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´╗┐Title: The Doctrines of Predestination, Reprobation, and Election
Author: Wallace, Robert
Language: English
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_The following Volumes of the Series are now ready,

Price is. 6d. each:_--

REGENERATION: Its Conditions and Methods. By the Rev. ROBERT


THE HOLY SPIRIT'S WORK: Its Nature and Extent. By the Rev. GEORGE









_Pastor of Cathcart Road E. U. Church, Glasgow._





WERE a number of shipwrecked mariners cast upon an island, one of
their first inquiries would be, Is it inhabited? Having observed
footmarks upon the sand, and other tokens of man's presence, another
question would be, What is the character of the people? Are they
anthropophagi, or are they of a friendly disposition? The importance
of such questions would be realised by all. Their lives might depend
upon the answer to the latter.

We look around upon the universe, and everywhere observe marks of
design, or the adapation of means to ends. The conviction gathers
upon us with deepening power, that there must have been a supreme
intelligence arranging the forces of nature. If I throw the dice box
twenty times, and the same numbers always turn up, I cannot resist
the conclusion that the dice must have been loaded. The application
is simple. But, as in the case of the mariners, a second question
arises, viz.:--What is the character of the Being revealed in
nature? Is He beneficent, or like the fabled Chronus, who devoured
his children? It is substantially with this second question that the
following work has to do. It is a treatise concerning the character
of God.

The subjects discussed have been for many years the occasion of much
controversy and difficulty. Whilst to certain minds it were more
agreeable to read exposition of Christian truth, yet the followers
of Christ may often have to contend for the faith once delivered to
the saints. Our Lord's public ministry showed how earnestly He
contended for the truth. At every corner He was met by the men of
"light and leading" amongst the Jews, and who did their best to
oppose Him. Paul, too, when he lived at Ephesus, disputed "daily in
the school of one Tyrannus, and this continued by the space of two
years." The period of the Reformation was also one of earnest
discussion between the adherents of the old faith and the followers
of Luther. The questions discussed in those days, both in apostolic
and post-apostolic times, were eminently practical; but they were
not a whit more so than the questions of Predestination,
Reprobation, and Election. These touch every man to the very centre
of his being when he awakes from the sleep of indifference, and
wishes to know the truth about the salvation of his soul. It has
been our object, in the present volume, to dispel the darkness which
has been thrown around those subjects, and to let every man see that
the way back to the bosom of the heavenly Father is as free to him
as the light of heaven.

The following treatise consists of an Introduction bearing on the
history of the questions discussed; Part I. treats of Predestination;
Part II. is on Reprobation, and Part III. on Election.












































For God so loved the world that He gave His only beloved Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting

I reject the Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination, not because it
is incomprehensible, but because I think it irreconcilable with the
justice and goodness of God.--_Bishop Tomlin._

God our Saviour will have all men to be saved.--_Paul._





REGARDING the predestinarian controversy, it has been said, "Hardly
one among the many Christian controversies has called forth a
greater amount of subtlety and power, and not one so long and so
persistently maintained its vitality. Within the twenty-five years
which followed its first appearance upwards of thirty councils (one
of them the General Council of Ephesus) were held for the purpose of
this discussion. It lay at the bottom of all the intellectual
activity of the conflicts in the Mediaeval philosophic schools; and
there is hardly a single subject which has come into discussion
under so many different forms in modern controversy" (_Ch. Encyc_.)

Although the controversy between Pelagius and Augustine began in the
fifth century, it is an interesting inquiry--What was the mind of
the earlier Christian writers on the subject? Of course their
opinion cannot settle the truth of the question in debate, but it
has a very important bearing upon the subject. The late Dr. Eadie
claimed the voice of antiquity for the system of the Confession of
Faith. He says, "The doctrine of predestination was held in its
leading element by the ancient Church, by the Roman Clement,
Ignatius, Hermas, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, before Augustine
worked it into a system, and Jerome armed himself on its behalf"
(_Ec. Cyc._) This statement may be fairly questioned, and, we think,
successfully challenged. Dr. Cunningham, in his _Historical
Theology_, remarks, "The doctrine of Arminius can be traced back as
far as the time of Alexandrinus, and seems to have been held by many
of the Fathers of the third and fourth centuries." He attributes
this to the corrupting influence of Pagan philosophy (_Hist. Theo._,
Vol. II., p. 374). This is not a direct contradiction to Eadie, but
it shows that truth compelled this sturdy Calvinist to admit that
non-Calvinistic views were held in the earlier and best period of
the Church. The question, however, is one that must be decided by
historical evidence, and not by authority. And what is that
evidence? Mosheim, in writing of the founders of the English Church,
says, "They wished to render their church as similar as possible to
that which flourished in the early centuries, and that Church, as no
one can deny, was an entire stranger to the Dordracene doctrines"
(_Reid's Mos._, p. 821). The Synod of Dort met in A.D. 1618, and
condemned the Arminian doctrine, and decided in favour of Calvinism;
but, according to Mosheim, this system of Calvin was unknown to the
early Church. Faber maintains the same. He says, "The scheme of
interpretation now familiarly, though perhaps (if a scheme ought to
be designated by the name of its _original_ contriver) not quite
correctly, styled Calvinism, may be readily traced back in the Latin
and Western Church to the time of Augustine. But here we find
ourselves completely at fault. Augustine, at the beginning of the
fifth century, is the first ecclesiastical writer who annexes to the
Scriptural terms 'elect' and 'predestinate' the peculiar sense which
is now usually styled Calvinistic. With him, in a form scarcely less
round and perfect than that long and subsequently proposed by the
celebrated Genevan reformer himself, commenced an entirely new
system of interpretation previously unknown to the Church Catholic.
What I state is a mere dry historical fact" (_Faber's Apos. Trin._,
_Cooke's Theo._, p. 305).

Prosper of Acquitania was a devoted friend and admirer of Augustine,
and not wishing to be charged with propagating new views, wrote to
the Bishop of Hippo (Augustine) desiring to know how he could refute
the charge of novelty. "For," saith he, "having had recourse to the
opinion of almost all that went before me concerning this matter, I
find all of them holding one and the same opinion, in which they
have received the purpose and the predestination of God according to
His prescience; that for this cause God made some vessels of honour
and other vessels of dishonour, because He foresaw the end of every
man, and knew before how he would will and act" (_Whitby's Pos._, p.
449). This was a frank acknowledgment on the part of Prosper, who
was a man of ability, and Secretary to Leo, and it carried much
farther than was intended. The fact, however, was patent that the
Christian Church for some four hundred years was a stranger to what
is known as the doctrine of Calvin. The view thus stated is
confirmed by Neander. When Prosper and Hilary appealed to the Bishop
of Rome, they doubtless expected that he would favour the system of
Augustine, and condemn the Semi-pelagians (modern E.U.'s). If so,
they were mistaken. The bishop was chary, and whilst speaking
contemptuously of those presbyters who raised "curious questions,"
he left it undecided what the curious questions were. He had said in
his letter to the Gallic bishops, "Let the spirit of innovation, if
there is such a spirit, cease to attack the ancient doctrines;" but
he did not say what was ancient and what was novel. Neander upon
this remarks: "The Semi-pelagians, in fact, also asserted, and they
could do it with even more justice than their opponents, that by
them the ancient doctrine of the Church was defended against the
false doctrine recently introduced concerning absolute predestination,
and against the denial of free-will tenets, wholly unknown to the
ancient Church" (Vol. IV., p. 306). The concluding words are almost
identical with those of Mosheim, just quoted.

Bishop Tomline, who gave special attention to this phase of the
subject--viz., the state of opinion in the Church previous to
Augustine, says, "If Calvinists pretend that absolute decrees, the
unconditional election and reprobation of individuals, particular
redemption, irresistible grace, and the entire destruction of free
-will in man in consequence of the fall, were the doctrines of the
primitive Church, let them cite their authority, let them refer to
the works in which these doctrines are actually taught. If such
opinions were actually held we could not fail to meet with some of
them in the various and voluminous works which are still extant. I
assert that no such trace is to be found, and I challenge the
Calvinist of the present day to produce an author prior to Augustine
who maintained what are now called Calvinistic opinions" (Preface

The extracts which he gives from the writings of the Fathers are so
many and extended that we can only give a few. Clement of Rome, a
contemporary of the apostles, says: "Let us look stedfastly at the
blood of Christ, and see how precious His blood is in the sight of
God, which, being shed for our salvation, has obtained the grace of
repentance for all the world" (p. 288). Justin Martyr, who lived
about the middle of the second century, says, "But lest anyone
should imagine that I am asserting things that happen according to
the necessity of fate, because I have said that things are
foreknown, I proceed to refute that opinion also. That punishments
and chastisements and good rewards are given according to the worth
of the actions of every one, having learnt it from the prophets, we
declare to be true; since if it were not so, but all things happen
according to fate, nothing would be in our own power; for if it were
decreed by fate that one should be good and another bad, no praise
would be due to the former, nor blame to the other; and, again, if
mankind had not the power of free-will to avoid what is disgraceful
and to choose what is good, they would not be responsible for their
actions" (Tom., p. 292). Irenaeus, who lived near the end of the
second century, says, "The expression 'How often would I have
gathered thy children together, and ye would not' (Matt. xxiii. 37),
manifested the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man
free from the beginning, having his own power as he had also his own
soul to use the sentence of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion
from God. For there is no force with God, but a good intention is
always with Him. And therefore He gives good counsel to all. But He
has placed the power of choice in man, in that those who should obey
might justly possess good, given indeed by God, but preserved by
ourselves" (Tom., p. 304). Tertullian (A.D. 200), "Therefore, though
we have learned from the commands of God both what He wills and what
He forbids, yet we have a will and power to choose either, as it is
written, 'Behold I have set before you good and evil, for you have
tasted of the tree of knowledge'" (Tom., p. 320). Origen (A.D. 230)
says, "We have frequently shown, in all our disputations, that the
nature of rational souls is such as to be capable of good and evil"
(Tom., p. 323). Ambrose (A.D. 374) says, "The Lord Jesus came to
save all sinners" (Tom., p. 377). Chrysostom (A.D. 398) says, "Hear
also how fate speaks, and how it lays down contrary laws, and learn
how the former are declared by a Divine spirit, but the latter by a
wicked demon and a savage beast. God has said, 'If ye be willing and
obedient,' making us masters of virtue and wickedness, and placing
them within our own power. But what does the other say? That it is
impossible to avoid what is decreed by fate, whether we will or not.
God says, 'If ye be willing ye shall eat the good of the land;' but
fate says, 'Although we be willing, unless it shall be permitted us,
this will is of no use.' God says, 'If ye will not obey my words, a
sword shall devour you;' fate says, 'Although we be not willing, if
it shall be granted to us, we are certainly saved.' Does not fate
say this? What, then, can be clearer than this opposition? What can
be more evident than this war which the diabolical teachers of
wickedness have thus shamelessly declared against the Divine
oracles" (Tom., p. 458).

Besides the names thus given, Tomlin appeals to and gives quotations
from the following authors of antiquity as confirming his statement
--viz., Tatian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Lactantius, Eusebius,
Athenasius, Cyril, Hilary, Basil, Ambrose, Jerome, &c. The testimony
of the Fathers is clearly against the Calvinistic system. We do not,
of course, claim them as settling the controversy; this must be done
by an appeal to reason and the Scriptures; but it is nevertheless
deserving of attention, that for some 400 years the stream of
opinion in the Church ran in a contrary direction to that of Geneva.
The system of Calvin is, that God wishes only some men to be saved,
and that everything is fixed; and it was clearly held before
Augustine's time, that God wished all men saved, and that men were
free, which they could not be if all things were foreordained.

Besides this, it is a remarkable fact that the errors of the early
heretics bore a close resemblance to those held by the followers of
Calvin. Irenaeus, writing of Saturnius, says, "He first asserted
that there are two sets of men formed by the angels, the one good
and the other bad. And because demons assisted the worst men, that
the Saviour came to destroy bad men and demons, but to save good
men" (Tom., p. 515). Gregory of Nazianzum, warning his readers
against heresy, says, "For certain persons are so ill-disposed as to
imagine that some are of a nature which must absolutely perish," &c.
(Tom., p. 522). Jerome, commenting on Eph. v. 8, remarks,. . .
"There is not, as some heretics say, a nation which perishes and
does not admit of salvation" (Tom., p. 525). Do not the heretical
opinions denounced by the Fathers bear a close resemblance to the
"elect" and the "reprobate" of the Confession of Faith?

The departure from the ancient creed of the Church arose out of the
controversy with Pelagius. This monk, surnamed Brito (from being
generally believed to be a native of Britain), is supposed to have
been born about the middle of the fourth century. Nothing is now
known regarding the place of his birth, or precise period when he
was born. His name "is supposed to be a Greek rendering of
(Pelagios, of or belonging to the sea) the Celtic appellative
Morgan, or sea-born." He never entered holy orders. If tradition is
to be trusted, he was educated in a monastery at Bangor, in Wales,
of which he ultimately became abbot. In the end of the fourth
century he went to Rome, having acquired a reputation of sanctity
and knowledge of the Scriptures. Whilst here he made the
acquaintance of Coelestius, a Roman advocate, who espoused his
views, and gave up his own profession, and devoted himself to extend
the opinions of his master. About A.D. 405, they began to make
themselves known, but attracted little attention; and after the sack
of the city by the Goths, A.D. 410, they left and went to Africa.
The two friends seem to have separated here. Pelagius went to
Jerusalem, whilst Coelestius remained in Africa. The latter desired
to enter into holy orders, and sought ordination. His opinions had
become known, however, and objections were lodged against him. He
appealed to Rome, but did not prosecute his case. He went to Ephesus
instead. The proceedings at Carthage in this matter are noteworthy,
as they were the occasion of introducing Augustine into the
controversy. He was determined not to let the subject rest, and sent
Orosius, a Spanish monk, to Jerusalem, and got the question brought
before a synod there in A.D. 415. This assembly, however, refused to
condemn Pelagius. In A.D. 418, the emperor banished the heresiarch;
and after this history fails to give any reliable account of him. He
had spoken what he thought, and had stirred the minds of men in
three continents. When the Council of Carthage met, there were
twelve charges of heresy laid against him. A summary of his opinions
is given by Buck, and is as follows:--(1.) That Adam was by nature
mortal, and whether he had sinned or not, would certainly have died.
(2.) That the consequences of Adam's sin were confined to his own
person. (3.) That new-born infants are in the same situation with
Adam before the fall. (4.) That the law qualified men for the
kingdom of heaven, and was founded on equal promises with the
Gospel. (5.) That the general resurrection of the dead does not
follow in virtue of the Saviour's resurrection. (6.) That the grace
of God is given according to our merits. (7.) That this grace is not
given for the performance of every moral act, the liberty of the
will and information in points of duty being sufficient. If these
were the opinions of Pelagius, then, according to our finding, he
had erred from the truth. I say "if," because it is not safe to
trust an opponent when professing to give the views of an
antagonist. He is apt to confound deductions with principles which
are denied.

Although we do not know where and when Pelagius was born, nor the
place and time of his death, we have reliable information on these
points regarding Augustine. He was born at Tagaste, a town in north
Africa, on 13th Nov., A.D. 354. He was the child of many prayers by
his devoted mother Monica. The early portion of his life was spent
in idleness and dissipation, but he was at last converted in a
somewhat remarkable manner. He turned over a new leaf in his moral
life, and became a most devoted Christian. Although considered
inferior to Jerome (his contemporary) as regards Biblical criticism,
he was a man of genius, and a strong controversialist. He contended
against the Donatists, the Manichaeans, and the Pelagians. When the
Vandals were besieging Hippo, he died on the 28th of August, A.D.
430, in the 76th year of his age. No father of the early Church has
exercised a greater influence upon theological opinion than he has

The system now known as Calvinism should be designated
"Augustinianism," Augustine being, as remarked, the real author of
the system, and not the Genevan divine. Regarding the central tenets
of his creed, it is said: "He held the corruption of human nature,
and the consequent slavery of the human will. Both on metaphysical
and religious grounds he asserted the doctrine of predestination,
from which he necessarily deduced the corollary doctrines of
election and reprobation; and, finally, he supported against
Pelagius, not only these opinions, but also the doctrine of the
perseverance of the saints," (_Ch. En._, Aug.) Besides introducing a
new theological system, Augustine put his imprimatur upon the
burning of heretics. When the magistrate Dulcitius had some
compunctions about executing a decree of Honorius, Augustine wrote
to him and said, "It is much better that some should perish by their
own fires, than that the whole body should perish in the everlasting
fires of Gehenna, through the desert of the impious dissension"
(_Ch. En._, Aug.) Calvin therefore could not only claim the
authority of Augustine for his dogmas, but he might have claimed him
also as justifying the burning of Servetus. But this by the way.

With the voice of the Fathers against him, and, as we think,
unwarranted by the light of philosophy and the true interpretation
of Scripture, how came it about, it may be asked, that Augustine
adopted the system which should be called by his name? The true
answer to this will be found, we apprehend, in a variety of
considerations. His early dissipated life, his nine years connection
with Manichaeism, the extreme statements of Pelagius, his own
strange conversion by hearing, when weeping and moaning under a fig
-tree, a young voice saying quickly, "_Tolle lege, tolle lege_" (take
and read, take and read), and which he took as a Divine admonition;
these, combined with the commotion of the times, would lend their
influence to the position he came to occupy. His system, whilst it
accords glory to God, is one-sided, by ignoring the function man has
to perform in applying the remedial scheme.

Although Pelagius had got many to espouse his opinions, yet his
tenets were again and again condemned by the councils of the Church.
The controversy, however, very soon diverged from strictly Pelagian
lines, and entered upon a new track--viz., that of Semi-pelagianism,
to which is closely allied the principles advocated by the
Evangelical Union of Scotland. From extremes there is generally a
recoil, and this was the case as regards Augustinianism. Certain
monks at Adrumetum drew conclusions from the system which, whether
they are admitted or not, are its logical outcome. They said, "Of
what use are all doctrines and precepts? Human efforts can avail
nothing, it is God that worketh in us to will and to do. Nor is it
right to reproach or to punish those who are in error, and who
cannot sin, for it is none of their fault that they act thus.
Without grace they cannot do otherwise, nor can they do anything to
merit grace; all we should do, then, is to pray for them" (Neander,
Vol. IV., p. 373). Augustine endeavoured to neutralise these
opinions by writing two books explaining his views. Regarding these
answers, Neander observes, "But such persons," as the monks, "must
rather have found in this a further confirmation of their doubts."

Whilst the monks of Adrumetum drew natural conclusions from the
dogmas of Augustine, there came determined opposition to the new
creed. It came from the south of France. John Cassian, who had been
a deacon under Chrysostom, had established a cloister at Massila
(Marseilles), and had become its abbot, entered the lists against
the Bishop of Hippo. He departed from the opinions of Pelagius
regarding the corruption of human nature, and he recognised "grace"
as well as justification in the sense of Augustine. But he widely
differed from him, as will be seen from the summary of Semi
-pelagianism given by Buck. It is as follows: "(1.) That God did not
dispense His grace to one man more than another in consequence of an
absolute and eternal decree, but was willing to save all men if they
complied with the terms of the Gospel. (2.) That Christ died for all
mankind. (3.) That the grace purchased by Christ, and necessary to
salvation, was offered to all men. (4.) That man before he received
this grace was capable of faith and holy desires. (5.) That man was
born free, and consequently capable of resisting the influence of
grace, or of complying with its suggestions." Buck remarks, "The
Semi-pelagians were very numerous, and the doctrine of Cassian,
though variously explained, was received in the greatest part of the
monastic schools in Gaul, from whence it spread itself far and wide
through the European provinces. As to the Greeks and other Eastern
Churches, they had embraced the Semi-pelagian doctrine before
Cassian." Yet when, as in 1843, similar opinions were proclaimed in
Scotland, they were everywhere met with the cry of "New Views,"
although they had been held so extensively 1400 years before! So
much for ignorance.

The name "Semi-pelagians" was not assumed by the party, lest they
should be held as maintaining the dogmas of Pelagius; neither was it
given until long after the early heat of the controversy. Their
opponents still stigmatised them as Pelagians, although they had
departed from the system advocated by the British monk.

