to refrain from doing that which it is absolutely certain he will do.  That is, no external influence determines his actions.  Our acts are in accordance with the decrees, but not necessarily so—we can do otherwise and often should.  Judas and his accomplices were left to fulfill their purpose, and they did as their wicked inclinations prompted them.  Hence Peter charged them with the crime, but he at the same time declared that they had acted according to the purpose of God—'Him being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hands of lawless men did crucify and slay,' Acts 2 :23.

"On other grounds also it may be shown that certainty is consistent with free agency.  We are often absolutely certain how we will act under given conditions so far as we are free to act at all.  A parent may be certain that he will rescue a child in distress, and that- in doing so he will act freely.  God is a free agent, yet it is certain that He will always do right.  The holy angels and redeemed saints are free agents, yet it is certain that they will never sin; otherwise there would be no assurance of their remaining in heaven.  On the other hand, it is certain that the Devil, the demons and fallen men will commit sin, although they are free agents.  A father often knows how his son will act under given circumstances and by controlling these he determines beforehand the course of action which the son follows, yet the son acts freely.  If he plans that the son shall be a doctor, he gives him encouragement along that line, persuades him to read certain books, to attend certain schools, and so presents the outside inducements that his plan works out.  In the same manner and to an infinitely greater extent God controls our actions so that they are certain although we act freely.  His decree does not produce the event, but only renders its occurrence certain; and the same decree which determines the certainty of the action at the same time determines the freedom of the agent in the act."

p. 212:  "4. Man's Natural Will Is Enslaved to Evil.  Strictly speaking we may say that man has free will only in the sense that he is not under any outside compulsion which interferes with his freedom of choice or his just accountability.  In his fallen state he only has what we may call "the freedom of slavery."  He is in bondage to sin and spontaneously follows Satan.  He does not have the ability or incentive to follow God.  Now, we ask, is this a thing worthy the name "free"? and the answer is, No.  Not free will but self-will would more appropriately describe man's condition since the fall.  It is to be remembered that man was not created a captive to sin but that he has come into that condition by his own fault; and a loss which he has brought upon himself does not free him from responsibility.  After man's redemption is complete he will spontaneously follow God, as do the holy angels; but never will he become entirely his own master.

"That this was Luther's doctrine cannot be denied.  In his book, 'The Bondage of the Will,' the main purpose of which was to prove that the will of man is by nature enslaved to evil only, and that because it is fond of that slavery it is said to be free, he declared:  'Whatever man does, he does necessarily, though not with any sensible compulsion, and he can only do what God from eternity willed and foreknew he should, which will of God must be effectual and His foresight must be certain. . . Neither the Divine nor human will does anything by constraint, and whatever man does, be it good or bad, he does with as much appetite and willingness as if his will was really free.  But, after all, the will of God is certain and unalterable, and it is the governess of ours.'[28]  In another place he says, 'When it is granted and established, that Free-will, having once lost its liberty, is compulsively bound to the service of sin, and cannot will anything good; I from these words, can understand nothing else than that Free-will is an empty term, whose reality is lost.  And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.'[29]  He refers to Free-will as 'a mere lie,'[30] and later adds, 'This, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: that God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes and does all things according to his immutable, eternal, and infallible will.  By this thunderbolt, Free-will is thrown prostrate, utterly dashed to pieces. . . . It follows unalterably, that all things which we do, although they may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, and even may be done thus contingently by us, are yet, in reality, done necessarily and immutably, with respect to the will of God.  For the will of God is effective and cannot be hindered; because the very power of God is natural to Him, and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived.'[31]

"It is sometimes objected that unless man's will is completely free, God commands him to do what he cannot do.  In numerous places in Scripture, however, men are commanded to do things which in their own strength they are utterly unable to do.  The man with the withered hand was commanded to stretch it forth.  The paralytic was com­manded to arise and walk; the sick man to arise, take up his bed and walk.  The dead Lazarus was commanded to come forth.  Men are commanded to believe; yet faith is said to be the 'gift of God.'  'Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee,' Eph. 5:14.  'Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,' Matt. 5 :48.  Man's self-imposed inability in the moral sphere does not free him from obligation.

p. 214:  "5.  God Controls the Minds of Men and Gives His People the Will to Come.  God so governs the inward feelings, external environ­ment, habits, desires, motives, etc., of men that they freely do what He purposes.  This operation is inscrutable, but none the less real; and the mere fact that in our present state of knowledge we are not able fully to explain how this influence is exerted without destroying the free agency of man, certainly does not prove that it cannot be so exerted.  We do have enough knowledge, however, to know that God's sovereignty and man's freedom are realities, and that they work together in perfect harmony.  Paul plants, and Apollos waters, but God gives the increase.  Paul commanded the Philippians, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;'  and in the immediately following verse the reason which he assigns for this is, 'For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure' (2 :12, 18).   And the psalmist declared, 'Thy people offer themselves willingly in the day of thy power' (110 :3).

The actions of a creature are to a great extent prede­termined when God stamps upon it a particular "nature" at its creation.  If it is given human nature, its actions will be those common to men; if horse nature, those common to horses; or if vegetable nature, those common to the vegetable world.  Plain it is that those given human nature were foreordained not to walk on four feet, nor to neigh like a horse.  An act is not free if determined from without;  but it is free if rationally determined from within, and this is precisely what God's foreordination effects.  The comprehensive decree provides that each man shall be a free agent, possessing a certain character, surrounded by a certain environment, subject to certain external influences, internally moved by certain affections, desires, habits, etc., and that in view of all these he shall freely and rationally make a choice.  That the choice will be one thing and not another, is certain; and God, who knows and controls the exact causes of each influence, knows what that choice will be, and in a real sense determines it.  Zanchius expressed this idea very clearly when he declared that man was a free agent, and then added, 'Yet he acts, from the first to the last moment of his life, "in absolute subserviency (though, perhaps he does not know it, nor design it) to the purposes and decrees of God concerning him; notwithstanding which, he is sensible of no compulsion, but acts freely and voluntarily," as if he were sui juris subject to no control, and absolutely lord of himself." And Luther says, 'Both good and evil men, though by their actions they fulfill the decrees and appointments of God, yet are not forcibly constrained to do anything, but act willingly.'

"In accordance with this we believe that, without destroying or impairing the free agency of men, God can exercise over them a particular providence and work in them through His Holy Spirit so that they will come to Christ and persevere in His service.  We believe further that none have this will and desire except those whom God has previously made willing and desirous; and that He gives this will and desire to none but His own elect.  But while thus induced, the elect remain as free as the man that you persuade to take a walk or to invest in government securities.

An illustration which well shows God's relation with both the saved and the lost is given by H. Johnson—'Here are two hundred men in prison for violation of law.  I make provision for their pardon, so that justice is satisfied and the law vindicated, while yet the prisoners may go free.  The prison doors are unbarred, the bolts thrown back, and promise of absolute pardon is made and assurance is given every prisoner that he can now step out a free man.  But not a man moves.  Suppose now I determine that my provision for their pardon shall not be in vain.  So I personally go to one hundred and fifty of these condemned and guilty men, and by a kind of loving violence persuade them to come out.  That's election.  But have I kept the other fifty in? The provision for pardon is still sufficient, the prison doors are still unbarred, the gates of their cells are still unlocked and open, and freedom is promised to everyone who will step out and take it; and every man in that prison knows he can be a free man if he will.  Have I kept the other fifty in ?'[32]

"The old Pelagian tenet, which has sometimes been adopted by Arminians, that virtue and vice derive their praiseworthiness or blameworthiness from the power of the individual beforehand to choose the one or the other, logically leads one to deny goodness to the angels in heaven, or to the saints in glory, or even to God Himself, since it is impossible for the angels, saints, or for God to sin.  Virtue, then, in the heavenly state would cease to be meritorious, because it required no effort of choice.  The idea that the power of choice between good and evil is that which ennobles and dignifies the will is a misconception.  It does, indeed, raise man above the brute creation; but it is not the perfection of his will.  Says Mozley:  'The highest and the perfect state of the will is a state of necessity; and the power of choice, so far from being essential to a true and genuine will, is its weakness and defect.  What can be a greater sign of an imperfect and immature state of the will than that, with good and evil before it, it should be in suspense which to do ?'[33]  In this life that grace from which good actions necessarily follow is not given with uniformity, and consequently even the regenerate occasionally commit sin; but in the next life it will be either constantly given or taken away entirely, and then the determination of the will will be constant either for good or for evil.

"Perhaps some idea of the manner in which the Divine and human agencies harmonize to produce one work may be gained from a consideration of the way in which the Scriptures were written.  These are, in the highest sense, and at the same time, the words of God and also the words of men.  It is not merely certain parts or elements which are to be assigned to God or to men; but rather the whole of Scripture in all of its parts, in form of expression as well as in substance of teaching, is from God, and also from men.  'By inspiration,' says Hamilton, 'we do not mean that God used the individual writers as automata, or that He dictated to them what they should say, but we mean that his Holy Spirit so guided and controlled the writers that what they wrote was true, and was the particular truth God wanted to be given in writing to His people.  God allowed the writers to' use their own intellects, their awn language and their own style, but when they wrote, His Holy Spirit supernaturally kept their writing free from error, and rendered it the exact truth which God wanted conveyed to His people dawn through the ages.  The Bible thus becomes a unit, parts of which cannot be cut off without irreparable injury to the whole.'[34]

"Undoubtedly there is a contradiction in supposing that 'chance happenings,' or those events produced by free will agents,' can be the objects of definite foreknowledge or the subjects of previous arrangement.  In the very nature of the case they must be both radically and eventually uncertain, 'so that,' as Toplady says, 'any assertor of self-determination is in fact, whether he means it or no, a worshipper of the heathen lady named Fortune, and an ideal deposer of Providence from its throne.'

"Unless God could thus govern the minds of men He would be constantly engaged in devising new expedients to offset the effects of the influences introduced by the millions of His creatures.  If men actually had free will, then in attempting to govern or convert a person, God would have to approach him as a man approaches his fellowmen, with several plans in mind so that if the first proves unsuccessful he can try the second, and if that does not work, then the third, and so on.  If the acts of free agents are uncertain, God is ignorant of the future except in a most general way.  He is then surprised times without number and daily receives great accretions of knowledge.  But such a view is dishonoring to God, and is both unreasonable and unscrip­tural.  Unless God's omniscience is denied we must hold that He knows all truth, past, present, and future; and that while events may appear uncertain from our human viewpoint, from His view-point they are fixed and certain.  This argument is so conclusive that its force is generally admitted.  The weaker objection which is sometimes urged that God voluntarily wills not to know some of the future acts of men in order to leave them free has no support either in Scripture or in reason.  Furthermore, it represents God as acting like the father of a lot of bad boys who goes and hides because he is afraid he will see them do something of which he would not approve.  If God is limited either by an outside force or by His own acts, we have only a finite God.

The Arminian theory that God is anxiously trying to convert sinners but not able to exert more than persuasive power without doing violence to their natures, is really much the same in this respect as the old Persian view that there were two eternal principles of good and evil at war with each other, neither of which was able to overcome the other.  Free-will tears the reins of government out of the hands of God, and robs Him of His power.  It places the creatures beyond His absolute control and in some respects gives them veto power over His eternal will and purpose.  It even makes it possible that angels and saints in heaven might sin, that there might again be a general rebellion in heaven such as is supposed to have occurred when Satan and the fallen angels were cast out, and that evil might become dominant or universal.

p. 218:  "6.  The Way in Which the Will Is Determined.  Since man is a rational agent there must always be a sufficient cause for his acting in a particular way.  For the will to decide in favor of the weaker motive and against the stronger, or without motives at all, is to have an effect without a sufficient cause.  Conscience teaches us that we always have reasons for the things we do, and that after acting we are conscious that we might have acted differently had other views or feelings been present.  The reason for a particular act may not be strong and it may even be based on a false judgment, but in each particular instance it is strong enough to control.  Scales will swing in the opposite direction only when there is a cause adequate to the effect.  A person may choose that which in some respects is disagreeable; but in each case some other motive is present which influences the person to a choice which otherwise would not have been made.  For instance, a person may willingly have a tooth pulled out; but he will not do so unless some inducement is present which for the time being at least makes this the stronger inclination.  As it has been expressed, 'a man cannot prefer against his preference or choose against his choice.'  A person who prefers to live in California cannot, by a mere act of will, prefer to live in New York.

"Man's volitions are, in fact, governed by his own nature, and are in accordance with the desires, dispositions, inclinations, knowledge, and character of the person.  Man is not independent of God, nor of mental and physical laws, and all of these exert their particular influences in his choices.  He always acts in the way in which the strongest inclinations or motives lead; and conscience tells us that the things which appeal to us most powerfully at the time are the things which determine our volitions.  Says Dr. Hodge, 'The will is not determined by any law of necessity; it is not independent, indifferent, or self-determined, but is always determined by the preceding state of mind; so that a man is free so long as his volitions are the conscious expression of his mind; or so long as his activity is determined and controlled by his reason and feelings.'[35]!

"Unless a person's volitions were based on and determined by his character they would not really be his, and he could not be held responsible for them.  In our relations with our fellow men we instinctively assume that their good or bad volitions are determined by good or bad character, and we judge them accordingly.  'By their fruits ye shall know them.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. . . Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them,' Matt. 7 :16-20.  And again, 'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.'  The tree is not free to produce good or bad fruit at random, but is governed by its nature.  It is not the goodness of the fruit which causes the goodness of the tree, but the reverse.  And according to the parable of Jesus, the same is true of man.  And unless conduct does reveal character, how are we to know that the man who does good acts is really a good man, or that the man who does evil acts is really an evil man?  While same for the sake of argument may insist that the will is free, in every day life all men assume that the will is both a product and a revelation of the person's nature.  When a man exerts a volition which results in robbery or murder, we instinctively conclude that this is a true indicator of character and deal with him accordingly.

"The very essence of rationality is that the volitions must be based on the understanding, principles, feelings, etc., and the person whose volitions are not so based is considered foolish.  If after every decision the will reverted to a state of/indecision and oscillation equipoised between good and evil, the basis for confidence in our fellow men would be gone.  In fact a person whose will was really 'free' would be a dangerous associate; his acts would be irrational and we would have no way of knowing what he might do under any conditions.

