“A short Answer to an Important Question put by An Anxious Inquirer respecting the Doctrine of Election and Predestination.”
No less a personage that that of the Holy Ghost can convince a poor sinner [experimentally] that the doctrine of eternal election, and absolute predestination are all true, and this is done by application (one of God’s own infallible rules by which He works independently of the creature). I am quite aware this question has involved great controversy, being a subject that embraces the infinite mind, will, purpose, decree, determination and revelation of God, which some deny. “I speak this to their shame.”
Ever since the first Arminian bishop (Laud) advanced his spurious creed of “Free-will” heresy, the platform of controversy has never been empty, but “grace reigns” and “truth prevails.” The light makes manifest by drawing the distinguishing line betwixt truth and error. However, the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and the Holy Ghost is His own interpreter, and should He condescend to shine upon and into the sacred portions of divine inspiration, to which we shall have recourse unto, we hope the “Inquirer” will glean up some full ripe ears of satisfaction; or should the author prove successful in this small tract in extracting a few goodly pearls from the ocean bed in the great deep of divine Truth, he will have no greater pleasure for the present than to scatter them for the sincere “Inquirer.”
In the first place the Godhead in Unity were fully agreed upon their choice of a spiritual creation. And, viewing God as the Creator, He had an absolute right to be His Own choosers, as well as being the Disposer, (Prov. 16:33). Choice is called election by an inspired penman, Ephesians 1:3,4), but not upon the grounds of what we should do or what we should not do. The objects upon which Jehovah’s fond and immutable affections were eternally fixed were ALWAYS His delight,, Prov. 8:30, as they stood in ETERNAL UNION and oneness with Him, (John 17:22,23). The love of the Bridegroom to the bride of His heart is indissoluble, which admits of no separation, either by sin, Satan, world, death or hell. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” The secret of this union is the application of the blood of Jesus to the hearts of all those whom His Father gave Him, (John 6:37.) Their security is their Surety, (Heb. 7:11,) bound for them in the bonds of an everlasting covenant and in ties of indissoluble friendship.
I shall now say a little upon the fallacy of that doctrine, - “Free-will,” which is everywhere spoken for (but in heaven and the Bible). “Born not of blood,” or all the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh, would be saved. Grace does not run hereditarily (according to the lordly line of flesh and blood), “nor of the will of the flesh,” whose feelings are in favour of a false, doting, fawning thing which has its rise in the flesh; a charity that sounds as a harp for Moab, Jezebel and Judas; a musical instrument that possesses charming sounds for human passions, but is far from reaching the heart of a convinced sinner. “Nor of the will of man,” whose will is depraved, and “wills” in accordance with the heart, which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, (Jer. 17:9.) The “will” of an unregenerated man has no more inclination or power to “will” that which is good, than a leopard has to change his spots, or an Ethiopian to change his skin, (Jer. 13:23). What consummate folly to contend for that which God abhors!
The most and best refined “free-will” is gospel-mockery. The word of wisdom compares it to “wood, hay and stubble,” (I Cor. 3:12,) which must either be consumed by the flames of Jehovah’s love, or be devoured by the fire of His anger. If it be the former the sinner shall be saved, though he suffer the loss of his “wood, hay and stubble,” for all creature merit is nothing but a “mouldy bottle,” (Joshua 9:4,5), a “spider’s web,” (Isa. 60:5), “a filthy rag,” (Isa. 64:6), “an obscuring veil,” (Isa. 25:7), “a pair of clouted shoes,” (Josh. 9:5), “a bed too short and a covering too narrow,” (Isa. 28:20), together with an old rusty coat of mail, all of which are the ancient armorials of the first Adam.
