[Published in Overture.]
CONTENTS AFTER INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
AMONG the controversies relating to gospel doctrine, that denominated Arminian has occupied a prominent place since the commencement of the seventeenth century. It derived its origin and took its name from James Arminius, a native of Holland, educated in the principles of the Calvinistic system of theology, at the University of Geneva. Early in life he evinced a mind fond of subtleties, and too easily captivated with novel sentiments. Though admonished to guard against the indulgence of this disposition, generally so dangerous, it grew upon him, until he began to call in question the truth of several doctrines received by the orthodox, and to assail the authority of Calvin, Zanchius, Beza and others, who had ably illustrated and defended them. He gradually advanced in the dissemination of opinions directly contrary to those embodied in the Belgic Confession and Catechism, which he had subscribed at his ordination, and which harmonized with the Confessions of the Reformed churches in other countries. In this manner he laid the foundation of the system, technically called Arminianism, in which were revived many of Pelagian heresies. It denies the Divine Decrees, particularly Election and Reprobation, total depravity by the imputation of Adam’s first sin, Christ’s imputed righteousness as the alone ground of justification, the necessity of divine grace to the performance of good works and other doctrines connected with these. It maintains, that we, in our fallen state, retain the power of doing good, that Christ’s death is accepted of God as a universal atonement for sin, in order that every one may be saved if he will, that sinless perfection is attainable in the present life, that the sinner can so resist the grace of God as to render it ineffectual, and that truly gracious persons may, and in many instances do, fall away from saving grace. Though Arminius did not distinctly carry out his opinions on all these points to the extent here mentioned, he embraced the main principles from which the others natively flow, thus laying the plan which his followers perfected. His situation as pastor at Amsterdam, connected with his genius and attainments gave him an influence, which gained credit to his tenets. This he was enhanced by his appointment to the chair of sacred theology in the university of Leyden, vacated by the death of the celebrated Junius,—an appointment made in opposition to the efforts of those who were adverse to filling so important a situation with a man suspected by many, and known by some to be unsound in the faith. He obtained it, partly by the influence of those who had embraced his sentiments, and partly by his own duplicity, manifested in the disavowal of errors laid to his charge, and in his solemn engagement to teach nothing contrary to the received doctrines of the Reformed churches. He kept the engagement in the same way with that made at his ordination, and as dishonest ecclesiastics have in all ages kept things, when subscription to an orthodox creed has formed no barrier to the inculcating of heresy, or has been made a passport to the place affording facilities for impugning the truths of the system subscribed.
During the first year succeeding his appointment, Arminius conducted plausibly, endeavoring to avert from himself the suspicions that had been entertained. He returned however to his accustomed plan of attacking the doctrines formerly assailed, questioning their agreeableness with the word of God, and attempting to invalidate the arguments by which they were supported. The effect was soon discovered in the sentiments and conduct of young men, who waited on his instructions. Leaving the university, they avowed and advocated sentiments at variance with the received system of truth. Thus Arminianism was strengthening itself in one of the citadels; while its abettors were in all quarters sedulously enlisting recruits. The great body of the clergy in the Belgic churches opposed the spread of opinion at war with the doctrines of their Confession. Francis Gomar, the colleague of Arminius, especially distinguished himself by his efficient and fearless opposition. Repeatedly the orthodox desired and endeavored to have the whole matter brought before the church courts; but Arminius and his associates still succeeded in evading or procrastinating a trial of their sentiments by the proper authority. The most to which they would consent was the appointment of conferences, and in these they generally managed to prevent the accomplishment of anything definite. At length, in the year 1609, the demands for a Provincial Synod became so urgent that the States General were preparing to call one at an early date. The Arminians, by their influence with men in power, effected, that instead of a Provincial Synod, a conference on the disputed topics should be held in presence of the States General. Arminius and Gomar chose, each three to be associated with them as counsellors. In this conference were discussed the doctrines of justification, election, free will and the perseverance of the saints. On all these subjects Arminius practiced his wonted equivocation. He was however drawn out more fully in his views of election than formerly, admitting his sentiment to be “that faith was the antecedent cause or condition of election; not its fruit or effect.” Unable to maintain, against the arguments of Gomar, his sentiments respecting perseverance, he professed not to have fully settled his opinion in relation to that doctrine, and would do no more than propose the considerations which made him hesitate in receiving it.
Gomar presented other articles of difference, Original sin, Assurance of salvation, Perfection in the present life, &c. but the state of Arminius’ health induced the States General to close the discussion, promising, at the request of the orthodox pastors present, to convene a Synod as soon as practicable, before which the entire cause should be examined more fully and decided. Arminius did not long survive the adjournment of this conference. The friends of truth hoped the evils of which he had been the author and chief promoter, would cease when he was no longer to sustain them. His opinions had been too widely disseminated, had taken root too deeply, and were too congenial to corrupt human nature to be thus eradicated. They were propagated with equal zeal, and were more openly avowed by his followers. The States General refused to convene the Synod. Though often reminded of their promise, and urged to considerations of duty and the welfare of true religion. Evidently a majority of them were favorably disposed to the Arminian cause. A knowledge of this, added to the confidence acquired by their increasing strength, greatly emboldened its advocates.
In 1611 the ministers espousing this system, met privately and formed “a body” as they called it, distinct from the body of their fellow pastors, thus instituting a schism in the Reformed church. They prepared a remonstrance to the States General in which they set forth various grievances, misrepresented the received doctrines, maligned the character of those opposed to them, and prayed for protection and relief. This document they afterwards presented, and from it received the name Remonstrants. They had influence with those in whose hands the paper lay to prevent its publicity, or the procurement of a copy by any of the orthodox. Thus heresy, misrepresentation and schismatics seek the cover of concealment until their works of darkness may be consummated.
This with other doings of the Arminians, especially their efforts to have Vortius, justly suspected of Socinianism, appointed successor to Arminius in the university, justly alarmed the friends of truth. They became more active in their exertions. They urged the necessity of a National Synod, using every method to procure a call. The Remonstrants counteracted their endeavors, procrastinating when they could, and resorting to their old plea, that conferences afforded the best method of settling the difficulties. In this way matters progressed for years without the appearance of approximating to adjustment. Rather the breach was rendered wider. The Remonstrants plead for toleration and succeeded so far as to have it offered in a conference held at the Hague, provided they would renounce the errors of Socinianism. Happily, they would submit to the imposition of no condition; and thus, what they desired was withheld. Informally, however, they obtained the promulgation of decrees, enjoining what they desired, but these were never recognized by the orthodox as authoritative. It soon appeared that the toleration plead for was intended by the Remonstrants to be exercised only until they had acquired sufficient power to deny it to others. Evidence of this was furnished in the ejectment of ministers not favorable to their views, in the settlement of others in their room, often without the people’s consent, and in the penalties inflicted on those who refused to acquiesce with their injunctions of their forced decrees; which things were done in different places, where the magistrates espoused their cause, and acted officially on their behalf.
In 1617 the demands for a National Synod became too general, and were urged with too much earnestness to be longer resisted. The better part had become convinced that the interests of pure religion were injured, and the safety and prosperity of the state threatened with imminent danger. Maurice, prince of Orange, the chief magistrate of the United Provinces, pressed upon the States General the convocation of a Synod, as the only means of remedying the existing evils. The states of Gueldria, Friesland, Groningen and others, with some principle cities of Holland, urged the same measure. To this were added the counsel and entreaties of James I. king of Great Britain, who admonished the States General as an ally and friend, that they should convoke a Synod, and no longer suffer the gangrene to feed upon the vitals of religion and good government. All this influence the Remonstrants strenuously endeavored to set aside. Thwarted in the attempts so long and often made successfully, they resorted to desperate measures. They persuaded as many as they could, that the measure contemplated was averse to the liberty of the provinces severally, because each province possessed the exclusive right of determining all religious matters within its bounds. By their influence the magistrates in Utrecht, Rotterdam, Leyden and other cities, ordered the levying of soldiers, who should be bound by oath neither to the States General nor the Stadtholder. This measure was suppressed in time to prevent a civil war, chiefly through the fortitude, ability and prudence of prince Maurice.