"It is this fact (that volitions are a true expression of the person's nature) which guarantees the permanence of the states of the saved and of the lost in the next world.  If mere free agency necessarily exposed a person to sin there would be no certainty that even the redeemed in heaven would not sin and be cast down to hell as were the fallen angels.  The saints, however, possess a necessity on the side of goodness, and are therefore free in the highest sense.  There is an absence of strife, and their wills, confirmed in holiness, go on producing good acts and motions with the ease and uniformity of physical law.  On the other hand the state of the wicked is also permanent.  After the restraining influences of the Holy Spirit are withdrawn, they become bold, defiant, blasphemous, and sin with an irremediable obstinacy.  They have passed into a permanent disposition of malice and wickedness and hate.  They are no longer guests and strangers, but citizens and dwellers, in the land of sin.  Further, if the theory of free-will were true, it would give the possibility of repentance after death; for is it not reasonable to believe that at least some of the lost, after they began to suffer the torments of hell, would see their mistake and return to God?  In this world mild punishments are often effective in turning men from sin; why should not severer punishments in the next world be more effective?  Only the Calvinistic principle that the will is determined by the nature of the person and the inducements presented, reaches a conclusion in harmony with that of Scripture which affirms that 'there is a great gulf fixed,' so that none can pass over—that the states of the saved and the lost alike are permanent.

"The person who has not given the matter any special thought assumes that he has great freedom.  But when he comes to examine this boasted freedom a little mare closely he finds that he is much more limited than at first appeared.  He is limited by the laws of the physical world, by his particular environment, habits, past training, social customs, fear of punishment or disapproval, his present desires, ambitions, etc., so that he is far from being the absolute master of his actions.  At any moment he is pretty much what his past has made him.  But so long as he acts under the control of his own nature and determines his actions from within, he has all the liberty of which a creature is capable.  Any other kind of liberty is anarchy.

"A man may carry a bowl of gold-fish wherever he pleases;  yet the fish feel themselves free, and move unrestrainedly within the bowl.  The science of Physics tells us of molecular motion ,amid molar calm—when we look at the piece of stone, or wood, or metal, it appears to the naked eye to be perfectly quiet;  yet if we had a magnifying glass powerful enough to see the individual molecules and atoms and electrons, we should find them whirling in their orbits at incredible speeds.

"Predestination and free agency are the twin pillars of a great temple, and they meet above the clouds where the human gaze cannot penetrate.  Or again, we may say that Predestination and free agency are parallel lines; and while the Calvinist may not be able to make them unite, the Arminian cannot make them cross each other.

"Furthermore, if we admit free will in the sense that the absolute determination of events is placed in the hands of man, we might as well spell it with a capital F and a capital W;  for then man has become like God—a first cause, an original spring of action—and we have as many semi-Gods as we have free wills.  Unless the sovereignty of God be given up, we cannot allow this independ­ence to man.  It is very noticeable—and in a sense it is reassuring to observe the fact—that the materialistic and metaphysical philosophers deny as completely as do Calvinists this thing that is called free will.  They reason that every effect must have a sufficient cause; and for every action of the will they seek to find a motive which for the moment at least is strong enough to control."

p. 222:  "7.  Scripture Proof.  The Scriptures teach that Divine sovereignty and human freedom co-operate in perfect harmony; that while God is the sovereign Ruler and primary cause, man is free within the limits of his nature and is the secondary cause;  and that God so controls the thoughts and wills of men that they freely and willingly do what He has planned for them to do.

"A classic example of the co-operation of Divine sovereignty and human freedom is found in the story of Joseph.  Joseph was sold into Egypt where he rose in authority and rendered a great service by supplying food in time of f amine.  It was, of course, a very sinful act for those sons of Jacob to sell their younger brother into slavery in a heathen country.  They knew that they acted freely, and years later they admitted their full guilt (Gen. 42 :21 ; 45:3).  Yet Joseph could say to them, 'Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. . . So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God;'  and again, 'As for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive,' Gen. 45:5, 8;  50:20.  Joseph's brothers simply followed the evil inclinations of their natures; yet their act was a link in the chain of events through which God fulfilled His purpose; and their guilt was not the least diminished by the fact that their intended evil was overruled for good.

"Pharaoh acted very unjustly toward his subject people, the Children of Israel;  yet he simply fulfilled the purpose of God, for Paul writes, 'The scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did I raise thee up, that I might show in thee my power, and that my name might be published abroad in all the earth,' Rom. 9:17;  Ex. 9:16;  10:1, 2.  Some of God's plans are carried out by restrain­ing the sinful acts of men.  When the Israelites went up to Jerusalem three times a year for the set feasts, God restrained the greed of the neighboring tribes so that the land was not molested, Ex. 34:24.  He put it into the heart of Cyrus, the heathen king of Persia, to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, Ezra 1 :1-3.  Weare told, 'The king's heart is in the hands of Jehovah, as the watercourses; He turn­eth it whithersoever He will,' Provo 21 :1.  And if He turns the king's heart so easily surely he can turn the hearts of common men also.

"In Isaiah 10 :5-15 we have a very remarkable illustration of the way in which divine sovereignty and human freedom work together in perfect harmony:  'Ho, Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation!  I will send him against a profane nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.  Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so;  but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few.  For he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings?  Is not Calno as Carchemish?  Is not Hamath as Arpad?  Is not Samaria as Damascus?  As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and Samaria;  shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?

"'Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed His whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.  For he hath said, by the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding;  and I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and like a valiant man I have brought down them that sit on thrones; and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples;  and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth; arid there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or chirped.

"'Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?  Shall the saw magnify itself against him that wieldeth it? As if a rod should wield them that lift it up, or as if a staff should lift up him that is not wood.'

"Concerning this passage Rice says:  'What is the obvious meaning of this passage?  It does most unequivocally teach, in the first place, that the king of Assyria, though a proud and ungodly man, was but an instrument in the hands of God, just as the axe, the saw, or the rod in the hands of a man, to execute His purposes upon the Jews;  and that God had perfect control of him.  It teaches, in the second place that the free agency of the king was not destroyed or impaired by this control, but that he was perfectly free to form his own plans and to be governed by his own desires.  For it is declared that he did not design to execute God's purposes, but to promote his own ambitious projects.  "Howbeit he me aneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and to cut off nations not a few."  It consequently teaches, thirdly, that the king was justly held responsible for his pride, and wickedness, although God so overruled him that he fulfilled His wise purposes.  God decreed to chastise the Jews for their sin.  He chose to employ the king of Assyria to execute His purpose, and therefore sent him against them.  He would afterward punish the king for his wicked plans.  Is it not evident, then, beyond all cavil, that the Scriptures teach that God can and does, so control men, even wicked men, as to bring to pass His wise purposes without interfering with their free agency?'[36]

For anyone who accepts the Bible as the word of God it is absolutely certain that the crucifixion of Christ—the most sinful event in all history—was foreordained:  'For of ,a truth in this city against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel foreordained to come to pass,' Acts 4:27, 28;  'Him being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hands of lawless men did crucify and slay,' Acts 2:23;  and 'The things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled,' Acts 3:18.  'For they that dwell in Jerusalem, and the rulers, because they knew not Him, nor the voice of the prophets which are read every Sab­bath, fulfilled them in condemning Him.  And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet they asked Pilate that He should be slain.  And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a tomb,' Acts 13:27-29.

And not only the crucifixion itself was foreordained, but many of the attending events, such as: the parting of Christ's garments and the casting of lots for His vesture (Ps. 22:18;  John 19:24); the giving of gall and vinegar to drink (Ps. 69:21;  Matt. 27:34;  John 19:29); the mockery on the part of the people (Ps. 22:6-8;  Matt. 27:39);  the fact that they associated Him with thieves (Is. 53:12;  Matt. 27:38); that none of His bones were to be broken (Ps. 34:20;  John 19:36);  the spear thrust (Zech. 12:10;  John 19:34-37);  and several other recorded events.  Listen to the babble of hell around the cross, and tell us if those men were not free!  Yet read all the forecast and prophecy and record of the tragedy and tell us if every incident of it was not ordained of God! Furthermore, these events could not have been predicted in detail by the Old Testa­ment prophets centuries before they came to pass unless they had been absolutely certain in the foreordained plan of God.  Yet while foreordained, they were carried out by agents who were ignorant of who Christ really was, and who were also ignorant of the fact that they were fulfilling the divine decrees, Acts 13:27, 29;  3:17.  Hence if we swallow the camel in believing that the most sinful event in all history was in the foreordained plan of God, and that it was overruled for the redemption of the world, shall we strain at the gnat in refusing to believe that the smaller events of our daily lives are also in that plan, and that they are designed for good purposes?

"Further Scripture Proof

Provo 16:9:  A man's heart deviseth his way;         But Jehovah directeth his steps.

Jer.10:23:  0 Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Ex. 12:36:  And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked.

Ezra 6 :22:  For Jehovah had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God (rebuilding the temple).

Ezra 7:6:  And the king (Artaxerxes) granted him (Ezra)

Ezra 7:6:  And the king (Artaxerxex) granted him (Ezra) all his request, according to the hand of Jeho­vah his God upon him.

Is. 44:28:  (Jehovah) that saith of Cyrus (the heathen king of Persia), He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying of Jeru­salem, She shall be built; and of the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Rev. 17:17:  (Concerning the wicked it is said) God did   put in their hearts to do His mind, and to come to one mind, and to give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished.

I Sam. 2:25:  They (Eli's sons) harkened not unto the voice of their father, because Jehovah was minded to slay them.

I Kings 12:11, 15:  And now whereas my father (Solomon) did lade you with a heavy yoke, I (Rehoboam) will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. . . So the king harkened not unto the people; for it was a thing brought about of Jehovah.

II Sam. 17:14:  And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The Counsel of Hushai is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.  For Jehovah had ordained to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that Jehovah might bring evil upon Absalom.

XVII.  3.  That It Makes God the Author of Sin

[ Contents ~ Top ]

p. 228:  "1.  The Problem of Evil.  The objection may be raised that if God has foreor­dained the entire course of events in this world He must be the Author of Sin.  To begin with, we readily admit that the existence of sin in a universe which is under the control of a God who is infinite in His wisdom, power, holiness, and justice, is an inscrutable mystery which we in our present state of knowledge cannot fully explain.  As yet we only see through a glass darkly.  Sin can never be explained on the .grounds of logic or reason, for it is essentially illog­ical and unreasonable.  The mere fact that sin exists has often been urged by atheists and skeptics as an argument not merely against Calvinism but against theism in general.

"The Westminster Standards, in treating of the dread mystery of evil, are very careful to guard the character of God from even the suggestion of evil.  Sin is referred to the freedom which is given to the agent, and of all sinful acts whatever they emphatically affirm that 'the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is, nor can be the author or approver of sin.' (V; 4.)

"And while it is not ours to explain how God in His secret counsel rules and overrules the sinful acts of men, it is ours to know that whatever God does He never deviates from His own perfect justice.  In all the manifestations of His character He shows Himself preeminently the Holy One.  These deep workings of God are mysteries, which are to be adored, but not to be inquired into; and were it not for the fact that some persons persist in declaring that the doctrine of Predestination makes God the author of sin, we could let the matter rest here.

"A partial explanation of sin is found in the fact that while man is constantly commanded in Scripture not to commit it, he is, nevertheless, permitted to commit it if he chooses to do so.  No compulsion is laid on the person; he is simply left to the free exercise of his own nature, and he alone is responsible.  This, however, is never a bare permission, for with full knowledge of the nature of the person and of his tendency to sin, God places him or allows him to be in a certain environment, knowing perfectly well that the particular sin will be committed.  But while God permits sin, His connection with it is purely negative and it is the abominable thing which he hates with perfect hatred.  The motive which God has in permitting it and the motive which man has in committing it are radically different.  Many persons are deceived in these matters because they fail to consider that God wills righteously those things which men do wickedly.  Furthermore, every person's conscience after he has committed a sin tells him that he alone is responsible and that he need not have committed it if he had not voluntarily chosen to do so.

"The Reformers recognized the fact that sin, both in its entrance into the world and in all its subsequent appearances, was involved in the divine plan; that the explanation of its existence, so far as any explanation could be given, was to be found in the fact that sin was completely under the control of God; and that it would be overruled for a higher manifestation of His glory.  We may rest assured that God would never have permitted sin to have entered at all unless, through His secret and over-ruling providence, He was able to exert a directing influence on the minds of wicked men so that good is made to result from their intended evil.  He works not only all the good and holy affec­tions which are found in the hearts of "His people, but He also perfectly controls all the depraved and impious affections of the wicked, and turns them as He pleases, so that they have a desire to accomplish that which He has planned to accomplish by their means.  The wicked so often glory in themselves at some accomplishment of their purposes; but as Calvin says, 'the event at length proves that they were only fulfilling all the while that which had been ordained of God, and that too, against their own will, while they knew nothing of it.'  But while God does overrule the depraved affections of men for the accomplishment of His own purposes, He nevertheless punishes them for their sin and makes them to stand condemned in their own consciences.

"'A ruler may forbid treason; but his command does not oblige him to do all in his power to prevent disobedience to it.  It may promote the good of his kingdom to suffer the treason to be committed, and the traitor to be punished according to law.  That in view of this resulting good he chooses not to prevent the treason, does not imply any contradiction or opposition of it in the monarch.'[37]

"In regard to the problem of evil, Dr. A. H. Strong advances the following considerations:

(1) That freedom of will is necessary to virtue; 

(2) that God suffers from sin more than does the sinner; 

(3) that, with the permission of sin, God has provided a redemption; and,

(4) that God will eventually overrule all evil for good."

And then he adds, 'It is possible that the elect angels belong to a moral system in which sin is prevented by constraining motives.  We cannot deny that God could prevent sin in a moral system.  But it is very doubtful whether God could prevent sin in the best moral system.  The most perfect freedom is indispensable to the attainment of the highest virtue.'[38]  Fairbairn has given us some good thought in the following paragraph:  'But why did God create a being capable of sinning?  Only so could He create a being capable of obeying.  The ability to do good implies the capability of doing evil.  The engine can neither obey nor disobey, and the creature who was without this double capacity might be a machine, but could be no child.  Moral perfection can be attained, but cannot be created; God can make a being capable of moral action, but not a being with all the fruits of moral action garnered within him.'


