Dear Brother G. Bird: – I received the Minutes all right, and am sorry that I have not been well enough to visit you all this fall. I am suffering with rheumatism the most of the time, and this is bad weather for it, as it is damp. I was surely glad to see your short but appropriate letter in the last number of the Signs, for I am sure the doctrine advocated by the Signs Of The Times is the doctrine of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, yet I am aware of the fact that there are some who claim to be Primitive Baptists who do not indorse the doctrine advocated by the Signs. The doctrine of predestination seems to be the great scarecrow with many who claim the Baptist name; they seem not to like the term “absolute predestination.” I am sure that predestination is absolute, or it is no predestination at all, and I do not see any need of any one objecting to the term absolute. Webster is acknowledged everywhere as authority, and his definition is, unconditional; as an absolute promise; existing independent of any other cause; as, God is absolute; unlimited by extraneous power or control; as, an absolute government or monarch. The prophet (Isaiah xlvi. 9, 10,) uses this strong and positive language: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none like me, 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.” This settles the matter as regards predestination and election, for if the end was declared from the beginning, and the things which were not yet done are seen and arranged, so they must be; there can be no failure unless the eternal God fails or alters his purpose, and to say that he does change in the least degree is to give him the lie. As he has predestinated the end, and the things not yet done, and will do all his pleasure, it is safe to preach his eternal purpose in the salvation of the church, his elect. Of Israel the Lord hath said, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” How shall we understand this if predestination is not absolute! I have noticed that those who oppose the term absolute predestination have coupled conditional time salvation to salvation; so they have two salvations: one by grace, the other conditional; one for time, the other for eternity. The salvation for time is obtained by the works of the flesh, the other is the free gift of God, and is all of grace. Paul says Christ is not divided, and since Christ is not divided he is the salvation of his bride, the Lamb’s wife. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished [not will be], that her iniquity is pardoned [not will be if she works]: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” – Isaiah xl. 1, 2. Language could not make this stronger; and Jerusalem here certainly means the whole church redeemed by Christ, and proves conclusively that God had elected her, and accomplished her warfare, and pardoned her iniquity all himself. This is proof sufficient, as her battles are fought, and the victory won, and her iniquity pardoned, that there can be no question or doubt of her acceptance in glory, and all through the effectual work of her glorious Husband.
As I close for this time I must say that the Predestinarian Baptists of this part of West Virginia do not indorse this conditional time salvation, we believe that salvation is of the Lord from start to finish; for we believe that God works in his people to will and to do of his good pleasure, and they shall be willing in the day of his power. We believe that Jesus is our salvation, both in time and eternity.
You may send this to the Signs Of The Times if you think it will be worthy a place in its columns.
J. W. McCLANAHAN.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 16.
AUGUST 15, 1908.