The controversy continued to occupy the mind of the Church during
the latter part of the fifth and beginning of the sixth centuries.
In A.D. 475 a synod held at Arles sanctioned the views of the Semi
-pelagians, and compelled the presbyter Lucidus, who was an earnest
advocate of Augustinianism, to recant. Another synod, held at
Lugdunum in the same year, put also its imprimatur upon them. But
there was not complete agreement, and the divines who had been
banished by the Vandals from northern Africa held a council in A.D.
523, and under their auspices Fulgentius of Ruspe composed a defence
of Angustine's views; (Kurtz, p. 213)

For a considerable time after this the controversy may be said to
have remained quiet, but broke forth with great fury in the ninth
century. Gottschalk, the son of a Saxon count, had been dedicated by
his parents to the service of religion, and in due course entered
the monastery of Fulda. He did not take to cloister life, and
petitioned an assembly held at Metz to be released from his monastic
vows. His request was granted, but Rabanus Maurus, who was the
abbot, appealed to Lewis the Pius, and endeavoured to show that all
_oblati_ (lay brethren dedicated to the service of the Church) were
bound to perpetual obligation. Lewis revoked the decision of the
assembly, and Gottschalk had to go back to cloister life, which he
did by entering the monastery of Orbais. Here he became an ardent
student of the writings of Augustine, and sought to propagate his
views. "He affirmed a _proedestinatio duplex_, by virtue of which
God decreed eternal life to the elect, and the elect to eternal
life; and so also everlasting punishment to the reprobate, and the
reprobate to everlasting punishment, for the two were inseparably
connected" (Neander, Vol. VI., p. 180).

On returning from a pilgrimage to Rome Gottschalk happened to meet
Noting (Bishop of Verona), and expounded to him his views. Sometime
after this meeting the bishop had a conversation with Rabanus (who
was now Bishop of Mayence), and informed him regarding Gottschalk's
opinions. Rabanus promised to send a reply, which shortly afterwards
he did, in two "thundering epistles." The controversy now waxed
warm, too much so for the monk. He was condemned, imprisoned, and
scourged. He threw his treatises into the fire, but intimated his
willingness to go through the ordeal of stepping into cauldrons of
boiling water, oil, and pitch, being thoroughly convinced that he
had the truth upon his side. His offer was treated by Hincoma as the
boast of a Simon Magus. He died in prison.

In the Middle Ages the schoolmen took sides in this controversy, but
there was no general agitation upon the subject. The "Dark Ages" had
set in, and remained until the Renaissance and the revival of
learning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The European
countries had been greatly agitated by the Crusades, which had
collateral issues of an important character. Turbulent spirits had
been weeded but, and the royal authority had become better
established. Independence of thought began to assert itself in
Wickliffe; and Huss and Jerome of Prague paid the penalty of
martyrdom for gainsaying Rome. But a bright morning was at hand.
Luther arose. His voice, like a clarion trumpet among the Alps,
produced echoes all around. His doctrines spread like wild-fire.
Amongst the countries which readily received them was Holland.
Charles V. was determined to crush the nascent spirit of liberty in
that portion of his dominions, and inaugurated a persecution by
which 50,000 people lost their lives. The Dutch maintained their
rights, and in due course the Protestant religion was that of the
land. The opinions of Calvin were adopted generally. He had adopted
the system of Augustine, as already intimated, and he had a great
influence upon the Protestants generally outside Germany. James
Arminius was born at Oudewater in 1560. He lost his father when
quite young, and the merchants of Amsterdam undertook his education
upon condition that he would not preach out of their city unless he
got their permission. Having gone to Geneva, he sat at the feet of
Theodore Beza, one of the most rigid of Calvin's followers. After
travelling in Italy he returned to Holland, and was duly appointed a
minister of religion in Amsterdam. About this time certain clergymen
of Delft had become dissatisfied with the doctrine of predestination,
and Arminius was commissioned to answer them. But in prosecuting his
inquiries he began to doubt, and then to change his views. He saw
that he could not defend the system of Calvin, and having the
courage of his convictions, he spoke out his mind. He excited
intense opposition, and was visited, without stint, with the
_odium theologicum_. All the pulpits began to fulminate against him.
In the midst of the controversy he died, 19th October, 1609. He was
admitted by his opponents to have been a good man. In 1610 his
followers presented a Remonstrance to the assembled States of the
province of Holland. From this circumstance they have been called
Remonstrants. In this celebrated document the following propositions
were stated:--"(1.) That God had indeed made an eternal decree, but
only on the conditional terms that all who believe in Christ shall
be saved, while all who refuse to believe must perish; so that
predestination is only conditional. (2.) That Christ died for all
men, but that none except believers are really saved by His death.
The intention, in other words, is universal, but the efficacy may be
restricted by unbelief. (3.) That no man is of himself able to
exercise a saving faith, but must be born again of God in Christ
through the Holy Spirit. (4.) That without the grace of God man can
neither think, will, nor do anything good; yet that grace does not
act in men in an irresistible way. (5.) That believers are able, by
the aid of the Holy Spirit, victoriously to resist sin; but that the
question of the possibility of a fall from grace must be determined
by a further examination of the Scriptures on this point." The last
proposition was decided in the affirmative in the following year

A synod was convened at Dort in 1618, from which the followers of
Arminius were excluded. It put its approval upon the views of
Calvin. The discussion soon assumed a political aspect, which
Maurice of Orange turned to his own account, put Oldenbarnveldt to
death, and sent Grotius to prison.

In the Church of England divines may hold either view of this
question. The saying has been ascribed to Pitt: "The Church of
England hath a Popish liturgy, a Calvinistic creed, and an Arminian
clergy" (Bartlett). Whilst she has had such genuine Calvinists as
Scott and Toplady, she has also produced men who held that the
Saviour died for all--viz., Hales, Butler, Pierce, Barrow, Cudworth,
Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Patrick, and Burnet. The Wesleyan body are
decidedly anti-Calvinistic.

In 1643 an assembly of divines met at Westminster, and although they
could not agree about church government, they came to a finding
about doctrines, and drew up the Confession of Faith and the
Catechism, which are thoroughly Calvinistic. The Church of Scotland
adopted these formularies, and although there have been several
secessions from her, they were not upon the ground of doctrine as
expressed in the creed. In 1843, however, a decided departure took
place in this respect, in one of the offshoots of the Church--viz.,
in that of the United Secession Church. The Rev. James Morison had
declared it to be his belief that Christ died for all men. He was
charged with heresy and deposed. Other brethren threw in their lot
with him, and in due course the Evangelical Union was formed. Its
primary doctrines are that the Divine Father loves all men, that
Christ died for all men, and that the Divine Spirit gives sufficient
grace to all men, which, if improved, would lead to their salvation.

Such, then, is a brief outline of the main historical facts in this
controversy, and it is worthy of note, as remarked, that for the
first 400 years of the Christian era the Calvinistic system of
theology was unknown to the Christian church. It began, as we have
seen, with Augustine, and being adopted by Calvin was widely spread
in those countries which received at the Reformation Protestant
principles. It comprehends truths of vast value to man, but which
are not peculiar to it. They are held as firmly by opponents as by
the followers of Calvin; such, for instance, as the inspiration of
the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity, the inability of man to work
out a glory meriting righteousness, justification by faith alone,
and the necessity of the Spirit's work in regeneration. As in the
Church of Rome, there have also been ranged under the banner of the
Genevan divine men of the most varied accomplishments and the most
saintly character. But men are often better than their professed
creed, and often worse. As a system it has passed its meridian, and
although ministers and elders are still required to profess their
faith in its peculiarities, it has lost its hold on the popular
mind. Mr. Froude, in his celebrated address to the St. Andrew's
students, said, "After being accepted for two centuries in all
Protestant countries as the final account of the relations between
man and his Maker, Calvinism has come to be regarded by liberal
thinkers as a system of belief incredible in itself, dishonouring to
its object, and as intolerable as it has been itself intolerant. To
represent man as sent into the world under a curse, as incurably
wicked--wicked by the constitution of his flesh, and wicked by
eternal decree; as doomed (unless exempted by special grace, which
he cannot merit, or by an effort of his own obtain), to live in sin
while he remains on earth, and to be eternally miserable when he
leaves it; to represent him as born unable to keep the commandments,
yet as justly liable to everlasting punishment for breaking them, is
alike repugnant to reason and to conscience, and turns existence
into a hideous nightmare. To deny the freedom of the will is to make
morality impossible: to tell men that they cannot help themselves,
is to fling them into recklessness and despair. To what purpose the
effort to be virtuous, when it is an effort which is foredoomed to
fail; when those that are saved are saved by no effort of their own
and confess themselves the worst of sinners, even when rescued from
the penalties of sin; and those that are lost are lost by an
everlasting sentence decreed against them before they were born? How
are we to call the Ruler who laid us under this iron code by the
name of wise, and just, or merciful, when we ascribe principles of
action to Him which, as a human father, we should call preposterous
and monstrous?" Error, however, like disease, is not easily
eradicated; but as men get better acquainted with God, those dark
and heathenish conceptions regarding him entertained by Calvinists,
such as the foredooming of children and men to endless misery, will
give place to nobler thoughts of the Author of our being.

    "I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
    And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns."

In 1879 the United Presbyterian Church adopted what is known as the
"Declaratory Act," which is a clear departure from the rigid
Calvinism of the Confession of Faith. In this declaration God's love
is said to be world-wide, and the propitiation of Christ to be for
the "sins of the whole world." They hold the Confession dogmas in
harmony with the Declaratory Act, but it is an attempt to put the
new cloth on the old garment, or the new wine into the old bottles.
It is impossible that God can love the whole world, and yet foredoom
millions to be lost. The two views are destructive of each other.
This church, one of the most intelligent in the country, cannot
stand where it now is. It is bound to go forward.




THE word "predestinate" signifies, according to the _Imperial
Dictionary_, "to predetermine or foreordain," "to appoint or ordain
beforehand by an unchangeable purpose." The noun, according to the
same authority, denotes the act of decreeing or foreordaining
events; the act of God, by which He hath from eternity unchangeably
appointed or determined whatsoever comes to pass. It is used
particularly in theology to denote the preordination of men to
everlasting happiness or misery. The term is used four times in the
New Testament, and comes from the Greek word _proorizo_, which
signifies, "to determine beforehand," "to predetermine" (Liddell and
Scott). Robinson gives as its meaning, "to set bounds before," "to
predetermine," "spoken of the eternal decrees and counsels of God."
According to the lexicographers, the meaning--as far as the word is
concerned--is plain enough. It is quite clear from the Scriptures
that God predestinates or foreordains. This is admitted on all
sides. But here the questions arise--What is the nature of God's
predestination? and does it embrace all events? The Confession of
Faith gives the following deliverance on the subject--"God from all
eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will,
freely and unchangeably foreordain whatsoever comes to pass." The
Larger and Shorter Catechisms express the same idea. This was the
opinion of the Westminster divines, and is the professed faith of
Presbyterians in general in Scotland. One of the most eminent
theologians of the school of Calvin--Dr. C. Hodge--vindicates this
deliverance of the Assembly. He says, "The reason; therefore, why
any event occurs, or that passes from the category of the possible
into that of the actual, is that God has so decreed" (Vol. I., p.
531). He says again, "The Scriptures teach that sinful acts, as well
as those which are holy, are foreordained" (Vol. I., p. 543). And,
again, "The acts of the wicked in persecuting the early Church were
ordained of God, as the means of the wider and more speedy
proclamation of the Gospel" (Vol. I., p. 544). He says, moreover,
"Whatever happens God intended should happen, that to Him nothing
can be unexpected, and nothing contrary to His purposes" (Vol. II.,
p 335). The same writer, in speaking of the usage of the term
"predestination," remarks, "It may be used first in the general
sense of foreordination. In this sense it has equal reference to all
events, for God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass:" It will thus
be seen that the Confession, and the Catechisms, and Hodge, as one
of the most eminent expounders of these formularies, uphold the
doctrine, that everything which happens was foreordained by God to
happen. The doctrine as thus stated is clearly the foundation of the
whole system of Calvinism. If this is shaken, the entire structure
topples to its base. Being so important, its advocates have sought
to strengthen it by appealing to the Divine attributes and to
passages from holy writ. Let us then examine their arguments derived
from the attributes, and the texts they have adduced.



THE wisdom of God is held as proving universal foreordination. Being
infinitely wise--such is the argument--He will act upon a plan, as
in creation, and as wise people do in regard to affairs in general.
And this is perfectly correct. The question, however, is not whether
God has a plan, but what that plan comprehends? Sin being a factor
in the programme of life, the Divine wisdom or plan will be
exercised in reference to it. There are two ways in which this may
be done. It may be foreordained as part of the plan, as is seen in
the above extracts. But another way is this: The Divine wisdom may
be exercised in regard to sin, not as ordaining it, but as
overruling it, and in turning it to account. That the evil deeds of
men bring into view features of the Divine character which would not
otherwise have been seen, is no doubt true, but this does not save
the wrong-doers from the severest blame. But what is wisdom? It is
the choosing of the best means to effect a good end. The ultimate
end of creation is the glory of God, as He is the highest and the
best of beings. There can be nothing higher than himself He desires
the _confidence_ and the _love_ of men.

    "Love is the root of creation, God's essence.
    Worlds without number
    Lie in His bosom like children; He made them for this purpose only,--
    Only to love and be loved again."--TEGNER.

Men are asked to give Him their trust and love. It is right that
they should do so, for He is infinitely worthy of them. But what are
sinful actions? Essentially they are foolish, and issue in misery.
And if God foreordained them, how can we esteem Him as wise and
good? And if not to our intelligence wise and good, how can we give
Him our confidence and love? Trust and love are based upon the
perception of the true and the good. If I find a man who is
destitute of these qualities of character, to love him with approval
is, as I am constituted, an impossibility. But to ordain the "acts
of the wicked," as Hodge says that God did, in order to spread
Christianity, was neither just nor good. It was doing evil that good
might come. Instead of being wise it was, if it were so, an
exhibition of unwisdom as regards the very end of creation, as it
was fitted to drive men away from, instead of bringing them to, God.
And yet wisdom, Divine wisdom, was exercised in reference to those
very persecutions. It was true, as Tertullian said, that the "blood
of the martyrs was the seed of the Church." By means of the
sufferings of the early Christians men's minds were directed to that
religion which supported its adherents in the midst of their
accumulated sorrows. Their patience, their heroic bravery in facing
grim death, threw a halo of moral glory around the martyrs which
touched the hearts of true men who lived in the midst of general
degeneration. The Christians were driven from their homes, but they
carried the truth with them.

"The seeds of truth are bearded, and adhere we know not when, we
know not where." In the world of nature there are seeds with hooks,
and others have wings to be wafted by the breeze to their proper
habitat. And if Divine wisdom watches over the seeds of the
vegetable kingdom, does it not stand to reason that it will do so in
regard to truth? God overrules the evil, and makes it the occasion
of good. Joseph was immured in jail, but from it he ascended to a
seat next the throne. Christ was crucified, but from the blessed
cross came streams of blessing. Paul was incarcerated, but from his
prison came "thoughts that breathe and words that burn," that have
kept alive the flame of piety for more than a thousand years. The
people of God still suffer, but, like the asbestos cloth when thrown
into the fire, they, by these sufferings, become purified and made
meet for the coming glory. In thus overruling evil, God, we say,
shows the highest wisdom and love fitted to secure our trust and
affection; but to ordain evil would be an illustration of supreme
folly, fitted to lower him in the estimation of angels and of men.



THE POWER OF GOD is held as supporting universal foreordination. As
in the case of wisdom, God's power must be recognised as infinite.
It is true, indeed, that creation does not prove this, since it is
limited, and no conclusion can be more extensive than the premises.
But looking at the nature and multitude of His works, we cannot
resist the conviction that there is nothing (which does not imply a
contradiction) that is "too hard for the Lord." He is infinite in
power. But the power of God is guided by His wisdom and His love,
just as is the power of a good and a wise king. In governing His
creation, it stands to reason that He will govern each creature
according to its nature--brute matter by physical law, animals by
instinct, and man in harmony with his rational constitution. God
does not reason with a stone, or plead with a brute; but He does so
with man. "Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord"
(Isa. i. 18). It would be absurd to punish a block of granite
because it was not marble, or to condemn the horse because he could
not understand a problem in Euclid. To do so would be to treat the
creatures by a law not germane to their nature. It is, indeed, a
radical vice in Calvinistic reasoning that, because God is
omnipotent, He can as easily therefore create virtue in a free being
as He can waft the down of the thistle on the breeze. It is quite
true that "whatsoever the Lord pleased that did He in heaven and in
earth" (Ps. cxxxv. 6). But the question is--What is His pleasure in
regard to the production of virtue? Is it a forced or free thing?
Every good man will cheerfully ascribe to God the praise of his (the
good, man's) virtue. God gave him his constitution; God's Spirit
brought to bear on him the motives of a holy life. Had there been no
Spirit, there would have been no holy life. Yet there is a sense in
which the personal righteousness of the good man is his own
righteousness. It consists in right acts, in right acts as regards
God and as regards man. God told him what to do, and when he did it
the acts became his acts, and were not the acts of God, nor of any
other. When he does the thing that was right, he is commended--when
he does not, he is blamed. Conversing one day with a Calvinistic
clergyman, he intimated that a certain person had declared that the
only thing stronger than God in the world was the human will. We
remarked that we did not approve of such a mode of expression. And
rightly so. It implies a confusion of ideas, confounding physical
power which is almighty, and moral power, which is suasory and
resistible. Stephen charged the Jews with resisting the Spirit. "Ye
stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always
resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts vii.
51). Because they resisted him, would it be right to say that they
were physically stronger than God? We replied to the clergyman that
we supposed that the person who used the expression meant that God
did not get people to do what He wished. The reply was that we were
equally wrong. We then asked, "Do you think that God wishes people
to keep His law?" He refused to answer the question. But why would
he not? Aye, why? He was in this dilemma: If he said that He did
wish them to keep His law, he would have been met by the question,
Why then does He not make them do so? Everywhere the law is broken.
If he said that God did not wish them to keep His law, would not
this have been to put the Holy One on a level with the great enemy
of man? This brings out the idea that whilst God is possessed of
infinite power, in the exercise of that power He has respect to the
constitution of man in the production of virtue. He does not
override the constitution, and treat it as if it were a nullity. To
do so would be absurd, for forced virtue is not virtue at all. God
is all-powerful, but He is also ALL-WISE.



THE FOREKNOWLEDGE of God is held as evidence that He has
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. He foreknows, so it is
argued, but He does so because He has foreordained. Calvin says,
"Since He (God) doth not otherwise foresee the things that shall
come to pass than because He hath decreed that they should so come
to pass, it is vain to move a controversy about foreknowledge, when
it is certain that all things do happen rather by ordinance and
commandment" (B. iii.) Toplady says "that God foreknows futurities,
because by His predestination He hath rendered their futurition
certain and inevitable." Bonar says, "God foreknows everything that
takes place, because he Has fixed it" (_Truth and Error_, p. 50).
The same doctrine is held by the younger Hodge--that foreknowledge
involves foreordination.