Throughout the Scriptures we find numerous instances in which sinful acts were permitted and then overruled for good.  We shall first notice some Old Testament examples.  Jacob's deception of his old, blind father, though a sinful act in itself, was permitted and used as a link in the chain of events through which the already revealed plan of God that the elder should serve the younger was carried out.  Pharaoh and the Egyptians were permitted to wrong the Israelites, that by their deliverance God's wonders might be multiplied in the land of Egypt (Ex. 11:9), that these things might be told to future generations (Ex. 10 :1, 2), and that His glory might be declared throughout all the earth (Ex. 9:16).  The curse which Balaam pronounced upon the Israelites was turned into a blessing (Nu. 24:10; Neh. 13:2).  The proud, heathen king of Assyria unconsciously became the servant of Jehovah in executing vengeance upon an apostate people: "Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so," Is. 10 :5-15.  The calamities which befell Job, as seen from the human view-point appear to be mere misfortunes, accidents, chance happenings.  But with further knowledge we see God behind it all, exercising complete control, giving the Devil permission to afflict so far but no farther, design­ing the events for the development of Job's patience and character, and using even the seemingly meaningless waste of the storm to fulfill His high and loving purposes.

In the New Testament we find the same teaching.  The death of Lazarus, as seen from the human view-point of Mary and Martha and those who came to mourn for him, was a very great misfortune; but when seen from the divine view-point it was "not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby," John 11 :4.  The manner of Peter's death (which apparently was by crucifixion) was to glorify God (John 21 :19).  When Jesus crossed the sea of Galilee with His disciples He could have prevented the storm and have ordered them a pleasant passage, but that would not have been so much for His glory and the confirmation of their faith as was their deliverance.  Paul, by his stern rebukes, made the Corinthians "sorry unto repentance," "after a godly sort ;" "for godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret; but the sorrow of the world worketh death," II Cor. 7 :9, 10.  The Lord often temporarily delivers a person over to Satan, that his bodily and mental suffering_ may react for his salvation, (I Cor. 5 :5).  Paul, in speaking of the adversities which he had suffered, said, "Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel," Phil. 1 :12.  When he saw that his "thorn in the flesh" was something which had been divinely sent upon him, "a messenger of Satan to buffet him," so that he "should not be exalted over much," he accepted it with the words, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me," II Cor. 12 :7-10.  In that instance God made the poison of the cruelest and most sinful monster of all time to be an antidote to cure the apostle's pride.

To a certain extent we can say that the reason for the permission of sin is that, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Such deep, unfathomable grace could not have been shown if sin had been excluded.

As a matter of fact we gain more through salvation in Christ that we lost by the fall in Adam.  When Christ became incarnate, human nature was, as it were, taken into the very bosom of Deity, and the redeemed reach a far more exalted position through union with Christ than Adam could have attained had he not fallen but persevered and been admitted into heaven.

This general truth was expressed by Calvin in the follow­ing words: "But, God, who once commanded light to shine out of darkness, can marvelously bring, if He pleases, sal­vation out of hell itself, and thus turn darkness itself to light.  But what worketh Satan? In a certain sense, the work of God! That is, God, by holding Satan fast bound in obedience to His Providence, turns him whithersoever He will, and thus applies the great enemy's devices and at­tempts to the accomplishment of His own eternal prin­ciples."[39]

Even the persecutions which are permitted to come upon the righteous are designed for good purposes.  Paul declares that "our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory," II Cor. 4:17.  To suffer with Christ is to be more closely united to Him, and great reward in heaven is prom­ised to those who suffer in His behalf (Matt. 5 :10-12).  To the Philippians it was written, "To you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him but also to suffer in His behalf," Phil. 1 :29; and we read that after the apostles had been publicly abused, "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name," Acts 5:41.  The writer of the book of Hebrews stated this same truth when he wrote, "All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit to them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness," Heb. 12 :11.

"The acts of the wicked in persecuting the early Church," says Dr. Charles Hodge, "were ordained of God as the means for the wider and more speedy proclamation of the Gospel.  The sufferings of the martyrs were the means not only of extending but of purifying the Church.  The apostasy of the man of sin being predicted, was predetermined.  The destruc­tion of the Huguenots in France, the persecution of the Puritans in England, laid the foundation for the planting of North America with a race of godly energetic men, who were to make this land the land of refuge for the nations, the home of liberty, civil and religious.  It would destroy the confidence of God's people could they be persuaded that God does not foreordain whatever comes to pass.  It is because the Lord reigns, and doeth His pleasure in heaven and on earth, that they repose in perfect security under His guid­ance and protection."[40]

Many of the divine attributes were displayed through the creation and government of the world, but the attribute of justice could be shown only to creatures deserving punish­ment,. and the attribute of mercy or grace could be shown only to creatures in misery. Until man's fall into _in, and redemption from it, these attributes, so far as we can learn, had been unexercised and undisplayed, and cons"equently were unknown to any but God Himself from all eternity. Had not sin been admitted to the creation these attributes would have remained buried in an eternal night. And the universe, without the knowledge of these attributes, would be like the earth without the light of the sun. Sin, then, is permitted in order that the mercy of God may be shown in its forgiveness, and that His justice may be shown in its punishment. Its entrance is the result of a settled design which God formed in eternity, and through which He pur­posed to reveal Himself to His rational creatures as complete and full-orbed in all conceivable perfections.



Even the fall of Adam, and through him the fall of the race, was not by chance or accident, but was so ordained in the secret counsels of God. Weare told that Christ was "foreknown indeed (as a sacrifice for sin) before the foun­dation of the world," I Peter 1 :20. Paul speaks of "the eter­nal purpose" which was purposed in Jesus Christ our Lord, Eph. 3:11. The writer of Hebrews refers to "the blood of an eternal covenant," 13 :20. And since the plan of redemption is thus traced back into eternity, the plan to permit man to fall into the sin from which he was thus to be redeemed must also extend back into eternity; otherwise there would have been no occasion for redemption. In fact the plan for the whole course of the world's events, including the fall, redemption, and all other events, was before God in its com­pleteness before He ever brought the creation into existence; and He deliberately ordered it that this series of events, and not some other series, should become actual.

And unless the fall was in the plan of God, what becomes of our redemption through Christ? Was that only a make­shift arrangement which God resorted to in order to offset the rebellion of man? To ask such a question is to answer it.

Throughout the Scriptures redemption is represented as the free, gracious purpose of God from eternity. In the very hour of man's first sin, God sovereignly intervened with a

gratuitous promise of deliverance. While the glory of God is displayed in the whole realm of creation, it was to be especially displayed in the work of redemption. The fall of man, therefore, was only one part and a necessary part in the plan; and even Watson, though a decided Arminian, says, "The redemption of man by Christ was certainly not an afterthought brought in upon man's apostasy; it was a pro­vision, and when man fell he found justice hand in hand with mercy."! Out of the ruins of the fall God has built a new spiritual creation far more glorious than the first.

Consistent Arminianism, however, pictures God as an idle, inactive spectator sitting in doubt while Adam fell, and as quite surprised and thwarted by the creature of His hands. In contrast with thi_ we hold that God fore-planned and fore-saw the fall; that it in no sense came as a surprise to Him; and that after it had occurred He did not feel that He had made a mistake in creating man. Had He wished He could have prevented Satan's entrance into the garden and

could have preserved Adam in a state of holiness as He did the holy angels. The mere fact that God fore-saw the fall is sufficient proof that He did not expect man to glorify Him by continuing in a state of holiness.

Yet God in no way compelled man to fall. He simply withheld that undeserved constraining grace with which Adam would infallibly not have fallen, which grace He was under no obligation to bestow. In respect to himself, Adam might have stood had he so chosen; but in respect to God it was certain that he would fall. He acted as freely as if there had been no decree, and yet as infallibly as if there had been no liberty. The Jews, so far as their own free agency was concerned, might have broken Christ's bones; yet in reality it was not possible for them to have done so, for it was written, "A bone of Him shall not be broken," Ps. 34:20; John 19:36. God's decree does not take away man's liberty; and in th_ fall Adam freely exercised the natural emotions of his will. " The reason for the fall is assigned in that "God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that He might have mercy on all," Rom. 11 :32; and again, "We ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead," II Cor. 1:9; and it would be difficult to find language which would assert the Divine control and Divine initiative more explicitly than this. For wise reasons, God was pleased to permit our first parents to be tempted and to fall, and then to overrule ..their sin for His own glory. Yet this permission and overruling of sin does not make Him the author of it. It seems that He has permitted the fall in order to show what free will would do; and then, by overruling it, He has shown what the bless­ings of His grace and the judgments of His justice can do.

It may be well just at this point, co say something more about the nature of the fall. Adam was given a most favor­able opportunity to secure eternal life and blessedness for himself and his posterity. He was created holy and was placed in a world free from sin. He was surrounded by all the beauty of paradise and was graciously given permission to eat of all the fruits with the exception of one, which was certainly no irksome restraint. God Himself came down into the Garden and was Adam's companion. In unmistakably clear language Adam was warned that if he did eat of the fruit he would certainly die. He was thus placed under a pure test of obedience, since the eating would not in itself have been either morally right or wrong. Obedience is here set up as the virtue which, in the rational creature, is, as it were, the mother and guardian of all the others.


But, in spite of all his advantages, Adam deliberately dis­obeyed, and the threatened sentence of death was executed. This plainly includes more than the dissolution of the body. The word "death" as used in the Scriptures in reference to the effects of sin includes any and every form of evil which is inflicted in punishment of sin. It means primarily spir­itual death, or separation from God, which is both temporal and eternal- a loss of His favor in all ways. It meant the opposite of the reward promised, which was blessed and eternal life in Heaven. It meant, therefore, the eternal miseries of hell, together with the fore-tastes of those miser­ies which are felt in this life. Its nature can be partly seen in the effects of sin which have actually fallen upon the human race. And finally, the nature of the death which fell upon Adam and his descendants can be seen by contrast with the life which the redeemed have with Christ. It was a death which caused sin instead of holiness to become man's natural element, so that now in his unregenerate nature the gospel and all holy things are repulsive to him. He is as utterly un­able to appreciate redemption through faith in Christ, as a dead man is to hear the sounds of this world. That the death threatened was not primarily physical death is shown by the fact that Adam lived many years after the fall, while spir­itually he was immediately alienated from God and was cast out of Paradise. In his fallen state man is terrified by any appearance of the supernatural. And even in regard to physical death, that was also in a sense immediately executed; for though our first parents lived many years, they immediately began to grow old. Since the fall, life has become an unceasing march toward the grave. Says Charles Hodge, "In the day in which Adam ate the forbidden fruit he did die. The penalty threatened was not a momentary infliction but permanent subjection to all the evils which flow from the righteous displeasure of God."l       '

Furthermore, the whole Christian world has believed

that in the fall, Adam, as the natural and federal head of the race, injured not only himself but all of his posterity, so that, as Dr. Hodge says, "in virtue of the union, federal and natural, between Adam and his posterity, his sin, although not their act, is so imputed to them that it is the judicial ground of the penalty threatened against him coming also on them. . . To impute sin, in Scriptural and theological language, is to impute the guilt of sin. And by guilt is meant not criminality, or moral ill-desert, or demerit, much less moral pollution, but the judicial obligation to satisfy justice."1 His sin is laid to their account. Even infants, who have no personal sin of their own, suffer pain and death. Now the Scriptures uniformly represent suffering and death as the wages of sin. It would be unjust for God to execute the penalty on those who are not guilty. Since the penalty falls on infants, they must be guilty; and since they have not personally committed sin, they must be guilty of Adam's sin. All those who have inherited human nature fr()m Adam were in him as the fruit in the germ, and have, as it were" grown up one person with him. By the fall Adam was entirely and absolutely ruined. The state of original right­eousness or holiness in which he was created was lost and its place was taken by an overwhelming state of sin, which was brought about as effectively as one puncture of the eye involves the person in perpetual darkness. The wrath and curse of God rested upon him and he was possessed with a sense of guilt, shame, pollution, degradation, a dread of punishment, and a desire to escape from the presence of God.

In fact, there is a strict parallel between the way in which the guilt of Adam is imputed to us and that in which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, so that the one illustrates the other. We were cursed through Adam and were redeemed through Christ, although we were of course no more personally guilty of Adam's sin than we are per­sonally meritorious because of Christ's righteousness. It is utterly absurd to hold to salvation through Christ unless we also hold to damnation through Adam, for Christianity is based on this representative principle. Unless the race had been cursed through Adam, there would have been no occa­sion for Christ to have redeemed it. The history of the fall, recorded in a manner at once profound and childlike in the third chapter of Genesis, has, therefore, universal significance. And Calvinism alone does justice to the idea of the organic unity of the human race, and to the profound par­allel which Paul draws between the first and the second Adam.


We believe that God actually rules in the affairs of men, that His decrees are absolute, and that they include all events. Consequently we believe that nations and individ­uals are predestined to all of every kind of good and evil which befalls them. When we get the larger view we see that even the sinful acts of men have their place in the divine plan, and that it is only because of our finite and imperfect nature, which does not comprehend all the rela­tions and connections, that these acts appear to be contrary to that plan. To illustrate this, when we see the sheet music running through the player piano we readily understand how it is used; but if we were to find the same paper apart from the piano and had never seen it used, we might readily conclude that it was only wrapping paper, and poor wrap­ping paper at that, for it would be full of holes. Yet when it is put in its proper place it produces the most beautiful music. Unless we do believe that God has ordained the whole course of events, and that the courses he has outlined for our individual lives are good ones, we are certain to become discouraged in times of adversity. Like Jacob of old who in the face of the apparent misfortunes immediately before meeting his favorite son, Joseph, concluded, "All these things are against me," we may become discouraged when perhaps at that very time the Lord is preparing great things for us.