Matters being brought to this crises the States General saw the necessity of calling without unnecessary delay the Synod so urgently demanded. Accordingly, they decreed its convocation, appointing the first of May,[1.] 1618, as the time, and Dort as the place of meeting. They directed Provincial Synods to be held in each of the provinces for the purpose of appointing delegates, and in other ways preparing for the national Synod. They also addressed letters to the Reformed churches in all the protestant kingdoms of Europe, requesting them to send forward delegates to aid in the examination and decision of the weighty matters to be laid before the Synod. At the time appointed, the most eminent divines of the United Provinces, both Calvinistic and Arminian, with delegates from England, Scotland, Switzerland, Hessia, Bremen, Genoa, the Palatinate and other countries, met in the city of Dort. Seldom has so learned an assembly convened to attend to ecclesiastical matters. Nearly all protestant Europe felt the necessity of attending to, and settling the business for which the Synod had been convoked. Hence so general a representation from the Reformed churches. Considerable difficulty was experienced in settling the manner of proceeding; and contradictory statements are given by historians respecting the mode in which the business was conducted. An impartial comparison of the statements published, warrants the conclusion, that both parties had opportunity of discussing the subject in dispute, while care was taken to prevent the introduction of matters irrelevant, and calculated to defeat the object for which the Synod had assembled. Attention to this might have prevented the mistake, that the Arminians were denied the freedom of discussion. Restraint was imposed upon them only when they endeavored to divert attention from the subject in hand, or when they attempted to violate the settled order of procedure.
After mature deliberation upon the doctrines of Predestination, Atonement, Depravity, Conversion and Perseverance; and before coming to a conclusion, the delegates from the several churches were required to prepare and submit to Synod written opinions on the subjects discussed. These exhibited a degree of harmony to be accounted for only on the principle, that all drew the reasonings by which they arrived at similar conclusions from the same source—the fountain of divine truth. The Synod adopted substantially, in a condensed form, the views contained in the written opinions of the delegates. The sentiments of the Arminians were declared to be contrary to the laws of God, and condemned as erroneous.
Had similar measures been taken in time, they might have proved efficient in preventing much evil to the church and to the world. But the application of the remedy was too long delayed. The Arminian heresy had spread far and wide. It was so congenial to the corrupt principle of the human heart, and so well calculated to flatter and cherish man’s pride, that even the efficient doings of the Synod of Dort were inadequate to its suppressing. Besides, the Remonstrants, like other schismatics, whose heresies have been condemned, raised the cry of persecution, turned the excitement to account, and were stirred up to greater diligence in propagating their system. From the Belgic churches it spread to those of other countries. In France its progress was rapid. Some in England drank in the poison, which wrought slowly but surely, until the time of Arch-Bishop Laud; through his influence, the great body of the established clergy embraced the Arminian doctrine concerning predestination and grace, manifesting a strong propensity to favor other tenets of the same system. The spirit of Arminianism has, from the first, exercised an injurious influence upon many professedly orthodox. One of its leading maxims is, “that the doctrines whose belief is necessary to salvation are very few in number.” Hence so much clamor about “non-essential truths,” “the comparative unimportance of what a man believes,” “the agreeing to differ,” &c. To this, perhaps, more than to any other thing, are to be attributed that indifference to divine truth, that neutrality concerning articles of faith; and that neglect or refusal to preach and maintain the whole counsel of God, which have placed in the back ground many prominent gospel doctrines. The Remonstrants, as an ecclesiastical community have long since declined; but the influence of their religious sentiments is unabated. Their principles are, in one way or another incorporated with the religious systems of a majority of the denominations in Christendom. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, different orders of Baptists, and other communities of less note are confessedly Arminian. The congregational churches of New England generally, and the Hopkinsians, embrace substantially the whole Arminian system of doctrine. So do a large proportion, probably a majority, of the clergy and members of the General Assembly. Many in the Dutch churches, in the church of Scotland, and a host of Independent, having little or no connection with any ecclesiastical community. Besides these, Arians, Socinians, Unitarians, Papists, Universalists, Quakers and other sects of heretics innumerable, make common cause with Arminians in opposing the system of Calvinism.
Since the Synod of Dort, the controversy between Calvinists and Arminians has been confined chiefly to the Five Points of doctrine discussed and settled at that time. These are Predestination, Limited Atonement, Total Depravity, Effectual Calling, and the Perseverance of the saints. Each of these we consider in order.
I. OF PREDESTINATION.
Predestination signifies literally appointment by predetermination. As a theological term, it denotes God’s eternal decrees, whereby he hath foreordained whatever comes to pass. In the Arminian controversy it refers chiefly to God’s foreordination of a part of mankind to salvation and of the rest to everlasting death. In this sense it expresses what is denoted by the two terms, Election and Reprobation. The subject, as thus viewed, is naturally divided into two parts.
Election is the eternal, sovereign and immutable act of God, whereby he chose from among fallen mankind, a certain number in Christ to be saved by him.
With proofs of such act of choosing the scriptures abound. Eph. i.4, “He hath chosen us.” Verse 5, “Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will.” 2nd Thess. ii. 13, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Mat. xxiv. 22, “For the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Rom. xi. 5. “There is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Verse vii. “The election hath obtained and the rest were blinded.” Chap. viii. 29, “Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son.” So full and pointed are these and many other texts of scripture, that Arminians have been constrained to admit of an election. But while they yield the name, they endeavor by various methods, to explain away the thing denoted by it, thus denying the scriptural election. In illustration and farther confirmation of this doctrine we remark:
1. Election respects certain individual persons chosen and designated to salvation, and is not “a general purpose of saving all such as will believe, repent, &c.” To ascribe to Jehovah general purposes, so as to imply particulars left undetermined, is no better than a denial of his purposes altogether. Both are derogatory to his character, both are in opposition to his words. “He declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure.” Isa. xlvi. 10, “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Eph. i. 11. This characteristic of all God’s purposes is especially set forth in the scripture touching his purpose of election. Rom. ix. 11-18, “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 that calleth: Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated.” “So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy and whom he will he hardeneth.” Again; Election is represented as terminating upon persons, not upon qualities of which they might become possessed. “He hath chosen us,” “Having predestinated us.” So explicit is the Holy Spirit on this point that the elect are represented by their very names. “Jacob have I loved.” “Your names are written in heaven.” Luke x. 20. “Whose names are in the book of life.” Phil. iv. 3. Names stand for persons not character.
Omniscience cannot belong to God, if the elect, as to their number and who they might be, can be known only when all mankind come to be tested by their faith or unbelief, repentance or impenitence. How could he know whether his election were not utterly vain, if it depended on men’s believing, repenting, &c. whether any were chosen. And yet “known unto God are all his works from the beginning.” “Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate.” Again; the scriptures represent election as of grace; but in this view that grace would be exercised, and yet might never reach any man. Yea on the Arminian plan certainly never would. For, make the election of God to terminate on men indefinitely as they would come to believe and repent; and make faith and repentance to depend on the sinners free-will; then, as soon may the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots, as he who had been accustomed to do evil would so learn to do well, that the choice of God would embrace him.
2. Election is of God’s sovereign good-will and pleasure, not on account of merit in the chosen, nor of foreseen faith and good works. “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.” Rom. ix. 18. “Having predestinated us according to the good pleasure of his will.” Eph. i. 5. “Not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” 2nd Tim. i. 9. The truth here presented is deducible from the consideration, that the very things which Arminians make the ground of cause of election are the free gifts of God. Thus faith, Eph. ii. 8, “Faith—not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.” Phil. i. 29. “Unto you it is given to believe on him.” So of repentance. Acts ii. 18. “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance.” Chap. v.31, “Him hath God exalted to give repentance.” How trifling to represent his own free gifts as motives inclining or inducing God to choose the persons on whom he bestows them. Literally it is this. God chose them because of the faith, &c. which he would give them. This the Arminian does not indeed admit; but he gets clear of the absurdity only by denying faith, repentance and good works to be of God’s operation! that is by denying the truth of the abovementioned passages with many others. Look at this subject under another aspect. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Acts xiii. 48. Not as many as believed were, or had been ordained. “He hath chosen us in him that we should be holy.” Eph. i. 4. Not because it was foreseen we would be holy. In this passage as everywhere, holiness is represented as the fruit of election, not the ground thereof—as the effect, not the cause. It comports not with the character of Jehovah to suspend any of his purposes on conditions to be performed by man. Even to imagine that any of the plans of the infinite mind are dependent for their execution on the will of the creature is impious. Between this and a subjection of the will of Jehovah to the caprice of man there is no distinction. Again; If foreseen faith be the election, the sinner chooses God, not God the sinner. Either this, or the sinner’s love to God and choice of him in the exercise of faith, must precede the love and choice of God, for the cause must precede the effect. One or the other of these grounds the Arminian must take. Both are untrue. “Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you.” Joh. xv.16, “We love him because he first loved us.” 1 Joh. iv. 19.