There have been some who have denied the infinitude of God's
knowledge, notably Dr. Adam Clarke. He held that God, although
possessed of omnipotence, yet as He chooses not to do all things, so
also although He possesses the power of knowing all things, yet He
chooses to be ignorant of some things. In refuting this notion, Dr.
Hodge remarks, "But this is to suppose that God wills not to be God,
that the Infinite wills to be finite. Knowledge in God is not
founded on His will, except so far as the knowledge of vision is
concerned--_i.e._, His knowledge of His own purposes, or what He has
decreed shall come to pass. If not founded on His will it cannot be
limited by it. Infinite knowledge must know all things actual or
possible" (Vol. I., p. 546). Although the motive underlying Clarke's
argument is good, yet it is not wise to sacrifice the Divine
intelligence to the Divine goodness. God is the infinitely perfect
one, but to suppose that He is ignorant of what will happen tomorrow
is to limit His perfections, and make Him a dependent being. But
neither can we accept the Calvinistic doctrine, that God foreknows
because He has foreordained. This, properly speaking, is not
foreknowledge, but _after_ knowledge, since it comes after the
decree. It is, moreover, simply assertion. It is not a self-evident
proposition, and is neither backed by reason nor Scripture. The
great difficulty, however, with our Calvinistic friends is regarding
certainty. If God is certain that an event will happen, then, so it
is argued, it must happen. If we deny that there is an absolute
necessity for the event as an event happening, then it is replied
that God in that case was not certain. But this is sophistical
reasoning--slipshod philosophy. God was certain that the event would
happen, but He was also certain that it need not have happened. The
Divine knowledge is simply a state of the Divine intelligence, and
never causes any thing. It comprehends all that is past, all that
now is, and all that will ever be. But it comprises more than this,
and herein lies the key of the mystery. It takes in the possible, or
that which is never realised in the actual. Human knowledge does
this--and how much more the Divine! God knows that the thief will
steal; He is certain that he will do it, but He is also certain that
he need not do it. His being certain that the theft will take place
does not necessitate the theft. It (the certainty) exercises no
controlling agency upon the wrong-doer. Dr. W. Cooke remarks, "What
is involved in necessity? It is a resistless impulse exerted for a
given end. What is freedom? It involves a self-determining power to
will and to act. What is prescience? It is simply knowledge of an
event before it happens. Such being, we conceive, a correct
representation of the terms, we have to inquire, where lies the
alleged incompatibility of prescience and freedom? Between freedom
and necessity there is, we admit, an absolute and irreconcilable
discrepancy and opposition; for the assertion of the one is a direct
negation of the other. What is free cannot be necessitated, and what
is necessitated cannot be free. But _prescience_ involves no such
opposition. For simple knowledge is not coercive; it is not impulse;
it is not influence of any kind: it is merely acquaintance with
truth, or the mind's seeing a thing as it is. If I know the truth of
a proposition of Euclid, it is not my knowledge that makes it true.
It was a truth, and would have remained a truth, whether I knew it
or not, yea, even, if I had never existed. So of any fact in
history; so of any occurrence around me. My mere knowledge of the
fact did not make it fact, or exercise any influence in causing it
to be fact. So in reference to the Divine prescience; it is mere
knowledge, and is as distinct from force, constraint, or influence
as any two things can be distinct one from the other. It is force
which constitutes necessity, and the total absence of force which
constitutes liberty; and as all force is absent from mere knowledge,
it is evident that neither foreknowledge nor afterknowledge involves
any necessity, or interferes in the least degree with human freedom.
Man could not be more free than he is, if God were totally ignorant
of all his volitions and actions" (_Deity_, p. 293). Calvinists
sometimes entrench themselves behind God's foreknowledge as behind a
rampart of granite, but it gives in reality no support to their
system. That God knows the possible, and the contingent, was
illustrated in the case of David at Keilah. He had taken up his
temporary residence in this town. Saul was out on the war path, and
David wished to know if he would visit Keilah, and if so, whether
the men of Keilah would deliver him up. The answer was that Saul
would come, and the people would deliver him up. Receiving this
answer from God, he left. This shows that God's knowledge does not
necessitate an event (see 1 Sam. xxiii.)

He knows what might be, but which never will be. He saw how men
would act in regard to David, but His knowledge did not make them do
it. And He knows how men will act regarding the rejection of
salvation, but this does not necessitate them to ruin their souls.
He is certain that they might have been saved. There was a perfect
remedy for their need; they had power to take it, and refused. The
lost might have been saved; or, in other words, every man in hell
might have been in heaven.

The late Lord Kinloch in his _Circle of Christian Doctrine_, has
several judicious remarks on this subject. In his chapter on
predestination he says:--"The choice of free agents cannot have been
predestinated in any proper sense of the word, that is, cannot have
been fixed beforehand so as to fall out in one way, and no other,
irrespectively of his own will. To say that it has been so, involves
a contradiction in terms, for it is to say that a man chooses and
does not choose at one and the same moment. The choice may be
foreseen, must indeed in every case be foreseen by God, otherwise
the government of the universe could not be conducted. But to
foresee and foreordain are essentially different things" (p. 121).
He says again, "What God appoints; He, to whom the whole of futurity
lies open at a glance, necessarily appoints beforehand. Hence arises
the axiomatic distinction which I find the key to the subject. All
that God is himself to do He not merely foresees but foreordains.
All that He does not do himself, but leaves man to do by the very
act of creating him a free agent, the choice, namely, between one
course and another, is foreseen but not predestined" (p. 124). The
ideas of Lord Kinloch are sound, and we deem them irrefutable.



THE Scriptures are supposed to teach the doctrine that God hath
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. It were impossible within the
compass of this short treatise to consider at large all the passages
that have been imported into this controversy. We shall, however,
consider a few which seem to favour the dogma.

THE SONS OF ELI.--In 1 Sam. ii. 25, it is written regarding the sons
of Eli, "Notwithstanding they hearkened not to the voice of their
father, _because_ the Lord would slay them." The whole stress of the
argument from this passage lies in the word "_because_." They were
not able to hearken to their father, because God had determined to
slay them. There are two objections to this view, the first critical
and the second moral. The Hebrew particle translated because is
--_ki_. It is again and again translated by the word "that," and there
is no reason in the world why it should not have been so translated
in this passage. By substituting "that" for "because," there is no
support to predestination. It simply denotes, in such case, that
they would not believe their father, which doubtless was the case
from their depraved habits. The _moral_ objection is that God had
made their return to good impossible, whilst He declares that He is
not willing that any should perish. On these grounds we reject the

MICAIAH AND AHAB.--The parabolic representation of Micaiah is held
as proving not the bare permission of an event, but the actual
deception of Ahab. The matter is recorded in 1 Kings xxii.
Jehoshaphat had paid a visit to his neighbour, the King of Israel,
Ahab. The latter proposed that the former should accompany him in an
attack upon Ramoth-gilead. Ahab's prophets had promised success to
the enterprise. Jehoshaphat wished to inquire of the prophet of the
Lord. Ahab told them that there was one, Micaiah by name, but that
he hated him as he always prophesied evil of him. He was sent for,
however, and when he came he was asked if they should go up against
Ramoth-gilead. He answered, "Go and prosper; for the Lord shall
deliver it into the hand of the king." This was evidently spoken in
such a tone and manner, that Ahab said, "How many times shall I
adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the
name of the Lord?" The prophet then uttered a few words about the
dispersion of the army, which were very unpalatable to the king. He
then said, "I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host
of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left." A
question was asked who would persuade Ahab to go up, and at last one
answered that he would go and be a lying spirit in the mouth of the
prophets, and that he would persuade him. The narrative proceeds,
and it is added, "And He (the Lord) said, Thou shalt persuade him,
and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the
Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets"
(1 Kings xxii.) It is held that this narrative proves that God
intended to deceive Ahab. I could understand an infidel trying to
make capital out of such a passage; but for a professed Christian to
go to it to prove that God intended to deceive Ahab, appears at
first sight to transcend belief. To do so is to sap the foundations
of religion. How much reason has the Bible to say, "Save me from my
friends!" No doubt, the interpretation of the passage given lies on
the same lines with the general system of the true Calvinists, and
is quite of a piece with their declaration that God foreordained the
Jews to crucify Christ. But, let us look at the passage. If God had
intended to deceive Ahab, as saith Calvin, the course taken was the
very opposite of what was fitted to secure the end. Micaiah was His
recognised prophet; He spoke through him, and warned Ahab against
going up. The result, if he did, was predicted; was this deception?
The method adopted by the prophet was highly dramatic, and fitted to
impress both the kings with the folly of the enterprise. It was a
LYING spirit that was to inspire the emissaries of Baal, and advise
the attack. And if God's prophet intimated disaster--which actually
occurred--where was there deception? When it is said that God told
the lying spirit to go and deceive Ahab, this is the mere drapery of
the parable, and must be held as denoting sufferance, and not
authoritative command. When the literal meaning of a passage leads
to absurdity, we are required, to seek for its spirit or other
explanation. Christ said, "Give to him that asketh of thee; and from
him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away." To carry this
out literally would be impossible; but the _spirit_ of the passage
is beautiful, teaching, as it does, the heavenly charity
characteristic of the good man. Christ demanded of those who would
become His disciples, that they should hate their brethren; but no
honest interpreter would take this literally. The passage evidently
means that we owe a higher allegiance and love to Christ than any
earthly relationship. The parable of Micaiah, taken literally, makes
God to take part in the work of Satan, whilst He also works against
himself, in inspiring His own prophet. Such a method must be
rejected. The great truth brought out in the parable is this--viz.,
that a man rejecting heavenly counsel becomes a prey to evil
spirits, which drive him to ruin.

LIMITATION OF DAYS.--Job xiv. 5 is appealed to. The words are,
"Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with
thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." We do not
see any bearing the passage has upon the subject under discussion
--universal predestination, It brings before us the Divine
Sovereignty, by virtue of which God has determined the laws of the
constitution of man, and that there is a period in his life beyond
which he cannot go. But he may shorten this period, for "bloody and
deceitful men do not live half their days," and many people commit
suicide, and break one of God's commands. Does God determine the
number of suicides? Yes, if Calvinism is true; for, according to it,
He hath "foreordained whatsoever comes to pass."

RESTRAINT ON WRATH.--Psalm lxxvi. 10 is appealed to. The words are,
"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath
shalt thou restrain." Dying men catch at straws, and, to appeal to
this passage is as if one were catching at a straw. It brings before
us the great truth that God overrules evil, and brings good out of
it. The methods by which God does this are not stated, but would be
suited to the peculiar circumstances of each case. We see
illustrations of the principle in the destruction of the Egyptians,
the deliverance of the three Hebrews from the furnace, and the
general history of the Church. But to bring good out of evil and cut
down persecutors, are very different things from "foreordaining
whatsoever comes to pass."

THE STANDING OF THE COUNSEL.--Isaiah xlvi. 10 is appealed to. It is
as follows:--"My counsel shall stand, and I shall do all my
pleasure." Now there is no doubt that God's counsel shall stand, nor
that He will do all His pleasure; but the questions are, what is His
counsel, and what is His pleasure? To bring the passage forward on
behalf of universal foreordination is to assume the point in debate,
and it is therefore inadmissible. God has a definite purpose
regarding individuals and nations. It is to make the best out of
every man that He can in harmony with the freedom of the will; and
it is the same regarding nations. The principle of His dealing is
stated in these words,--"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat
the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be
devoured by the sword" (Isa. i. 19). This is the Divine counsel and
pleasure regarding man still.

EVIL IN THE CITY.--Amos iii. 6 is appealed to. It is as follows:
--"Shall the trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be
afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done
it?" The word rendered "_evil_" (_ra_) occurs more than 300 times in
the Old Testament, and has various shades of signification. It is
translated as meaning "sorrow" (Gen. xliv. 29), "wretchedness" (Neh.
xi. 15), "distress" (Neh. ii. 17). It is applied to "beasts,"
"diseases," "adversity," "troubles." It stood as the opposite of
"good," and sometimes meant "sin." To determine its meaning in any
particular instance, we must consider the context. In the beginning
of the third chapter of Amos, punishment is threatened against the
people: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities." When trouble
and distress come upon a people, they may be said to come from God
as the result of their disobedience. He vexes them in His "sore

There are various species of evil--as metaphysical evil, or the evil
of limitation; physical evil, or departure from type; moral evil, or
sin; and penal evil, or the punishment of sin. Looking at the
context, it is perfectly clear that the prophet has reference to the
last-mentioned. The people had broken God's laws, and were punished
by God for their misdeeds. It might take the form of pestilence or
famine, but whatever was its shape, it was a messenger from God. He
sent it because the people had done wrong. This interpretation is in
harmony with the usage of the word, and satisfies the moral

The passage in Isaiah xlv. 7, "I make peace and create evil," has
obviously the same meaning, as it stands in contrast to "peace."
"Peace" is representative of blessings; "evil" is the synonym of
distress and sorrow. The prophet is supposed to allude to the
Persian religion, according to which there were two great beings in
the universe--viz., Oromasden, from whom comes good, and Ahriman,
from whom comes evil. It is very doubtful whether the prophet had
any such reference. Barnes says,--"The main object here is, the
prosperity which should attend the arms of Cyrus, the consequent
reverses and calamities of the nations whom he would subdue, and the
proof thence furnished that JEHOVAH was the true God; and the
passage should be limited in the interpretation to this design. The
statement, then, is that all this was under His direction."

appealed to. It reads thus: "Having been delivered by the
determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by
wicked hands have crucified and slain." But how can these words
prove universal foreordination? It might be said, that if God
foreordained the bad deeds of the crucifiers, the principle is
established. True; but did He foreordain them? The words simply
declare that God had given up Christ, and that in so doing He had
acted in harmony with a settled plan, and that the Jews had wickedly
taken the Saviour and slain Him. From the throne of His excellency
God saw the character of the people that lived in A.D. 33; that they
stood upon religious punctilio, and "as having the form of godliness
whilst destitute of its power," that they would do as the Scriptures
foretold; and yet He determined to send His son into their very
midst, and when He came, they took Him and crucified Him. In all
that they did they acted freely. Had it not been so, had they been
acting under an iron necessity, then the apostle could not have
brought against them the charge of having done what they did with
"wicked hands." That charge, that homethrust, explodes the
Calvinistic argument, as far as the verse is concerned.

Another passage is Acts iv. 27, 28. It reads thus: "For of a truth
against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod
and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel,
were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy
counsel had determined before to be done." But the question is
simply this,--what was it that God had determined to be done? We
cannot admit that God had fixed unalterably the doings of Herod,
Pilate, and their unholy allies, for the simple reason given in
explaining Acts ii. 23--viz., that if such were the case, then there
is no foothold upon which to condemn those high-handed sinners. They
were verily guilty, but we cannot find a shadow of fault with them
if they were only doing what they were foreordained to do. What,
then, had God determined to be done? He had determined to send His
son into the world to make an atonement for sin. But this might have
been done without the betrayal, the trial, and the crucifixion. I
may determine to go to a distant city without determining the _mode_
of travel. One way may be pleasant, another disagreeable in the
highest degree, and yet the latter may be chosen because of certain
collateral issues.

So Christ's death might have been determined on, but not the _mode_.
Atonement might have been made in another way than on the cross. It
was not the crucifixion that made the atonement, but its value lay
in the death of the Son of God. Had He expired during the sore agony
in the garden, would not His death have been meritorious? The
adjuncts, the trial and crucifixion, were not therefore necessary to
give His death atoning power. But God saw what the Jews would do,
--that they would, in the exercise of their free agency, and without
any decree, put Christ to death; and yet He sent Him at the time He
did. All the glory of grace, therefore, redounds to the praise of
the Lord, and the ignominy rests upon the Jews and the Gentiles. As
a proof of universal foreordination, the passage proves nothing.

GOD WORKETH ALL THINGS.--Ephes. i. 11 is adduced as upholding the
predestination of all events. It reads thus: "In whom also we have
obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the
purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own
will." The stress of the passage as a proof rests on the words, "who
worketh all things." But according to the canon of interpretation
already stated--viz., that when the literal interpretation of a
passage leads to absurdity, it cannot be the true one. John in his
first epistle (ii. 20) says, "But ye have an unction from the Holy
One, and ye know all things." To take these words literally would be
to make those Christians to whom they were addressed to possess all
knowledge, and thus make them equal to God, which is absurd. The
words must be limited to the subject matter in which they are found.
The apostle is speaking of the anointing of Christians, the
imparting unto them of the Holy Ghost, and the phrase "all things"
denotes things necessary to salvation, It is said (Acts ii. 44) that
the first Christians "had all things common." But to take the words
literally would be to outrage propriety. In Philippians ii. 14, it
is written: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Here,
again, the words must be limited in their application, otherwise the
Christians were commanded to do all kinds of evil if commanded,
without a murmur or dispute. This could not be, hence the words must
be restricted to the duties devolving on them. So there must, of
necessity, be restriction upon the passage in Ephesians quoted in
the Confession of Faith. It must be restricted, otherwise it will
follow that God is the only worker in the universe. And what is done
in the world? God's laws are broken; but if He is the only worker,
then He is the only breaker of His own laws! This is absurd, hence
the literality must be given up. The obvious meaning is, that in the
redemptive scheme God has wrought it all out according to the wise
plan He had formed respecting it, just as He works out all His plans
in nature and in providence.

We know of no stronger passages than those mentioned, although
others have been quoted. It is the easiest thing in the world to
quote verses from the Bible as supporting a dogma; it is quite a
different thing to show that they prove it.



THERE are very grave objection's to this doctrine, that God hath
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. They are so formidable,
indeed, that in view of them the doctrine to our finding must be
rejected. On another occasion we stated several of these, which,
with a few modifications, were the following:--

(1.) In the first place, we object to the doctrine of universal
foreordination because, if adhered to, it makes science and
philosophy _impossible_. These are all based upon the trustworthiness
of consciousness, and if this is false we have no foundation to
build upon. When we interrogate consciousness it testifies to our
freedom. But if every volition is fixed, as it is held it is, by a
power _ab extra_ from the mind exercising the volition, then
consciousness is mendacious; it lies when it testifies to our
freedom, and, therefore, cannot be trusted; thus, science,
philosophy, and religion become impossible. The old Latin saw
_falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus_, which, when freely translated,
is--one who gives false evidence on one point may be doubted on
all points. And where does this lead to? It leads to Pyrrhonism
in science and philosophy, and indifferentism in religion. The
doctrine is thus a foundation for universal scepticism.

(2.) In the second place, we object to universal foreordination
because it leads to Pantheism, a phase of Atheism. Pantheism as
Pantheism may be viewed statically or dynamically. The static
Pantheist assumes that all properties are properties of one
substance. This was the feature of the vedanta system of Hindu
philosophy, which holds that nothing exists but Brahma. "He is the
clay, we are the forms; the eternal spider which spins from its own
bosom the tissue of creation; an immense fire, from which creatures
ray forth in myriads of sparks; the ocean of being, on whose surface
appear and vanish the waves of existence; the foam of the waves, and
the globules of the foam, which appear to be distinct from each
other, but which are the ocean itself." Now, if our consciousness is
only a dream, which this doctrine of foreordination makes it out to
be, what are we all, in such a case, but mere _simulacra_, ghosts,
shadows? This, and nothing more. We thus reach the fundamental
principle of the Hindu philosophy, which is this, _Brahma only
exists, all else is an illusion_.

The dynamic Pantheist holds that all events are produced by one and
the same cause. This is precisely the doctrine of the out-and-out
Calvinist. God is said to be the "fixer" of whatsoever comes to
pass; and Pantheism says every movement of nature is necessary,
because necessarily caused by the Divine volition. He is the soul of
the world, or as Shelley says--

    "Spirit of nature, all-sufficing power,
    Necessity, thou mother of the world."

The only platform from which Pantheism can be assailed is our
consciousness of self,--of our own personality and freedom,--from
which we rise to the personality and the freedom of God. The tenet
of universal foreordination takes from us this "coigne of vantage,"
and lands us in dynamic Pantheism.

(3.) In the third place, we object to universal foreordination
because it destroys all moral distinctions. Praise has been bestowed
upon Spinoza because he showed that moral distinctions are
annihilated by the scheme of necessity. But, indeed, it requires
very little perception to see that this must be the case. If God
has, as is said, determined every event, then it is impossible for
the creature to act otherwise than he does. A vast moral difference
stands between the murderer and the saint. But if the doctrine of
universal foreordination is true, we can neither blame the one nor
praise the other. Each does as it was determined he should do, and
could not but do, and to blame or praise anyone is impossible.

    "Man fondly dreams that he is free in act;
    Naught is he but the powerless worthless plaything
    Of the blind force that in his will itself
    Works out for him a dread necessity."

There is therefore, according to this system, no right, no wrong, no
sin, no holiness; for wherever necessity reigns, virtue and vice
terminate. "Evil and good," says the Pantheist, "are God's right
hand and left--evil is good in the making." Everything being fixed
by God we can no more keep from doing what we do, than we can keep
the earth from rolling round the sun. Since this monstrosity in
morals results from the doctrine, it is evidently false.

(4.) We object, in the fourth place, to universal foreordination,
because it makes God the author of sin, the caveat of the Confession
notwithstanding. It is said that God's foreknowledge involved
foreordination. If so, the matter may be easily settled thus:--Does
God foresee that men will sin? Of course He does. But if
foreknowledge involves foreordination, then by the laws of logic He
has foreordained sin. Syllogistically thus:--God only foreknows what
He has fixed; but He foreknows sin, ergo, He fixed sin. We cannot
resist this conclusion if we hold the premises. The Confession says
He has foreordained everything, yet is He not the author of sin. But
is it not clear as day that the author of a decree is the author of
the thing decreed? David was held responsible for his decree
regarding Uriah, and justly so. Had he been as clever as the authors
of the Confession he could have parried that homethrust of Nathan,
"Thou art the man." If everything that comes to pass was
foreordained; David might have said, "I beg pardon, Nathan; it is
true that I made the decree to have Uriah killed, but I did not kill
him. Is it not the case that the author of a decree is not
responsible for the sin of the decree?" Would Nathan have understood
this logic? We think not. But if the Confession had been then in
existence (if the anachronism may be pardoned), he might have
appealed to it against Nathan; and we never should have had that
awful threnody--the fifty-first Psalm. There is, then, no escape
from the conclusion, that if everything that comes to pass has been
foreordained, so also must it be the case with sin, for it also
comes to pass. I open the page of history, and find it bloated with
tears and blood. It is full of robberies, massacres, and murders. As
specimens, look at the Murder of John Brown by Claverhouse; the
massacre of St. Bartholomew; the sack of Magdeburg, when the Croats
amused themselves with throwing children into the flames, and
Pappenheim's Walloons with stabbing infants at their mothers'
breasts. Who ordained these and a thousand such horrid deeds? The
Confession says that God ordained them, for He foreordains
whatsoever comes to pass. Tilly, the queen-mother, the infamous
Catherine de Medici, Charles IX., the bloody "Clavers" were mere
puppets. The Confession goes past all these, and says that God fixed
them to take place. This is nothing else, in effect, than to place
an almighty devil on the throne of the universe. This is strong
language, but it is time, and more than time, that sickly
dilettanteism should be left behind, and this gross libel on the
Creator should be utterly rejected. He foreordains all His own
deeds, but not the deeds of men.

