Sovereign Grace Baptist
Preacher, Author and Theologian
The doctrine of election, as it is taught in the Scriptures, is of humbling and holy tendency. The whole difference between the saved and the lost being ascribed to sovereign grace, the pride of man is abased.
Upon every other principle, it is the sinner that makes himself to differ; and who must, therefore, find whereof to glory. We may allow ourselves to be unable to repent and believe without the aids of the Holy Spirit; but while we maintain that these aids are afforded to sinners in common, and that faith, instead of being “the gift of God,” is the effect of our having improved the help afforded, while others neglected it, if we think we do not ascribe the very turning point of salvation to our own virtue, we greatly deceive ourselves.
But election, while it places no bar in the way of any man which would not have been there without it, resolves the salvation of the saved into mere grace: “and if of grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” ( Romans 11:6 )
Such a view of things tends to humble us in the dust. It is frequently the last point which a sinner yields to God; it is the giving up of every other claim and ground of hope from his own good endeavors, and falling into the arms of sovereign mercy. And having here found rest to his soul, he will not be less, but more attentive to the means of salvation than he was before. His endeavors will be more ardent, and directed to a better end. Then he was trying to serve himself; now he will serve the Lord.
Election and Means
But if election be viewed in certain connections, it will cease to be a doctrine according to godliness. If faith and works foreseen be connected with it as the effects, the interests of sobriety, righteousness, and godliness are relinquished. If we take our views of this great subject with simplicity from the word of God, we shall consider it, like other Divine purposes, not as a rule of conduct to us, but to Himself. We shall agonize through life that we may at last enter in at the strait gate, no less than if all was in itself uncertain. Nay, more so: for as Paul’s assuring the mariners that there “should be no loss of any man’s life” ( Acts 27:22 ) would, if believed, inspire them with hope; so our being predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ furnishes encouragement to be pressing on towards the mark. And as they were told, nevertheless, that except certain means were used they “could not be saved,” ( Acts 27:31 ) so we can have no evidence of our “election to salvation,” but as being the subjects of “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” ( II Thessalonians 2:13 )
Thus, while the blessing itself is an antidote to despair, the means connected with it are a preservative from presumption. In short, we shall view the doctrine of election in much the same light as we do other Divine appointments concerning our lot in the present life. We are given to believe that what we enjoy in this life is so ordered by the will of God, and so much the effect of providence, that there is no ground whatever of boasting in any creature; yet we do not on this account neglect to plough or sow, or pursue the good and avoid the evil.
Believe the Word; Fret Not About “Consistency”
A “fleshly mind” may ask, How can these things be? How can predestination be made to comport with human agency and accountableness? But a truly humble Christian, finding both in the Bible, will believe both, though he may be unable to fully conceive of their consistency, and will find in the one a motive to depend upon God, and in the other a caution against slothfulness and a presumptuous neglect of duty.
A Christian minister also, if he takes his views simply from the Scriptures, will find nothing in this doctrine to hinder the free use of warnings, invitations, and persuasions, either to the converted or to the unconverted. Not that he will found his hopes of success on the pliability of the human mind; but on the power and grace of God, who, while he prophesieth to the dry bones as he is commanded, is known to inspire many with the breath of life.
Thus, while the apostle, in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of his Epistle to the Romans, traces the Divine sovereignty in his calling some from among the Jews, and leaving the greater part of them to perish in unbelief; he nevertheless, so long as they were in the world, was deeply concerned for them. Even in his preaching to the Gentiles he had an eye to them, “if by any means he might provoke to emulation them that were his flesh, and might save some of them.” ( Romans 11:14 ) And though he taught believers from among them to
ascribe their salvation entirely to electing grace, and spoke of the rest as being blinded, yet he represents that blindness as being their own fault, to which they were judicially given up of God. ( Romans 11:7-10)
( Fuller’s COMPLETE WORKS, pages 341- 342).