The Scripture doctrine, as stated before, is that God restrains sin within certain limits, that He brings good out of intended evil, and overrules the evil for His own glory. Since God is infinite in power and wisdom, sin could have no exist. ence except by His permission. God was free to create, or not to create; to create this particular world-order, or one entirely different. All evil forces are under His absolute con­trol and could be blotted out of existence in an instant if He so willed. The murderer is kept in life and is indebted to God for the strength to kill his victim, and also for the oppor­tunity. When Jesus said, "Get thee hence, Satan," Satan im­mediately went; and when Jesus commanded the evil spirits to hold their peace and come out of the possessed persons, they immediately obeyed. The psalmist expressed his con­fidence in God's power to overrule sinners when contemplat­ing their works, he wrote, "He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh; the Lord will have them in derision," 2:4. Job said, "The deceived and the deceiver are His," 12:16; by which he meant that both good and evil men are under God'. providential control.

Unless sin occurs according to the divine purpose and permission of God, it occurs by chance. Evil then becomes an independent and uncontrollable principle and the pagan idea of d'1aIism is introduced into the theory of the universe. The doctrine that there are powers of sin, rebellion, and darkness in the very nature of free agency, which may prove an over-match for divine omnipotence, imperils even the eternal safety and happiness of the saints in glory.

Luther expressed his belief concerning this question in the following words: "What I assert and contend for is this: - that God, where He operates without the grace of His Spirit, works all in all, even in the ungodly; and He alone moves, acts on, and carries along by the motion of His omnipotence, all those things which He alone has created, which motion those things can neither avoid nor change, but of necessity follow and obey, each one according to the measure of power given of God: - thus all things, even the ungodly co-operate with God."1 And Zanchius wrote, "We should, therefore, be careful not to give up the omnipotence of God under a pretense of exalting His holiness; He is infinite in both, and therefore neither should be set aside or obscured. To say that God absolutely nills the being and commission of sin, while experience convinces us that sin is acted every day, is to represent the Deity as a weak, im­potent being who would fain have things go otherwise than they do, but cannot accomplish His desire.".

One of the best of more recent comments is that of E. W. Smith, in his admirable little book, "The Creed of Pres­byterians." "Did we believe that so potent and fearful a thing as sin had broken into the original holy order of the universe in defiance of God's purpose, and is rioting in defiance of His power, we might well surrender ourselves to terror and despair. Unspeakably comforting and strengthening is the Scriptural assurance of our Standards (V:4) that beneath all this wild tossing and lashing of evil pur­poses and agencies there lies, in mighty and controlling embrace, a Divine purpose that governs them all. Over sin as over all else, God reigns supreme. His sovereign Provi­dence extendeth to the first fall and all other sins af angels and men,' so that these are as truly parts and developments of His Providence as are the movements of the stars or the activities of unfallen spirits in heaven itself. Having chosen, for reasons most wise and holy though unrevealed to. us, to admit sin, He hath joined to this bare permission a ';most wise and powerful bounding' of all sin, so that it can never overleap the lines which He has prescribed far its imprisonment, and such an 'ordering and governing' of it, as will secure 'His own holy ends,' and manifest in the final con­summation not only His 'almighty Power,' but His 'un­searchable Wisdom" and His 'infinite Goodness'" (p. 177).

And Floyd E. Hamilton has written: "God created the human being with the possibility of sinning, and He has the power to interfere at any time to prevent the evil act. Even though He has no purpose to work out in the permission of the act, the very permission of the act when He has the power to interfere, places the ultimate responsibility for the act squarely upon God. Moreover, if He has no purpose to work out, then He is certainly reprehensible in not prevent­ing the act! It is attempted to avoid this conclusion by say­ing that God does not interfere because to do so would be to take away man's freedom. In that case man's freedom is regarded as of more value than his eternal salvation! But even that does not remove the ultimate responsibility for the permission of the evil act from God; God has the power to prevent the evil act, has no purpose to work out in per­mitting it, but nevertheless, in order to protect man's free­dom, allows man to bring eternal punishment upon himself! Assuredly that would be a poor kind of a god !"1

Hence God Himself is ultimately responsible for sin in that He has power to prevent it but does not do so, although the immediate responsibility rests on man alone. God is, of course, never the efficient cause in the production of sin. Augustine, Luther and Calvin often stressed this truth of God's full and sovereign control when proving that the present course of the world is the one which from eternity God planned that it should follow.


The good acts of men then are rendered certain by the positive decree of God, and the sinful acts occur only by His permission. Yet it is more than a bare permission by which the sinful acts occur, for that would leave it uncertain whether or not they would be done. Concerning this subject David S. Clark says: "The most reasonable explanation is that the sinful nature win go to the boundary set by the permission of God; hence God's bounding of sin renders certain what and how much will come to pass. Satan could go no farther with Job than God permitted; but it is certain that he would go as far as God allowed." And in accordance with this is the statement of W. D. Smith: "When it is known, certainly, that it will be done unless prevented, and there is a determination not to prevent it, it is rendered as certain as if it were decreed to be done by positive agency. In the one case, the event is rendered certain by agency put forth; and, in the other case, it is rendered equally certain by agency withheld. It is an unchangeable decree in both cases. The sins of Judas, and the crucifixion of the Saviour, were as unchangeably decreed, permissively, as the coming of the Saviour into the world was decreed positively. From this you can perceive the consistency of the Confession of Faith with common sense, when it says, that 'God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably foreordain whatsoever comes to pass,' etc. You perceive, also, that this is clearly recon­cilable with the following sentiment, 'He is not the author of sin,' etc."!

Augustine expressed a similar thought when he said: "Wherefore those mighty works of God, exquisitely perfect, according to every bent of His will, are such that, in a won­derful and ineffable way, that is not done without the win of God which is even done contrary to His will, because it could not be done at all, unless He permitted it to be done; and yet, He does not permit unwillingly, but willingly. Nor, as the God of goodness, would He permit a thing to be done evilly, unless, as the God of omnipotence, He could work good even out of the evil done."1

Even the works of Satan are so controlled and limited that they serve God's purposes. While Satan eagerly desires the destruction of the wicked and diligently works to bring it about, yet the destruction proceeds from God. It is, in the first place, God who decrees that the wicked shall suffer, and Satan is merely permitted to lay the punishment upon them. The motives which underlie God's purposes and those which underlie Satan's are, of course, infinitely different. God wined the destruction of Jerusalem; Satan also desired the same, yet for different reasons. As Augustine tells us, God wills with a good wi]] that which Satan wins with an evil will, ­

as was the case in the crucifixion of Christ, which was over­ruled for the redemption of the world. Sometimes God uses the wicked wills and passions of men, rather than the good wills of His own servants, to accomplish His purposes. This truth has been very clearly expressed by Dr. Warfield in the following words: "All things find. their unity in His eternal plan; and not their unity merely, but their justification as well; even the evil, though retaining its quality as evi] and hateful to the holy God, and certain to be dealt with as hate­ful, yet does not occur apart from His provision or against His will, but appears in the world which He has madE1 only as the instrument by means of which He works the higher good."!


That this is the doctrine of the Scriptures is abundantly plain. The sale of Joseph into Egypt by his brothers was a very wicked act; yet we see that it was overruled not only for Joseph's good but also for the good of the brothers them­selves. When it is traced to its source we see that God was the author. It had its exact place in the divine plan. Joseph later said to his brothers, "And now be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. . . . So now it was not you that sent me hither but God. . . . And as for you, ye meant evil against me, but God meant it for good," Gen. 45 :5, 8; 50 :20. It is said that God hard­ened the heart of Pharaoh, Ex. 4 :21; 9 :12; and the very words which God addressed to Pharaoh were, "But in every deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth," Ex. 9 :16. And to Moses God said, "And I, behold I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they shall go (into the Red Sea) after them; and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, and upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen," Ex. 14 :17.

Shimei cursed David, because Jehovah had said, ."Curse David"; and when David knew this, he said, "Let him alone, and let him curse; for Jehovah hath bidden him," II Sam. 16:10,11. And after David had suffered the unjust violence of his enemies he recognized that "God hath done all this." Of the Canaanites it was said, "And it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, to come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, that they might have no favor, and that He might destroy them, as Jehovah commanded Moses," Joshua 11 :20. Hophni and Phinehas, the two evil sons of Eli, "hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because Jehovah was minded to slay them," I Sam. 2 :25.

Even Satan and the evil spirits are made to carry out the divine purpose. As an instrument of divine vengeance in the punishment of the wicked an evil spirit was openly given the command to go and deceive the prophets of King Ahab: "And Jehovah said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner; and another on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before Jehovah, and said, I will entice him. And Jehovah said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, 1 will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets. And He said, Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail; Go forth and do so. Now therefore (said Micaiah), behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets; and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee," I Kings 22 :20-23. Concerning Saul it is written, "an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him," I Sam. 16 :14. "And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem ; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech," Judges 9 :23. Hence it is from Jehovah that evil spirits proceed to trouble sinners. And it is from him that the evil impulses which arise in the hearts of sinners take this or that specific form, II Sam. 24:1.

In one place we are told that God, in order to punish a rebellious people. moved the heart of David to number them

(II Sam. 24 :1, 10) ; but in another place where this same act is referred to, we are told that it was Satan who instigated David's pride and caused him to number them (I Chr. 21 :1). In this we see that Satan was made the rod of God's wrath" and that God impels even the hearts of sinful men and demons whithersoever He will. While all adulterous and incestuous intercourse is abominable to God, He sometimes uses even such sins as these to punish other sins, as was the case when He used such acts in Absalom to punish the adultery of David. Before Absalom had committed his sin it was announced to David that this was the form which his punishment was to take: "Thus saith Jehovah, Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house; and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor. and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of the sun," II Sam. 12 :11. Hence these acts were not in every way contrary to the will of God.

In I Chr. 10:4 we read that "Saul took a sword and fell upon it." This was his own deliberate, sinful act. Yet it executed Divine justice and fulfilled a divine purpose which was revealed years before concerning David; for a little later we read, "So Saul died for his transgressions which he committed against Jehovah. . . . He inquired not of Jehovah; therefore He slew him and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse," I Chr. 10 :14. There is a sense in which God is said to do what he permits or impels His creatures to do.

The evil which was threatened against Jerusalem for her apostasy is described as directly sent of God, II Kings 22 :20. The psalmist recognized that even the hate of their enemies was stirred up by Jehovah to punish a rebellious people, Ps. 105:25. Isaiah recognized that even the apostasy and dis­obedience of Israel was in the divine plan: "0 Jehovah, why dost thou make us to err from thy ways, and hardenest our hearts from thy fear?" Is. 63:17. In I Chr. 5:22 we read, "There fell many slain, because the war was of Jehovah." Rehoboam's foolish course which caused the disruption of the kingdom was "a thing brought about by Jehovah," I Kings 12 :15. All of these things are summed up in that.

passage of Isaiah, "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I am Jehovah that doeth all these things," 45:7; and again in Amos, "Shall evil befall a city and Jehovah hath not done it?" Amos 3 :6.

When we come to the New Testament we find the same doctrine set forth. We have already shown that the cruci­fixion of Christ was a part of the divine plan. Though slain by the hands of lawless men who did not understand the importance of the event which they were carrying out, "The things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the proph­ets, that His Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled," Acts 3: 18. The crucifixion was the cup which the Father had given Him to drink, John 18 :11. It was written, "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scat­tered abroad," _1:att. 26 :31. When Moses and Elijah ap­peared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, they spoke of "His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jeru­salem," Luke 9 :31. Concerning His own death Jesus said, "The son of man indeed goeth, as it hath been determined; but woe unto that man through whom He is betrayed," Luke 22 :22; again, "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; This was from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes?" Matt. 21 :42; and never did He teach more plainly that the cross was in the divine plan than when in the garden of Gethsemane He said, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," Matt. 26 :39. Jesus deliberately sur­rendered Himself to be crucified when He might have called to his defense "more than twelve legions of angels," had He chosen to have done so, Matt. 26 :53. Pilate thought that he had power to crucify Jesus or to release Him as he pleased; but Jesus told him he could have no power against Him at all except it were given him from above, John 19:10, It.

It was in the plan of God that Christ should come into the world, that He should suffer, that He should die a violent death, and thus make atonement for His people. Hence God simply permitted sinful men to sinfully lay that burden upon Him, and overruled their acts for His own glory in the redemption of the world. Those who crucified Christ acted in perfect harmony with the freedom of their own sinful natures, and were alone responsible for their sin. On this occasion, as on many others, God has made the wrath of man to praise Him. It would be hard to frame language which would more explicitly set forth the idea that God's plan extends to all things than is here used by the Scripture writers. Hence the crucifixion on Calvary was not a defeat, but a victory; and the cry, "It is finished," announced the successful achievement of the work of redemption which had been committed to the Son. That which "stands written of Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures has its certain fulfillment in Him; and that enough stands written of Him there to assure His followers that in the course of His life, and in its, to them, strange and unexpected ending, He was not the prey of chance or the victim of the hatred of men, to the marring of His work or perhaps even the defeat of His mission, but was following step by step, straight to its goal, the predestined pathway marked out for Him in the counsels of eternity, and sufficiently revealed from of old in the Scriptures to enable all who were not 'foolish and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken,' to perceive that the Christ must needs have lived just this life and fulfilled just this destiny."!

Other events recorded in the New Testament also teach

the same lesson. When God cast off the Jews as a people it was not a purposeless destruction, nor in order merely that "they might fall"; "but that by their fall salvation might come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy," so that they in turn shall also embrace Christianity, Rom. 11 :11. The blindness of one man is said to have been, not because of his own or his parent's sin, but in order to give Jesus a chance to display His power and glory in restoring the


p. 248:  sight, or, as the writer puts it, "that the works of God should be made manifest in him," John 9 :3. The Old Testament statement that the very purpose which God had in raising up Pharaoh was to show His power and to publish abroad his name is repeated in Rom. 9: 17. This general teaching is climaxed with Paul's declaration that "To them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to His purpose." Rom. 8 :28.

No one can rationally deny that God foreordained sin if, as the Scriptures assert, He foreordained the crucifixion of Christ, and these other events to which we have referred. That sinful acts do have their place in the divine plan is repeatedly taught. And if any persons are inclined to take offence at this, let them consider how many times the Scrip­tures declare the judgments of God to be a "great deep." Hence those who hastily charge that our doctrine makes God the author of sin, bring that charge not only against us, but against God Himself; for our doctrine is the clearly revealed doctrine of the Scriptures.

