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Predestination

Two sermons preached at Gower Street Chapel, London on 14 and 21 November 1841

[On Sunday, 14 November 1841, Pastor Kershaw spoke on the subject of justification. His text was Job 25:4. Although he intended to cover his three headings in a single sermon, he took up only the first heading on Sunday 14 November, then completed the final two headings on Sunday 21 November. The two sermons are combined in the manuscript that follows.]

“How then can man be justified with God?”—Job 25:4

The doctrine of justification is clearly and strikingly revealed in the sacred oracles of truth, and is by God the Holy Ghost made manifest in the souls of all the election of grace. Hence, Paul speaks of it as one of the links in the chain of our salvation. “Moreover,” says he, “whom God did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also…

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Having not been able to complete the scheduled Bible study for the mid-week service, I threw together some notes on the ninth chapter of Romans. It is not often I go ‘old school’ by scribbling on the nearest blank piece of paper. After teaching the study, I proceeded to broaden my notes for future reference. As the notes set forth a statement on High-Calvinism, I’ve chosen to include them with the online resources of the AHB. There are two sets of notes—the handwritten scribble is what I used in the pulpit (I haven’t bothered typing them out); the typed notes are what I jotted down after teaching the study.

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Preface

26 Mar 2012, by

The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination


Stated and Asserted: With A Preliminary Discourse On The Divine Attributes.

Translated, In Great Measure, From The Latin Of Jerom Zanchius:
With Some Account Of His Life.

By: Augustus Toplady

When I consider the absolute independency of God, and the necessary, total dependence of all created things on him their first cause; I cannot help standing astonished at the pride of impotent, degenerate man, who is so prone . . .

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II. The Will of God, with regard to which we assert as follows:—

Position 1.—The Deity is possessed not only of infinite knowledge, but likewise of absolute liberty of will, so that whatever He does, or permits to be done, He does and permits freely and of His own good pleasure.

Consequently, it is His free pleasure to permit sin, since, without His permission, neither men nor devils can do anything. Now, to permit is, at least, the same as not to hinder, though it be in our power to hinder if we please, and this permission, or non-hinderance, is certainly an act of the Divine will. Hence Augustine[1] says, ”Those things which, seemingly, thwart the Divine will are, nevertheless, agreeable to it, for, if God did not permit them, they could not be done, and whatever God permits, He permits freely and willingly. He does nothing, neither suffers anything to be done, against His own will.” And Luther[2] observes that “God permitted Adam to fall into sin because He willed that he should.

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Position 1.—God is essentially unchangeable in Himself. Were He otherwise, He would be confessedly imperfect, since whoever changes must change either for the better or for the worse; whatever alteration any being undergoes, that being must, ipso facto, either become more excellent than it was or lose some of the excellency which it had. But neither of these can be the case with the Deity: He cannot change for the better, for that would necessarily imply that He was not perfectly good before; He cannot change for the worse, for then He could . . .

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The justice of God may be considered either immanently, as it is in Himself, which is, properly speaking, the same with His holiness; or transiently and relatively, as it respects His right conduct towards His creatures, which is properly justice. By the former He is all that is holy, just and good; by the latter, He is manifested to be so in all His dealings with angels and men. For the first, see . . .

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IV.—On the contrary, reprobation denotes either (1) God’s eternal pretention of some men, when He chose others to glory, and His predestination of them to fill up the measure of their iniquities and then to receive the just punishment of their crimes, even “destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” This is the primary, most obvious and most frequent sense in which the word is used. It may likewise signify (2) God’s forbearing to call by His grace those whom He hath thus ordained to condemnation, but this is only a temporary pretention, and a consequence of that which was from eternity. (3) And, lastly, the word may be taken . . .

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Wherein The Doctrine of Predestination Is Explained As It Relates In General To All Men.

Thus much being premised with relation to the Scripture terms commonly made use of in this controversy, we shall now proceed to take a nearer view of this high and mysterious article, and—

I.—We, with the Scriptures, assert that there is a predestination of some particular persons to life for the praise of the glory of Divine grace, and a predestination of other particular persons to death, which death of punishment they shall inevitably undergo, and that justly, on account of their sins.

(1) There is a predestination of some particular persons to life, so “Many are called, but…

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III.—We assert that as all men universally are not elected to salvation, so neither are all men universally ordained to condemnation. This follows from what has been proved already; however, I shall subjoin some further demonstration of these two positions.

(1) All men universally are not elected to salvation, and, first, this may be evinced a posteriori; it is undeniable from Scripture that God will not in the last day save every individual of mankind! (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46; John 5:29). Therefore, say we, God never designed to save every individual, since, if He had, every individual would and must be saved, for “His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure.”

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IV.—We assert that the number of the elect, and also of the reprobate, is so fixed and determinate that neither can be augmented or diminished. It is written of God that “He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). Now, it is as incompatible with the infinite wisdom and knowledge of the all-comprehending God to be ignorant of the names and number of the rational creatures He has made as that He should be ignorant of the stars and . . .

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Concerning Election Unto Life, Or Predestination As It Respects The Saints In Particular.

Having considered predestination as it regards all men in general, and briefly shown that by it some are appointed to wrath and others to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9), I now come to consider, more distinctly, that branch of it which relates to the saints only, and is commonly styled election. Its definition I have given already in the close of the first chapter. What I have farther to advance, from the Scriptures, on this important subject, I shall reduce to several positions, and subjoin a short explanation and confirmation of each.

Position 1.—Those who are ordained unto eternal life were not so ordained on account of any worthiness foreseen in them, or of any good works to be wrought by them, nor yet . . .

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Position 6.—The end of election, which, with regard to the elect themselves, is eternal life. I say this end and the means conducive to it, such as the gift of the Spirit, faith, etc., are so inseparably connected together that whoever is possessed of these shall surely obtain that, and none can obtain that who are not first possessed of these. “As many as were ordained to eternal life,” and none else, ” believed” (Acts 13:48). “Him hath God exalted—to give repentance unto Israel…

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From what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice.

But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests…

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Position 2.—Some men were, from all eternity, not only negatively excepted from a participation of Christ and His salvation, but positively ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc., and that by the just judgment of God. (See Exod. 9; 1 Sam. 2:25; 2 Sam. 17:14; Isa. 6:9-11; 2 Thess. 2:11,12.) Nor can these places of Scripture, with many others of like import, be understood of an involuntary permission…

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