But I know by experience that “Free-will” spiders creep into kings’ palaces and there weave their flimsy webs, (Prov. 30:28), to make a fair show in the flesh, defying all the power in the universe to sweep them down - that of the Spirit of God excepted. All this rubbish, according to Scripture, is “lighter than vanity.” All the election of grace, as well as the non-elect, lie in the ruins of Adam’s fall, dead in trespasses and sins, (Eph. 2:1), and to raise up the redeemed from a death of sin to a life of righteousness is the entire work of the Holy Ghost; which proves we have no more to do with our second birth by His Spirit than we had with our first, (John 1:13); and whosoever says we have is called “a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (I John 2:4). God’s people are saved as the legitimate result of being loved with an everlasting love, (Jer. 31: 3), and made willing in the day of His power, (Psalm 110:3), to receive salvation on His terms, whose goings forth for them were from of old, (Hab. 3:13). What a rich mercy there is no chance-work with God; for the time when, the place where, and the means how, were all settled in the covenant engagements and divine arrangements of the Eternal Godhead: for the bounds even of our habitation are all fixed, (Acts 17:26). The anxious inquirer may, perhaps, think these doctrines strange, strong and high, and not very palatable. As they do not contain a spice that is everybody’s relish it cannot be expected they will be universally loved, for they lay the axe to the root of every Arminian error, and hew them to pieces, as Agag before the Lord.
All man-made ministers and self-sent Arminian preachers do their work like Saul, with lies both in hand, (Isa. 44:30) and mouth, (Sam. 15:13; 14:14). And as the Lord liveth there will be neither dew nor rain fall from the lips of such lying prophets, (I King 22:22), who go and lie in wait to deceive with the enticing words of man’s wisdom: for themselves were never made wise unto salvation, therefore fail to point the weary wanderer to the city of refuge, Gethsemane or Calvary, where peace alone is obtained “through the blood of the cross,” (Col. 1:20).
For these are sacred spots of consecrated ground, upon which none but the feet of faith can tread. There is but “one faith” that saves, and the Holy Ghost calls it, “the faith of God’s elect,” (Titus 1:1). This faith is saving, being the gift of God, (Eph. 2:8), with eternal life, (Romans 6:23). It is the substance of things hoped for, (Heb. 11:1) – especially Christ; and all that are justified freely by His grace live by it and on it. (Hab 2:4). All God-sent messengers are “taught of God” to proclaim salvation alone by free grace. Being ordained to eternal life, (Acts 13:48), through the quickening power of the Holy Spirit; being “raised from a death of sin to a life of righteousness,” they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved from the wrath to come, and hear the “joyful sound,” (of Gospel music) – Psalm 39:15; which to all the blood-bought remnant according to the election of grace (Romans 11:5), is a well-known blast, or a certain sound, given by the breath of God through the Gospel trumpet, reaching both ear and heart of all those that were ready to perish, (Isa. 27:13). Their call to life and the office of the ministry will be found in the following portions, for prior to regeneration they were preserved in Jesus Christ, “and called in due time,” (Jude 1), and at the set time appointed for their deliverance they are called from the womb, (Isa. 49:1), wooed by the Gospel, (2 Thes. 2:14), saved by grace, (Eph. 2:8) called in righteousness, (Isa. 42:6), called to peace, (I Cor. 7:15), called of God, as was Aaron, (Heb. 5:4), called into His kingdom of grace, and shall eventually be called into His kingdom of glory, (I Thes. 2:12).
This is effectual calling, for “where the word of a king is there is power,” (Ecc. 8:4), to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, (Heb. 7:25). Again, I may just add, as it is in nature so it is in grace; children never cry before they are born naturally, neither do they spiritually. All is of God: He is “Alpha and Omega.” Of His own will begat He us with the word of Truth, (James 1:18); and when born again of the Spirit they desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby, (I Peter 2:2) and long to suck at the breast of Zion’s unadulterated consolation, and to milk out and be delighted with the abundance of her glory, (Isa. 66:11).