God's relation to sin is admirably illustrated in the fol­lowing paragraph which we shall take the liberty of quot­ing from W. D. Smith's little book, What Is Calvinism? "Suppose to yourself a neighbor who keeps a distillery or dram shop, which is a nuisance to all around - neighbors collecting, drinking, and fighting on the Sabbath, with con­sequent misery and distress in families, etc. Suppose, fur­ther, that I am endowed with a certain foreknowledge, and can see, with absolute certainty, a chain of events, in con­nection with a plan of operations which I have in view, for the good of that neighborhood. I see that by preaching there, I will be made the instrument of the conversion, and consequent reformation, of the owner of the distillery, and I therefore determine to go. Now, in so doing, I posi­tively decree the reformation of the man; that is I deter­mine to do what renders his reformation certain and I fulfill my decree by positive agency. But, in looking a little further in the chain of events, I discover, with the same absolute certainty, that his drunken customers will be filled with wrath, and much sin will be committed, in venting their malice upon him and me. They will not only curse and blaspheme God and religion, but they will even burn his house, and attempt to burn mine. Now, you perceive that this evil, which enters into my plan, is not chargeable upon me at all, though I am the author of the plan which, in its operations, I know will produce it. Hence, it is plain, that any intelligent being may set on foot a plan, and carry it out, in which he knows, with absolute certainty, that evil will enter, and yet he is not the author of the evil, or charge­able with it in any way. . . . . In looking a little further in the chain of events, I discover, that if they be permitted they will take his life; and, I see, moreover, that if his life be spared, he will now be as notorious for good as he was for evil, and will prove a rich blessing to the neighborhood and to society. . . . . Therefore, upon the whole plan, I determine to act; and, in so doing, I positively decree the reformation of that man, and the consequent good; and I permissively decree the wicked actions of the others; yet, it is very plain, that I am not in any way, chargeable for their sins. Now, in one or the other of these ways, God 'has fore­ordained whatsoever comes to pass'" (P.33-35).

And Charles Hodge says in this connection: "A right­eous judge, in pronouncing sentence on a criminal, may be sure that he will cause wicked and bitter feelings in the criminal's mind, or in the hearts of his friends, and yet the judge be guiltless. A father, in excluding a reprobate son from his family, may see that the inevitable consequences of such exclusion will be his greater wickedness, and yet the father may do right. It is the certain consequence of God's leaving the fallen angels and the finally impenitent to themselves, that they will continue in sin, and yet the holi­ness of God remain untarnished. The Bible clearly teaches that God judicially abandons men to their sins, giving them up to a reprobate mind, and He therein is most just and holy. It is not true, therefore, that an agent is responsible for all the certain consequences of his acts. It may be, and doubtless is, infinitely wise and just in God to permit the occurrence of sin, and to adopt a plan of which sin is a cer­tain consequence or element; yet, as He neither causes sin, nor tempts men to its commission, He is neither its author nor approver."[41]


We are often permitted to fall into sin, that, after being delivered from it, we shall appreciate our salvation all the more. In the parable of the two debtors the one owed five hundred shillings and the other fifty. When they had nothing with which to pay the lender forgave them both. Which of them, therefore, would love him most? Naturally the one to whom he forgave most. As Jesus spoke this parable they were seated at meat and the application was made to Simon the Pharisee and to the penitent woman who had anointed His feet. The latter had been forgiven much and was profoundly grateful, but the former had received no such favor and felt no gratitude. "To whom little is for­given, the same loveth little," Luke 7 :41-50.

Sometimes the person, like the prodigal son, will not appreciate the Father's home nor respect His authority until he has experienced the ravaging effects of sin and the pangs of hunger, sorrow and disgrace. It seems that man with his freedom must, to a certain extent, learn by experi­ence before he is fully able to appreciate the ways of right­eousness and to render unquestioned obedience and honor to God. We have quoted Paul's statement to the effect that "God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that He might have mercy on all," Rom. 11 :32, and that the sentence of death was passed within us that we should not trust in ourselves but only in God, II Cor. 1 :9. The creature can­not adequately appreciate God's mercy until he has been rescued from a state of misery. After the lame beggar had been healed by Peter and John at the door of the temple, he appreciated his health as never before, and "entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." And after being delivered from the power and guilt of sin, we appreciate God's grace as we never could have otherwise. We read that even our Lord Jesus Christ in His human nature was made "perfect through sufferings," although He was, of course, totally separate from all sin.


The real difficulty which we face here, is to explain why a God of infinite holiness, power, and wisdom, would have brought into existence a creation in which moral evil was to prevail so extensively; and especially to explain why it should have been permitted to issue in the everlasting misery of so many of His creatures. This difficulty, how­ever, bears not only against Calvinism, but against theism in general; and while other systems are found to be wholly inadequate in their explanation of sin, Calvinism can give a fairly adequate explanation in that it recognizes that God is ultimately responsible since He could have prevented it; and Calvinism further asserts that God has a definite pur­pose in the permission of every individual sin, having or­dained it "for His own glory." As Hamilton says, "If we are to accept theism at all, the only respectable kind is Calvinism." "Calvinism teaches that God not only knew what He was doing when He created man, but that He had a purpose even in permitting sin." And what better ex­planation than this can be advanced by anyone else who believes that God is the Creator and Ruler of this universe?

In regard to the first fall of man, we assert that the proximate cause was the instigation of the Devil and the impulse of his own heart; and when we have established this, we have removed all blame from God. Paul tells us that God "dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto." Our mental vision can no more comprehend His deep mysteries than our unaided physical eyes can endure the light of the sun. When the Apostle contemplated these things he broke forth, "0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past tracing out!" And since our human intellects cannot soar to such stupendous heights, it is ours to adore with reverence, fear, and trembling, but not to explain, that mystery which is too high and too deep for even the angels themselves to penetrate. Let us remem­ber also that along with this sin, God has provided a re­demption graciously wrought out by Himself; and no doubt it is due to our limitations that we do not see this to be the all-sufficient explanation. The decree of redemption is as old as the decree of apostasy; and He who ordained sin has also ordained a way of escape from it.

Since the Scriptures tell us that God is perfectly right­eous, and since in all of His acts upon which we are capable of passing judgment we find that He is perfectly righteous, we trust Him in those realms which have not yet been revealed to us, believing that He has solutions for those problems which we are not able to solve. We can rest assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right, and as His plan is more fully revealed to us we learn to thank Him for that which is past and to trust him for that which is future.

It avails nothing, of course, to say that God foresaw the evil but did not include it in His plan—for if He foresaw it and in spite of it brought the world into existence, the evil acts were certainly a part of the plan, although an undesir­able part. To deny this foresight makes God blind; and He would then be conceived of as working something like the school boy who mixes chemicals in the laboratory not know­ing what may happen. In fact, we could not even respect a God who worked in that manner. And furthermore, that view still leaves the ultimate responsibility for sin resting upon God, for at least he could have refrained from creating.

That the sinful acts of men have their place and a neces­sary place in the plan is plainly seen in the' course of history. For instance, the assassination of President McKinley was a sinful act—yet upon that act depended the role which Theo­dore Roosevelt was to playas President of the United States; and if that one link in the chain of events had been otherwise, the entire course of history from that time to the end of the world would have been radically different. The same is true in the case of Lincoln. If God intended that the world should reach this state in which we find ourselves today, those events were indispensable. A moment's consid­eration will convince us that all of even the apparently insig­nificant events have their exact place, that they start rapidly growing influences which soon extend to the ends of the earth, and that if one of them had been omitted, say fifty years ago, the world today would have been far different.

A further important proof that Paul taught the doctrine which Calvinists have understood him to teach is found in the objections which he put in the mouths of his opponents—that it represented God as unrighteous: "Is there un­righteousness with God 1" Rom. 9 :14; and, that it destroyed man's responsibility: "Thou wilt then say unto me, Why doth He still find fault 1 For who withstandeth His will 1" Rom. 9 :19. These are the very objections which today, on first thought, spring into men's minds, in opposition to the Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination; but they have not even the least plausibility when directed against the Arminian doctrine. A doctrine which does not afford the least grounds for these objections cannot have been the one that the Apostle taught.

XVIII.  4.  That It Discourages All Motives To Exertion

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p. 254 ff

THE objection that the doctrine of Predestination dis­courages all motives to exertion, is based on the fallacy that the ends are determined without reference to the means. It is not merely a few isolated events here and there that have been foreordained, but the whole chain of events, with all of their inter-relations and connections. All of the parts form a unit in the Divine plan. If the means should fail, so would the ends. If God has purposed that a man shall reap, He has also purposed that he shall sow. If God has ordained a man to be saved, He has also ordained that he shall hear the Gospel, and that he shall believe_ and repent. As well might the farmer refuse to till the soil according to the laws disclosed by the light of nature and experience until he had first learned what was the secret purpose of God to be executed in His providence in regard to the fruit­fulness of the coming season, as for anyone to refuse to work in the moral and spiritual realms because he does not know what fruitage God may bring from his labor. We find, however, that the fruitage is commonly bestowed where the preliminary work has been faithfully performed. If we en­gage in the Lord's service and make diligent use of the means which He has prescribed, we have the great encour­agement of knowing that it is by these very means that He has determined to accomplish His great work.

Even those who accept the Scripture Statements that God "worketh al1 things after the counsel of His will," and similar declarations to the effect that God's providential control extends to all the events of their lives. know that this does not interfere in the slightest with their freedom. Do those who make this objection allow their belief in the Divine sovereignty to determine their conduct in temporal affairs? Do they decline food when hungry, or medicine when sick, because God has appointed the time and man­ner of their death? Do they neglect the recognized means of acquiring wealth or distinction because God gives riches and honor to whom He pleases? When in matters outside of religion one recognizes God's sovereignty, yet works in the exercise of conscious freedom, is it not sinful and foolish to offer as an excuse for neglecting his spirit­ual and eternal welfare the contention that he is not free and responsible? Does not his conscience testify that the only reason why he is not a follower of Jesus Christ is that he has never been willing to fallow Him? Suppose that when the palsied man was brought to Jesus and heard the words, "Rise up and walk," he had merely re­plied, "I cannot; I am palsied!" Had he done so he would have died a paralytic. But, realizing his own helplessness and trusting the One who gave the command, he obeyed and was made whole. It is the same almighty Saviour who calls on sinners dead in sin to come to Him, and we may be sure that the one who comes will not find his efforts vain. The fact is, that unless we regard God as the sovereign Disposer of all events, who in the midst of certainty has ordained human liberty, we have but little encouragement to work. If we believed that our success and our destiny was primarily dependent on the pleasure of weak and sinful creatures, we would have but little incentive to exertion.

"On his knees, the Arminian forgets those logical puzzles which have distorted Predestination to his mind and at once thankfully acknowledges his conversion to be due to that prevenient grace of God, without which no mere will or works of his own would ever have made him a new creature. He prays for that outpouring of God's Spirit to restrain, convince, renew, and sanctify men; for that divine direction of human events, and overturning of the counsels and frustrating of the plans of wicked men; he gives to the Lord glory and honor for what is actually done in this regard, which implies that God reigns, that He is the sovereign disposer of all events, and that all good, and all thwarting of evil are due to Him, while all evil is itself due to the creature. He recognizes the completeness of the divine foreknowledge as bound up inseparably with the wisdom of His eternal purpose. His prayers for assurance of hope, or his present fruition of it presuppose the faith that God can and will keep his feet from falling and heaven from revolt, and that His purpose forms such an infallible nexus between present grace and eternal glory, that nothing shall be able to separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."[42]

Since the future events are hidden and unknown to us, we should be as industrious in our work and as earnest in the performance of our duty as if nothing had been de­creed concerning it. It has often been said that we should pray as though everything depended on God, and work as though everything depended on ourselves. Luther's ob­servation here was: "We are commanded to work the more for this very reason, because all things future are to us uncertain; as saith Ecclesiastes, 'In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good,' ,Eccl. 11 :6. All things future, I say are to us uncertain in knowledge, hut necessary in event. The necessity strikes into us fear of God that we presume not, or become secure, while the uncertainty works in us trusting that we sink not into despair."[43]

"The farmer who, after hearing a sermon on God's decrees, took the break-neck road instead of the safe one to his home and broke his wagon in consequence, con­cluded before the end of the journey that he at any rate had been predestinated to be a fool, and that he had made his calling and election sure."[44]

On one occasion after Dr. Charles Hodge had finished a theological lecture he was approached by a lady who said to him, "So you believe, Dr. Hodge that what is to be will be 1" "Why, yes, lady, I do,” he replied. "Would you have me believe that what is to be won't be?"

And we are further reminded at this point of one in Scotland accused and convicted of murder, who said to the judge, "I was predestined from all eternity to do it." To whom the judge replied, "So be it, then I was pre­destined from all eternity to order you to be hanged by the neck, which I now do."

Some may be inclined to say, If nothing but the cre­ative power of God can enable us to repent and believe, then all we can do is to wait passively until that power is exerted. Or it may be asked, If we cannot effect our sal­vation, why work for it? In every line of human en­deavor, however, we find that the result is dependent on the co-operation of causes over which we have no control. We are simply to make use of the appropriate means and trust to the co-operation of the other agencies. We do have the express promise of God that those who seek shall find, that those who ask shall receive, and that to those who knock it shall be opened. This is more than is given to the men of the world to stimulate them in their search for wealth, knowledge, or position; and more than this cannot rationally be demanded. He who reads and medi­tates upon the word of God is ordinarily regenerated by the Holy Spirit, perhaps in the very act of reading. "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word," Acts 10:44. Shakespeare makes one of his characters say: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are under­lings," (Julius Cæsar, 1 :2).

