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.
The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination
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 . . .
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 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 observes that “God permitted Adam to fall into sin because He willed that he should.
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 . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
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…
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.”
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 . . .