The tendency of the whole Arminian scheme is to exalt the sinner in his own estimation, leading his mind from his true natural condition and influencing him to trust in himself. To no part of the system does this apply more strikingly than to that now under consideration. It carries the mind back to eternity and teaches it that even then God saw something good in those chosen to salvation, which influenced his mind in making the choice. But know fond visionary! who dreamst of aught good in any, that when God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, their state universally was that described in the 53d Psalm. “Every one of them is gone back, they are altogether become filthy.” Know also, that, as election implies necessarily the taking of some, while others are left, had the cause been sought in man there could have been no election. Where all were alike, nothing could be or be seen in one, which was not or not seen in all. Either be honest and admit your denial of the doctrine of election, or cease to seek its overthrow by confining God to causes and reasons, conditions out of himself, on which you make his will dependent. Cease to assail Jehovah’s sovereignty and say, when speaking of this great mystery, as Christ has said, “Even so Father for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
3. Election is eternal. This remark meets the Arminian view of the subject which represents God as choosing, as recording in the book of life, &c. individuals when they comply with the conditions on which the divine choice is said to depend. We have shewn above, that election is not suspended on conditions. It may be stated further, that as God’s decrees are eternal, this is so necessarily. “He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world.” Eph. i.4. “God hath from the beginning chosen you.” 2 Thess. ii.13. “According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus.” Eph. iii.11. The original word here used to express the eternity of God’s purpose is used Rom xvi.26, to express the eternity of his Being. Indeed the Arminian view takes from election the nature of a purpose or decree altogether and makes it simply a registering of persons as they comply with conditions. It takes away too all idea of choice, for to record as matter of fact has no choice in it.
4. The election of God is unchangeable. Immortality characterizes all his purposes. “He is of one mind and who can turn him.” “My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure.” A change of purpose argues imperfection. This can have no place with God. Men may change their plans. It is natural they should. Want of foresight, inability to accomplish the objects undertaken, with a variety of other reasons, often occasion an alteration or abandonment of their purposes. Until however it can be shown that things may and do occur, of which God from eternity had no knowledge, which he has not power to prevent, or which give him a will or inclination different from those he had before, we must receive as settled the truth that "There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." Prov. xix.21. Being infinitely perfect he can change none of his purposes for the better. To speak of changing for the worse is too much even for an Arminian. Equally unworthy of him is all idea of remodeling his plans, in accommodation to the changes of his creatures. The passions that agitate the bosoms of men, causing them to alter, do not appertain to him, nor does a want of power to execute. “He is of one mind.” “Who hath resisted his will? He worketh all things after the counsel thereof.”
From this general account of Jehovah’s purposes, the inference is, that election among the most important is unchangeable. Besides, he loved with an everlasting love those that were chosen, and “whom he loveth he loveth to the end,” and to this “that the purpose of God according to election might stand,” Rom. ix.11. “The foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal the Lord knoweth them that are his.” 2d Tim. ii.19. “I will not blot his name out of the book of life.” Rev. iii.5.
The other part of Predestination, as the term is used in the controversy, refers to the reprobation of the non-elect. Strongly and bitterly as the doctrine of sovereign unconditional election has been opposed, this has met with opposition still stronger and more bitter. It has been called superlatively “That most abhorrent doctrine of Calvinism.” Reprobation includes,
1. A preterition passing by of all the non-elect.
The whole argument in proof of non-election, proves also the truth now to be considered, as election necessarily supposes that some are left. To this we add the following considerations. The great majority of mankind have been left of God to be without the means through which he makes himself savingly known. To them, Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, has never been revealed. The joyful sound of salvation, by his atoning blood has never reached their ears. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” Plainly they who have been left without the word and the other means of grace, through which a knowledge of God, of the Saviour, and the plan of salvation is made known and without which none can call on God, were not designed of him to obtain everlasting life. “Where no vision is the people perish.” Surely He, who knows the end from the beginning, knew from eternity that many nations would be left destitute of the gospel and consequently strangers to the faith that cometh by it. Surely, this destitution is according to his will—of his good pleasure, and surely it follows that they were passed by and left to perish in their sins. Besides, in lands enlightened by the gospel, many live and die who are not made partakers of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Did God design that they should ever partake thereof? If he did, evidently that design is frustrated. If he did not, the truth of his leaving them to perish follows necessarily. This accords strictly with the declaration of scripture. “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep.” Joh. x.26. “Many are called but few chosen.” Mat. xx.16, compared with Joh. xv.19. “I have chosen you out of the world.” These texts clearly teach that when some of mankind were chosen, the others were excepted. Hence Christ says “I pray not for the world,” and Paul preserving a similar distinction says, “The election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded,” Rom xi.7. And again, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” Chap. i.28. The same truth shall be asserted when the judge shall say to them on the left hand “I never knew you.”
In the passing by of the non-elect, some divines have made the whole of reprobation to consist. Thus far they have been willing to go against the Arminian system on this part of predestination. On the other hand, a few of the Arminian school have conceded this much to Calvinists. It is however, only part of the truth relating to this grand doctrine: for,
2. In reprobation, the non-elect were predestined to remain in sin, and for their sin foreordained to condemnation. Plainly God permits some to continue in sin and impenitency even to the end. This, like all things else, is according to the sovereign counsel of his will. All his counsels are determinate. That which he permits he determined should be; so that continuance in sin, on the part of those who die impenitent, was of old determined. Hence it was said to the prophet Isaiah, Chap. vi.10. “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 heart, and convert and be healed.” This passage is referred to by Christ, and given as a reason why he spake in parables to them to whom it was not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Mark iv.12. Thus in the doings of Isaiah the type, and of Jesus the antitype, we find the decree of God, foreordaining some to remain in sin, carried out. While the elect obtained that which they were by divine grace influenced and enabled to seek after; “the rest were blinded.” God raised up Pharaoh for this very purpose, that he might show in him his power. The hardening of his heart in his continuing in sin, was made the occasion of exercising that power. It follows, that his kindness of heart was as really determined as the manifestation of the divine power in him. Hence Paul in citing this very instance and reasoning from it, saith “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy and whom he will he hardeneth.” Rom. ix.18.
Again, the evil actions of men are all decreed. Take for illustration, the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts ii.23. “Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together, for to do whatever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done,” Chap. iv.27,28. In the whole of this most wicked transaction, the various parts acted by the tetrarch of Galilee, by the Roman governor, by the Gentile throng, and by the Jewish multitude, had been from eternity fixed and designated to the several actors. “Whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” All this and this only, they performed; and that too at the very time and in the very way which God had foreordained. Until the hour appointed had come, no man laid hands on Christ, and when they did, it was in every respect according to the manner spoken of when he taught his disciples “that all things must be fulfilled, which was written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning him.”
Farther. “The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea the wicked for the day of evil.” Prov. xvi.4. Hence we hear of vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, whom God endured with much long suffering to show his wrath and make his power known. Rom. ix.22. Christ is made a stone of stumbling and a rock of offences even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: “whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Pet. ii.8. Jude is very pointed and says, “There are certain men who were before of old ordained to this condemnation,” verse 4. Thus the sure word of prophecy determines that the non-elect were not only passed by in God’s eternal counsel; but that they were ordained to remain in their sin.