(5.) We object to the doctrine of universal foreordination, in the
_fifth_ place, because it makes the day of judgment a farce. The
books are opened, and men are about to receive acquittal or
condemnation. This is perfectly right if men were free when on
earth, but not so if all their deeds were foreordained by God. One
of the most interesting sights in Strasbourg is the clock of the
cathedral when it strikes twelve. Then the figures move. A man and a
boy strike the bell, the apostles come out, and Christ blesses them.
It is a wonderful piece of mechanism. But the figures are simply
automatic. They move as they are moved. To try them in a court of
justice (should anything go wrong), would be simply ridiculous--a
farce. And if every one of our deeds is fixed, what better are men
than mere automata? To try them, to judge them, and to award praise
and blame for what was done, would be to burlesque justice. The
judgment day, therefore, and foreordination of all things cannot
stand in the same category. If we hold by the one we must give up
the other. God foreknows all things, but foreordains only what He
himself brings to pass. Man will be judged, condemned, or rewarded,
according as he has acted in life; which judgment implies his
freedom or the non-foreordination of his acts.

The objections thus adduced are, in our judgment, quite sufficient
to condemn the dogma of universal foreordination. Yet others of a
grave character may be urged against it. It is a sacred duty as well
as a privilege of the Christian, to defend the Divine administration
when attacked by infidels. But if everything has been fixed how can
this be done? Look at the fall. God knew that it would occur, but,
according to Calvinism, He knew it because He had foreordained it.
But the actors in the whole transaction were severely blamed and
punished. To the serpent it was said, "Because thou hast done this,
thou art cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the
field." The woman was told that because she had done what she did,
her sorrow was to be multiplied; and the man was driven out of
Paradise, because he had hearkened unto the voice of his wife. Can
such declarations be justified if the transactions recorded were all
foreordained? Each of the parties condemned might have asked, and
done so pertinently--Why put this punishment upon me when I was
simply carrying out the Divine decrees? And what answer could be
given? None that we know of which would satisfy the reason. And
what, then? This--viz., that in the light of the drama of the fall,
the doctrine of universal foreordination must be given up as a myth
which ignores philosophy, and reflects injuriously upon the Divine

In Jeremiah vii. 29-31 it is written: "Cut off thy hair, O
Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high
places . . . for the children of Judah have done evil in my sight,
saith the Lord: they have set their abominations in the house which
is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high
places of Tophet, . . . to burn their sons and their daughters in
the fire; which I commanded them not, nor came it into my heart."
Here the Lord expressly declares, that instead of having
foreordained these deeds, such an idea was never in His heart. There
is here a clear "Thus saith the Lord" against the dogma of universal

In Mark v. 6, it is said of Jesus that "He marvelled because of
their unbelief." But we only marvel when we are ignorant of the
_cause_ of a phenomenon. As soon as we know this the marvel ceases.
Had Jesus, therefore, known that all was fixed, He never would have
marvelled. Would you marvel that the fire had gone out when it was
decreed not to give additional fuel? Would the miller marvel that
the mill did not go when he had ordained that the water should be
shut off? The prefixing of all events, and "marvelling" at anything,
are out of the question. But since Christ did "marvel" it shows that
He believed that they _could_ and _ought_ to have believed, and that
He knew of no reason why they did not. It may be said that He was a
man, and spake and felt like a man. True, but will the followers of
Calvin maintain that he knew more of divinity than Christ? We should
think not.



WE have thus endeavoured to show that the doctrine of universal
predestination--the foundation of the Calvinistic theology--is not
based upon the principle of the Divine wisdom, nor upon Divine
power, nor upon Divine foreknowledge, nor proved by the Scripture
texts advanced on its behalf. It is closely allied to Pantheism and
the fate of the Stoics. It shakes hands with Socialism, which
maintains that man can have no merit or demerit, that he could not
be otherwise than he has been and is (_Socialism_, by Owen). It is
the creed of the Mahometans. According to them every action in a
man's life has been written down in the _preserved tablets_, which
have been kept in the seventh heaven from all eternity. "No
accident," saith the Koran, "happeneth on the earth, or on your
persons, but the same was entered into the book of our decrees
before we created it. Verily this is easy with God: and this is
written lest ye immoderately grieve for the good which escapeth you,
or rejoice for that which happeneth unto you." They might fall in
battle, but it was so decreed, and at the resurrection they would
appear with their "wounds brilliant as vermilion, and odorous as
musk." Since the primary principle of Calvinism is a foundation
principle of Pantheism, Socialism, Stoicism, and Mahometanism,
Calvinists may well question whether they have not been building
upon the sand, instead of the eternal rock of immutable truth.

In view of the doctrine we have advocated, viz., that God has not
ordained whatsoever comes to pass, but has left each man to be the
arbiter of his own fate, we can see the propriety of the
exhortation, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against
you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and
cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may
live" (Deut. xxx. 19). It is the same still. God has provided a
Saviour for all, and, therefore, for each. It is the province of the
Holy Spirit to testify respecting Christ,--that He is able to save
the very worst, and as willing as He is able. Each may choose to
neglect this Saviour, or reject Him by choosing some other ground;
or may choose Him as his only refuge. This choice has to be made by
each man himself. No man can choose for another any more than he can
eat or drink for another. It belongs entirely to each to do this. To
choose Him is to choose life. To neglect or reject Him is to choose
--death. Which will it be? The principle--viz., of choice, runs
through life. Your happiness here depends on it in numberless
instances. It is recognised everywhere in the Bible. Its
exhortations summed up are expressed thus--"Turn ye, turn ye, why
will you die?" It thus rests with you, and with you only--after what
God has done for you--whether you shall live or die.




THE subjects of reprobation and election are so closely connected
that they might be considered in one chapter. Indeed, so close is
the connection, that certain verses supposed to prove one of them,
are also adduced to prove the other, as--"Jacob have I loved, but
Esau have I hated." It is, however, stoutly maintained that election
is scriptural, whilst reprobation is repudiated. It is important to
have clear ideas on the subject.

What, then, are we to understand by the doctrine of reprobation? The
question is not whether those dying in impenitency shall be
subjected to suffering; for this is held by the opponents of
Calvinism as well as by Calvinists themselves. The question is this,
Is it true that God in a past eternity foreordained millions of men
to endless misery, that to this end they were born, and to this end
they must go? John Calvin held that it was so. He says, "All are not
created on equal terms, but some are foreordained to eternal life,
others to eternal damnation; and accordingly as each has been
created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been
predestinated to life or to death." He says, again, "If we cannot
assign any reason for God's bestowing mercy on His people, but just
that it so pleases Him, neither can we have any reason for His
reprobating others; but His will. When God is said to visit in
mercy, or to harden whom He will, men are reminded that they are not
to seek for any cause beyond His will." He says, again, "The human
mind, when it hears this doctrine, cannot restrain its petulance,
but boils and rages, as if aroused by the sound of a trumpet. Many,
professing a desire to defend the Deity from an invidious charge,
admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated.
This they do ignorantly and childishly, since there could be no
election without its opposite--reprobation. Those, therefore, whom
God passes by He reprobates, and that for no other cause but because
He is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which He
predestines to His children". (_Inst_., b. iii.). Zanchius held--"It
was therefore the first thing which God determined concerning them
from eternity--namely, the ordination of certain men to everlasting
destruction" (_Thesis de Reprob_.). Elnathan Parr maintained, "If a
man be reprobated he shall certainly be damned, do what he can"
(_Grounds of Divinity_). Maccovius says that "God has indeed decreed
to damn some men eternally, and on this account He has ordained them
to sin but each sins on his own account, and freely." To like
purpose we might quote Maloratus, Amandus Pollanus, John Norton,
John Brown of Wamphray, Piscator, &c. (_Vide Old Gospel_, &c.,
Young, Edin.) Calvin and his followers did not mince the matter, as
these extracts clearly show.

The Lambeth Articles expressed the same ideas as above. Article
First says, "God hath from eternity predestinated certain persons to
life, and hath reprobated certain persons to death." Article Third
runs thus, "The predestinate are a predeterminate and certain
number, which can neither be lessened nor increased." Article Ninth
has these words, "It is not in the will or power of every man to be
saved." The Lambeth Articles were drawn up as expressing the sense
of the Church of England, or, rather, a section of it. They were
merely declaratory, and recommended to the students of Cambridge,
where a controversy had arisen regarding grace. They received the
sanction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and
a few others.

The Synod of Dort, as intimated, was held in 1618, and had divines
in it from Switzerland, Hesse, the Palatinate, Bremen, England, and
Scotland. Its first article runs thus: "That God by an absolute
decree had elected to salvation a very small number of men, without
any regard to their faith or obedience whatsoever; and secluded from
saving grace all the rest of mankind, and appointed them by the same
decree to eternal damnation, without any regard to their infidelity
or impenitency" (Tom., p. 567). The Synods of Dort and Arles
declared that if they knew the reprobates, they would not, by
Austin's advice, pray for them any more than they would for the
devils (_Old Gospel_, &c.) In this they were entirely consistent,
whatever else they might be.

The Westminster Assembly met in London in 1643. They drew up the
Confession of Faith and the Catechisms. In its third chapter the
Confession declares:--"By the decree of God, for the manifestation
of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting
life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and
men thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and
unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite
that it can neither be increased nor diminished." The Confession of
Faith is the declared standard of doctrine of Presbyterians in
general in this country. It is proper to note this fact, because it
has been denied that whilst election is held reprobation is denied.
They are both in the Confession.

From what we have thus brought forward it appears evident that,
according to Calvin, reputed Calvinistic divines, the Lambeth
Articles, the Synod of Dort, and the Westminster Assembly, there is
a portion of the human family born under the decree of reprobation
--born--we do not like the expression, but it is the case--born to be
damned. It is a harsh expression, but the blame does not rest with
us, but with those who hold the doctrine.



THE word "reprobation," according to the _Imperial Dictionary_,
means "to disallow," "not enduring proof or trial," "disallowed,"
"rejected." Gesenius says the Hebrew word (_maas_) primarily means
to reject, and is used (_a_.) of God rejecting a people or an
individual--Jer. vi. 30; vii. 29; xiv. 19; 1 Samuel xv. 23; (_b_.)
of men as rejecting God and His precepts--1 Samuel xv. 23. The Greek
word (_adokimos_) denotes, according to Robinson, "not approved,"
"rejected." In N. T. Metaph., "worthy of condemnation"--"reprobate"
--"useless"--"worthless." It occurs seven times in the English
translation; once in the Old Testament, and six times in the New. In
none of the instances, however, does it convey the idea of

_First passage_.--In Jer. vi. 30, it is written: "Reprobate silver
shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them." But why
were they rejected--reprobated? The answer is contained in the
context. It is there said, "They are all grievous revolters, walking
with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. The
bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed of the fire, the founder
melteth in vain; for the wicked are not plucked away." Everything
had been done to save them, and when all remedial agencies had
failed, they were declared to be rejected--reprobated.

The _second_ passage is in Rom. i. 28: "And even as they did not
like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a
reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." Here,
again, we have reprobation; but then they were given over to this
state on the ground that they did not like to retain God in their
knowledge. The reprobation was therefore conditional, and not

The _third_ passage is in 2 Cor. xiii. 5: "Know ye not your own
selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates."
Grotius explains _adokimoi_--"reprobates," thus: "Christians in name
only and not in deed." Dr. Hamond as "steeped and hardened."
Vorstius, "wicked, and unfit for the faith." Dickson, "as unworthy
of the name of Christian." Calvin, "unless you by your crimes have
cast off Christ" (Whitby, _ad loc_.) Doddridge paraphrases the
passage thus: "Are ye not sensible that Jesus Christ is dwelling in
you by the sanctifying and transforming influences of His spirit,
unless ye are mere nominal Christians, and such as, whatever your
gifts be, will finally be disapproved and rejected as reprobate
silver that will not stand the touch?" The reprobation again implied
a condition, and was non-Calvinistic.

The _fourth_ passage is as follows:--"But I trust that ye shall know
that we are not reprobates" (2 Cor. xiii. 6). Barnes's paraphrase of
the text is this: "Whatever may be the result of the examination of
yourselves, I trust (_Gr_., I hope) you will not find us false, and
to be rejected; that is, I trust you will find in me evidence that I
am commissioned by the Lord Jesus to be His apostle." There is
nothing in the verse to favour unconditional reprobation.

The _fifth_ passage runs thus: "Now I pray God that ye do no evil;
not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which
is honest, though we be as reprobates" (2 Cor. xiii. 7). The meaning
is plain enough. Paul desired that his readers should live pure and
honourable lives, although he and these associated with him should
be rejected as bad silver is rejected--reputed silver that cannot
stand the tests. The verse gives no countenance to Calvinistic

The _sixth_ passage is this: "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood
Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds,
reprobate concerning the faith" (2 Tim. iii. 8). But here again we
have the moral state of those men brought before us--they "resisted
the truth," and were men of corrupt minds. They could not stand the
test of examination, and were rejected or disallowed as members of
the Christian community. There is no unconditionalism here:

The _seventh_ text is as follows: "They profess that they know God;
but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and
unto every good work reprobate" (Titus i. 16). The passage,
according to all the ancient commentators who write upon it, refers
to the Jews (Whitby). Its meaning is finely hit off by Doddridge,
who; paraphrasing the words, says, "And with respect to every good
work disapproved and condemned when brought to the standard of God's
word, though they are the first to judge and condemn others." They
had been tried in the balance and found wanting. They were so
utterly bad that in view of good works they were of no account. The
reprobation was conditional.

The Greek word (_adokimos_) is used in Heb. vi. 8, but is translated
"rejected." It has reference to ground. But why was the ground
rejected, or reprobated? Unconditionally? Nay, but because it
yielded, instead of good fruit, "briers and thorns." The human mind
is like a field, and God is the husbandman. He uses various methods
to produce the fruits of righteousness, and when these fail,
judgment is pronounced against the mind. And is not this just?

As far, therefore, as the word is concerned, there is not the most
distant support given to the doctrine of an eternal decree
foredooming millions of men to hopeless misery. It is something
gained when we find this to be the case.

On what, then, does the doctrine rest, if not upon the use of the
word? It is supposed to rest upon the sovereignty of God, and
certain passages of Scripture, although the word "reprobate" is not
found in them.

The term sovereign is from the French "sovereign," and that again
from the Latin "supernus." It means supreme in power, supreme to all
others. That God occupies this position will not be questioned by
any one who believes in Him. The matter, therefore, is not one of
sovereignty, or whether God is 'the only' absolute Sovereign in the
universe. This is admitted. The question is this--what has God, in
the exercise of His sovereignty, chosen to do? To adduce proofs in
its support is beside the point, since we hold it as firmly as our
opponents in this controversy. Nebuchadnezzar uttered a great truth
when he said that God "doeth according to His will in the army of
heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." But what is His
will? Is man governed by the law of necessity as storms are, and as
waters are? These creatures do as God desires; is it so as regards
man? The condemnation that each passes on himself is the best
answer. Man may transgress, but God by virtue of His absolute
sovereignty has appointed the penalty, and no one can reverse His



PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE.--There are certain passages of the Bible
supposed to teach the doctrine of Calvinistic reprobation, and it
may be well to examine their meaning.

REPROBATION AND THE EVIL DAY.--In Proverbs xvi. 4, it is written:
"The Lord hath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the
day of evil." This passage is supposed to teach the doctrine of
Calvin, that some men have been reprobated from eternity, and come
into existence with the doom of death eternal on their brow. The
first part of the verse presents no difficulty. It brings before us
the idea that God Himself is the great object of creation. It is
proper that this should be so. He is the greatest and the best of
beings, and to have created for a lesser object than Himself would
not have been conformable to the dictate of the reason. It is the
second part of the verse which is supposed to teach the doctrine of
eternal and unconditional reprobation. Calvin's idea of the passage
is that the wicked were created for "certain death that His name
(God's) may be glorified in their destruction." Let us suppose this
to be the meaning--what then? The word "glory" in Hebrew means
"beauty," "honour," "adornment." All around us lies the beautiful
--the earth with her carpet of flowers--and the overarching skies
--the sun, the moon, and the stars, are all beautiful.

    "Oh, if so much beauty doth reveal
    Itself in every vein of life and motion,
    How beautiful must be the source itself,
    The ever bright one."--TEGNER.

But there is a moral beauty in God. It lies in the supreme moral
excellence of His character; in His holiness, in His love, in His
truthfulness, in His patience, in His gentleness, in His mercy.
These attributes existing in God in the highest perfection,
constitute the glory of the Most High. "Beauty and kindness go
together" saith the poet; but is there any kindness in creating men
for the purpose of making them miserable for ever? For ourselves we
see no beauty, no glory in this--but the reverse. We regard it as a
libel upon the character of the ever blessed God.

The meaning of the passage is simple enough. God hath appointed good
for the righteous and evil for the wicked. Though hand join in hand
the wicked shall not go unpunished. One version of the passage is,
"Jehovah hath made all things to answer each other, even the day of
calamities for the wicked" (Davidson's _Commentary_). In Collins'
_Critical Commentary_ it is explained thus: "For Himself or for its
answer or purpose . . . . Sin and suffering answer to each other,
are indissolubly united" (_ad loc_). Thus interpreted, there is
nothing in the passage to create difficulty.

John xii. 37, 41, reads thus: "But though He had done so many
miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying
of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who
hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been
revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because Esaias said
again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that
they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their
heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said
Esaias when he saw His glory, and spake of Him." Calvin held that
John, "citing this prophecy (of Isaiah), declares that the Jews
could not believe because this curse of God was upon them." The
first portion of the quotation is from Isaiah liii. 1, "who hath
believed our report?" &c. The question would imply that
comparatively few had at first responded to the Gospel invitation.
The larger portion of the passage is from Isaiah vi. It is as
follows: "Go ye, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but
understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart
of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and
understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed" (vers. 9,
10). The passage is quoted by Matthew (xiii. 14, 15). Dr. Randolph,
as quoted by Horne, says on this passage, "This quotation is taken
almost verbatim from the Septuagint. In the Hebrew the sense is
obscured by false pointing. If instead of reading it in the
imperative mood, we read it in the indicative mood, the sense will
be, 'Ye shall hear, but not understand; and ye shall see, but not
perceive. This people hath made their heart fat, and hath made their
ears heavy, and shut their eyes,' &c., which agrees in _sense_ with
the evangelist and with the Septuagint, as well as with the Syriac
and Arabic versions, but not with the Latin Vulgate. We have the
same quotation, word for word, in Acts xxviii. 26. Mark and Luke
refer to the same prophecy, but quote it only in part." The Hebrew
vowel points which make the passage in Isaiah to be read in the
imperative mood were only introduced some 700 years after the birth
of Christ (Gesenius).