The sinner's inability to save himself, therefore, should not make him less diligent in seeking his salvation in the way which God has appointed. Some leper when Christ was on earth might have reasoned that since he could not cure himself, he must simply wait for Christ to come and heal him. The natural effect, however, of a conviction of utter helplessness is tp impel the person to make diligent application at the source from whence ,alone help can come. Man is a fallen, ruined, and helpless creature, and until he knows it he is living without hope and without God in the world.

p. 258: 


The genuine tendency of these truths is not to make men indolent and careless, but to energize and stimulate them to redoubled efforts. Heroes and conquerors, such as Cæsar and Napoleon, have often been possessed with a sense of destiny which they were to fulfill. This sense steels the nerve, redoubles the courage, and fixes in one an indomitable purpose to carry his work through to a successful finish. Large and difficult objects can only be achieved by men who have confidence in themselves, and who will not allow obstacles to discourage them. "This idea of destiny once embraced," says Mozley, "as it is the natural effect of the sense of power, so in its turn adds greatly to it. The person as soon as he regards himself as predestined to achieve some great object, acts with so much greater force and constancy for the attainment of it; he is not divided by doubts, or weakened by scruples or fears; he believes fully that he shall succeed, and that belief is the greatest assistance to success. The idea of a destiny in a considerable degree fulfills itself. . . . It must be observed that this is true of the moral and spiritual, as well as of the natural man, and applies to religious aims and purposes, as well as to those connected with human glory."[45]

E. W. Smith, in his valuable little book, "The Creed of Presbyterians," writes as follows: "The most comforting and ennobling is also the most energizing of faiths. That its grim caricature, fatalism, has developed in human hearts an energy at once sublime and appalling is one of the common-places of history. The early and overwhelm­ing onrush of Mohammedanism, which swept the East and all but overthrew the West, was due to its devotees' conviction that in their conquests they were but executing the decrees of Allah. Attila the Hun was upborne in his terrible and destructive course by his belief that he was the appointed 'Scourge of God.' The energy and audacity which enabled Napoleon to attempt and achieve apparent impossibilities was nourished by the secret conviction that he was 'the man of destiny.' Fatalism has begotten a race of Titans. Their energy has been superhuman, because they believed themselves the instruments of a super­human power.

"If the grim caricature of this doctrine bas breathed such energy, the doctrine itself must inspire a yet loftier, for all that is energizing in it remains with added. force when for a blind fate, or a fatalistic deity, we substitute a wise, decreeing God. Let me but feel tbat in every com­manded duty, in every needed reform, I am but working out an eternal purpose of Jehovah; let me but hear be­hind me, in every battle for the right, the tramp of the Infinite Reserves; and I am lifted above the fear of man or the possibility of final failure." (pp. 180, 181).

In an English newspaper, "The Daily Express," of April 18, 1929, we read the following concerning Earl Haig, who was Commander-in-Chief of the British armies in the First World War, and who was a Scotsman and a Cal­vinistic Presbyterian: "Most remarkable as regards Haig's own personality is the disclosure that this reserved, cold, formal man had a profound faith, and in the greatest crises of the war believed implicitly that help would come from above, and that he regarded himself as the chosen of the Lord, the Cromwell who alone could smite the foe. He was genuinely convinced that the position to which he had now been called was one which he and he alone in the British Army could fill. It was not conceit. There was no man who was less inclined to over-estimate his own value or capacity; it was opinion based upon the dis­cernment of all the factors. He came to regard himself with almost Calvinistic faith as the predestinated instrument of Providence for the achievement of victory for the British armies. His abundant self-reliance was reinforced by this conception of himself as the child of destiny."

The genuine tendency of these truths, then, as stated before, is not to make men indolent and careless, nor to lull them to sleep on the lap of presumption and carnal security, but to energize and to inspire confidence. Both reason and experience teach us that the greater one's hope of success, the stronger becomes the motive to ex­ertion. The person who is sure of success in the use of appropriate means has the strongest of incentives to work, while on the other hand, where there is but little hope there will be but little disposition for one to exert himself; and where there is no hope, there will be no exertion. The Christian, then, who has before him the definite commands of God, and the promise that the work of those who obediently and reverently avail themselves of the appointed means shall be blessed, has the highest possible motives for exertion. Furthermore, he is ele­vated and inspired by the firm conviction that he himself is marked out for a heavenly crown.

Who ever stated the doctrine of election more plainly or in more forcible language than did the Apostle Paul? And yet who was ever more zealous and more untiring in his labors than Paul? His theory made him a missionary and impelled him to set forth Christianity as final and triumphant. How cheering it must have been for him in Corinth to hear the words, "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee; for I have much people in this city," Acts 18 :10. What greater incentive to action could have been given him than this, that his preaching was the divinely appointed means for the conversion of many of those people? Notice, God did not tell him how many people He had in that city, nor 'who the individuals were. The minister of the Gospel can go forward confident of success, knowing that through this appointed means God has determined to save a vast number of the human fam­ily in every age. In fact, one of the strongest pleas for missions is that evangelism is the will of God for the whole world; and only when one acknowledges the sover­eignty of God in every realm of life can he have the deep­est passion for the Divine glory.

The experience of the Church in all ages has been that this doctrine ,has led men, not to neglect, nor to stolid unconcern, nor to rebellious opposition to God, but to submission and to a sure trust in Divine power. The promise given to Jacob that his posterity was to be a great people did not in the least prevent him from using every available means for protection when it looked as though Esau might kill him and his family. When Daniel under­stood from the prophecies of Jeremiah that the time for the restoration of Israel was at hand, he set himself ear­nestly to pray for it (Dan. 9 :2, 3). Immediately after it had been revealed to David that God would establish his house, he prayed earnestly for that very thing (II Sam. 7 :27-29). Although Christ knew what had been appointed for His people, He prayed earnestly for their preservation (John, Ch. 17). And although Paul had been told that he was to go to Rome and bear witness there, it did not in the least cause him to be careless of his life. He took every precaution to protect himself against an unfair trial by the Jerusalem mob, and against an unwise voyage (Acts 23:11; 25:10, 11; 27:9,10). The decree of God was that all those on board the ship should be saved, but that de­cree took in the free and courageous and skillful activity of the seamen. Their freedom and responsibility were not in the least diminished. The practical effect of this doctrine, then, has been to lead men to frequent and fer­vent prayer, knowing that their times are in God's hands and that every event of their lives is of His disposing.

Furthermore, it may be said that so long as the sinner remains ignorant of his lost and helpless condition, he remains negligent. Probably there is not a careless sinner in the world who does not believe in his perfect ability to turn to God at any time he pleases; and because of this belief he puts off repentance, fully intending to come at some more convenient time. Just in proportion as his belief in his own ability increases, his carelessness in­creases, and he is lulled to sleep on the awful brink of eternal ruin. Only when he is brought to feel his entire helplessness and dependence upon sovereign grace does he seek help where alone it is to be found.


XIX.  5.  That It Represents God as a Respecter of Persons, or as Unjustly Partial

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XX.  6.  That It Is Unfavorable to Good Morality

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XXI.  7.  That It Precludes a Sincere Offer of the Gospel to the Non-Elect

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XXII.  8.  That It Contradicts the Universalistic Scripture Passages

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p. 287-291 “It may be asked, Is not the doctrine of Predestination flatly contradicted by the Scriptures which declare that Christ died for ‘all men,’ or the ‘the whole world,’ and that God wills the salvation of all men?  In I Tim. 2:3-4 Paul refers to ‘God our Saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.’  (And the word ‘all,’ we are dogmatically informed by our opponents, must mean every human being.)  In Ezekiel 33:11 we read, ‘As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;  but that the wicked turn from his way and live’;  and in II Peter 3:9 we read that God is ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’

“These verses simple teach that God is benevolent, and that He does not delight in the sufferings of His creatures any more than a human father delights in the punishment which he must sometimes inflict upon his son.  God does not decretively will the salvation of all men, no matter how much He may desire it;  and if any verses taught that He decretively willed or intended the salvation of all men, they would contradict those other parts of the Scripture which teach that God sovereignly rules and that it is His purpose to leave some to be punished."  On page 288, he proceeds to notate the differences between a “will” of degree and that of “wish” and “desire.”

p. 289ff:  “I Cor. 15:22 is probably the one verse most often quoted by Arminians to refute Calvinism.  There we read, ‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.’  The verse is, however, entirely irrelevant.  The is from Paul’s famous resurrection chapter, and the context makes it plain that he is not talking about life in this age, whether physical or spiritual, but about the resurrection life.  Verses 20and 21 read:  ‘But now hath Christ been raised from the death, the first fruits of them that are asleep.  For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead.’  Then follows verse 22, ‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive’;  and that he refers not to a regeneration or making alive in the present world but to the new life which is given in the resurrection is made clear by what follows immediately in verses 23 and 24, ‘But each in his own order:  Christ the firstfruits;  then they that are Christ’s, at His coming.  Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father,’ etc.  Christ is the first to enter into the resurrection life, then, when He comes, His people also enter into the resurrection life.  Then comes the end, that is, the end of the world, and the introduction of heaven in its fullness;  and what Paul says is that at that time a glorious resurrection life will become a reality for all those who are in Christ.  This is possible because Christ is their federal head and representative.  Through His power all of His people shall be raised to newness of life with Him.  And this point is illustrated by the well understood fact that the race fell in Adam, who acted as the federal head and representative of the entire race.  What Paul says in effect is this:  ‘For as all born in Adam die, so also all born in Christ shall be made alive.’  Verse 22, then, refers not to something past, nor to something present, but to something future;  and it has no bearing whatever on the Arminian-Calvanistic controversy.

“It was not the whole of mankind which was equally loved of God and promiscuously redeemed by Christ.  John’s hymn of praise, 'Unto Him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood;  and He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto His God and Father,' Rev. 1:5, evidently proceeds on the hypothesis of a definite election and a limited atonement since God's love was the cause and the blood of Christ the efficacious means of their redemption.  The declaration that Christ died for 'all' is made clearer by the song which the redeemed now sing before the throne of the Lamb:  'Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation,' Rev. 5:9.  The word all must be understood to mean all the elect, all His church, all those whom the Father has given to the Son, etc., not all men universally and every man individually.  The redeemed host will be made up of men from all classes and conditions of life, of princes and peasants, of rich and poor, of bond and free, of male and female, of young and old, of Jews and Gentiles, men of all nations, and races, from north to south, and from east to west…."

p.291-296:  "The Term ‘World’ Is Used in Various Senses.  When it is said that Christ died ‘not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world,’ I John 2:2, or that He came to ‘save the world,’ John 12:47, the meaning is that not merely Jews but Gentiles also are included in His saving work;  the world as a world or the race as a race is to be redeemed.  When John the Baptist said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world’ he was not giving a theological discourse to saints, but preaching to sinners;  and the unnatural thing then would have been for him to have discussed Limited Atonement or any other doctrine which could have been understood only by saints.  We are told that John the Baptist “came  for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him,’ John 1:7.  But say that John’s ministry afforded an opportunity for every human being to have faith in Christ would be unreasonable.  John never preached to the Gentiles.  His mission was to make Christ ‘manifest to Israel,’ John 1:31;  and in the nature of the case only a limited number of the Jews could be brought to hear him.

"Sometimes the term 'world' is used when only a large part of the world is meant, as when it is said that the Devil is 'the deceiver of the whole world,' or that 'the whole earth' wonders after the beast, Rev. 13:3.  If in I John 5:19, 'We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one,' the author meant every individual of mankind, then he and those to whom he wrote were also in the evil one, and he contradicted himself in saying that they were of God.  Sometimes this term means only a relatively small part of the world, as when Paul wrote to the new Christian Church at Rome that their faith was 'proclaimed throughout the whole world,' Rom 1:8.  None but believers would praise those Romans for their faith in Christ, and in fact the world at large did not even know that such a Church existed at Rome.  Hence Paul meant only the believing world or the Christian Church, which was a comparatively insignificant part of the real world.  Shortly before Jesus was born, 'There went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled … and all went to enroll themselves,' Luke 2:1-3;  yet we know that the writer had in mind only that comparatively small part of the world which was controlled by Rome. When it is was said that on the day of Pentecost, 'there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven,' Acts 2:5, only those nations which were immediately known to the Jews were intended, for verses 9-11 list those which were represented.  Paul says that the Gospel was 'preached in all creation under heaven,' Col. 1:23.  The goddess Diana of the Ephesians was said to have been worshipped by 'all Asia and the world,' Acts 19:27.  We are told that the famine which came over Egypt in Joseph's time extended to 'all the earth,' Gen. 41:57.

"In ordinary conversation we often speak of the business world, the educational world, the political world, etc., but we do not mean that every person in the world is a business man, or educated, or a politician….

"Verses like John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life,' give abundant proof that the redemption which the Jews thought to monopolize is universal as to space.  God so loved the world, not a little portion of it, but the world as a whole, that He gave His only begotten Son for its redemption.  And not only the extensity, but the intensity of God's love is made plain by the little adverb 'so'—God so loved the world, in spite of its wickedness, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it.  But where is the oft-boasted proof of its universality as to individuals?  This verse is sometimes pressed to such an extreme that God is represented as too loving to punish anybody, and so full of mercy that He will not deal with men according to any rigid standard of justice regardless of their deserts.  The attentive reader, by comparing this verse with other Scripture, will see that some restriction is to be placed on the word, 'world.'  One writer has asked, 'Did God love Pharaoh? (Rom. 9:17).  Did He love the Amalekits? (Ex. 17:14).  Did He love the Canaanites, whom He commanded to be exterminated without mercy? (Deut. 20:16).  Did He love the Ammonites and Moabites whom He commanded not to be received into the congregation forever? (Ps. 5:5).  Does He love the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, which He endures with much long-suffering? (Rom. 9:22).  Did He love Esau? (Rom. 9:13).'

"General Considerations.  Nor does the prophetic invitation, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,' Is. 55:1, and other references to the same effect, contradict this view;  for the majority of mankind are not thirsty but dead—dead in sin, hopeless and willing servants of Satan, and in no state to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  The gracious invitation to come to Christ is rejected, not because there is anything outside their own person which prevents their coming, but because until they are graciously given a new birth through the agency of the Holy Spirit they have neither the will nor the desire to accept.  It is God who gives this wil land excites this desire in those who are predestined to life, Rom. 11:7-8;  9:18.  He that will, may come;  but a person who is completely immersed in heathenism, for instance, has no chance to hear the Gospel offer and so cannot possibly come.  'Faith cometh by hearing;'  and where there is no faith there can be no salvation.  Neither can that person come who has heard the Gospel but who is still governed by principles and desires which cause him to hate it.  He is a bondservant to sin and acts accordingly.  He that will may escape from a burning building while the stairway is safe;  but he that is asleep, or he that does not think the fire serious enough to flee from, hasn't the will, and perishes in the flames.  Says Clark, 'Arminians are fond of quoting:  "Whosoever will let him come," or "Whosoever believeth," implying that belief and decision are wholly the acts of man, and that this is an offset to sovereign election.  True as these statements are they do not touch the point of the issue.  Miles deeper down than this lies the vital point;  viz., how does a man become willing?  If a man is willing he can certainly choose;  but the sinful nature averse to God must be made, by God's word, by God's grace, by God's spirit, or by sovereign intervention.'[46]  Strictly speaking, these are not divine offers indiscriminately made to all mankind, but are addressed to a chosen people and are incidentally heard by others.