As the elect were not chosen and appointed to life on account of foreseen faith and good works (which we have proved above) so the non-elect were not passed by and appointed to death on account of foreseen unbelief and evil works. God’s mere good pleasure was the reason of both. “Even so Father for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Notwithstanding, for their sins the reprobate are condemned, and for them they will be eternally punished. It is one thing to leave in sin and determine its commission: another to condemn and punish for sin committed. For want of this distinction, the doctrine of reprobation has proved a stumbling block to thousands. Arminians have long prated in misrepresenting the Calvinistic doctrine on this point, maintaining it to be “that God condemns sinners merely because he did not choose them.” Not so. Sin is the cause of condemnation. “Judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” the reason being, “because all have sinned.” In the case of the reprobate sin continues, not being taken away in Christ. For this, condemnation rests upon them and will rest forever. In like manner, guilt merits punishment. The reprobate, continuing guilty will, in consequence thereof, be punished eternally. This the Apostle illustrates at large. Rom. i.21—24, and in Chap. ii.8,9 says, “But unto them that are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness (God will render) indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” And again, 2 Thess. ii.12. “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
From the above reasoning it is evident, that God did from eternity elect, from among mankind, a certain definite number, chosen individually in Christ, not on account of anything foreseen in them, but solely accordingly to the sovereign pleasure of his will, while the rest of mankind passed by, were of his mere good pleasure foreordained to remain in sin and for their sin, to rest under condemnation and wrath forever more.
II. ON LIMITED ATONEMENT.
On this subject the doctrine of Arminians is “that Jesus Christ according to the will of God, made atonement for the sins of all mankind so as thereby to put everyone in a salvable state.” The orthodox have always maintained “that Christ made atonement for a definite number of mankind only—the elect, chosen in and given to him to be redeemed.”
The truth of election and reprobation, above established, affords clear and convincing evidence of a limited atonement. Additional testimony is submitted.
1. All are not saved. “In hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments.” Luke xvi.23. “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Mat. xxv.41. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the like of fire.” Rev. xx.15. These passages, with many others, teach the awful truth, that a portion of the human race will suffer forever, They are not saved. Arminians admit this against Universalists. What, we ask, could have been the object in making atonement for their sins? What the advantage resulting? The redemption of Christ is a perfect one. A full ransom was paid as its price; and yet a portion of mankind are not saved from sin, nor wrath, nor hell. None of the divine works are wrought in vain—not even the smallest: much less that which ranks the chief of all God’s doings. According to the Arminian scheme, the great work of redemption was accomplished for every man; yet, in the case of many, it proves fruitless. They are forever lost. The force of this argument is not weakened by saying that Christ died to put all mankind into a salvable state, so that they might be saved if they would: for we immediately reply; all that he did to put those who are not saved into such a state proves fruitless. His sufferings for them effect nothing. Whether he died actually to save them, or to put them into a salvable state, still they are not saved. In either case his doings were in vain. Without insisting on the absurdity of representing Christ as making atonement for and putting into a salvable state, the myriads of mankind whose destiny was fixed in the place whence there is no redemption, prior to the time of his sufferings, we present this topic of argument under another aspect.
The subjects of salvation, were from eternity known to God. This follows from his omniscience. It is a scriptural truth. The glorified were foreknown of God. Christ knew his sheep. In this view, to make the atonement extend to all is to represent the Father as giving his Son to die for those that he knew would not be saved and the Son as laying down his life for many whom he knew not to be his sheep and who would consequently perish. The Holy Spirit knew for whom the purchased redemption was intended and engaged to apply it to them. If it were intended for all mankind, what comes of his engagement, since all are not saved? Restrict his application to a part, and how can it be that one person of the Godhead should engage to purchase redemption for all, while another person, acting in the same counsel, engaged to apply it to some only? Under this aspect, the doctrine of universal atonement is peculiarly unworthy of the whole Trinity. It destroys the harmony of their engagements and doings in the economy of redemption. Again:
Jesus Christ became surety or bailsman for sinners. Heb. vii.22. “He was made the surety of a better testament.” He assumed the debt which they had contracted. 1 Pet. ii.24. “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” They were set to his account. Isa. liii.6. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” That debt he paid. Tit. ii.14. “He hath redeemed us from all iniquity.” Yea he was substituted in the room and suffered in the stead of sinners. Isa. liii.5. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquity, the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed.” To him the claims of divine justice were transferred. On him the demands of the violated law rested. He satisfied justice fully. He fulfilled the law, magnified it and made it honorable. If all this were for mankind generally and all are not saved, where is the equity of Jehovah? Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? But what righteousness can there be in exacting from the surety, in taking from the substitute, the uttermost farthing of the debt and yet holding any, on whose behalf it was paid, liable and treating them as debtors? Either Christ did not pay for all, or justice and the law in the case of some continue and enforce their claims after payment has been made. Under this view, the doctrine of atonement is blasphemy.
2. The atonement and intercession of Christ are coextensive. Being inseparable parts of the same office, all who were embraced in the one have an interest in the other. For whomsoever Christ did the greater he will do the less. His atonement was effected only by all he did in his humiliation. To accomplish it he left the Father’s bosom, took our nature upon him and veiled for a time his glory. For this he endured the contradiction of sinners, the contumely which was heaped upon him, the agonies of Gethsemane, the wrath of God, the hiding of his Father’s countenance and the accursed death accomplished on Calvary. Will he not intercede for all on whose behalf he thus humbled himself and endured so much? will he deny an interest in his prayers to any, who were given him to be atoned for by the shedding of his blood? Reason says, no. Christ responds “I pray for them whom thou hast given me.” Ascertaining the objects of Christ’s intercession, we cannot err in viewing them and them only as the objects of his atonement. That he does not intercede for all is evident, because he distinguishes between a part of mankind, which he calls the world, and those whom the Father had given him out of the world; and says “I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me.” John xvii.9. This language shews unequivocally, that there are some for whom Christ does not intercede. The same truth is demonstrated in another way. Christ’s intercession is always prevalent. “Him the father heareth always.” John xi.42. Either then, he does not pray for all or his prayers for some are in vain. This cannot be. Therefore, his intercession is restricted to a part. Consequently, atonement by his death was not made for all mankind. The great high priest of our profession offered himself an atoning sacrifice for them and them only whom he represents before the mercy seat in the holiest of all.
3. Atonement by the death of Christ has not been made known to all. Myriads have lived and died without hearing of a Redeemer. It is the province of Christ to send forth ambassadors, who may make proclamation of salvation, to remove the darkness that rests upon the earth and to dispel the gross darkness that rests upon the people, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. These he has not done in the case of all. From thousands the vision has been withheld and they have perished. Can the Arminian be sincere in maintaining that Christ died to save, or to put into a salvable state, those who have in the providence of God been kept ignorant of the truth, that a Savior has been provided—ignorant of the plan of salvation—ignorant of an atonement offered? Through delusion he may be sincere; but his must be a sincerity resulting from blindness of mind and based on improper conceptions of God and his truth. To this part of the argument he cannot oppose even the stale, frivolous objection, that some through unbelief reject the salvation procured for them as well as others. In the case of those referred to there is no room for rejection. Salvation has never been offered to them. It has pleased Him, who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will, to withhold it. Farther,
God withholds from many the communication of those spiritual blessings without which salvation is impossible. Faith is the gift of God. Without it none can be saved, for “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Surely it is unworthy of God to say, he intended salvation for all, procured it for all, while from many he withholds faith, without which none can be saved, and which none but he can give. The apostle thought differently when he said, Rom. viii.32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.” He rightly judges, that when God had freely conferred the greater gift, he would not refuse the less. Farther, the Holy Ghost is as truly the gift of God as is the Son. “He shall give you another comforter, even the Spirit of truth.” John xiv.16. In this immediate connection Christ settles the question, whether the Spirit is given to all: for he adds verse 17, “Whom the world cannot receive.” The economy of the covenant of grace forbids, that the second person of the Godhead should be given to, or for any, from whom the third person is withheld. Add to this, the Spirit is given as a Comforter in the room of Christ. The latter went away that the former might come. To meet the case, the mission of the Holy Spirit must embrace as many as were contemplated in the gift of Christ. Otherwise, to some that mission would furnish no ground of consolation. The Saviour goes away and to them no one is sent to take his place. As the spirit is not given to all, neither therefore was Christ, in whose room the Spirit came as a comforter.