Read in this light the passage gives no support to the doctrine
sought to be fastened on it. The oracle was originally applied to
the Jews living in the time of Isaiah. They were then exceedingly
depraved; and the evangelist found that the words were applicable to
the Jews living in the time of Christ. Horne, writing on
"accommodation," observes, "It was a familiar idiom of the Jews when
quoting the writings of the Old Testament to say that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken by such and such a prophet, not intending
it to be understood that such a particular passage in one of the
sacred books was ever designed to be a real prediction of what they
were then relating, but signifying only that the words of the Old
Testament might be properly adopted to express their meaning and
illustrate their ideas" (_Intro_., Vol. II.) "The apostles," he
adds, "who were Jews by birth, and spoke in the Jewish idiom,
frequently thus cite the Old Testament, intending no more by this
mode of speaking than that the words of such an ancient writer might
with equal propriety be adopted to characterise any similar
occurrence which happened in their times. The formula, 'That it
might be fulfilled,' does not therefore differ in signification from
the phrase, 'then was fulfilled,' applied in the following citation
in Matt. ii. 17, 18, from Jer. xxxi. 15, 17, to the massacre of the
infants in Bethlehem. They are a beautiful quotation, and not a
prediction, of what then happened, and are therefore applied to the
massacre of the infants, according not to their original and
historical meaning, but according to Jewish phraseology (_Vide_
Kitto, Art. Accom.) The principle of accommodation clears away all
difficulty. It is also in harmony with the context, as applied in
John. Christ exhorted those around Him to believe in the light, that
they might be the children of the light. But how could He exhort
them to believe in the light, if He knew that the Divine Father had
rendered their doing so an impossibility? Would you ask a man to
walk who had no legs? to look, if he had no eyes? Underlying the
exhortation to walk in the light lay the idea that they were able to
perform it. It has been said that although we have lost the power to
obey, God has not lost the power to command. Dr. Thomas Reid meets
this notion thus: "Suppose a man employed in the navy of his
country, and, longing for the ease of a public hospital as an
invalid, to cut off his fingers so as to disable him from doing the
duty of a sailor; he is guilty of a great crime, but after he has
been punished according to the demerit of his crime, will his
captain insist that he shall do the duty of a sailor? Will he
command him to go aloft when it is impossible for him to do it, and
punish him as guilty of disobedience? Surely if there be any such
thing as justice and injustice, this would be unjust and wanton
cruelty" (Hamilton's Reid, p. 621).

Yet whilst there is no decree dooming men to hardness of heart or
moral blindness, this state may be reached. Many are progressing
towards it, many are now in it. They have turned a deaf ear to the
cry of mercy, and are like the ground that has been often rained
upon, but brought out only briers and thorns. The difficulty of the
return of such does not lie with God, but in the habit of evil
contracted and persisted in by the wrong-doers. God desires the
salvation of all men, and has made the way open for all by the
propitiation of Christ.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.--The apostle of the Gentiles is supposed
to have clearly established, in this epistle, the doctrine that some
are born to be saved, and others born to be lost. The ninth chapter
especially has been the great storehouse of arguments for such as
hold this view. The strong-minded and the weak-kneed have all
resorted thither. They entrench themselves behind such passages as,
"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated;" "Hath not the potter
power over the clay?" and think, by repeating them, that they have
settled the controversy.

JACOB AND ESAU.--We shall consider the proof texts in this chapter
under the form of inquiry, and answer. Inquirer: "But does not the
passage 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated' (verse 13),
prove that the man Jacob was elected to eternal live, and the man
Esau reprobated or doomed to eternal death?" Answer--Far from it, as
we shall soon see. The passage is a quotation from Malachi i. 2, 3.
If you look at the context of the quotation you will see that the
prophet is speaking of the _people_ "Jacob" and the people "Esau,"
or the Edomites. It is of the utmost moment to see this, as it has a
most important bearing upon the controversy. The fourth and fifth
verses read thus:--"Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we
will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of
hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call
them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the
Lord hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye
shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel."
The plural pronouns used, "we," "us," "ye," "they," and the term
"people," prove that the prophet was speaking, not of the man
"Jacob," nor of the man "Esau," but of the respective peoples which
had descended from them. Look now at the word "loved." It has been
taken to mean God's electing love. But if this were so, then it will
follow that all the Jewish people would be saved. And if so, why was
it that Paul was so distressed about them, as he says, in the first
part of the chapter, that he was? He had great "heaviness and
continual sorrow" regarding the spiritual state of his countrymen;
but if they were unconditionally elected to eternal life, then Paul
was certainly carrying a useless burden. The "love" spoken of was
representative of God's kindness in bestowing upon the people Jacob
the privilege of being the Messianic people. The word "hated" will
thus signify, as the opposite of "loved," that the people Esau might
be said (from a certain standpoint) to be "hated;" that is, "less
loved" in comparison with the favour bestowed upon the people Jacob.
This meaning is in harmony with Hebrew idiom. The words "loved" and
"hated" are used in a relative sense. Christ says, "If any man come
to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be
my disciple" (Luke xiv. 26). This passage throws an important light
on the subject. No one will contend that Christ meant that we should
hate our parents. He simply brings before us this truth, that we
were to love Him above all relatives; but the use of the term "hate"
by Him takes it out of the category of the absolute, and places it
in the relative. And this must be its meaning as used by Paul. If
not, if it means that the race of Esau has been reprobated, then
there is no Gospel for them, and Christ's command to preach the
Gospel to every creature must be limited. To send a missionary to
the Arabs would be absurd if this doctrine is true. Thank God it is
not so.

The Jews took up the position that they must be saved; that they did
not need the Gospel; that being Abraham's seed they could not
possibly be damned. Paul felt deeply grieved with respect to the
position they occupied, and sought to dislodge them from it. "As to
the fine logic of his argument, bear in mind that he has been
proving in the preceding context that the lineal descent of the Jews
from the patriarch Abraham did not, as they fancied it did, make
them curse-proof for eternity. He proves this in the sixth, seventh,
eighth, and ninth verses . . . by showing that the Ishmaelites could
boast of a descent as lineal and patriarchal as theirs, and yet it
did not suffice to instal them in the medium Messianic privilege of
being Abraham's favoured children for time. By showing this, he
leaves us to draw the natural inference that the lineal descent
which could not instal Ishmaelites in the medium Messianic privilege
of being Abraham's highly-favoured children for time, could never be
sufficient to instal the infatuated Christ-rejecting Jews in the
peerless privilege of being Abraham's glory-inheriting and curse
-proof spiritual seed, his highly-favoured children for eternity. . . .
He then proceeds to prove again his already proved position, and
thus to clench his argument. This he does in the third section of
the chapter, which begins with the tenth verse and ends with the
thirteenth. . . . His proof consists of the fact that the Edomites
were as purely descended from Abraham through Isaac, as were the
Israelites; and yet, as is manifest at once from the declaration
made to Rebecca, 'the greater people shall be inferior to the
lesser,' and from the stronger statement made to the Israelites
themselves by God in Malachi, 'the people Jacob have I loved, but
the people Esau have I hated,'--this pure-lineal patriarchal descent
of the Rebecca-born Edomites was not sufficient to elevate them to
the enjoyment of the medium privilege of Abraham's Messianic
children. This being the case, it was scarcely short of perfect
madness for the Israelites to suppose that _their_ pure descent from
Abraham would suffice to constitute them his glory-inheriting and
curse-proof spiritual children, his highly-favoured seed for
eternity. Such is the fine and matchless logic of the apostle's
argumentation" (Morison, _Romans IX_.).

The interpretation thus given makes the apostle to be consistent
with himself, and in harmony with the "analogy of faith." The
Calvinistic interpretation makes the apostle inconsistent with
himself, and the command to preach the Gospel to every creature--a

MERCY ON WHOM HE WILL.--_Inquirer_,--"But did not God claim the
right to extend mercy to whom He pleased, and to withhold it from
whom He pleased?"

_Answer_,--It is even so. Paul says, "For He saith to Moses, I will
have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on
whom I will have compassion" (Rom. ix. 15). The quotation is from
Exodus xxxiii. 19. The Israelites had committed the sin of making
the golden calf, and were threatened with destruction; but God was
entreated not to destroy them utterly, and Moses was assured that
God would extend mercy as He should see fit. The quotation has a
bearing upon the position of the Jews and Paul's argument. They were
filled with self-sufficiency and pride, and in great danger. In the
reply to Moses, God claimed the right of extending mercy as He
pleased, and would not allow Moses to interfere with His
prerogative. The Jews were reminded by the quotation that God had a
right to say on what terms He would have mercy upon sinners. He does
not state the principle after the quotation, but does so in verses
30-33 of this chapter. He extends mercy to those who believe in

PHARAOH.--_Inquirer_,--"But what do you make of Pharaoh? Was he not
a typical illustration of the unconditionally reprobated?"

_Answer_,--It is thought so. The apostle refers to the wicked king
in the seventeenth verse. His case was analogous to that occupied by
the Jews. He had been raised up from a sick bed, treated most
graciously, but became hardened under the influence of mercy, and
was at last destroyed. The Jews had also been very generously dealt
with, but instead of yielding were becoming indurated, and unless
they repented, would, as Pharaoh was, be destroyed. It is said that
God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and also that He hardened his own
heart. Both statements are true, but looked at from different
standpoints. God softens or hardens human hearts as they keep the
mind in truth or falsehood.

THE POTTER AND THE CLAY.--_Inquirer_,--"But what of the potter and
the clay, verse twenty-one?"

_Answer_,--The question discussed in the ninth of the Romans is a
question of Divine sovereignty, or God's right to appoint the
destinies of men after their moral probation is over. The potter
claimed the right to say what he should do in respect of the vessels
which he had made. Should one become marred in his hands, he makes
it into a vessel of dishonour or inferiority. If not, if it turned
out as he wished it, then it occupied the position of a vessel of
honour. The illustration came with crushing power against the Jews.
The attitude of hostility which they then occupied was that of being
marred in the hands of God, and He claimed the right of appointing
them their destiny. If they refused the Saviour whom Paul preached,
if they continued morally unregenerated, then the mere fact of being
Abraham's seed would not save them. As regards their fate hereafter,
they would be as clay in the hands of the potter.

We have thus seen that those passages so much relied on have really
no bearing upon reprobation or predestination. They refer to another
and distinct question--namely, that of SOVEREIGNTY. Had God a RIGHT
to select the Jacobites as the Messianic people instead of the
Edomites? The Jews would not dispute this. But had He a right to
extend mercy as He saw fit? Had He a right to destroy Pharaoh when
he refused to yield? Had He a right to deal with the destinies of
men as He judged right? If He had, then the Jews had not a foot to
stand upon in their absurd contention, that because they had
descended from Abraham they must needs be saved. According to Paul's
theology, God, in the exercise of sovereignty, had appointed faith
as the condition of salvation, and if they refused to comply with
the condition, then, as the Israelites were destroyed in the
wilderness for lack of faith, as Pharaoh was destroyed in the sea
when he refused obedience, and as the potter assigned an inferior
position to the marred vessel, so would the Divine Ruler visit the
Jews with evil if they refused to accept of Christ.

There is nothing in this ninth chapter to frighten any one. The Jew
expected to be saved by works (see vers. 30-33), and on the ground
of his descent from Abraham. The apostle sweeps both of these away,
and presents Christ as the only ground for them. And the ground that
was for them is for all.

THE STONE OF STUMBLING.--In 1 Peter ii. 8 it is written: "And a
stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which
stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were
appointed." This text is supposed to teach that the parties spoken
of were appointed to be disobedient. At the first glance it would
seem to teach this. But the principle of interpretation to which we
have referred--namely, that when the mere grammatical construction
of a passage is clearly absurd, it is clear it cannot be the true
one, and we must look for another meaning. Now, if the "whereunto"
refers to the "disobedient," how could they be charged with
disobedience if they were just doing what they were appointed to do?
If Christ was put before those unbelievers for the purpose of making
them disobey, then would not this be to put a stumbling-block in
their way? Surely such conduct is infinitely the opposite of a good

Another translation of the passage, including verse 7, is this:
--"Unto you, therefore, who believe He is precious; but unto those who
disbelieve, the stone which the builders disallowed has become the
head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.
They, disbelieving the word, stumble--that is, fall or perish,
whereunto also they were appointed." That is, unbelievers are
appointed to perish if they continue unbelievers. Horne says, "Hence
it is evident that 1 Peter ii. 8 is not that God ordained them to
disobedience (for in that case their obedience would have been
impossible, and their disobedience no sin), but that God, the
righteous Judge of all the earth, had appointed or decreed that
destruction and eternal perdition should be the punishment of such
disbelieving persons who willingly reject all the evidences that
Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The mode of
pointing above adopted is that proposed by Drs. John Taylor,
Doddridge, and Macknight, and recognised by Greisbach in his
_Critical Edition of the New Testament_, and is manifestly required
by the context" (Vol. IV., p. 398). The passage as thus explained
has no difficulty. Blessings come to those believing, evil to those

FOREORDAINED TO CONDEMNATION.--In Jude, verse 4, it is written thus:
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were of old
foreordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of
our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our
Lord Jesus Christ." The passage contains the reason why the apostle
had urged the Christians to contend earnestly for the faith once
delivered to the saints. The term "ordained" in the passage means
"to write before," or "aforetime," "to post up publicly in writing."
Certain men of bad character had got into the church, but the
condemnation of such had been intimated before. Macknight says,
"Jude means that these wicked teachers had their punishment before
written--that is, foretold in what is written concerning the wicked
Sodomites and rebellious Israelites, whose crimes were the same with
theirs." To write regarding certain characters, and intimating their
punishment, is a widely different thing from unconditional

The passages thus examined are the principal ones brought forward to
prove that some men are foreordained to everlasting ruin. We do not
think they prove this, and we reject the doctrine.



_In the first place_, we object to it because it impeaches the
Divine Fatherhood. God sustains to the human family the relation of
a Father. He is the Creator of the sun and stars, but not their
father. Fatherhood carries in it two ideas,--creation and similarity
of nature. He is the Creator of the sun and stars, but they do not
possess a nature like His. But in man there is a Divine likeness, an
epitome of God. There is the power of thought, will, and feeling. In
this broad view every man is a son of God. He has been created by
Him, and, so far, is like Him. It is very true that man has rebelled
and ignores the relationship. But denial of relationship does not
abolish it. A son may deny his own father, and claim another to be
so; and men have denied God, and acted as the children of the devil.
But although they have rebelled, He earnestly remembers them. They
are prodigals, but they are His prodigals. He made them, and He
feels for them. A good father feels for all his children. Could we
call a father a good father who foreordains that one-half of his
offspring should be burned? But this is the doctrine of Calvinistic
reprobation! It cannot stand in the light of the parable of the
prodigal son. As that father in that parable felt to his prodigal
child, so God _feels_ to every one of His prodigals.

We reject this doctrine of unconditional reprobation,

_In the second place_, because it impeaches the Divine _sincerity_.
Sincerity is descriptive of the harmony that exists between the
feelings of the heart and the utterances of the lips.

    The first of virtues, let no mortal leave
    Thy onward path, although the earth should gape,
    And from the gulph of hell destruction cry
    To take dissimulation's winding way."

An insincere man, who professes one thing whilst he feels another,
is universally despised. Now, when I take up the Bible, what do I
find? I find it full of invitations to all men to come and be saved.
"Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be saved." "Ho, every
one that thirsteth; come ye to the waters." "Turn ye, turn ye, why
will you die?" Now, these invitations are addressed to all alike.
Their value turns on this--does God _mean_ what He says? Not so if
Calvinistic reprobation be true. But if He does mean what He says
--that He really wishes all saved--then these utterances reveal the
great heart of God as it gathers round every human being; and the
Calvinistic dogma of unconditional reprobation is a huge lie, that
should be thrown back to the place whence it came.



THERE is a doctrine of reprobation taught in the Bible. The word, as
we have seen, is several times used in the sacred writings. It
means, according to classic Greek, "not standing the test,"
"spurious, base, properly (1.) of coin, (2.) of persons," "ignoble,
mean" (Liddell and Scott). In the Bible it signifies the same thing,
"disapproved," "rejected," "undiscerning," "void of judgment."
Cruden says, "This word among metallists is used to signify any
metal that will not undergo the trial, that betrays itself to be
adulterate or reprobate, and of a coarse alloy. . . . A reprobate
mind, that is, a mind hardened in wickedness, and so stupid as not
to discern between good and evil." We are quite familiar with the
idea in everyday life. Ships, horses, land, governments,
individuals, are being constantly subjected to trial, and, being
found wanting, are rejected, _reprobated_. And what thus takes place
in the lower plane of things, takes place in the sphere of morals.
Men are now on trial for eternity. If they act as God wishes them,
they shall walk with him in white, and sit down at the marriage
-supper of the Lamb; but if not, then they will be rejected. The
great principle is neither more nor less than this--namely, that men
shall reap as they sowed. The principle is just. If men sow nettle
-seed or the seed of briers and thorns, is it not fair that they
should reap the fruit? The great principle, then, of the Bible is
this: "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the
land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured by the sword"
(Isaiah i. 19, 20).

It is a blessed thing, then, to know that on your head there is no
decree of unconditional reprobation. You may be saved. Your heavenly
Father wishes you saved, for He is "not willing that you should
perish" (2 Peter iii. 9); and He wishes "all men saved" (1 Timothy
ii. 4), and therefore you. He has done all He can for you. Will you
be saved? It rests with you to build only on Christ, and conform
your life after the pattern He has left.




IF the question of Calvinistic reprobation is fitted to freeze the
blood and repel the mind from God, that of election, as represented
by the same school, is calculated to perplex and disturb the
inquirer after truth. At the noonday meeting in Glasgow, some time
ago, the prayers of those present were requested on behalf of a lady
who was troubled with the doctrine of election! She is, we believe,
a type of thousands. Poor woman! had she listened to the teachings
of Scripture instead of to those of man, she need have had no
trouble in the matter. Heaven's order is--"Believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved." In other words, believe that God
loves yourself, that Christ made an atonement for thy sin, and thou
shalt enter among the saved ones--or the elect.

There are four different theories regarding this subject:--

(1.) There is, _first_, the supralapsarian theory. Those who hold
this view are high Calvinists. According to this theory, God,
without any regard to the good or evil works of men, resolved by an
eternal decree, _supra lapsum_, antecedently to any knowledge of the
fall of Adam, and independent of it, to reject some and save others;
or, in other words, that God intended to glorify His justice in the
condemnation of some as well as His mercy in the salvation of
others, and for that end decreed that Adam should necessarily fall

(2.) The _second_ theory is designated _sublapsarianism_. According
to this view, God permitted the first man to fall into transgression
without absolutely predetermining his fall; or, that the decree of
predestination regards man as fallen by an abuse of that freedom
which Adam had. In other words, they regard the decrees of election
and reprobation as having reference to man in his fallen condition.
But according to this theory God loves only a portion of our race
--gives His Son to die for this only, and His converting grace to this
only. This portion is designated the elect.

(3.) A _third_ view is that God loves all men, has given His Son to
die for all men, but His saving grace is not given to all, but only
to some. This is modern Calvinism. "Election is then," says Dr.
Payne, "God's purpose to exert upon the minds of certain members of
the human family that spiritual and holy influence which will secure
their ultimate salvation" (_Lect. on Sovy_.)

(4.) A _fourth_ view is that God loves all men, that Christ died for
all men, and that converting grace is given to all men; and that
those of mankind who believe God's testimony regarding His Son,
become His elect or chosen ones. It is this view which we support.
The first three theories have points of difference and agreement,
but in their last analysis they come to this, that God does not wish
all men saved, only some--the elect.



