THAT there is a difference in the condition and future prospects of the children of men, but few, if any, will pretend to deny; but in what the difference consists, and by what power it is established, is a matter of great contention and strife with the the theologians of our age. That this difference does not consist in our relation to or creation in Adam, is very fully demonstrated in the scriptures. “For God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” - Acts. xvii. 26. And that all are alike condemned in their relation to Adam, is plainly asserted in the words: “Death has passed upon all men, because all have sinned.” Nothing is more clearly revealed or fully demonstrated in divine revelation than the fact that we are all by nature on an equal footing, as to original purity and subsequent depravity and condemnation. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” - Rom. iii. 25. “And every mouth is stopped, and the whole world is guilty before God.” We inquire then, where is the difference, seeing that in regard to sin and human depravity all are alike? We conceive a vast difference in regard to the spiritual condition of mankind. Some there are who have been delivered from the curse of the law, the guilt and consequence of sin, and made the subjects of regenerating grace, redeeming love, and living faith; these are made to love God, to love holiness, to understand, believe and rejoice in the truth as it is in Jesus. These have Christ formed in them the hope of glory. These being the sons of God, are heirs of him, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; heirs to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that cannot fade away. These are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, &c.
Widely differing from the people of God, there is another class of the human family, described in scripture as a generation of vipers, a seed of evil doers, of their father the devil, cursed children that cannot cease to sin; these know not the way of peace, they neither know nor love the truth, but delight in sin, error, delusion and falsehood. These stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed. These shall die in their sins, go away into everlasting punishment; be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God.
Here is certainly a difference, a very wide difference, in the spiritual condition, prospects, disposition and final destiny of the two classes described; they are known by different names. The former are called children of God, dear children, sons, Bride, Lamb’s wife, a peculiar people, chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation, elect, &c., while the latter are called children of the devil, cursed children, aliens, strangers, serpents, vipers, dogs, sorcerers, &c.
The questions returns, Who maketh thee to differ, or who makes them to differ? As those who are saved are by nature children of wrath, even as others, we are sustained by the infallible testimony of truth in saying that every soul that is raised from the lowest depths of sin and depravity is raised up by the power and grace of the sovereign God. There is salvation in no other name, hence the true difference consists in what God has been graciously pleased to do for his people, in a way of grace, for nothing short of grace could rescue them from awful wrath and fiery indignation.
The question why God has not bestowed the same grace on all men that he has on some men, is about as reasonable as the question why men are not angels, or angels are not gods. He has been pleased only to inform us that he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he Will he hardeneth. The saints of God cannot believe, that wherein they differ from those who go down to perdition is based on works of righteousness which they have done, or that they have made themselves to differ. By grace they are saved, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, &c.; hence their anthem of eternal worship shall be, “Not unto us, not unto us, O God, but to thy name give the glory.”
On earth, not in heaven, not in hell, but on earth, among infatuated mortals, the question is agitated, whether God, as a sovereign, did, according to his own eternal counsel and immutable will, fix the destiny of beings and of worlds, according to his unsearchable wisdom and goodness from the ancients of eternity; or was he by some law of necessity or unforseen event or events driven to the necessity of making the children of men to differ? In the discussion of this question, dear reader, you are engaged on the one side or the other; none can be neutral on this subject. Trifling as this inquiry may seem to some, in it is involved the grand controversy between sin and holiness, truth and error, predestination and Arminianism, the doctrine and practice of Old School Baptists, and that of the New Schools in divinity.
The word of God assures us that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will; and challenges an infatuated world to declare “With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding ?“ - Isa. xl. 14. And that his purpose was mature and complete, appears not only from the immutability of his nature, but also from his “Declaring 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. Hence the apostle says, “We are bound to give thanks unto God alway for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” - 2 Thess. ii. 13. Chosen us m Christ before the foundation of the world; predestinated us to the adoption of children, &c. Eph. ii. Saved us and called us with an holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Tim. i. 9.
Of the other it is written, “These were of old ordained to this condemnation.” - Jude 3. “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruptions.” - 2 Peter ii. 12. “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” - 2 Thess. ii. 11-12. From the scriptures above quoted we prove that every link in the chain of causes and effects is placed and secured by an unerring hand, and that all the wheels of the (to us) complicated machinery of creation, providence and grace, although their revolutions may seem to us to be in direct opposition to each other, yet all are wisely supplied, and every movement was determined before the machine was put in motion. He who will deny this will deny the foreknowledge of God, his truth, holiness and immutability, and finally his being, and at last unite with the fool and say, “There is no God.”
This subject opens a field to our contemplation, but we have not room to enlarge. We have merely glanced at some important things in connection with the sovereignty of God, and with the following reflections on the subject we close this article:
First. God having made mankind to differ, and that according to his eternal counsel and sovereign will, is it rational, reasonable or scriptural for men to get up and organize societies, powers, armies, or anything of the kind, for the express purpose of obviating that difference which God has made? Is there a prospect of success in their heaven-daring enterprise? What mad infatuation! As well might men attempt to annul the everlasting degrees of God, abolish the difference between light and darkness, cold and heat, seed-time and harvest, beasts or men, or men and angels; let them change the skin of the Ethiopian, and the spots of the leopard; change and equalize according to their standard of wisdom the laws of nature, and then think if altering the things which have gone out of the mouth of God.
But let not the saints forget the principal design of the apostle in his use of our text. This question is calculated to humble the redeemed people of God in the dust; all they have they have received, and all that makes the saints on earth or those perfected in glory differ from the most abandoned wretches on earth or in hell, is alone what God has done.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
March 1, 1839.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 488 – 493