4. All for whom Christ made atonement were the object of divine love. “God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Rom. v.8. This evinced love the most ardent, on the part of both Father and Son. It supposes the love among men. “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die,” and “greater love hath no man this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” The Father delivered up the Son to death—the Son actually died, not for the righteous, not for friends, but for sinners in a state of enmity. If the atonement be for all, then does this ineffable love embrace all; than which nothing is more untrue. “Esau have I hated.” Some are vessels of wrath. There are “ungodly men of old ordained to condemnation.” Unreasonable, unscriptural is the thought, that the divine love in procuring an atonement was exercised towards them, who should be hated to eternity. Whom God loveth he loveth unto the end. In this, as in other things, he is unchangeable. Impious is the sentiment that Christ in the hour of his final sufferings, or at any other time, was loving with the full ardor of affection, Judas and others, who like him had gone to their own place, on whom the vials of wrath were already pouring out; or those to whom he will say at last, in the accents of holy anger, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
5. The scriptures limit the atonement by the death of Christ to a certain definite number. John x.15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” In the same connection, verse 26, Christ addressed himself to certain ones that come to him with an infidel question, saying, “Ye are not of my sheep as I said unto you.”
Frequently he expressed himself as knowing his sheep and giving his life for them only. The distinction which he made on earth shall be carried out at the judgment seat. Then shall the sheep be on his right hand, the goats on his left. Again, John xvii.2, “Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” v.6, “I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world.” In the second they are distinguished from the world out of which, or from among whom, they had been taken. The object in giving them was, that they should receive eternal life. This he procured for them by his death. i Thess. v.10. “Who died for us, that we might live together with him.” Plainly his death is here restricted to that part of mankind that were given him, which part is, in express terms, distinguished from the remainder. Again, Acts xx.28, “Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his blood.” This exhortation is enforced by the considerations, that grievous wolves should enter, not sparing the flock; and men should arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Did these form part of the church of God purchased with his blood? Verily their character, conduct and end shew them to be distinguished from it in a marked and awful manner. The grievous wolves, the perverse men were never bought. Christ’s precious blood was a ransom for his sheep, not for the wolves that scatter and devour them. Again, Eph. v.23, “He is the saviour of the body.” This term is synonymous with church used in the context. The connection marks it as one peculiarly distinctive. Paul is enforcing the relative duties of husbands and wives, who stand in such relation to each other as Christ and the church sustain. “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Saviour of the body;” teaching that Christ is the head, the church his body mystical. An union of the closest kind is between him and her. Are all mankind thus closely united to the Lord Jesus? Do they in general constitute his mystical body? Are all taken into marriage union with him? Verily no. The church exclusively is the body of which he is the head and Savior. Consequently for her members and them only, he gave himself an atoning sacrifice. The terms sheep, given ones, church, body, as used in the preceding texts are strikingly distinctive, expressing a certain definite number of mankind to whom atonement by the death of Christ is limited. In many passages other terms equally distinctive are employed to point out its objects. They are called the people whom God foreknew, the elect, the chosen in Christ, vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory, the seed of Abraham spiritually, children, a remnant according to the election of Grace, &c. &c. These restrictive appellations furnish proofs so positive and direct against the universal atonement for which Arminians contend, that they have endeavored, by every subtlety, and even by manifest perversion, to take off their edge. Turn them aside they cannot.
The fact that the subtle Arminius himself, the learned and eloquent Episcopius, his immediate successor, the plodding Limborch, the crafty Whitby, the perverting Clark, and the whole host of polemic writers in the same school have had recourse to sophistry, perversion and other means which the truth needs not, yea, scorns to employ, demonstrates the precision with which the Holy Ghost has set forth the doctrine of a definite atonement made for a distinct, limited number. Lest this should be thought gratuitous, we give the following specimens of evasion in common use by Arminian writers.
“Christ died absolutely for some, and conditionally for others.” When resorting to this subterfuge, they admit, that the passages cited above restrict the death of Christ to a limited number, and then say, he died for these absolutely, but for all others conditionally. Such a distinction the scriptures nowhere sanction. Again, “These texts (such as those cited above) speak of the application of redemption, not its procurement.” The very contrary is the truth in some, while in others, both the application and procurement, as inseparably connected and co-extensive, are presented. The laying down the life, the purchasing, &c. properly respect the procurement. The Savior of the body, the giving of eternal life, &c. respect both. Again, “Though these texts speak of a part, it is not to the exclusion of the others.” In the passages above illustrated, we have shewn that “the others” are excluded. Thus while Christ says, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” he says to and of others, “Ye are not my sheep.” The connexion and the descriptions given of those for whom he died clearly exclude all others.
III. OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY.
Much latitude has been taken by Arminian writers in explaining this part of their system. Some admit Adam’s sin to be chargeable in greater or less degree upon his posterity; but not to such extent as to cause entire corruption, or depravity of nature. Others make his sin to effect his posterity only privately, so as to occasion simply the want of original righteousness. Others, and by far the greater number, assume the Pelagian ground and deny original sin altogether. Different as are their views, they are unanimous in opposing the doctrine that “All mankind, descending from Adam by ordinary generation, are, by his first sin, which is imputed to them, wholly depraved in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.”
In illustration of this doctrine, before entering on its immediate proof, we remark, that the covenant of works was made with Adam as a public person, he being appointed of God the head and representative of his posterity. His entire history before the fall evinces his public character, and shows that the whole human family was viewed in him. All directions relating to the conjugal relation, for example, appertained to them as well as him, and still continue. The penalty threatened to disobedience affects all. “In Adam all die.” “By one man’s offence death reigned by one.” In violating the covenant, he acted in his public character; but the covenant being broken, he ceased to act in that capacity, no longer sustaining a federal relation to his posterity. Hence his first sin only is imputed to them. Also, they only who descend from him by ordinary generation are chargeable therewith; so that Christ, though he is really man, is not involved in the transgression. His conception was in an extraordinary way, and he was the seed of the woman, not as to personality, but only as to humanity. The doctrine thus illustrated is established by abundant scripture testimony.
Rom. v.12,19. “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” Verse 15. “Through the offence of one many be dead.” 16. “The judgment was by one to condemnation.” 17. “By one man’s offence death reigned by one.” 18. “By the offence of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation.” 19. “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” In all these passages the apostle takes for granted and strongly asserts, without waiting to give proof, the imputation of Adam’s first sin, to all mankind. He is reasoning in illustration of justification through the imputed righteousness of Christ, and unfolds this great mystery by a lengthened comparison between the imputation of the sin of the first Adam and that of the righteousness of the second Adam. He speaks, as though the doctrine of original sin in his age was universally received—as though it was a doctrine so well established that he might, without fear of being gainsaid, reason from it as a first principle. Even if this had not been the case, his authority makes the declarations undeniable proof. The language he employs is explicit. “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Death was the penalty annexed to the violation of the covenant of works. “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die.” It is called the wages of sin. On whomsoever the penalty is inflicted, the violation must be chargeable. Wheresoever the wages are given, that for which they are paid must be found. Common observation in every age demonstrates what the apostle asserts, that death—this penalty—these wages—hath passed upon all men. Infant children, incapable of actual transgression, die. Their being born mortal, the sufferings they often endure, their death, all attest the truth that they have sinned. In their case actual sin has no place, Arminians themselves being judges. A better judge determines the matter. Rom. v.14. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” Never sinning in their own persons and yet bearing the penalty, receiving the wages of sin, they must be chargeable through another. This the apostle declares, “By one man’s offence, death reigned by one,” and “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” Corroborated by 1 Cor. xv.22, “In Adam all die.”
A similar chain of argument may be made from the judgment to condemnation said to have come upon all men. God is the judge. Most just and right is he. Those whom he condemns must be guilty. As all are condemned, so therefore upon all guilt rested. Infants cannot be guilty by personal transgression. Besides, the judgment to condemnation is represented as past, showing that from the first, the sentence was pronounced. “All were by nature the children of wrath.” Eph. ii.3. “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” Whether therefore we reason from the penalty incurred, or the condemnation pronounced, the conclusion that Adam’s posterity have sinned and are consequently guilty and condemned in him, is irresistible. By this sin they are all totally depraved.