Dr. PAYNE, one of the subtlest and most accomplished of modern
Calvinists, argues strongly against the notion that the decree of
election involves the decree of reprobation. He says "I may
determine to relieve one out of twenty destitute families in my
neighbourhood, without positively determining not to relieve the
others; and if any one should ask me why others are not relieved, it
would be sufficient to reply that the giving of actual relief can
only spring from a determination to relieve, which in reference to
them does not exist. I may determine to take a book from the shelf,
without a positive determination not to take the others. There may,
indeed, be such a determination, but it is not necessarily implied
in the determination to take, and that is all that I am obliged to
prove--the other books may not even be thought of" (p. 40). Dr.
Payne was a very subtle dialectician, but we fear he has here
imposed upon himself in these illustrations. It is very true that
when I determine to select book "A" from my library, that book "B"
may not have been before my mind, and that I did not knowingly
determine to reject it. But it may have been, and if it was, then
the selection of "A" only, carried with it the rejection of "B." A
father sees his two children perishing in the waters. He jumps into
a boat, and reaches the scene of disaster. The children are sinking
from sheer exhaustion. He takes one into the boat, and returns to
shore. He could easily have saved the other, but did not, and he
tells the people this on landing, and that he must be simply judged
by his act of saving the rescued child, and that he is not to be
held as passing a decree of reprobation against the other. This, we
submit, is Dr. Payne's case. And will it bear looking at? I don't
think it. Dr. Payne adds, "This reasoning applies yet with greater
force to the great Eternal. There must exist in the mind of God a
determination to do what He actually does, because His actions are
the result of His volitions or determinations. But where God does
not act, where He does nothing, He determines nothing. It is
childish to suppose that because when He acts, there must be a
determination to act, when he does not act, there must be a
determination not to act, since a determination is necessary to a
state of action, but it surely is not necessary to a state of rest.
When Jehovah created the present universe, is it necessary to
suppose that there existed in His mind a positive determination not
to create any of the other possible universes which were present to
His views? Surely not." But we should say, Surely yes. If twenty
plans are presented to me, and I select one only, does not this
imply the rejection of the others? To the Divine mind there must
have been present the conception of many different kinds of worlds
than the one we are in; but of the possibles He chose the present
system as, all things considered, the best. Had there been a better
world and God did not make it, it must have been, according to the
optimists, either because God did not know of it, or was unable to
make it, or was unwilling,--all of which suppositions are either
incompatible with the omniscience, the omnipotence, or the goodness
of God. When the Creator selected the present system, He rejected
the "possibles" that might have been brought into being. I am
surprised that Dr. Payne should say that "determination" is not
necessary to a state of rest, or non-action. In thousands of
instances non-action--rest--is as much the result of volition as is
the most determined activity. The old divines used to divide sin
into acts of commission and omission. But in every sin of omission
there was action implied. If I do not help the needy when he crieth,
my non-help--my rest as regards aid--carries action in it
--determination. Dr. Payne again says, "When God determined to save
man, did that volition necessarily imply a positive determination
not to save the angels who kept not their first estate? No one, it
is presumed, Will answer in the affirmative. It implies, indeed,
that fallen angels were not included in the merciful purpose of God,
that there was no volition to save them; but no degree of ingenuity
can gather any conclusion beyond this from the facts of the case.
Why, then, should a positive determination, on the part of God, to
save some of the human family be supposed to imply of necessity a
counter and positive determination not to save the other members of
the family. Not to save men is not to act, it is just doing
nothing." But this is a very partial view of the case. What God did
in the case of the fallen angels we know nothing, and can affirm
nothing. But one may do nothing from one side of things, and do a
great deal from another. The priest and the Levite just did nothing
as far as helping the man was concerned. They rested, but in this
rest there was action which has covered them with obloquy for all
time. And if God has special influence at His disposal, and
determines to give it to some when He KNEW that others needed it as
much, and yet withholds it from them, His withholding it is as much
an act as the gift of it. He passed the non-elect over in applying
the influence, and no ingenuity can make it otherwise. But what He
does in time He determined to do in eternity--He determined to pass
them over. The illustration, therefore, of the book is worthless.



THE Divine sovereignty may be said to be the great foundation on
which the various shades of Calvinists take their stand. Here they
think they are as safe as if they stood on adamant. But assertion is
not argument, and he who asserts must prove.

Dr. Payne, in his preliminary lecture, discusses the question of
sovereignty, and endeavours to show that there is a difference
between supremacy and sovereignty. By the former punishment is
inflicted, by the latter good. If by sovereingty we mean that God
has absolute power to do whatsoever He pleases, then it will
comprehend the penalty of transgression, as well as the bestowment
of good. And this, as we apprehend, is the correct view of the case.
The Divine sovereignty being one of the main pillars of his system,
Dr. Payne gives various illustrations of it.

(1.) He instances the varied mental powers bestowed on men. He says,
"The mind of one man is marked by infantile weakness, of another by
a giant's strength. Nothing can elevate the former, nothing
permanently depress and overpower the latter. . . . In the case of
certain persons, the reasoning powers preponderate; in that of
others, the imagination. One man has little judgment, but an
exuberant fancy. Another has received the gift of a piercing
intellect; but if it be clear as a frosty night, it is also as cold.
A third is all impetuosity and fire, but it is a fire that scorches
and consumes everything that comes in its way. We can account for
these diversities by the principle of sovereignty alone. God
'divideth to every man severally as He will,' 'He giveth none
account of these matters,' 'He has a right to do what He will with
His own.'" Now, we do not question God's right to do what He will
with His own, but is this difference in mental calibre purely an
arbitrary act? Has brain, nerve, habit, nothing to do with the case?
and marriage? and education? Look at the biographies of prominent
men, and what do we find? Much depends evidently on the mother, as
in the case of Bacon, Erskine, Brougham, Cromwell, Canning, Byron.
The last-mentioned, writing of himself, says, that his "springs of
life were poisoned." His mother was a most passionate woman, and is
reported to have died of a fit of ill-nature at the sight of her
upholsterer's bills. The possession, then, of talent is not purely
arbitrary, but dependent on parentage, training, surroundings. There
was one question, indeed, which would have upset the whole of these
illustrations. It was this:--Whence comes insanity? It would never
be contended that God made some individuals insane and others sane,
by a merely arbitrary act. We find, in hundreds of instances, that
it is hereditary. One observer considers that six-sevenths of the
cases arise from this one cause. When, then, Dr. Payne quotes the
words, "He giveth none account of these things," we ask, is it so?
Has He not written His mind in the providence around us? Let certain
habits be encouraged, certain marriages entered into, and we require
no ghost to rise and tell us what the issue will be. God is telling
it to us every day. Departure on the part of parents from organic
laws entails misery, even to imbecility, on the children. We do not,
of course, deny that there are diversities among men; but we do deny
that these are purely arbitrary, like the gift of special grace, and
are therefore inept as illustrative of it.

(2.) Dr. Payne refers to providential blessing as illustrative of
sovereignty. He remarks, "That inequalities in the external
condition and circumstances exist, is manifest to all. The
questions, then, which force themselves upon our attention are
these: Do these inequalities originate with God, or with man?" He
asks, "Why one is born rich, and another poor? How is it to be
explained that two persons equal in talent and moral worth, obtain
such unequal measure of success? . . . The facts are entirely to be
resolved into Divine sovereignty. God is here exercising the right
of testimony, the bounties of His providence upon men, as it seems
good in His sight." It is very true that God is the source of all
the good in the world, but does He bestow it arbitrarily? If a man
neglects being _thrifty_, and lives beyond his means, his offspring
will inherit his poverty. There are economic as well as physical
laws in the world, and the non-observance of them descends unto the
third and fourth generations.

Dr. Payne appeals to health as illustrating his position. He says,
"It is impossible to account for the fact that of two individuals
equal in point of moral worth, one is the constant subject of bodily
infirmity, and the other the habitual possessor of health; but by
admitting that the hand of sovereignty confers upon the latter a
measure of good to which he has no claim" (p. 32). Doubtless, health
is a precious blessing; but is it given arbitrarily, like special
grace? Every one knows that its possession depends upon the
observance of laws, both in parents and offspring. It is the result
of complying with _conditions_, and there is no analogy between it
and the gift of special influence, which is entirely unconditional.

The chief illustration which Dr. Payne gives of Divine sovereignty
is, "The exertion of that holy influence upon the minds of the
chosen to salvation, by which they are brought to the knowledge and
belief of the Gospel, together with the Divine purpose to exert this
influence of which it is at once the index and the accomplishment"
(p. 33). We shall, however, endeavour to show that there is no such
irresistible influence as that for which the doctor contends. God is
a sovereign--the only absolute sovereign in existence; but He is
all-wise and all-good, not willing that any should perish.

We have thus examined those illustrations of Dr. Payne. They are a
kind of stock in trade of those who build their faith upon the
dogmas of Calvin.



THE reason is supposed to affirm the doctrine that God has chosen
some men to get saving grace, and some men only. The question is
asked, "Is God the cause or author of man's salvation, or is man the
author of his own salvation?" It is maintained that God being
entirely the author of man's salvation, and that as man is brought
into a state of safety by infallible grace, and as God exercises
this grace, He must have determined to do it in eternity. The
doctrine of election is thus supposed to be affirmed by the reason.
But this is a very summary process of settling the question. How
stands the case? If by "salvation" is meant the _meritorious ground_
of salvation, then the question about its authorship is very single.
God is the sole author. He devised the plan, He wrought it out, and
He applies it to the hearts of men. To Him belongs all the glory.

But the question of merit being settled, there is another. It is
this--Are there _immeritorious_ grounds of salvation, and are men
required to be active in their moral regeneration? We must
distinguish between God's action and that of man. To confound them
is a grand mistake. In the Bible we find certain moral conditions
insisted upon in order to moral deliverance. There is a human side
in the matter. Are not men called upon "to look?" "to hear?" "to
come?" "to eat?" "to repent?" "to choose?" these terms represent
acts which men are called upon to perform. God does not "look" or
"choose" or "repent" for men. They must "choose" or die. The Spirit
comes to them, points out their sinful state, and places Christ
before them as their Saviour. When they give ear unto him, and put
their trust in Jesus, they become saved. They have no more merit in
the matter than a beggar has when he accepts alms, or a prisoner
when he accepts a pardon.

Salvation, then, as regards merit, is entirely of God, but men are
required to be active in their own deliverance. But why do some
yield, and some not? This question has often been asked, and it is
supposed that it stops all further argument. Let us look, however,
at the saved man. God has wrought out the remedy, the Holy Spirit
plies the sinner with motives for accepting the Saviour, and under
His persuasion he yields himself up unto God, and gives Him all the
glory of His salvation. Both scripturally and philosophically the
man's saved condition is accounted for. And can anything be said
against it? Look now at the unsaved man: why has he not believed? To
press for an answer to this question is just to press for an answer
to another--viz., why do men sin? Can any one give a reason for it
that will stand scrutiny? No one, not even God; and to demand an
answer in these circumstances is unphilosophical and impertinent.
The one believes through grace, and the other resists and dies. We
submit that this is a fair explanation of the case. The believer
acts in harmony with the reason, the unbeliever is guilty of sin;
and no reason can be given for sin.

The view thus advocated has been held as a denial of the Spirit's
work. If by the Spirit's work is understood a faith-necessitating
and will-overpowering work, then certainly the Spirit's work is thus
denied. But this is to cut before the point. There are, for
instance, different views of inspiration, as the inspiration of
direction, superintendency, elevation, and suggestion. Suppose I
were asked what theory of inspiration I held regarding any portion
of the Bible, and I answered that I had none, but took the
Scriptures as God's message to men, would it be fair argument to
assert that I denied inspiration? Manifestly not. But neither is it
fair to raise the cry that the Spirit's work is denied because a
particular theory regarding that work is denied, the theory, namely,
which makes it to be physical or mechanical.

Incorrect views of the Spirit's work have been entertained by
theologians in consequence of erroneous conceptions regarding the
degeneracy of human nature. Augustine held that man can do nothing
which will at all contribute to His spiritual recovery. He is like a
lump of clay, or a statue without life or activity. In consequence
of these views, he held that grace in its operation on the heart was
irresistible,--sometimes through the word, at other times without
it. Dr. Knapp says, "God does not act in such a way as to infringe
upon the free will of man, or to interfere with the use of his
powers" (Phil. ii. 12, 13). Consequently, God does not act on men
immediately, producing ideas in their souls without the preaching or
reading of the scriptures, or influencing their will in any other
way than by the understanding. Did God act in any other way than
through the understanding, he would operate miraculously and
irresistibly, and the practice of virtue under such an influence
would have no intrinsic worth; it would be compelled, and
consequently incapable of reward (_Theo_., p. 408). He says again,
"The doctrine of the Protestant church has always been that God does
not act immediately on the heart in conversion, or, in other words,
that He does not produce ideas in the understanding, and effects in
the will, by His absolute Divine power without the employment of
external means. This would be such an immediate conversion and
illumination as fanatics contend for, who regard their own
imaginations and thoughts as effects of the Spirit" (p. 400). If our
creed on this subject is to be based on the Bible, it leaves us in
no doubt upon the matter. In speaking of the new birth it is
written, "Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth, that we
should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (Jas. i. 18). Here
the truth is used as the medium in conversion, and not a syllable
about irresistible influence. The apostle Peter states the same
thing: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of
incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for
ever" (1 Peter i. 23). Our Lord, in explaining the parable of the
sower said--"The seed is the word of God," and seed, in order to
germination, must have an appropriate soil.

however they differ among themselves regarding certain standpoints,
agree in this, that evangelical election is unconditional. The
Confession of Faith declares that election is "without any foresight
of faith or good works or perseverance in either of them, or any
other thing in the creature as conditions or causes moving Him (God)
thereunto" (_Confess_., Chap. III.) Dr. Payne says of the elect,
"They were not chosen to salvation on account of their foreseen
repentance, and faith, and obedience, for faith and repentance are
the fruit, not the root of predestination" (p. 47.) And again, "The
electing decree, which is unconditional" (p. 38).

The Bible has been appealed to as supporting this view, that
election is eternal and unconditional, and we shall consider certain
of the passages thus appealed to.



IN Matthew xx. 16 it is written: "For many are called, but few are
chosen." These words occur at the conclusion of the parable of the
marriage of the king's son. A great feast had been provided and
parties invited. A second invitation was sent out, in harmony with
oriental usage; but those first invited made excuses, and refused to
come. The servants were then commissioned to go out and give an
invitation to all and sundry, and the wedding was furnished with
guests. When the king came in to see the guests, he found a man
without a wedding garment, and asked him how he had come in not
having on one. The man remained speechless. It is then added, "many
are called, but few are chosen." Now, the election which Calvinists
contend for is eternal and unconditional. Does the above passage
prove this? We think it proves the reverse. There was a rejection
and a choosing, but each was based on state or personal condition.
The man was rejected because he had not on the wedding garment; the
others were chosen because they had it on. Suppose that there was no
robe for the man, would he or should he have been speechless? Might
he not have risen up in the midst of the assembly, and said, "Sire,
I received the invitation in the highway. I was pressed to come to
the feast. When I came there was no robe for me, and even if there
had been one, there was no one to help me to put it on; and by a
fatal accident in childhood I lost an arm, and was unable to do it
myself. Yet I received the invitation, and that is the reason why I
am here." Would not such a speech have been perfectly satisfactory?
And where the justice of condemning the man to be cast, in these
circumstance, into outer darkness? But the punishment meted out to
the man, showed that there was a robe for him, and that he might
have put it on. The choice, therefore, of sitting at the marriage
feast was conditional, and not, as Calvinists contend, unconditional.

The choice, moreover, was after the calling, and is _yet_ to take
place, and as a consequence the passage does not prove that election
is eternal. No doubt, whatever God does in time He purposed to do in
eternity, but we should distinguish between a purpose to choose and
the choice itself.

There is nothing, then, in this passage to perplex any one. God, the
infinite Father and heavenly King, has provided a feast of love for
all men, and therefore for you, O reader, whosoever you are. Christ
has wrought out a robe of righteousness for all, and therefore for
you. The Holy Spirit prays you to be clothed with it--that is, to
depend on Christ and Christ only, and not upon your doings or upon
your feelings. When you cease to depend on self and to rest entirely
on Jesus, there springs up in the heart an aspiration to be Christ
-like, and to be wholly His. By being clothed with Christ's
righteousness you will have, by God's grace, a title to sit down at
the heavenly feast, and a moral meetness for heavenly society.

THE ELECT FOREKNOWN.--In Romans viii. 29, 30, it is written: "For
whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to
the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many
brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called;
and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified,
them He also glorified." This passage is one of the strongholds of
the view we contend against; but if it prove eternal election, it
will also prove much more than this. If the persons spoken of were
eternally elected, then they were also eternally called, and
eternally justified, and eternally glorified. They would thus be
justified before they sinned, and glorified before they had a being.
The verbs are all in the aorist tense, and what is true of one verb
is true of all the others. An interpretation burdened with such
consequences cannot be true.

Dr. Payne has very few remarks on the passage, but they are emphatic
enough. "The passage is so conclusive," he says, "that it scarcely
seems to require or even to admit of many remarks," and he does not
give many. The simple question is this: does this passage prove
unconditional election? Is there anything in the context to prove
the reverse? We think that there is. In the twenty-eighth verse the
apostle says, "And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God, to them that are the called according to His
purpose." He is thus writing of a certain class of persons, or of
persons in a certain moral state, that moral state being that they
were lovers of God, as he expressly states in verse 28. He does not
say that they were visited by a special and irresistible influence
bestowed on them and withheld from others. He simply asserts that
those lovers of God had all things working for their good; that they
were called or invited to glory, as (in 1 Peter v. 10) it is said,
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory
by Christ Jesus." And having intimated their call, Paul goes on to
show what was the destiny awaiting the believer. He says, "For whom
He did foreknow," and when he said this he could not mean the mere
knowledge of entities, or of persons, for this reason, that God
knows the finally lost as well as the finally saved. The apostle
therefore could only mean that God, knowing beforehand those who
would love him, fore-appointed or decreed in eternity that those who
possessed this moral state should be conformed to the image of His
Son, or personal appearance of Christ (1 John iii. 2). Those lovers
of God thus predestinated are invited to heavenly bliss, and will be
ultimately justified before the world, and glorified. The twenty
-eighth verse, then, lays down the condition upon which the whole
passage rests; and to bring forward the text as a proof of
unconditional election, is simply to ignore the context. As far as
this portion of the Bible is concerned, there is nothing to perplex
the most simple. Become a lover of God, and the destiny sketched by
the apostle awaits you. We become lovers of God by believing in His
love to us. "We love Him," says John, "because He first loved us" (1
John iv. 19).

THE UNBORN CHILDREN.--Romans ix. 11, is appealed to. It reads thus:
"For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good
or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand,
not of works, but of Him who calleth." This verse is parenthetical,
lying between the tenth and twelfth verses. They read thus, verse
10: "And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one,
even by our father Isaac;" verse 12: "It was said unto her, the
elder shall serve the younger." It is the eleventh verse which is
taken as proving Calvinistic election. It is supposed to refer to
the spiritual and eternal condition of the respective parties. But
how stands the case? The original statement is found in Genesis xxv.
22, 23: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall
be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger
than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." Now,
if we take the passage in the Calvinistic sense, that it refers to
salvation, what will follow? This, namely, that all the descendants
of Jacob would be saved, and all the descendants of Esau utterly
lost. If this were so, then why should Paul have been so troubled
about the spiritual state of his countrymen, as he says he was, in
the preamble of this very chapter? The hypothesis, makes the apostle
to stultify himself as a logician.

The Calvinistic interpretation will not stand looking at, there
being, in fact, no reference to salvation in the passage. The
apostle quotes the text, the purport of which is that in a certain
respect the people of Esau would be inferior to the people of Jacob.
The Jews held that, being Abraham's seed, they were safe for
eternity. The apostle's argument, then, is this: The people of Esau
were as truly descended from Abraham as you, my countrymen, are, and
yet this descent did not entitle them to be the Messianic people;
and if mere descent did not entitle to this, how much less would it
entitle to heavenly glory? The text, then, has really no bearing
upon evangelical election, but simply to the election of the Jews to
theocratic privileges.

appealed to. It reads thus: "According as He hath chosen us in Him
before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
without blame before Him in love." This is an old favourite text in
support of eternal and unconditional election. But does it prove it?
Those Christians to whom Paul wrote were chosen before the
foundation of the world. True, but what does this mean? Does it
prove eternal election? To elect is to "pick out," "to select." But
the parties spoken of could not be _actually_ elected or chosen
before they existed. Before you can take a pebble from an urn, it
must first be in the urn. So before man can be _actually picked_ out
of the world, he must _first_ be in it: hence election must be a
work of time. Paul speaks of his kinsmen who were in Christ before
him (Rom. xvi. 7); but if election is eternal, then the one could
not be in Christ before the other. The language then in Eph. i. 14,
can only refer to the _purpose_ of God to select certain persons in
time--BELIEVERS--to be "holy and without blame." The bearing of the
passage, then, is the same as many others, and is simply this, that
whatever God does in time, He determined to do in eternity. His
purpose was formed before the foundation of the world, or in

Neither is there any countenance given to the idea that the election
was _unconditional_. This is clearly shown by the words "IN HIM."
The Catechism asks the question, "Did God leave all mankind to
perish in the estate of sin and misery?" and the answer is, "God
having out of His mere good pleasure from all eternity elected some
to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver
them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into a
state of salvation by a Redeemer." If this is a true version of the
case, then the saved were elected first when they were _out of_
Christ. But the passage in Ephesians says the reverse of this. They
were elected being IN CHRIST. To be in Christ is just to be united
to Him by faith--a believer in Christ as the great High Priest of

CHOSEN TO SALVATION.--2 Thess. ii. 13, is appealed to. It reads
thus: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you,
brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning
chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and
belief of the truth." The question then is, does this passage prove
eternal and unconditional election? As to its being eternal, the
only portion of the verse that bears on this is the phrase "from the
beginning." Barnes says the words mean "from eternity." But the
words themselves do not prove this. When the Jews asked Jesus who He
was, He answered, "Even the same that I said unto you from the
beginning." It clearly does not mean "eternity" here. Again, in 1
John ii. 7, it is written: "The old commandment is the word which ye
have heard from the beginning." Here, also, it is evident that the
words cannot mean from "eternity," since they did not exist in
eternity. But supposing the words did refer to eternity, then their
meaning could only denote the purpose of God, since they had in
eternity no real existence. We take the words to signify the
commencement of the Christian cause in Thessalonica. Whedon's
paraphrase is: "From the first founding of the Thessalonian church."
Watson takes them to denote, "The very first reception of the Gospel
in Thessalonica." Whatever view is taken of the words, the idea of
an _actual_ eternal election is excluded.