"If the words of I Tim. 2:4, that God 'would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth,' be taken in the Arminian sense it follows either that God is disappointed in His wishes, or that all men without exception are saved.  Furthermore, the doctrine that imputes disappointment to Deity contradicts that class of Scripture passages which teach the sovereignty of God.  His will in this respect has been the same through the centuries.  And if He had willed that the Gentiles should be saved, why was it that He confined the knowledge of the way of salvation to the narrow limits of Judea?  Surely no one will deny that He might as easily have made known His Gospel to the Gentiles as to the Jews.  Where He has not provided the means we may be sure that He has not designed the ends.  The reply of Augustine to those who advanced this objection is his day is worth quoting:  'When our Lord complains that though he wished to gather the children of Jerusalem as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but she would not, are we to consider that the will of God was overpowered by a number of weak men, so that He who was Almighty God could not do what He wished or willed to do?  If so, what is to become of that omnipotence by which He did whatsoever pleased Him in Heven and in earth?  Moreover, who will be found so unreasonable as to say that God cannot convert the evil wills of men, which He pleases, when He pleases, and as He pleases, to good?  Now, when He does this, He does it in mercy;  and when He doeth it not, in judgment He doeth it not.'  Verses such as I Tim. 2:4 it seems are best understood not to refer to men individually but as teaching the general truth that God is benevolent and the He does not delight in the sufferings and death of His creatures….

"As was stated in the chapter on Limited Atonement there is a sense in which Christ did die for mankind in general.  No distinction is made as to age or country, character or condition.  The race fell in Adam and the race taken in the collective sense is redeemed in Christ.  The work of Christ arrested the immediate execution of the penalty of sin as it related to the whole race.  His work also brings many temporal and physical blessings to mankind in general, and lays the foundation for the offer of the Gospel to all who hear it.  These are admitted to be the results of His work and to apply to all mankind.  Yet this does not mean that He died equally and with the same design for all.

"It is true that some verses taken in themselves do seem to imply the Arminian position.  This, however, would reduce the Bible to a mass of contradictions;  for there are other verses which teach Predestination, Inability, Election, Perseverance, etc., and which cannot by any legitimate means be interpreted in harmony with Arminianism.  Hence in these cases the meaning of the sacred writer can be determined only by the analogy of Scripture.  Since the Bible is the word of God it is self-consistent.  Consequently if we find a passage which in itself is capable of two interpretations, one of which harmonizes with the rest of the Scriptures while the other does not, we are duty bound to accept the former.  It is a recognized principle of interpretation that the more obscure passages are to be interpreted in the light of the clearer passages, and not vice versa….

"This [Calvinism] is the true universalism of the Scriptures—the universal Christianization of the world and the complete defeat of the forces of spiritual wickedness.  This, of course, does not mean that every individual will be saved, for many are unquestionably lost…. A considerable number are lost;  yet the process of salvation is to end in a great triumph, and our eyes are yet to behold 'the glorious spectacle of a saved world.'  The words of Dr. Warfield are very appropriate here:  'The human race attains the goal for which it was created, and sin does not snatch it out of God's hands;  the primal purpose of God with it is fulfilled;  and through Christ, the race of man, though fallen into sin, is recovered to God and fulfills its original destiny.'[47]

"So while Arminianism offers us a spurious universalism, which is at best a universalism of opportunity, Calvinism offers us the true universalism in the salvation of the race.  And only the Calvinist, with his emphasis on the doctrines of sovereign Election and Efficacious Grace, can look to the future confidently expecting to see a redeemed world.


SECTION IV  XXIII.  Salvation by Grace   [ Contents ~ Top ]

THE Bible declares that the salvation of sinful men Is a matter of grace. From Eph. 1 :7-10 we learn that the primary purpose of God in the work of redemption was to display the glory of this divine attribute so that through succeeding ages th_ intelligent universe might admire it as it is made known through His unmerited love and boundless goodness to guilty, vile, helpless creatures. Accordingly all men are represented as sunk in a state of sin and misery, from which they are utterly unable to deliver themselves. When they deserved only God's wrath and curse, He deter. mined that He would graciously provide redemption for them, by sending His own eternal Son to assume their nature and guilt and to obey and suffer in their stead, and HisHol_ Spirit to apply the redemption purchased by the Son. On the same representative principle by which Adam's sin is imputed to us, that is, set to our .account in such a wfJ.y that we are _eld fully responsible for it and suffer the con. sequences of it, our sin in its turn is imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to us. This is briefly. yet clearly expressed in the Shorter CatechisQ1, which says. "Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein Ite par­doneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone." Ans. to Q. 33.

We should keep clearly in mind the distinction between the two covenants: that of works, under which Adam was placed and which resulted in the fall of the race into sin;

and that of grace, under which Christ was sent as a Redeemer. As stated in another connection, the Arminian system makes no essential distinction in principle between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, unless it be that God now offers salvation on lower terms and in­stead of demanding perfect obedience He accepts only such faith and evangelical obedience as the crippled sin­ner is able to render. In that system the burden of obedience is still thrown upon man himself and his salvation in the first place depends upon his awn works.

The word "grace" in its proper sense means the free and undeserved have the favor of Gad exercised "toward the undeserving, toward sinners. It is same thing which is given irrespective of any worthiness in man; and to intro­duce works as merit into any part of this scheme vitiates its nature and frustrates its design. Just because it is grace, it is not given on the basis of preceding merits. As the very name imparts, it is necessarily gratuitous; and since man is enslaved to sin until it is given, all the merits that he can have prior to it are bad merits and deserve only punishment, not gifts, or favor. Whatever of goad men have, that God has given; and what they have not, why, of course, God has not given it. And since grace is given irrespective of preceding merits, it is therefore sovereign and is bestowed only on those whom God has selected for its reception. It is this sovereignty of grace, and not its foresight or the preparation far it, which places men in God's hands and suspends salvation abso­lutely on His unlimited mercy. In this we find the basis for His election or rejection of particular persons.

Because of His absolute moral perfection God requires spotless purity and perfect obedience in his intelligent creatures. This perfection is provided in Christ's spotless righteousness being imputed to them; and when Gad looks upon the redeemed He sees them clothed with the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness, not with anything of their awn. We are distinctly told that Christ suffered as a substitute, "the just for the unjust"; and when man is encouraged to think that he awes to same power or art of his own that salvation which in reality is all of grace, God is robbed of part of His glory. By no stretch of the imagination can. a man's good works in this life be considered a just equivalent for the blessings of eternal life. Benjamin Franklin, though by no means a Calvinist, ex­pressed this idea well when he wrote: "He that for giving a drink of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a goad plantation, would be maddest in his de­mands, compared with those what think they deserve heaven for the little good they do an earth." We are, in fact, nothing but receivers; we never bring any adequate reward to Gad, we are always receiving from Him, and shall be unto all eternity.


Since Gad has provided this redemption or atonement at His awn cast, it is His property and He is absolutely sovereign in choosing what shall be saved through it. There is nothing more steadily emphasized in the Scripture doc­trine of redemption than its absolutely gracious character. Hence, by their separation from the original mass, not through any works of their awn but only through the free grace of God, the vessels of mercy see haw great a gift has been bestowed upon them. It will be found that many who inherit heaven were much worse sinner& in this world than were many others who are lost. The doctrine af Predestination cuts down every self­ righteous imagination which would detract from the glory of God. It convinces the one who is saved that he can only be eternally thankful that God saved him. Hence in the Calvinistic system all boasting is excluded and that honor and glory which belong to God alone is fully pre­served. "The greatest saint," says Zanchius, "cannot triumph over the most abandoned sinner, but is led to refer the entire praise of his salvation, both from sin and hell, to the mere good-will and sovereign purpose of God, who hath graciously made him to differ from that world which lieth in wickedness." l


All men naturally feel that they should earn their sal­vation, and a system which makes some provision in that (regard readily appeals to them. But Paul lays the axe to such reasoning when he says, "If there had been a law given which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the law," Gal. 3 :21; and Jesus said to. His disciples, "when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded of you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it wa_ aur duty to da," Luke 17 :10.

Our own righteousness, says Isaiah, is but as a polluted garment-or, as the King James Version puts it, as filthy rags-in the sight of Gad (64 :6). And when Isaiah wrote, "Ha, everyone that thirsteth, came ye to. the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and with­out price," 55:1, he invited the penniless. the hungry, the thirsty, to came and take possession aft and enjoy the provision, free of all cast, as if by right of payment. And to. buy without money must mean that it has already been produced and provided at the cast of another. The fur­ther we advance in the Christian life, the less we are inclined to. attribute any merit to. ourselves, and the mare to thank Gad far all. The believer naturally looks forward to everlasting life, but also lacks backward into the ante­mundane eternity and finds in the eternal purpose of divine lave the beginning and the firm anchorage af his salvation.

If salvation is of grace, as the Scriptures so. clearly teach, it cannot be of works, whether actual or foreseen. There is no. merit in believing, far faith itself is a gift of God. Gad gives His people an inward working of the Spirit in order that they may believe, and faith is only the act of receiving the preferred gift. It is, then, only the instrumental cause, and nat the meritariaus cause, af sal­vatian. What God laves in us is nat aur awn merits, but His awn gift; far His unmerited grace precedes aur meritariaus works. Grace is nat merely bestawed when we pray for it, but grace itself causes us to. pray far its cantinuance and increase.

In the boak af The Acts we find that the very inceptian af faith itself is assigned to grace (18:27); anly thase who. were ardained to eternallif_) believed (13:48); and it is God's prerogative to. apen the heart so that it gives heed to. the gospel (16,:14). Faith is thus referred to thecouD­sels af eternity, the eve_ts in time being only the aut-­

working. Paul attributes it to. the grace af Gad that we are "His warkmanship, created in Christ Jesus far gaad works, which Gad afare prepared that we shauld walk in them," Eph. 2:10. Gaad warks, then, are in no sense the meritariaus ground, but rather the fruits and proaf af salvation.

Luther taught this same dactrine when he said af some that "They attribute to. Free-will a very little indeed, yet they teach us that by tha,t very little we can attain unto. righteausness and grace. Nar do. they solve that questian, Why does God justify one and leave another? in any ather way than by asserting the freedam af the will, and saying, Because the one 'endeavors and the other does not; and God regards the one for endeavoring, and despises the other for his not endeavoring; lest, if he did otherwise, lie should appear to, be unjust."1

It is said that Jeremy Taylali and a companian were once walking dawn a street in Londan when they came to. Ii drunk mall lying in the gutter. The \)ther man made same disparaging remark abaut the drunk man. But Jeremy Taylar, pausing and looking at him, said, "But for the grace af God, there lies Jeremy Taylar I" The spirit which was in Jeremy TaylQJ";is the spirit which should be in every sin-rescued Christian. It was repeatedly taught that Israel awed her separation from the other peaples .af the world nat to. anything gaad ar desirable in herself, butanly to Gad's graciaus lave faithfully persisted in despite apastasy, sin, an4 rebellion.

Paul says cancerning same who. wauld base salvatian on their awn merits, th_t, "gaing abaut to. establish their own righteausness, they did nat submit themselves to. the righfeQusness af God," and were, therefare,nat in the Church af Christ. He makes it plain that "the right_aus­nessaf God" is given to. us thraugh faith, and that we enter heaven pleading anly the merits af Christ.

The reason for this system of grace is that those who glory should glory in the Lord, and that no person should ever have occasion to boast over another. The redemp­

tion was purchased at an infinite cost to God Himself, and" therefore it may be dispensed as He pleases in a purely gracious manner. As the poet has said: "None of the ransomed ever knew,

How deep were the waters crossed,

Nor how dark was the night that the

        Lord passed through,

E'er He found His sheep that was lost."



Let us now notice some of those scriptures which teach

that our sins were imputed to Christ; and then notice some which teach that His righteousness is imputed to us.

"Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afllicted. But He was wounded for our transgres­sions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of . our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all," Is. 53:4, 5. "By the knowl­edge of Hinlself shall my righteous servant justify many, and He shaH bear their iniquities. . . . . He bare the sin of many," Is. 53:11, 12. "Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the right­eousness of God in Him," II Cor. 5 :21. Here both truths are plainly stated, - our sins are set to His account, and His righteousness to ours. There is no other conceivable sense in which He could be "made sin," or we "made the righteousness of God.." It was Christ "who His own self hare our sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes we are healed," I Peter 2 :24. Here, again, both truths are thrown together. "Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God," I Peter 3:18. These, and many other such verses, prove the doctrine of His substitution in our stead, as plainly as language can put it. If they do not prove that the death of Christ was a true and proper sacrifice for sin in our stead, human language cannot ex­press it.

That His righteousness is imputed to us is taught in language equally plain. "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight. . . But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested. . . even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe. . . being justified free_ Iy by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in His blood, to show His righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the for­bearance of God; for the showing, I say, of His righteous­ness at this present season; that He might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus. Where then is the glorying' It is excluded. By what manner of law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law," Rom. 3:20-28. "So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemna­tion; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous,'; Rom. 5:18, 19. Paul's testi­mony in regard to himself was: "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteous­ness of my own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith," Phil. 3:8, 9. Now, is it not strange that anyone who pretends to be guided by the Bible, could, in the face of all this plain and unequivocal lan­guage, uphold salvation by works, in any degree what­ever?

Paul wrote to the Romans, "Sin shall not have domin­ion over you; for ye are not under law, but under grace," 6 :14. That is, God had taken them out from under a sys­ tem of law and had placed them under a system of grace; and as their Sovereign, it was not His purpose to let them again fall under the dominion of sin. In fact, if they were to faIl, it could only be because God had taken them ()ut from under grace and again placed them under law, so that their own works determined their destiny. In the very nature of the case as long as the person is under grace he is entirely free from any claim that the law may have on him through sin. For one to be saved through grace means that God is no longer treating him as he deserves but that He has sovereignly set the law aside and that He saves him in spite of his ill-desert,-c1eansing him from his sin, of course, before he is fit to enter the divine presence.