Whatever corruption of nature Adam contracted by his first transgression, the same is conveyed to all his race. He begat a Son in his own likeness, after his image. Gen. v.3. The image of God in which he had been created was gone. The reverse of that he now bare. Himself corrupted, his corruption descends to his children. According to a universal law of nature that “like produces like,” it could not be otherwise. Job understood this and said, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” Chap. xiv.4. The man after God’s own heart, under full conviction of his sin, was ready to acknowledge, that length of time, or farther removal from our first parent in the line of ancestry, did not change the condition of those that spring from him. “Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Ps. li.5. Job and David spake by the influence of the Holy Ghost. They stated general truths equally applicable to all others as to themselves.—The one speaks of uncleanness, the other of iniquity and sin in such manner as to shew that they referred expressly to corruption of nature, communicated by parents to their offspring. Pertinent to this same purpose is the saying of Christ to Nicodemus, John iii.6. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” This he gives as a reason evincing the necessity of regeneration, spoken of in the preceding verses. Flesh is contrasted with Spirit and denotes, as it still does when such contrast is instituted, the corruption of nature. As certainly therefore as all mankind spring from Adam, so certainly are they all corrupt. Otherwise they would be born of the flesh and yet not be flesh. When Arminians object that Christ speak of man physically, and intends by the term flesh, mere frailty of nature, they only shew the weakness of their plea. Flesh when opposed to Spirit is never used in such sense. Besides, whence comes frailty of nature even physically? It comes from man’s condition morally. Before corruption, there was no frailty. Since, it is universal. The objection confirms the truth to which it is opposed.
Other scriptural declarations establish the doctrine under consideration. Gen. vi.5. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was only evil continually.” In this declaration God condescends to every imagination of man’s thoughts, and pronounces all to be only and continually evil. The very first conception of the human heart shows that heart to be defiled. So does every one of the succeeding countless number, until grace is given to restrain the corruption from which they emanate. To evade the force of the above declaration, Arminians confine its application to the generation of men living immediately before the deluge, and make the whole evil spoken of refer to personal sin. This comes far short of the representation made in the passage. It exhibits God as doing what he never did—destroying the innocent with the guilty; inasmuch as thousands, who never sinned by personal transgression, perished amidst the avenging billows of the flood. It makes this scripture of private interpretation, and contradicts the sentiment often taught in others equally full and pointed. The false gloss is exposed particularly, by comparing it with Gen. viii.21, where, after the whole of that generation had passed away, except Noah and his household, the same idea is expressed in language exactly similar, and applied to those that were afterwards to people the earth. “And the Lord said, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The overwhelming judgment of the Almighty had not changed the corrupt nature of man. He is still depraved. God assigns this as a reason why he would not again curse the ground. As if he had said, though for a similar reason I have once destroyed man from the face of the earth, that I might display my justice in one dread example, henceforth I will exercise my mercy and shew my clemency. Were I strict to mark iniquity, I must still go on to destroy, for “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” “I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me and the souls which I have made.” Man’s condition calls for pity and he shall have it. Between the promise of God not again to destroy and the reason assigned, there is an inseparable connection. Thus the exercise of mercy in sparing the world, is standing evidence of man’s corrupted state. Add to the above scripture testimony Ps. liii.1-3. “Corrupt are they and have done abominable iniquity. God looked down from Heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.—Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
The humble disciple of the cross, in searching the scriptures, in investigating the plan of salvation and in studying to become acquainted with his own heart, will find many additional reasons in support of this doctrine. We barely suggest the following.
1. Experience teaches that all are depraved. Among the myriads of human beings that have sprung from Adam, no one has been found naturally inclined to good. All are as prone to iniquity as are the sparks to fly upward. Why is there no exception? Unless entire unholiness appertained to the root, one of the branches at least, or more, might be expected to shew some evidence of holiness. But no. “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Rom. iii.10,11. Arminians, when pressed on this point, say children learn to sin by imitation; and thus endeavor to account for the truth which experience teaches. It is passing strange, that, if none are corrupt, everyone should be prone to imitate the evil and the evil only. A much better account is given by the apostle. Tit. i.15. “Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” With this agree the words of David, Ps. liii.3. “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”
2. Regeneration implies previous corruption. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John iii.6. Water is the emblem of purification. The Spirit quickeneth. To be born of water and of the Spirit shews the necessity of being purified and made alive. Plainly then, before regeneration, all are impure and spiritually dead. “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Eph. ii.1. And wherefore dead? “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Spiritual death is the fruit of Adam’s sin. “In Adam all die.” 1 Cor. 15.22.
3. If there be no original sin, the death of Christ can have no respect to infants, dying before they commit actual transgression. They enter heaven by virtue of inherent holiness, not through the merits of the Redeemer’s righteousness. Having no sin they need no atonement. Arminians, finding themselves driven by this absurdity to the last ditch, endeavor to rally under another banner. Hence their theory that Christ removed whatever evil was contracted by Adam’s sin. This is a plain admission of the truth they so stoutly deny, until driven to the last resort. The subterfuge however does not avail. It involves the equal absurdity that corruption continues as a principle universally operating, notwithstanding their pretended removal of it by the death of Christ. How superlatively absurd also to talk of original sin being removed from adults, who die impenitent. This is to divide Christ and his righteousness with a witness.
To the whole doctrine above stated and proved Arminians’ object, that it would have been unjust in God, to involve all in guilt for the sin of one. This objection is based upon the denial, made ignorantly or otherwise, of Adam’s public character. That he represented his posterity is above established. There is no injustice in charging upon the represented the guilt of the representative. If any man is disposed to quarrel with God for constituting the first man the head of his race, let him settle the matter with the judge of the whole earth. Just and right is he. That guilt is chargeable upon all by reason of Adam’s first sin, we have proved by several considerations. It suffices now to repeat, "By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation. With God there can be no condemnation where there is no guilt. Condemnation upon all implies guilt in all. Whether the justice of Jehovah is more assailed by teaching that he has a right to do what he will with his own, or by representing him as condemning where there is no guilt, the impartial can determine. They can determine too how consistent, and how honest Arminians are, when at one time they urge the above objection, and at another, speak of Christ removing by his death all the evil incurred by Adam’s sin.
IV. OF EFFECTUAL CALLING.
The chief points of controversy touching this doctrine are, 1. Whether, besides the external call given in the gospel, an immediate, special call by the Holy Spirit working in the heart, is necessary to conversion. 2. Whether the efficacy of the grace put forth in effectual calling depends on the will of the sinner, he being able to admit it if he will, or so to resist as to render it ineffectual.
Arminians teach that the external call, accompanied by “common grace given to all,” is sufficient. They teach also, that it depends on the sinner to render the grace given efficacious; and that he can so resist as to render it ineffectual. Calvinists have always maintained the indispensable necessity of the internal call by the Holy Spirit, and the irresistible efficacy of divine grace operating in that call. For the sake of brevity, we unite the two points in this discussion.
The external call, given more indistinctly in the light of nature and more fully in the scriptures, we admit and maintain. Also, the “common grace,” or as we prefer to call it, the common operations of the Holy Spirit, accompanying that call. We also admit and maintain, that at the commencement of the call, the sinner can and does resist; yea, cannot but resist, being unbelieving, rebellious, disobedient. The inquiry then is simply as to the necessity of the internal call by the Spirit, and whether an object of this call can obey or resist, according to the pleasure of his will. The following considerations will satisfy for establishing the truth.