Dr. Payne depends upon the verse as supporting his view of
unconditional election. In concluding his criticism of the passage
he says, "The election, then, here spoken of is not an election of
future glory founded on foreseen faith and obedience; but an
election to faith and obedience as necessary pre-requisites to the
enjoyment of this glory, or perhaps, more correctly speaking, as
partly constituting it" (pp. 84, 85.) Unfortunately for this
argument the apostle uses the word "_through_" (en), not "_to_"
(eis). He says that they were chosen to salvation or glory through
sanctification of the Spirit on God's part and belief of the truth
on theirs; or, in other words, he contemplates the Christians at
Thessalonica as objects of future glory, and they had come to occupy
this position by God's gracious Spirit dealing with them through the
truth, and by their believing the truth thus brought to them. The
passage shows the means by which they had become chosen or elected
persons. They believed the TRUTH, and you may do the same.

ELECTION AND FOREKNOWLEDGE.--1 Peter i. 1, is appealed to in support
of Calvinistic election. It reads thus: "Elect according to the
foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the
Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."
But this cannot prove that the election spoken of was eternal,
because the Spirit's work takes place in time, and not in eternity.
Neither does it prove that it was unconditional. It is through the
Spirit that men are convicted of sin, and led by His gracious
influences to trust in Jesus. The epistle was written to believers,
to those who had been "born again" (1 Peter i. 23), and he says that
they were elected, choice ones, according to God's foreknowledge,
who knew from eternity that they would believe under His grace; and
they were, being believers, chosen unto obedience, and also to a
justified state, or "the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus." To
contend that if a man believes under what is termed "common grace,"
this is to make himself to "differ," and to take the praise of
salvation to himself, is in our opinion entirely wrong. Does the
patient who takes the medicine under the persuasion of a kind
physician, and is cured, have whereof to boast? Because the blind
beggar takes an alms, has he whereof to glory? Neither do we see
that a poor guilty sinner has any reason for boasting when, under
the persuasion of the Divine Spirit, he accepts a full pardon of all
his sins. Were a prisoner who has been condemned to be visited by
the sovereign, and a pardon put into his hands, to go afterwards
through the streets shouting, "I have saved myself--I have saved
myself," we should say the man was crazed. Why will not theologians
look at things from a commonsense point of view? There is nothing in
the passage to prevent you at once entering among the elect.

MAKING ELECTION SURE.--In 2 Peter i. 10, it is written thus:
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling
and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
But the passage says nothing about the _time_ when they were
elected, nor whether they were elected to get a peculiar influence
to necessitate faith. It implies the negative of the Calvinistic
opinion. The Christians were exhorted to make their election sure.
But if they were elected by an infallible decree, how could they
make it sure? It was, by the theory, sure, independent of them. The
exhortation shows that Peter did not know anything of the dogma, and
that he held that men had to do with watching over their spiritual
life, so that their calling to glory and their election might not

A REMNANT ACCORDING TO ELECTION.--In Romans xi. 5, it is written
thus: "Even so at the present time there is a remnant according to
the election of grace." It is true that the words "election" and
"grace" occur in this passage; but the simple question is, what is
their meaning? The apostle had asked, in the first verse, "Hath God
cast off His people?" And he repudiates the idea, and refers to the
state of matters in the time of Elijah. The prophet had thought that
he was the solitary worshipper of God; but in this he was mistaken.
Seven thousand men were yet true to the Lord, and had not bowed the
knee to Baal. So at the time the apostle wrote there was a few, a
"remnant" of the nation who had believed through grace, and were
chosen, elected, to receive the blessings of pardon and the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God had not, therefore, cast off His
people, since He was saving all of them who believed. In the
exercise of His sovereign wisdom He has made, however, _faith_ to be
the condition of salvation both for Jew and Gentile. And there is
nothing arbitrary in this. In our everyday life we are required to
exercise, and are constantly exercising, faith. If we wish to cross
the Atlantic, we must exercise faith in regard to the seaworthiness
of the ship. We marry, lend money, take medicine, and a thousand
other things, upon the principle of faith. We will not allow a man
into our family circle who holds us to be liars. Should he take that
position we exclude him from friendly fellowship. If he would get
good from us in a certain sphere of things, faith in us is
absolutely requisite. It is the same with God. If we would be
blessed with the sweet peace of pardon, we can only have it by
believing in the testimony that God has given regarding the Son,
that He tasted death for every man--died, therefore, for us.

The passages of Scripture we have thus considered are those mainly
depended on in support of the Calvinistic doctrine of election. The
doctrine, like the chameleon, has different shades, according to the
school. The high predestinarians, or, as they are called, "_supra
-lapsarians_," maintain, as we have seen, that God created a certain
number to be saved, and a certain number to be lost. The _infra_- or
_sublap_-_sarians_, maintain that God contemplated the race as
fallen, and determined to save a given number, and a given number
only, and to reprobate a given number. Regarding the former a
Saviour has been provided for them and irresistible grace. The
modern Calvinists differ, as we have also seen, from both of these
schools, and hold that God loves all, and has provided a Saviour for
all, but that converting grace is given only to some. There is a
consistency, a grim consistency, in the two former views; but the
latter limps, it divides the Trinity. It makes God's love to be
world-wide, Christ's death to be for all, but the gracious or
converting work of the Spirit is limited. But however these systems
differ from each other, they all agree in this, that God is not
earnestly desirous of saving all men. And this, as we hold, is the
damning fact against them all.

There are certain specific objections, however, to which we now beg



(1.) WE object, in the _first_ place, to the Calvinistic doctrine of
election, because it is absurd to call it election. The advocates of
the three views of election mentioned stoutly maintain that the
persons chosen are chosen unconditionally; in other words, they are
chosen not on account of any mental or moral quality in them. It is
on this account designated _unconditional_. There is nothing
whatever in the persons chosen on which to ground the choice.
Supposing this to be the case, can there be any choice, election?
Mr. Robinson has put the case thus: "What is election? Is it
possible to choose one of two things, excepting for reasons to be
found in the things themselves? Ask a friend which of a number of
oranges he will take. If he sees nothing in them to determine
selection, he says, 'I have no choice.' Ask a blind man which of two
oranges, that are out of his reach, he prefers, and you mock him by
proposing an impossibility. If they are put near him, that he may
feel them or smell them, or if by any other means he can judge
between them, he can choose, otherwise he cannot choose. If they lie
far from him, he may say, 'Give me the one that lies to the east, or
the west;' but that is a lottery, an accident, chance, certainly no
choice. Therefore, to assert that the cause of election is not in
anything in the person chosen, is really to deny that there is any
election. And it is a curious fact that the most vehement
predestinarians, while they flatter themselves that they are the
honoured advocates of the Divine decrees, by sequence set aside
election altogether. Their hypothesis annihilates the very doctrine
for which they are most zealous, and, if it may be said without
irreverence, introduces the dice box into the counsels of heaven"
(_Bible Studies_, p. 192). If we look into life, we always find that
when we elect or choose, we do so because of something in the person
or thing elected. It is so as regards food, drink, dress, houses,
pictures, statues, books; it is so, too, as regards members of
Parliament, ministers for pastorates, and in marriage. We are,
indeed, so constituted that we cannot conceive of choice or election
except upon the grounds of freedom in the elector, and something to
differentiate the object chosen from others of like nature. The
Confession of Faith says, however, that those who are predestinated
unto life are chosen "without any foresight of faith or good works,
or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the
creation, as conditions or causes moving Him thereunto, and all to
the praise of His glorious grace" (_Con_., chap. iii.) Yet the Bible
says expressly, "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is
godly for himself" (Ps. iv. 3); "Hath not God chosen the poor in
this world rich in faith?" (Jas. ii. 5.) There is a setting apart,
or choosing, but it is not unconditional, as these verses show.

No doubt, the _motive_ of those who hold unconditional election is
good, arising from a desire to give all the glory of salvation to
God, and from the frequency of the term "grace" in regard to our
deliverance. But the great object of giving all the glory to God may
be, and is accomplished, without doing violence to Scripture, or
trampling upon common sense. The principle or system of Syenergism
does this. It simply means that man is active in his own conversion.
It was advocated in his later years by Melancthon. We have not,
however, to do with the _motive_ of our friends, but with the
philosophy of the subject; and to assert that men are chosen to
salvation apart from condition, is only assertion, and an absurd
assertion, too. Try it in regard to anything, and its folly will be
apparent. Why, then, insist upon it in religion? Are we to throw
reason to the dogs when we speak on scriptural subjects?

(2.) In the _second_ place, we object to the Calvinistic theory of
election, because it ignores and tramples upon a primary principle
of philosophy. The principle is this: "That a plurality of
principles are not to be assumed when the phenomena can possibly be
explained by one" (Hamilton's _Reid_, p. 751).

It is what is known as the law of parsimony. The three views of
election referred to have bound up with them, as an integral portion
of the system, the theory of _irresistible_ grace. Take this away,
and they fall to pieces as a rope of sand. A man who has hitherto
lived an ungodly life becomes converted, and the question arises
--how are we to account for this moral phenomenon? Our friends from
whom we differ account for it in this way: In the past eternity God
saw that the man would come upon the stage of time, and determined
to visit his soul with an irresistible influence, under the
operation of which he became converted. Now this is to them a very
satisfactory way of accounting for the conversion. But may not this
change in the man take place without this _tertiam quid_, or third
something? If it may, then to import it into the controversy is to
violate the law of parsimony or maxim of philosophy, that it is
wrong to multiply causes beyond what are necessary. But let us look
at life: let us enter the sphere of human experience. We find men,
for instance, who in politics were at one period pronounced
Radicals, like Burdett, becoming Conservative in their opinions; and
men, like the Peelites, changing from the Conservative side to that
of the Liberals. In accounting for this we do not call in a
mysterious and occult influence to solve the matter. It is
explainable without this. Take the case of medicine. We find men
educated in the allopathic system changing, and becoming disciples
of Habnemann. Ask them how it came about, and they answer at once,
that it was by considering the results. Take a case of intemperance,
An old inebriate attends a temperance lecture, listens attentively,
becomes persuaded of the value of abstinence, signs the pledge, and
spends the remainder of his life a sober man. He loved the drink,
and now he hates it. Ask him how it came about? He tells you at once
that the facts and arguments of the lecture convinced him of the
evil of the drink, and led him to abandon it for ever. A great
change has been effected, but in perfect harmony with the known laws
of mind. Let us now look at religion. Paul arrives at Corinth, and
preaches the Gospel to the inhabitants of that degenerate city. They
listened to the wondrous story of redeeming love, and became changed
through means of it. Was there anything in the nature of the truth
preached to them and believed by them fitted to do this? We think
that there was. They had sins--were guilty. Paul told them of a
Saviour who died for them. This met their case. They were degraded,
foul; the religion Paul preached appealed to their sense of right,
to their gratitude, to their fears and their hopes; and believing
it, they became regenerated in their moral nature. They had been won
to God by the "Gospel" (1 Cor. iv. 15). As temperance truth
revolutionises the drunkard, so does Gospel truth the sinner (1
Peter i. 23, 25). The apostle was the agent employed by the Holy
Spirit, and believing the message he brought, they were believing
the Spirit (See 1 Samuel viii. 7). Since, then, the truth believed
is a sufficient reason for the change, why introduce the theory of
irresistible grace? It may be replied that this kind of grace is
used to get the sinner to attend to the message.

But attention to any subject is brought about by considering
motives. Man has the power over his attention. It is the possession
of this power which is a main item in constituting him a responsible
being. He may or may not attend to the voice of God. If he attends
to it he lives; if not, he dies. If God used force in this matter,
why reason with men and appeal to them as He does?

We appeal to Christian consciousness. Let any Christian give a
reason of the hope that is in him--and it is all perfectly
reasonable. All through, in the great matter of conversion, he acted
freely. He attended to the Divine message--but there was no
compulsion. Why, then, insist upon irresistibility when it is
repudiated by Christian consciousness? We know no reason for it but
the exigencies of the system. If you are waiting for it you are
being deceived.

(3.) We object, in the _third_ place, to the Calvinistic view of
election, because it makes God a respecter of persons. What is it to
be a respecter of persons? Literally, it means "an accepter of
faces." According to the _Imperial Dictionary_, it signifies "a
person who regards the external circumstances of others in his
judgment, and suffers his opinion to be biased by them, to the
prejudice of candour, justice, and equity." It is to act with
partiality. It is of the utmost moment that respect of persons
should not be shown in the domestic circle, on the bench; or in the
church. If a father shows favouritism to one son less worthy, say,
than the others, he lays himself open to the charge of partiality,
unevenness in his procedure, and it tends to alienate the affections
of his other children. To show it on the bench is to sully the
ermine, and bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Whoever else may exhibit it, the church is required to have clean
hands in the matter (James ii.)

We are so constituted that we cannot love or hate by a mere fiat of
the will. Before we can love one another with complacency, there
must be the perception of excellence. And it is the same as regards
God. Hence it is of the last importance that to our mental view He
should be pure, holy, impartial, good. To love Him if we thought Him
otherwise, would be impossible. Now God has abundantly shown, both
in providence and in the Bible, that He is not a respecter of
persons. He executes His laws indiscriminately--upon all alike. Fire
burns, poison kills, water drowns all and sundry. If the laws of
health are broken, the penalty is enforced on each transgressor
according to the measure of his transgression. It is the same with
moral penalties. If a man lies, or steals, or is mean, or selfish,
he will suffer moral deterioration, which will pass through his
moral being as a leprosy. Our physical, mental, and moral natures
are thus under their respective laws, and whosoever breaks these
laws God executes the penalty on the transgressor. There is in this
respect no favouritism--no respect of persons.

There are, as a matter of course, diversities upon earth. All cannot
occupy the same place. We have not the brilliancy and luxuriancy of
the tropics, but we have our compensations. And it is the same with
life in general. In comparison with the rich the poor have a rough
road to travel, but they are not without their compensations. The
moral life is the higher life of man, and in the stern school of
adversity there are developed noble traits of character.

    "Though losses and crosses
    Be lessons right severe,
    There's wit there you'll get there,
    You'll find no other where."

The diversities we find in life are not arbitrary acts, as we have
already seen, but dependent upon adherence or non-adherence to law.

The same great principle that regulates the providential government
of God, is brought clearly out in the Scriptures. It is remarked by
Cruden that "God appointed that the judges should pronounce their
sentences without any respect of persons (Lev. xix. 15; Deut i. 17);
that they should consider neither the poor nor the rich, nor the
weak nor the powerful, but only attend to truth and justice, and
give sentence according to the merits of the cause." It is said in
Proverbs that it is not good to have respect of persons in judgment
(Prov. xxiv. 23). Peter declared that there is no respect of persons
with God; and Paul said, "For there is no respect of persons with
God" (Romans ii. 11). James declared that if the Christians to whom
he wrote showed respect of persons they committed sin (James ii. 9).

The Bible is thus exceedingly careful to guard the Divine character
from the charge of partiality. And obviously so. Let but the idea be
entertained in the mind for a moment, and it leaves a slime behind
it as if a serpent had passed through the corridor of our dwelling.
The simple question then is, Does this doctrine of Calvinistic
election exhibit God as a respecter of persons? It clearly does so.
According to it, God, irrespective of any conditions in the
creature, appoints a certain number to be saved and leaves the rest
to perish. And is not this partiality? Is not this favouritism?
Since the doctrine thus reflects on the Divine character, it
deserves condemnation.

(4.) In the _fourth_ place, we object to the Calvinistic doctrine of
election, _because it is opposed to the letter and spirit of many
passages of the Bible_. We beg attention to a few. Consider the OATH
OF GOD. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death
of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn
ye, turn ye, from your evil way, for why will ye die, O house of
Israel?" (Ezek. xxxiii. 11). Would not any one reading these words
naturally conclude that God really wished all the people to be
saved? Have they not a ring of genuine sincerity about them? We
cannot conceive that such a question would have been asked, viz.,
"Why will ye die?" had their death been inevitable. Not only was it
not inevitable, but the earnest entreaty to return showed that God
intensely desired their salvation. Yet, if Calvinism is true, the
oath of God and His earnest entreaty, as far as millions of the
human race are concerned, are simply as sounding brass and a
tinkling cymbal. Nay, more, they are a solemn mockery. I see two men
floundering in deep water; I jump into my boat and save one, and
bring him safely to shore. I could easily have saved the other had I
wished it, but did not. Were I then to stand on the bank of the
river and ask the sinking man, Why will you die? what would be
thought of me, or any man, who should act such a part? Such conduct
would be cruel, cruel to any poor soul in its death-struggle. Yet
this is exactly the part God is made to perform by the high
Calvinists, and is endorsed by their more modern brethren. He could
easily save every one if He wished it, they say: But this assertion
cannot stand in the presence of God's oath and His earnest entreaty
to turn and live.

THE VINEYARD.--Let us look at the case of the vineyard, as recorded
in Isaiah v. The house of Israel is there compared to a vineyard
which God had planted. After detailing what had been done, the
question is asked, "What could have been done more to my vineyard
that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should
bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" (verse 4). The
moral condition of Israel was anything but good. God had looked for
judgment, but there was oppression, and for righteousness, but
behold a cry! Yet the question in this fourth verse carries the idea
that He had done all that He wisely could, in the circumstances, to
reform and save them. But they were not reformed, they were not
saved. It might indeed be affirmed that this was because they had
not been visited by "special influence," or converting grace. But if
this kind of grace is the only kind that is fructifying, and was for
sovereign reasons withheld, how could the question be asked, "What
could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in
it?" The one thing needful had _not_ been done, if this hypothesis
is true, and in view of it the question could not have been put at
all. But it was put, and this shows that God had done all that He
wisely could do to save the people, and that He did not keep back
the needed grace, for which Calvinists contend.

CHRIST'S TEARS OVER JERUSALEM.--The tears of our Lord over the city
of Jerusalem are a clear demonstration against the Calvinistic
doctrine of election. It is said, "When He was come near, He beheld
the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou,
at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!
but now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke xix. 41, 42). When a
woman weeps it is not an infrequent phenomenon. Her nerves are more
finely strung than man's, and a touching tale or sympathetic story
brings the tears to her eyes and sobs from her lips. When men weep
it indicates deep emotion; and when Christ looked upon the city, His
soul was moved with compassion, and He wept. He knew what had been
done for the guilty inhabitants--how God had borne with them--and
the doom that, like the sword of Damocles, hung over them, and His
tender heart found relief in tears. In the presence of this weeping
Redeemer can we entertain the Calvinistic notion that He could
easily have saved the people, _if He had only wished it_? He wished
to gather them as a hen doth her chickens under her wings, but they
would not come. Were there not another passage in the Bible than the
one just referred to (Matthew xxiii. 37), it is sufficient to
dispose of the theory that God uses irresistible grace in saving
men. He had used the most powerful motives to bring them to himself,
but they would not come.

John Wesley, in writing on Predestination, says,--"Let it be
observed that this doctrine represents our blessed Lord Jesus
Christ, the righteous, the only-begotten Son of the Father, full of
grace and truth, as an hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man
void of common sincerity. For it cannot be denied that He everywhere
speaks as if He was willing that all men should be saved. Therefore,
to say that He was not willing that all men should be saved, is to
represent Him as a mere hypocrite and dissembler. It cannot be
denied that the gracious words which came out of His mouth are full
of invitations to all sinners. To say, then, He did not intend to
save all sinners, is to represent Him as a gross deceiver of the
people. You cannot deny that He says, 'Come unto me all ye that are
weary and heavy laden.' If, then, you say He calls those that cannot
come, those whom He knows to be unable to come, those whom He can
make able to come but will not; how is it possible to describe
greater insincerity? You represent Him as mocking His helpless
creatures, by offering what He never intends to give. You describe
Him as saying one thing and meaning another, as pretending the love
which He had not. Him in whose mouth was no guile, you make full of
deceit, void of common sincerity; then, especially when drawing nigh
the city He wept over it, and said, 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou
that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee,
how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would
not.' Now, if ye say they would but He would not, you represent Him
(which who could hear) as weeping crocodile's tears; weeping over
the prey which himself had doomed to destruction" (Ser. 128).