Paul ,goes to great pains to make it clear that the grace of God is not earned by us, is not secured by us in any way, but is just given to us. If it be. earned, it ceases by that very fact to be grace, Rom. 11 :6.


In the present state of the race all men stand before God, not as citizens of a state, all of whom must be treated alike and given the same "chance" for salvation, but rather as guilty and condemned criminals before a right­eous judge. None have any claim to salv.ation. The mar­vel is, not that God doesn't save all, but that when _ll are guilty He pardons so many; and the answer to the ques-. tion_ Why does He not save all? is to be found, not in the Arminian denial of the omnipotence of His grace, but in the fact that, as Dr. Warfield says, "God in His love saves as many of the guilty race of man as He can get the con­sent of His whole nature to save."! For re.asons known to Himself He sees that it is not best to pardon all, but that some should be permitted to have their own way and be left to eternal punishrllent in order that it may be shown what an awful thing is sin and rebellion against God.

Time and again the Scriptures repeat the assertion that salvation is of grace, as if anticipating the difficulty which men would have in coming to the conclusion that they could not earn salvation by their own works. Thus also they destroy the widespread notion that God owes salva­tion to any. "By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift ot God; not of works, that no man should glory," Eph. 2:8, 9. "But if it is of grace, it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace," Rom. 11 :6. "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified," Rom. 3 :20. "Now to him that work­eth, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt," Rom. 4:4. "Who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" I Cor. 4:7. "By the grace of God I am what I am," I Cor. 10 :15. "Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" Rom. 11 :35. "The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom. 6:23.

Grace and works are mutually exclusive; and as well might we try to bring the two poles together as to effect a coalition of grace and works in salvation. As well might we talk of a "purchased gift," as to talk of "conditional grace," for when grace ceases to be absolute it ceases to be grace. Therefore when the Scriptures say that salva­tion is of grace we are to understand that it is through its whole process the work of God and that any truly meri­torious works done by man are the result of the change which has already been wrought.

Arminianism destroys this purely gracious character of salvation and substitutes a system of grace plus works. No matter how small a part these works may play they are necessary and are the basis of the distinction between the saved and the lost and would then afford occasion for the saved to boast over the lost since each had equal oppor­tunity. But Paul says that all boasting is excluded, and that he who glories should glory in the Lord (Rom. 3 :27; I Cor. 1 :31). But if saved by grace, the redeemed remembers the mire from which he was lifted, and his attitude toward the lost is one of sympathy and pity. He knows that but for the grace of God he too would have been in the same state as those who perish, and his song is, "Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake."


XXIV.  Personal Assurance That One Is Among the Elect

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XXV.  Predestination in the Physical World

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XXVI.  A Comparison with the Mohammedan Doctrine of Predestination

1. Elements Which the Two Doctrines Have in Common. 2. Mohammedan Tendency To­ward Fatalism. 3. Christian Doctrine Not Derived From Mohammedanism. 4. The Two Doctrines Contrasted.



WHILE Mohammedanism is a false religion and , utterly destitute of power to save the soul from sin,

there are certain elements of truth in the system, and we are under obligation to honor truth regardless of the source from which it comes. "The strength of Mo­hammedanism," says Froude, "was that it taught the omnip­otence and omnipresence of one eternal Spirit, the Maker and Ruler of all things, by whose everlasting purpose an things were, and whose will all things must obey.". The striking similarity between the Biblical and the Koranic doctrines of Predestination has Deen noticed by many writ


erg. Dr. Samuel M. Zwemer, who in a very real sense can be referred to as "the apostle to the Mohammedan world," calls attention to the strange parallel between the Reforma­tion in Europe under Calvin and that in Arabia under Mo­hammed. Says he: "Islam is indeed in many respects the Calvinism of the Orient. It, too, was a call to acknowledge the sovereignty of God's will. 'There is no god but God.' It, too, aaw in nature and sought in revelation the majesty

of God's presence and power, and manifestations of His

glory, transcendent and omnipotent. 'God,' says Mohammed,

'there is no god but He, the living, the self-subsistent,

slumber seizeth Him not, nor sleep - His throne embraceth the heavens and the earth and none can intercede with Him

save by His permission. He alone is exalted and great' . . . .

It is this vital theistic principle that explains the victory of Islam over the weak divided and idolatrous Christendom of the Orient in the sixth century. . . . The Message of Moham­med, when he first unfurled the green banner, 'There is no god but God; God is king, and you must and shall obey His will,' was one of the simplest accounts ever offered of the nature of God and His relation to man . . . . This was Islam, as it was offered at the sword's point to people who had lost the power of understanding any other argument."1

In addition to the Koran there are a number of orthodox traditions which claim to give Mohammed's teachings on the subject. Some of these tell in almost identical language how before the person is bom an angel descends and writes his dest1ny. It is said that the angel inquires, "0 my Lord, miserable or blessed? whereupon one or the other is writ­ten down; and: Omy Lord, a male or a female? whereupon one or the other is written down. He also writes down the moral conduct of the new being, its career, its term of life, and its allotment of good. Then (it is said to him): Roll up the leaves, for no addition shall be made thereto, nor anything taken therefrom." In another tradition we read of a messe:pger of God speaking thus: "There is no one of you - there is no soul born whose place, whether Paradise or Hell, has not been predetermined by God, and which has not been registered beforehand as either miserable or blessed."1

But while the Koran and the traditions teach a strict foreordination of moral conduct and future destiny, they also present a doctrine of human freedom which makes it necessary for us to qualify the sharper assertions of divine Predestination in harmony with it. And here, too, as in the Scriptures, no attempt is made to explain how the appar­ently opposite truths of Divine sovereignty and human free­dom are to be reconciled.


…. second causes are practically excluded. The idea that man is in any way the cause of his own acts bas nearly ceased to exist, and Fatalism, the normal belief of the Arabs in their state of semi -civilization before Mohammed, is the controlling force in the speculations and practices of the Moslem world. "According to these traditions," says Dr. Zwemer, "and the interpretation of them for more than ten centuries in the life of Moslems, this kind of Predesti­nation should be called Fatalism and nothing else. For Fatalism is the doctrine of an inevitable necessity and implies an omnipotent and arbitrary sovereign power."l

Practically, Mohammedanism holds to a predestination of ends regardless of means. The contrast with the Chris­tian system is.seen in the following story. A ship crowded with Englishmen and Mohammedans was ploughing through the waves. Accidentally one of the passengers fell overboard. The Mohammedans looked after him with indifference, saying, "If it is written in the book of destiny that he shall be saved, he shall be saved without us; and if it is written that he shall perish, we can do nothing"; and with that they left him. But the EngUshmen said, "Perhaps it is written that we should save him." They threw him a rope and he was saved.



But whatever may be said about the doctrine of Predes­tination, no reasonable person will charge that the Christian doctrine is borrowed from the Mohammedan. Augustine, who is admitted by Protestants and Catholics alike to have been the outstanding man in the Chri,stian Church at his time, and whom Protestants rate as the greatest between Paul and Luther, had taught this doctrine with great con­viction more than two centuries before Mohammedanism arose; and it was aggressively taught by Christ and the apostles at the beginning of the Christian era, to say noth­ing of the place which it occupied in the Old Testament.

A study of the history and teachings of Mohammedan­ism reveals that it is made up of three parts, one of which was borrowed from the Jews, another from the Christians, and the third from the heathen Arabs. Hence a part of the system is nothing more nor less than Christianity at second hand. But would any reasonable Christian give up certain articles of his creed only because Mohammed adopted them in his? What weat gaps such conduct would make in our creed can be seen when we le'8rn that Mohammed believed in only one true God, that he utterly abolished all idol worship, that he believed in angels, a general resurrection andJ udg­ment, a heaven and hell, that he allowed both the Old and New Testaments, and recognized both Moses and Christ as prophets of God. It is small wonder, then, that elements of the Christian doctrine of Predestination were incorporated into the Mohammedan system and united with the heathen doctrine of Fatalism.

Furthermore, an historical study of this subject shows us that the Mohammedans have had their sort of Armin­ians as truly as we, and that the questions of Predestination and Free Will. have J>een agitated among the Mohammedan doctors with as much heat and vehemence as ever they were in Christendom. The Turks of the sect of Oma!" hold the doctrineo.f absolute Predestination, while the Persians of the sect of AU deny Predestination and assert Free Will with as much fervor as any Arminian.


Although the terms used in describing the Reformed and the Mohammedan doctrines of Predestination have much similarity the results of their reasoning are as far apart as the East is from the West.. In fact, the further investigation proceeds the more superficial does the resemblance become. Their greatest resemblance seems to be in the teachings of each that everything which occurs happens according to the will of God. Yet very different ideas are meant by 'the "will of God." Islam reduces God to a category of the will and makes Him a despot, an oriental despot, who stands at abys­mal heights above humanity. He cares nothing for charac­ter, but only for submission. The only affair of men is to obey His decrees, s_ that, as Zanchius says, Predestination becomes Ua sort. of blind, rapId, overbearinar impetus,. which, right or wrong, with mean$ or without, carries all things violently before it, with little or no attention to the peculiar and respective nature of second causes." And concerning human freedom Dr. Zwemer says that in the doctrine of Islam, "God's omnipotence is so absolute that it excludes all self-activity on the part of the creature. . . . Whatever free­dom is permitted is only 'under the term Kasb; that is, the appropriation of an act as his own which, after all, he is compelled to execute as a part of God's will."

The Koran and orthodox traditions have practically nothing to say about the concepts of sin and moral responsibility, and the morality of the Mohammedan system is notoriously defective. In Islam it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that God is the author of sin. The origin. of sin and its character are wholly different concepts in Islam and in ,Christianity.

In Islam there is no doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and no purpose of redemption to soften the doctrine of the decrees. God is represented as having arbitrarily created one group of people for paradise and another group for hell, and the events of every person's life are so ordered that little place is left for moral responsibility and guilt. They deny that there has been any election in Christ to grace and glory, and that Christ died a sacrificial death for his people. They have nothing to say about the efficacy of saving grace or about perseverance, and even in regard to the predestina­tion of temporal events the ideas are often gross and con­fused. The attribute of love is absent from Allah. The ideas that God should love us or that we should love God are strange ideas to Islam, and the Koran hardly hints at this subj ect of which the Bible is so full.

In conclusion it may be said that the Arminian creed has little appeal for the Mohammedan. So far as mission work is concerned, the Calvinistic churches entered the world of Islam earlier and more vigorously than any other group of churches, and for more than one hundred years they and they alone have challenged Islam in the land of its birth. They have occupied the strategic centers and today are carrYing on far the larger part of the mission work in the Moslem world. With God's' sovereignty as basis, God's glory as goal, and God's will as motive, the Presbyterian and Reformed churches are peculiarly fitted to win Moslem hearts to the allegiance of Christ, and are facing, with bright hopes of success, that most difficult of all missionary tasks, the evangelization of the Moslem world.


SECTION V  XXVII.  The Practical Importance of the Doctrine

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SECTION VI  XXVIII.  Calvinism in History

p. 367-368:  "Melanchthon in his earlier writings designated the principle of Predestination as the fundamental principle of Christianity.  He later modified this position, however, and brought in a kind of 'synergism' in which God and man were supposed to co-operate in the process of salvation.  This position taken by the early Lutheran Church was gradually modified.  Later Lutherans let go the doctrine altogether, denounced it in its Calvinistic form, and came to hold a doctrine of universal grace and universal atonement.


 Contents ~ Top


[1] Warburton, Calvinism, p. 23.

[2] Warburton, Calvinism, p. 23.

[3] Cunningham, Historical Theology, II, pp. 418-419.

[4] Calvin, John.  Institutes, Book III, Chapter XXI, sec. 5.

[5] Quoted by Troplady in the Preface to Zancius' Predestination.

[6] Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, p. 272.

[7] Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines, pp. 13, 22.

[8] Shorter Catechism, answer to Question 11.

[9] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, pp. 583, 585.

[10] R. L. Dabney, Theology, p. 212.

[11] A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 356.

[12] A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 357.

[13] John Calvin, Institutes, Ch. XXI, sec., I, II.

[14] Westminster Confession, Ch. IX, sec. III.

[15] Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, p. 125.

[16] A. A. Hodge, pamphlet, Presbyterian Doctrine, p. 23.

[17] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, pp. 198-201.

[18] John Calvin, Institutes, Book III, C. XXI, sec. I.

[19] Warfield, Pamphlet, Election, p. 10.

[20] Warfield, Biblical Doctrine, p. 50.

[21] Martin Luther, In Praefat, and Epist. ad Rom., quoted by Zanchius, Predestination, p. 92.

[22] Westminster Confession, Chap. X, sec. 1 and 2.

[23] Henry C. Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine, p. 417.

[24] Westminster Confession, Chap. XVII, sec. 1.

[25] Smith, The Creed of Presbyterians, p. 167.

[26] John Calvin, The Secret Providence of God, reprinted in Calvin's Calvinism, pp. 261, 262.

[27] Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, p. 31.

[28] Quoted by Lanchius, p. 56.

[29] Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, p. 125.

[30] Ibid., p. 5.

[31] Ibid., p. 26-27.

[32] H. Johnson, Pamphlet, The Love of God for Every Man.

[33] Mozley, The Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination, p. 78.

[34] Hamilton, The Basis of the Christian Life, p. 162.

[35] Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, p. 288.

[36] Rice, God Sovereign and Man Free, pp. 70-71.

[37] Tyler, Memoir and Lectures, p. 250-252.

[38] Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 857.

[39] John Calvin, The Secret Providence of God; reprinted in Calvin's Calvinism, p. 240.

[40] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, I., p. 545.

[41] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, I., p. 547.

[42] Atwater, “Calvinism in Doctrine and Life,” The Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review, Jan. 1875, p. 84.

[43] Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, p. 287.

[44] Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 861.

[45] Mozley, The Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination, p. 41.

[46] Clark, Syllabus of Systematic Theology, p. 208.

[47] Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, p. 131.