1. The external call, accompanied by the Spirit’s common operations only, is insufficient to cause the reception of the divine word. This is fully recognized by the Psalmist, when he prays, Psal. cxix.18, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” By the apostle also, Eph. i.17,18, “That God may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, &c.” Were the Spirit’s common operations attending the outward call all that is necessary on the part of God, such prayers would be superfluous. “To open and enlighten the eyes of the understanding” imply more. Otherwise, all who have the outward call would see and know; which plainly they do not. Christ himself preached the word to the two disciples going to Emmaus. “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all things the scriptures concerning himself.” Luke xxiv.27. Under no circumstances can the ministrations of the word be conceived to have more power than in those referred to in this instance, Christ the preacher, former disciples the hearers, the things concerning himself in all the scriptures the subject, the occasion peculiarly favorable, their minds previously turned to the subject, for they had talked, communed and reasoned together of all things which had happened; and yet all this was insufficient until “He opened the eyes of their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” A striking illustration of the same truth, is recorded Acts xvi. in the case of Lydia, who, in common with others, waited on Paul’s preaching: but until “the Lord opened her heart” the word was not received. This is the one thing without which the word must be ever ineffectual. Moses as is recorded in Deut. xxix.2,3, preached to the children of Israel. His preaching was enforced by all the mighty signs and miraculous doings, which their eyes had seen. But the word was not received. The reason is given in the iv. verse. “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear unto this day.” These instances shew clearly that the outward call and “common grace” may both be had under the most favorable circumstances, and yet the word, in which the call comes, be neither received nor understood: the reason being, not the sinner’s resistance, but because the Lord opens not the heart, nor enlightens the eyes to receive and understand. How preposterous to represent, as effectual to salvation, the external call by the word, when there is neither reception nor understanding of the word. So far is such a call, unaccompanied by the special power of the Spirit, from being effectual, that it proves to be the occasion of greater obstinacy, more determined disobedience and the savor of death unto death. “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them that are called, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. i.23,24. We reason,
2. From the condition of the sinner. His total depravity is above established. That truth is set forth in a manner peculiarly pertinent to our present purpose in many parts of scripture. Eph. ii.1. “You hath he quickened, who were dead in sins.” Chap. iv.18,19.—“Having the understanding darkened; being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, &c.” Rom. viii.7. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” 2 Cor. iii.5. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything (good) as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” 1 Cor. ii.14. “The natural men receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This description is applicable to the whole human family in a state of nature—that state in which the call comes to sinners. In a physical or natural point of view how vain would it be to call upon a dead man, expecting him to hearken and obey; or, to address a blind man, hoping that he, without the power of vision, would see. Equally vain are the expectation and hope, that the mere external call, addressed to men in a state of moral, spiritual death and blindness, is sufficient to secure obedience or occasion vision. It requires the quickening, the enlightening influence of the Spirit to render it effectual. This influence is not put forth in his common operations; for, as above, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” and yet he may have these common operations. Arminians being judges, “common grace,” is his. Nevertheless, the man receiveth not, neither can he know. The reason is; discernment is through such power of the Spirit as he with all his “common grace” has not received. His is “the carnal mind,” which as matter of fact “is not subject to the law of God;” and which in point of capacity “cannot indeed be.”
If it be asked, with what consistency, or to what purpose then does God make a call in the gospel? or how can he expect men in such a state to hearken and obey? We answer briefly, though the sinner has lost all power, God is thereby divested of no right. Though none but the elect are called savingly, the rest are left without excuse. As to His expectation of their hearkening and obeying, it has no place with him. “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called,” not with an expectation, but with an infinite certainty, that his call would not be in vain. We ask in turn, if God calls, expecting the sinner to hearken, what comes of the divine expectation, when thousands, even to the end turn an ear more deaf than the adder’s? Whom God calls effectually he influences by the special power of his Spirit. From them, whom he calls only externally, he withholds that power. They in consequence do not—cannot come. “No man can come to me, except the Father draw him.” Joh. vi.44. This brings us to reason,
3. From what God does in turning the sinner to himself.
As above, he opens the heart to receive his word, and enlightens the eyes to see the things contained in his law. Add to these, Eph. ii.5. “Even when we were dead in sins he hath quickened us.” Chap. iv.6. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Ezek. xxxvi.26,27. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.” 1 Pet. i.3. “Who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again.” It is not by the external call, nor by the Spirit’s common operations, nor by both, that the change presented in these texts is effected. If it be, all who enjoy them would be quickened, would have given to them the light of the glorious knowledge of God, would be caused to walk in his statutes, and be again begotten to a lively hope. No, it is effected by a power, the exceeding greatness of which is the same with that which wrought in Christ Jesus, when he was raised from the dead. Eph. i.19,20.
This work of God is set forth by various other metaphors exceedingly strong. It is called “regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Tit. iii.5. It is compared to a resurrection. Col. ii.11,13. It is spoken of as a creation. Ps. li.10. To regenerate, to raise from the dead, to create, is too strong language to denote an effect caused by anything short of the Almighty power of God. Of similar import are the divine promises, Jer. xxxii.40. “I will put my fear in their hearts.” The apostolic declaration, Phil. ii.13. “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do,” and the earnest prayer 2 Thess. i.11. “That our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith with power.”
The scriptures cited on this subject, cuts up by the roots, the Arminian notion that by moral suasion, the sinner is induced to hearken to the call, to obey and turn to God. And that the Spirit as the efficient cause is distinguished from the instrumental cause; both the word, and those that by it enforce obedience. 1 Thess. i.5. “Our gospel came to you not in word only but also in power.” 1 Cor. iii.6,7. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase: So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
It remains to be considered whether the Holy Ghost in calling the sinner can be so resisted as to render his call ineffectual. To this we attend.
4. A little attention to the reasons given in illustrating the three preceding particulars will evince the absurdity and impiety of the Arminian doctrine touching this part of the subject. We have demonstrated that the Almighty power of God exercised by the special agency of the Spirit is employed in effectual calling. The question now is, can that power be frustrated? It is the Almighty power of Him, who knows the end from the beginning, who does what seemeth him good, whose hand none can stay. It is exercised in those, whom he from eternity “predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son,” who are declared to be “the called according to his purpose;” and being called, to be justified and glorified. Rom. viii.29,30. It is exercised in such manner, that the effect is represented as a renewing by the Holy Ghost, a quickening of the dead, a creation, &c. Shall it be frustrated? Oh! the exceeding impiety of the sentiment that the sinner is able to resist to the end such power so exercised. Again, when God promises to “take away the stony heart and to give a heart of flesh,” who—what will hinder him from effecting the change contemplated? Is the sinner stronger than God? Is his free will, perverse and depraved as it is, an overmatch for efficacious, all powerful grace? When the heart is actually opened, as in the case of Lydia, matter of fact demonstrates the prevalence of the Spirit’s power. So it does in every instance where individuals are called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.
On this point, Arminians fail to distinguish between the inclinations of the human will, under the power of corruption and under the influence of saving grace. They reason rightly, that in effectual calling the freedom of this faculty is not destroyed—the will is not forced; but they are silent as to the change wrought upon it by the Spirit in making the call. So long as the sinner is under the power of corruption he wills to disobey; but when he is brought to be influenced by grace, he yields a voluntary obedience. He is not forced to act against his consent, but is made willing in the day of divine power. God works in him to will—not evil—but good. He wills accordingly. God draws him. He runs hard after God. The cords of love apprehend him. He is willingly apprehended of them. Thus by an irresistible power, operating in his heart, a radical change is effected. From resistance he is brought to acquiescence. Being formerly inclined to evil only, his inclination is now to good. The things which he freely chose and delighted in before, he now as freely rejects and abhors: while voluntarily, he chooses and delights in the things that had been hated. Blessed change! Experiencing which the sinner finds himself transformed to a believer—his resistance broken, his will rescued from evil, its freedom worth possessing, for now his inclination is to things worthy an immortal, rational being. True he has been drawn; but it was by an influence as soft and sweet as the cords of love. He has been made to yield; but it was by a heavenly power to which he cheerfully submits; rejoicing in being made to succumb, and expresses his gratitude by saying as in Jer. xx.7. “O Lord thou hast persuaded me and I was persuaded, thou art stronger than I and hast prevailed.” He feels a voluntary, joyful, thankful acquiescence and will forever express it, by “shewing forth the praises of him, who hath called him out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
V. OF THE SAINT’S PERSEVERENCE.
On this subject Arminius hesitated in avowing openly an opinion contrary to the established doctrine of the Belgic and other Reformed churches. Some of his disciples, while he lived, and his followers, since his death, have strenuously maintained that “Saints may and in some instances do, fall totally and finally from saving grace and eternally perish.” The doctrine of Calvinists is, “True believers can, neither totally nor finally, fall away from grace, but shall persevere therein to the end and be saved.” The inquiry is not, whether any who profess the name of Christ and seem for a time to have grace, may fall away and perish. Nor whether truly gracious persons may fall into sin and fall far, so as to give but little evidence of grace. Calvinists admit both. The question to be settled is, “Shall every true believer persevere in grace to the end and be saved?” The doctrine of Election, limited Atonement, and Effectual calling, severally demonstrated above, bear ample testimony to the truth of the saint’s perseverance. “The foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.” “If while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” “Whom he called, them he also justified—glorified.” In addition, we establish the truth,
1. By the nature of the covenant of grace. This covenant is set forth in Jer. xxxii.40. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Neither the stability, nor the blessings of this covenant are suspended on conditions that can fail. The parties are unchangeable. “It is ordered in all things and sure.” To those represented in Christ, it is a testament, in which God bequeaths freely the benefits conferred. Its everlasting, sure, testamentary character evinces the perpetuity of all its blessings. Among these, faith and the other graces of the Holy Spirit are prominent. They are therefore perpetual. He who is once put in possession of them shall continue therein to the end.