Consider the _last commission_ of Christ. Before our Lord left the
world He said to His apostles, "Go ye into all the world, and preach
the Gospel to every creature." Good news was thus to be proclaimed
to every human being. If the commission meant anything it meant
this, that God was honestly and earnestly desirous of saving every
one. And this is in beautiful harmony with the exhortation in
Isaiah: "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth"
(Isa. xlv. 22). It is also in keeping with the words of Jesus
recorded by John: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His
only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life" (John iii. 16); and with what the
apostle Peter says, that "God is not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter iii. 9); and with
what the apostle Paul says, that God "will have all men to be saved"
(1 Tim. ii. 4). But whilst the commission to preach the good news is
in harmony with these express statements, it is out of joint and
incongruous with the Calvinistic doctrine of election, that God
wishes only a few of the human family saved.

Consider the HOLY SPIRIT'S INVITATION. In Revelation xxii. 17, it is
written: "And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that
heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come, and whosoever
will let him take the water of life freely." Whilst we are so
constituted that we cannot believe a proposition the terms of which
we do not understand, and whilst there is much that is inscrutable
in the Spirit's work, yet the passage just quoted clearly means, if
it means anything, that the Holy Spirit invites all to come and
drink of the life-giving water. We cannot doubt His sincerity. When
all are invited to drink, it is implied that there is water for all,
and that it is free to all, and that they have power to drink. We
may not ask one to drink at an empty fountain without being guilty
of the sheerest mockery; and neither may we ask the wounded and
disabled man, who cannot walk a step, to come and drink, without
being guilty of the same. This invitation of the Spirit, then, is
inconsistent with the Calvinistic notion that His converting grace
is limited. Says the late Dr. John Guthrie, "Was it antecedently to
be supposed that a Divine Father who loves all, and so loved as to
give His own and only-begotten for our ransom, and that the Divine
Son, who as lovingly gave Himself, would send the Divine Spirit
mediatorially to reveal and interpret both, who should not operate
in the world on the same principle of impartiality and universality?
What philosophy and theology thus dictate, Scripture confirms.
Christ promised His disciples an interpreting and applying Spirit,
who should convince the _world_. Prophets predicted, and Pentecost
proved, that God was pouring out His Spirit on all flesh. These
influences were, in their largest incidents, soul-saving; through
being moral, they were resistible. Ye do always resist the Holy
Ghost, said Stephen, and the Holy Ghost himself saith to-day, Oh
that ye would hear His voice; which He would not do if faith came by
another sort of influence which He only could give, and which He did
not mean to give till _to-morrow_, or next year, or not at all! In
that last and most gracious of Gospel invitations, which the
incarnate Himself utters in Rev. xxii. 17, among other inviters, the
Spirit says, come! and says it to all; which surely, as He is the
Spirit of truth, He would not do, if not a soul could come till He
himself put forth an influence which He had predetermined to bestow
only on a select and favoured number. The ugly limitation will not
do. The work and heart of the loving Spirit are, and must be, as
large as those of the Father and the Son, whom He came to reveal."
(_Discourses_, Ser. X.)

The objections thus tendered to the Calvinistic theory of election
are sufficient separately, and much more so collectively, to condemn
the dogma. We impute no motives to the honoured men who hold the
doctrine. They are doubtless as sincere in their belief as we are in
ours. It did seem to us, at one time, that God could convert men if
He wished it; but the dictum of Chillingworth--"the Bible and the
Bible alone is the religion of Protestants," overturned that idea.
The words of Jesus, "How often would I have gathered thy children
together, . . . but ye would not," showed that Jesus was wishful to
save the people; but His wish was not realised, because they "would
not." And the Bible and philosophy are in harmony. We could easily
conceive, that were certain individuals to be taken by almighty
effort from one sphere, and placed in another, they would be
converted. Christ confirms this idea. He said, "Woe unto thee,
Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which
have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would
have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes" (Mat. xi. 21). But as
God loves all equally with the love of compassion, this exercise of
miracle in one case would lead to the exercise of miracle in
another. And what would this involve? It would simply lead to the
overturning of God's moral providence, which is based upon, and
carried on in conjunction with, the highest wisdom. Parents may
often be found sacrificing their wisdom to their love, but it is not
so with God. All His attributes are in harmony. Justice is not
sacrificed to love, nor love to justice. There is thus, in the
Divine character, a firm and unchanging basis for the most profound
veneration and the most intense affection.

Regarding the particular illustration of the people of Sodom, Tyre,
and Sidon, and why Christ had not done mighty works there, Dr.
Morison has remarked, "It was not befitting our Saviour to become
incarnate at _all times_, or even _at two different epochs_ in the
history of the world. And when He did appear at a particular epoch
in time, 'the fulness of the time,' it was absolutely necessary that
He should live and work miracles, _not everywhere_, but in some _one
limited area or locality_" (_Com. on Mat., ad loc._)



ALTHOUGH there is much confusion of thought regarding election
viewing it from a Calvinistic standpoint, the word itself is simple
enough, as is the doctrine when viewed in the light of Scripture.

THE WORD.--According to Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon, the verb
to elect (eklego) means, "To pick or single out," especially as
soldiers, rowers, &c. In the middle voice, "to pick out for one's
self, choose out." Robinson says it means "to lay out together, to
choose out, to select." In N. T. Mid., "to choose out for one's
self." Parkhurst gives as its signification, "to choose, choose
out." It has a variety of applications in the Scriptures, just as it
has in our common everyday life. It was applied to the Jewish
nation, regarding which it was said, "The Lord thy God hath chosen
thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations
that are upon the earth" (Deut. xiv. 2). The term comprehended the
whole nation, and no one will contend that the choice spoken of
indicated that every Jew was safe for eternity. It was applied to
the apostles, but this did not thereby secure infallibly their
salvation. Judas fell away, and hanged himself. Paul declared that
he had constantly to watch himself, lest he should become "a
castaway." It is applied to David, "But I chose David to be over my
people Israel" (1 Kings viii. 16). It is used also in reference to
"place:" "As the place which the Lord your God shall choose" (Deut.
xii. 5). The prophets of Baal were asked to "choose" a bullock, "and
call on the name of their gods" (1 Kings xviii. 23). These and other
applications of the word are quite sufficient to show that the term
is not necessarily connected with the choosing of a few men to
eternal salvation, and implying a faith-necessitating work of the
Holy Spirit. And something is gained when we have gained this. Were
we therefore asked whether we denied election? we should be quite
entitled to ask, to what kind of election did our questioner refer?
since there are several kinds referred to in the Holy Scriptures,
and a special kind outside of Scripture, entertained by the
followers of John Calvin.

EVANGELICAL ELECTION. A PROCESS.--Seeing that the word "elect" means
to "pick out," "to choose, to lay aside for one's self," it may
denote either an act or a process, according to the object elected.
If I select a book from the library, or choose an apple from the
tree, the election thus exercised is simply an act, The book elected
and the apple were entirely passive, having no will in the matter.
But suppose I want two servants: I go into the market where a number
are standing waiting to be employed. I find two, and explain the
nature of the service, and state the wages and the rules of the
house. One of the two accepts, the other refuses. I go forward on my
mission, and find another. I state to him what I stated to the two
already mentioned. He agrees, and is engaged. I have chosen
--"elected"--the servants; but it was a process, not a simple act.
Other wills came into play which differentiated the election in the
one case from the other, and the concurrence of the two wills
completed the matter. It is written in the word: "Wherefore, come
out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch
not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father
unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
Almighty" (2 Cor. vi. 17, 18). This brings the matter plainly before
us. There is the Divine exhortation, human concurrence, and the
result--adoption. It is an absurd and unreasonable supposition to
imagine that God deals with rational and responsible creatures as He
does with vegetable and irrational brutes, which He does if the
theory of irresistible grace is maintained.

THE AUTHOR OF EVANGELICAL ELECTION.--There would not be need for any
remark on this subject, were it not that objection may be urged
against the view just stated, that it makes man the author of his
election. In a secondary, yet important sense, he has to do with his
election. But God is the Prime Mover and Author of evangelical
election. The scheme of redemption originated with Him. He tells men
that He earnestly desires their return, and upon what terms He will
graciously receive them. If they consent He will take them out from
amongst the condemned, "select them," "elect them," and place them
among His children. The Bible confirms this view: "God hath from the
beginning chosen you" (2 Thes. ii. 13.) "God our Father has chosen
us in Him" (Eph. i. 3, 4.)

THE OBJECTS OF EVANGELICAL ELECTION,--The people of this country are
frequently engaged in elections. We elect men for the School Board,
the Town Council, and for Parliament. When we record our vote we do
so for a definite object. What, then, are the objects which God has
in view in evangelical election? The apostle Peter states them in
his first epistle. He says, "Elect unto obedience and sprinkling of
the blood of Jesus." (1 Peter i. 2.) In other words, they were
chosen, having become believers, to the blessings of justification
and sanctification,--the one having reference to their state, the
other to their character.

HOW TO ENTER AMONG THE ELECT.--This has been the great puzzle to
those educated under the teaching of Calvinistic divines. They read
in the Bible that God wishes all men to be saved, but they are told
that this means all the elect. At times they are "offered" a
Saviour, but they are told that in order to believe in Him they need
the irresistible influence of the Holy Ghost. If they are amongst
the favoured ones, it will come to them in due time; but if they are
not, then no prayers, no cries, no tears can alter the Divine
decree. How long will men stand by a system unknown to the Christian
church for 400 years, and alike repugnant to the reason and the
whole spirit of the Gospel, and fitted to plunge the honest inquirer
into endless perplexity?

    "Oh! how unlike the complex works of man
    Heaven's easy, artless, unencumber'd plan,
    No meretricious graces to beguile,
    No clustering ornaments to clog the pile;
    From ostentation as from weakness free,
    It stands like the cerulean arch we see,
    Majestic in its own simplicity.
    Inscribed above the portal from afar,
    Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
    Legible only by the light they give,
    Stand the soul-quickening words--'BELIEVE AND LIVE.'"

Paul in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians tells us how they
entered among the elect. His words are: "But we are bound to give
thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because
God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thes. ii.
13.) They were thus among the elect, and we are told how it came
about. The Spirit had brought the Gospel message to Thessalonica by
his accredited agent, the apostle Paul. In that message the people
were told of God's infinite love--that He loved them, and that the
Saviour had died for their sins. He testified to Jesus as mighty to
save, to save any--to save all--to save to the very uttermost. He
convinced them that they stood in need of a Saviour, and that Christ
was the very Saviour they required. These were two great phases of
the Spirit's work--viz., to produce conviction in the mind of the
sinner, and to point out Jesus as the Lamb of God which hath taken
away the sin of the world. The Thessalonians, under His gracious
testimony, believed the record, or, as it is said, "the truth," and
became the chosen of God--His elected ones.

That this is true may be seen from the way in which sinners enter
into God's adopted family. It will be admitted that all who are in
God's adopted family are in a saved condition--in the same state, in
short, as are the elected ones. But how do men enter into this
adopted family? It is stated in John i. 12, "But as many as received
Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them
that believe on His name." To believe on His name is just to depend
upon Him alone for salvation. The apostle Paul in writing to the
Galatians says, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in
Christ Jesus" (Gal. iii. 26.) Each one had personally to believe in
Christ, or to say as Paul said, He "loved me, and gave himself for
me" (Gal. ii. 20.)

It may be said that this makes the way too easy, too simple. It is
simple to us indeed, but it cost the Divine Father the sacrifice of
His only-begotten Son; it cost the Divine Son His sore agony in the
Garden of Gethsemane, and His offering up of himself upon the cross.
But the simplicity of the way of salvation is implied in such
passages as, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the
earth;" and, "Hear and your soul shall live." The reason why it is
easy is this,--the meritorious work of salvation, the work upon the
ground of which we get into heaven, is not our feelings, nor our own
works, but the work, the finished work of Christ.

The system advocated in this treatise may be objected to on the
ground that it makes man the arbiter of his own destiny. There is no
doubt that it really does so. But is this a good ground for
rejecting it? We think not. Let it be remembered that all through
life man has to exercise the power of election--choice. He has to do
so in regard to a profession or trade, in regard to securities, and
in respect of marriage, and it would only be in harmony with what he
is constantly doing, were he called upon to "choose," or decide,
upon matters affecting his spiritual condition. Is he not, moreover,
the maker of his own character? This is his most precious heritage,
more valuable than thousands of gold and silver. But how is it made?
By single volitions on the side of the right, the true, and the
good. And is not the life that is to come a continuance of the life
that _now is_? And if we exercise choice in the making of our
characters, this is the same as being the arbiters of our
destination in eternity. And what is thus plain to the intelligence
is confirmed by the Scriptures. Their language is, "Choose ye this
day whom ye will serve;" "Wilt thou not from this day say unto me,
My father?" They thus clearly make the matter to turn on the

It may be said that the view for which we have been contending, does
not give the Christian the comfort of heart which the system opposed
does. But the primary question with an honest inquirer should not
be, which view of a subject is the most agreeable? but, what is the
truth upon the point? It is possible in religious life, as in
social, to live in a fool's paradise. But what more comfort could a
man desiderate than is given by the Holy Spirit? The Christian may
be poor and deformed, but God loves him all the same as if he were
rich as Croesus, and in form had the symmetry of the Apollo
Belvidere. He may be tried as silver is tried in the fire, but the
Lord will sit as the refiner, and not suffer him to be tried above
what he is able to bear.

But what about the _security_ of the believer? The covenant being
made between Christ and the Father is well ordered in all things and
sure, according to the system of Predestination. "Once a saint, a
saint for ever," it has been said. The Christian, it is argued, may
make slips, even as David did, but he cannot fall finally away, for
every one that Christ died for will be ultimately saved. Now if all
this were true, then doubtless a sense, or feeling if you will, of
security would be gained. When Cromwell was dying he is said to have
asked his chaplain whether those who once knew the truth could be
lost, and being answered in the negative, he replied, "Then I am
safe." Now, it is not agreeable to be constantly on the watch-tower
looking out for the foe, or to have to tread cautiously among the
grass lest you should be bitten by a rattlesnake. But a man may
imagine himself to be secure when he is not. Many of the
shareholders and trustees involved in the late Bank catastrophy
thought they were secure; but they slept upon a slumbering volcano,
and many lost their all. They thought that they were secure, but it
was a dream from which they were awakened to a terrible reality. So
in religion. A man under the shadow of a theory may think himself
safe, whilst his gourd is only the gourd of Jonah, a thing that
withers under the heat of the sun. The feeling of security is very
agreeable; but how, if strict Calvinism is adhered to, is any man to
get intelligently amongst the elect? If Christ has died only for a
few, and the names of these are kept a profound secret, how can I
believe that I am among that few? We cannot believe without
evidence. If we do, our faith is the faith of the fool--a dream, a
conceit, and nothing more. Before a man, upon the theory of strict
Calvinism, can believe that Christ died for him, he would require to
get a list of the elect. This not being forthcoming, many poor men
are waiting for the touch of the Almighty's finger to work faith
within them, and place them among the happy number of the saved. But
in so waiting they are under a perfect delusion. As a matter of fact
there are many excellent Christian men who contend earnestly for the
creed of Calvinism. They read in the Bible that God is willing to
take sinners back through Christ, and they come to Him, and
consecrate themselves to His services, and then battle for
limitation. But in accepting Christ as their Saviour they shut their
eyes to the doctrine of their creed, and acted on the declarations
of the word of God. We rejoice that they are Christians, but
maintain, nevertheless, that in believing they acted illogically.

But to return to security. What more security could any one desire
than the word of Christ?--"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they
shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able
to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John x. 27, 29). Our Lord is
here speaking of external foes, and declares that no enemy is strong
enough to take His sheep from Him. But men enter His service freely,
and freely they remain. He has no slaves in His household. His
people are attached to Him because they see in Him a concentration
of all that is noble and good. His self-sacrifice for them has won
their hearts, and inspired them with devotedness to His person. That
it is possible to fall away we admit, from the fact that man is a
free being surrounded with temptations; and also because we find
throughout the Bible earnest exhortations to watchfulness, which
would be quite useless except upon the possibility of letting the
truth slip from the mind. Hymenaeus and Alexander made shipwreck of
their faith (1 Tim. i.); and Paul had to keep his body under, lest
he himself should become a castaway. But the _possibility_ of
falling away should not disturb the equanimity of any Christian for
a moment. As free creatures we have the power of throwing ourselves
into the river, or the fire, or in many other ways taking our own
life; yet the possession of this power in nowise disturbs our
tranquillity of soul, or mars our peace of mind. It were, no doubt,
more pleasing to the flesh to have no fighting, no struggle, no
watching; but we must accept the logic of facts, and they clearly
indicate that the Christian life is a battle all the way to the
gates of the New Jerusalem. But in this spiritual contest, the thews
and sinews of the soul are made strong. By failing to realise the
ideal of what a Christian should be, believers feel the need of
Christ's presence, and the help of the Holy Ghost, and sympathise
with the sentiments of the hymn.

    "I could not do without Thee,
      O Saviour of the lost,
    Whose precious blood redeemed me
      At such tremendous cost;
    Thy righteousness, Thy pardon,
      Thy precious blood must be
    My only hope and comfort,
      My glory and my plea.

    "I could not do without Thee;
      I cannot stand alone,
    I have no strength or goodness,
      No wisdom of my own;
    But Thou, beloved Saviour,
      Art all in all to me,
    And weakness will be power
      If leaning hard on Thee.

    "I could not do without Thee
      No other friend can read
    The spirit's strange deep longings,
      Interpreting its need;
    No human heart could enter
      Each dim recess of mine,
    And soothe, and hush, and calm it,
      O blessed Lord, but Thine.

Having entered by faith into the family of God, or in other words,
amongst the elect, it becomes the sacred duty of the believer to be
careful to maintain good works. He must remember that the way to
heaven is not strewn with roses. He is Christ's freeman; but it is
with spiritual freedom as with civil, "eternal vigilance is the
price of liberty." Neither is it an artillery duel, or firing at
long range; it is ofttimes a grapple in the fosse for victory or

But the Christian--the elected one--has not to fight life's battle
alone. The Holy Spirit having led him to Jesus carries on the good
work in his heart. He tells him that he is dear to God; that he is
His son, "His jewel;" His "portion;" that God will never leave him
nor forsake him; that his strength shall be equal to his day; that
his foot shall never be moved; and that God, who hath given up for
him His son, will with that Son freely give him all things. By being
faithful unto death he shall at last receive the crown of life,
which shall never fade away.



 Acts ii. 23, iv. 27, 28
 Adrumetum, Monks of
 Amos iii. 6
 Arles, Synod of
 Believers, Security of
 Blinding of men
 Byron's mother
 Calvin on Reprobation
 Cassian, John
 Charles V.
 Chosen, The, few
 Christ, Marvelling of
 Church of England
 Clark, Dr. A.
 Clement of Rome
 2 Corinthians xiii. 5, 2 Corinthians xiii. 6
 Cunningham, his Admission
 Dort, Synod of
 Eadie, Dr., View of
 Elect, The foreknown
 Elect, The word
 Elect, the, How to enter amongst
 Election, Objects in
 Eli, Sons of
 Ephesians i. 4, i. 11
 Evil in the city
 Faber, Statement by
 Fathers, their testimony
 Gal. ii. 20
 God, His foreknowledge, His oath
 Great men, Mothers of
 Guthrie, Dr. John
 Heb. vi. 8
 Invitations, Holy Spirit's
 Isaiah i. 18, xlv. 7, xlvi. 10
 Jacob and Esau
 Jeremiah vi. 30, vii. 29
 Job xiv. 5
 John xii. 37
 Jude iv
 Judgment, The day of
 Keilah, David in
 1 Kings xxii
 Kinloch, Lord
 Lambeth, Articles of
 Luke xiv. 26
 Mark v. 6
 Matthew xi. 21, xx. 16
 Martyr, Justin
 Mental power
 Mercy on whom He will
 Moral distinctions destroyed
 Mosheim, Testimony of
 Pelagianism, what?
 Persons, Respect of
 1 Peter i. 1, ii. 8, 2 Peter i. 10
 Philosophy ignored
 Potter, The, and the clay
 Power, Divine
 Providential blessings
 Psalm lxxvi. 10, cxxv. 6
 Reason, Appeal to
 Reprobation [1], [2]
 Romans i. 28, viii. 29, ix. 11, ix. 13, ix. 15, xi. 5
 1 Samuel ii. 25
 Sin, Author of
 Sovereignty, God's
 Tears, Christ's
 2 Thessalonians ii. 13
 2 Timothy iii. 8
 Titus i. 16
 U. P. Church
 Wesley, John
 Westminster, Assembly of


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