This is called “a time of Love,” when Jehovah Jesus rends the heavens and comes down and swaddles the new-born babes of grace with Truth and love, and casts over them His skirt of imputed righteousness, (Ezek. 16:8), and wraps them up in the best robe, and puts His jeweled ring of faithfulness on the finger of faith, as a token of the soul’s espousals to Christ, (Hos. 2:19,20; Luke 15:22), and shoes them with the Gospel of peace, and gives them judgment in their goings, that they may know how to ponder the paths of their feet; and in this state dress, which John calls the “white linen,” (Rev. 15:6), of the saints, they walk with the king in the galleries, “sit with Christ in heavenly places,” feast on royal dainties, and receive the best of welcomes, (Songs 5:1).
I have made a few remarks upon choice, calling, feeding and clothing through the operation of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of poor sinners in the various branches of salvation in connection with predestination and election, and in accordance, I believe, with the sanction of the Bible. And the eternal settlements and covenant engagements of the eternal Three, as all the destiny of the human family were purposed and determined, settled and decreed by the fiat of God, need no other proof than His own will as revealed in His own word: “for the children being not yet born, neither (of them) having done any good or evil,” it was “that the purpose of God according to election, might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth,” (Romans 9:11). This is beyond the dispute of either the learned in Greek, the German classic, or the most profound modern theologians in the schools of the present prophets.
I am quite aware these remarks upon these important subjects will grate upon polite ears, proud hearts, whole skins, and refined wits, who never knew the “plague of their own hearts,” nor the pollution of their own “filthy garments,” which are as fast upon them as the skin of their backs, that no one cares to strip, being a shelter over them in the old house they were first born in. However, we must pass on to notice a few more things in connection with this glorious subject of predestination and eternal election. Salvation is the meritorious result of the incarnation, life, death, blood, righteousness, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Jehovah Jesus, for it had its sole rise in the unfathomable depths of the love of His heart. Redemption by grace, love, blood and righteousness was the project of infinite wisdom, founded entirely on the divine sovereignty of His immutable will, in which may be seen, by the eye of faith, a rich display of Jehovah’s grandest perfections in Gospel harmony. His “goings forth for salvation with His anointed,” in the eternity of His love for the chosen heirs of the purchased inheritance, is proof they lay on the bosom of His love and in the care of His heart from everlasting, and by the special appointment of His gracious majesty, the King of eternal glory, all the election of grace, in this time-state, are sought out of Adam’s ruinous fall, and in due time gathered in by the power of the Gospel; and the rest are left judicially to perish in their sins.
When carnal professors, under sheep-skin, creep into a pulpit, their first object is to strike at Jehovah’s sovereignty, with the subtle craft of their father the devil. They affirm “the darling attribute of God is all mercy.” They then squeeze out a few signs and tears from scientific probing amongst sympathic passions, which until then, perhaps, lay dormant, but are now called forth from the feelings of a flesh-and-blood religion: and such prophets as these that teach lies do command some even three and four hundred pounds per annum for proclaiming, “Jesus died for all men, and would save all men if they would allow Him. As He gave them a will to choose and a will to refuse, they may either accept or reject, but the latter at their own peril.” In a chapel in H_, last summer (1865) I heard this assertion: “Your salvation rests not with God, but with yourselves; it depends upon you. Will you accept it or will you reject it?” The name of this blasphemer was D.S., a student from (I am sorry to say, Mr. Spurgeon’s College.
Such men-made ministers as I have described in this paper extol “Free-will” and cry down “Free grace;” exalt the creature, and debase the Creator. Be assured this is the old beaten track of Pelagians, Socinians, Arians and Arminians for ages gone by. These are the prophets God complains of by the mouth of Jeremiah, that “Speak a vision out of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Jere. 23:16): for He says, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied,” (ver, 21): and they have for centuries run through mad ignorance into external performances, vainly treading in pious footsteps, mistaking outward devotion or bodily exercise, which profiteth nothing, (I Tim. 4:8), for the internal grace of God in the heart; which alone moves in the spirit of love, actuating every power of the soul to spiritual worship, and bringing the humble supplicant to feel and acknowledge it is God working in him, both to will and to do, of His own good pleasure. Philip. 2:13.
Mr. J. Fletcher, 1865
The Gospel Advocate, 1881
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips – January 2009