If saints fall from grace, it must be, either because God forsakes them, or because they withdraw from him. Besides these no way in which it can happen is conceivable. Against both the covenant of grace affords ample security. “I will not turn away from them,” and “they shall not depart from me.” This is the engagement of Jehovah to every one brought into a gracious state; an engagement that he will continue with them for good and keep them, through his fear put into their hearts, from departing from him. As soon may the everlasting covenant be broken and Jehovah’s engagement violated, as saints shall fail to persevere in grace. “The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord.” Isa. liv.10. In the verse preceding, speaking to the same effect he says, “I have sworn.” So that “by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie we have strong consolation.” We reason,
2. From the promises of the covenant. These like its nature establish the truth for which we plead. They are yea and amen in Christ the covenant Head. Isa. lix.21. “This is my covenant with them saith the Lord. My Spirit that is upon thee and my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth from henceforth and forever.” The word as the means and the Spirit to give it efficacy shall be continued. Again: Hos. ii.19. “I will betroth thee unto me forever.” A promise securing an everlasting marriage relation between Christ and the believer. Farther; John x.28. “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish,” with chap. xiv.19. “Because I live ye shall live also;” and Col. iii.3,4. “Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” These promises are so full, plain and pointed, that comment is unnecessary. To the notion of true believers falling away from grace, they contain as many contradictions as they do phrases; while every phrase is burdened with the doctrine of final perseverance. Believers have eternal life as a free gift, it is hid with Christ in God, because he lives they shall live, they shall never perish. So far from it, when Christ, who is their life shall appear, they shall be seen in glory with him. We reason,
3. From the gifts conferred on believers. In a passage before cited, Christ says, “I give eternal life.” John v. xxiv. “He that believeth on him that sent me, hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation.” 1 John, v.13. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” How eternal if the living principle may be lost, and they perish in everlasting death? Again, the Holy Spirit is given them, John xiv.16. “He shall give you another comforter.” This gift is continued; “that he may abide with you forever.” “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” The Spirit seals believers, and is the earnest of their inheritance. For these with other purposes is he given. Eph. i.13,14. “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” The seal among men is sacred. What it ratifies cannot be disannulled; what it marks cannot be claimed by another; what it once impresses is safe. The sealing of the Holy Ghost answers all these ends. An earnest is “somewhat given in hand, as assurance that what more is promised, shall be given in due time.” Though men may fail to meet their engagements, and thereby forfeit the earnest given, God cannot. The inheritance of every believer is then secured to him. Again; Christ is given. John iii.16. “God gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In him all good things are secured. Rom. viii.32. “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things.” Farther: Grace is given. 1 Cor. i.4,8,9, “The Grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you unto the end;” the reason being, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called to the fellowship of his Son.” It is worthy of remark that each of these passages connects with the gift mentioned, the doctrine of perseverance. Thus the life given is eternal; the Spirit abides forever: Christ was given, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life; and the grace bestowed is confirming in its character. This grace is compared to a root within. Matt. xiii.21. Is called the anointing which abideth. 1 John ii.27. The seed that remaineth. Chap. iii.9. and a well of water springing up to everlasting life, &c. All these metaphors imply, that grace in the believer is abiding. In reasoning from the nature of God’s gifts, many considerations might be presented. One shall suffice for our present purpose. “The gifts of God are without repentance.” Rom. xi.29. Being freely given, they shall never be recalled. Nor shall the believer loose them, for this would render their bestowment in vain. Their nature evinces them to be inalienable, and proves that he on whom they are conferred shall continue in possession. He shall therefore persevere in grace, one of the gifts with which the enjoyment of all others is is inseparably connected. We reason:
4. From the union of believers with Christ. To him they are united in the closest manner. John xv.5. “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” 1 Cor. xii.27. “Ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” Eph. v.30. “We are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones.” John xvii.21. “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they may be one in us.” Believers form the mystical body of Christ, being by faith united to him the living head. Each one is a member in particular. No reason has been assigned, nor can ever be, why this union should be constituted, and again dissolved. Christ is the Savior of the body. The idea of its being maimed or mutilated from time to time, by the excision or dropping off, of members, comports not with the character of his salvation. He heals diseased members, does not exterminate them. In all his sufferings on earth, not a bone of his natural body was broken; and gross indeed would be the idea that from that body glorified, members might perish or be torn away. Perhaps not quite so gross but certainly as unreasonable and unscriptural is the idea that from his body mystical, any component part may be separated. If one may, so may another, so may all, and thus the body of Christ, of which he is the Savior, be marred, rendered imperfect or exterminated. He will not act in a manner too unnatural—too cruel to find comparison. “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” Eph. v.29.
Under another metaphor, this mystical union is presented. Christ and the believers are married to each other. In this relation, two become one flesh. Eph. v.31. When the bride betrothed in faithfulness and forever, ransomed by the blood of her bridegroom, caused to incline her ear and to forget her father’s house, is united in holy wedlock to the beloved of her soul, who gives himself to her, shall this marriage union be broken off? (Shall that which God has joined together, be put asunder?) The love that constrained her, that was the spring of her affection is everlasting and produces increasing love in her. Shall this holy love, mutually exercised, be lost; and in its room corresponding hatred be cherished? Christ’s love is not thus set upon objects, is not thus trifling or to be trifled with; nor is the love wrought in the renewed soul thus capricious, changeable and evanescent. Under whichever of these similitudes then, we view the union between Christ and believers, its indissoluble character is presented—love, such as is cherished to one’s own flesh is shown to be exercised mutually. Well might an inspired Apostle, setting opposition at defiance, put the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” And well might he in accents of holy confidence answer, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life—nor any other creature, shall ever be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Arminians must find some way in which the union between Christ and believers can be broken off, and yet the love connected with that union be continued before they can successfully gainsay the doctrine of the believer’s perseverance. We reason,
5. From Christ’s intercession. He says to Peter, Luke xxii.32, “I have prayed the Father for thee that thy faith fail not.” In his intercessory prayer Joh. 17, are these pointed petitions. “Holy Father keep through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me.” “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil.” “Sanctify them through thy truth.” “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” “Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me.” He continues to intercede; for “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Heb. vii.25. His prayers are all prevalent. “Him the Father heareth always.” When he prays for the preservation and sanctification of all believers, pleading his will, that they may at last be with him; either his prayers turn out to be fruitless and in vain, or the objects of his intercession are kept in a state of perseverance.
It is worthy of Arminians to represent the great High Priest of our profession as interceding on behalf of those given him, for a time and then giving over his intercession. Their system imputes to God, change, inconsistency, folly in much that he undertakes for sinners. It is consistent with itself in teaching that Christ after interceding months, or years for a believer may cease and intercede no more for him. Yea, that all his intercessory acts in such cases are ineffectual, useless, nugatory. Such is the true import of the doctrine that “saints may, and often do, fall totally and finally from grace. We cite,
6. Explicit scripture declarations. Phil. i.6. “He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. i.5. “Who are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation.” 2 Thess. iii.3. “The Lord is faithful, who shall establish you and keep you from evil.” Ps. xxxvii.24,28. “Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. The Lord loveth judgment and forsaketh not his saints.” Job. xvii.9. “The righteous also shall hold on his way.” Prov. iv.18, “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” 2. Tim. ii.19. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.” Joh. x.28,29. “They shall never perish neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. Chap. xvii.12. “Those that thou gavest me I have kept and none of them is lost.” Rom. viii.29,30. “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
[1.] The opposition made by the Remonstrants occasioned some difficulties in a few of the Provincial Synods, which caused the meeting to be deferred till November.