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Sovereign Grace

We maintain that it is the right for a minister of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel in the hearing of all that hear him; and what we find fault with is not preaching the gospel to all that hear but men pretending that they are authorised to offer the gospel to all that hear them. We consider that to preach the gospel is one thing, and to offer the gospel is quite another thing. Hence when a man gets up into a pulpit, and says, “In God’s name I offer Christ, and pardon, and salvation, to every soul of you present; if you reject this offer, you may never have another; therefore come now and take Christ and salvation, while you have the opportunity; today is the time, tomorrow may be too late, and recollect that it is your own fault that you are not saved for I have this day offered you Christ.” Now, we consider that this is no more like preaching the gospel than a poor deluded Papist, counting his beads, is like the true worship of God. To preach or proclaim God’s will is one thing; but to offer…

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Preached on Sunday Evening, May 31st, 1840, in Gower Street Chapel, London.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”—1 John 4:1-4.

It has always been the case, ever since God sent prophets, that the devil has endeavoured to imitate him and send prophets too; and the Lord told Moses to give the people this advice, that if a prophet rose up, or a dreamer of dreams, and prophesied things that came true, yet they were not to believe him except he brought forth in his prophecy the real truth of God. It seems good in the sight of God that, for wise purposes, there should be false prophets and false teachers, for the trial…

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Preached, on Lord’s Day Morning, Nov. 1st, 1840, in Manchester.

“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.”—Ps. 116:17.

Under the Jewish dispensation, God had appointed a variety of offerings and sacrifices for the Jews, under certain circumstances, to be attended to; and if you turn to Leviticus 7, you will find that the offering of the sacrifice of thanksgiving was to be accompanied with unleavened bread, mingled with oil, with wafers anointed with oil, and with cakes fried in oil. Now in reality, beloved, there is no sacrifice of thanksgiving without this oil; and it is…

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Preached on Tuesday Evening, Sept. 13th, 1838, in Jewry Street Chapel, London, on Behalf of the Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society.

“The Lord hath done great things for US, whereof we are glad.”—Ps 126:3.

There are three things in the great mysteries of salvation that many professors of religion seem almost alarmed at. One is that God really saves sinners. If a minister of Jesus Christ is led to describe a sinner half as he really is, for to the bottom of him he never can, he shocks their delicate minds, and they are almost paralyzed, and call it the high road of licentiousness to suppose that God saves such naughty sinners as those; whilst a poor soul under the…

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Position 5.— God’s hidden will is peremptory and absolute, and therefore cannot be hindered from taking effect. God’s will is nothing else than God Himself willing, consequently it is omnipotent and unfrustrable. Hence we find it termed by Augustine and the schoolmen, voluntas omnipotentissima, because whatever God wills cannot fail of being effected. This made Augustine say,[1] “Evil men do many things contrary to God’s revealed will, but so great is His wisdom, and so inviolable . . .

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Position 8.—Since, as was lately observed, the determining will of God being omnipotent cannot be obstructed or made void, it follows that He never did, nor does He now, will that every individual of mankind should be saved. If this was His will, not one single soul could ever be lost (for who hath resisted His will?), and He would surely afford all men those effectual means of salvation, without which it cannot be had. Now, God could afford these means as easily to all mankind as to some only, but experience proves . . .

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Position 13.—The absolute will of God is the original spring and efficient cause of His people’s salvation.

I say the original and efficient, for, sensu complexo, there are other intermediate causes of their salvation, which, however, all result from and are subservient to this primary one, the will of God. Such are His everlasting choice of them to eternal life—the eternal covenant of grace, entered into by the Trinity, in behalf of the elect; the incarnation, obedience, death and intercession of Christ for them—all which are so many links in the great chain of causes, and not one of these . . .

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Position 1.—God is, in the most unlimited and absolute sense of the word, Almighty. “Behold Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee” (Jer. 32:17). “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). The schoolmen, very properly, distinguish the omnipotence of God into absolute and actual: by the former, God might do many things which He does not; by the latter, He actually does whatever He will. For instance, God might, by virtue of His absolute power . . .

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Position 3.—God, as the primary and efficient cause of all things, is not only the Author of those actions done by His elect as actions, but also as they are good actions, whereas, on the other hand, though He may be said to be the Author of all the actions done by the wicked, yet He is not the Author of them in a moral and compound sense as they are sinful; but physically, simply and sensu diviso as they are mere actions, abstractedly from all consideration of the goodness or badness of them.

Although there is no action whatever which is not in some sense either good or bad, yet we can easily conceive . . .

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I shall conclude this article with two or three observations, and—

(1) I would infer that, if we would maintain the doctrine of God’s omnipotence, we must insist upon that of His universal agency; the latter cannot be denied without giving up the former. Disprove that He is almighty, and then we will grant that His influence and operations are limited and circumscribed. Luther[1] says, “God would not be a respectable Being if He were not almighty, and the doer of all things that are done, or if anything could come to pass in which He had no hand.” God has, at least, a physical influence on whatsoever is done by His creatures, whether trivial or important, good or evil. Judas as truly lived, moved and had his being from God as Peter, and Satan himself as much as Gabriel, for to say . . .

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The Deity is, throughout the Scriptures, represented as infinitely gracious and merciful (Exod. 34:6; Nehem. 9:17; Psalm 103:8; 1 Peter 1:3). When we call the Divine mercy infinite, we do not mean that it is, in a way of grace, extended to all men without exception (and supposing it was, even then it would be very improperly denominated infinite on that account, since the objects of it, though all men taken together, would not amount to a multitude strictly and properly infinite), but that His mercy towards His own elect . . .

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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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II.—We assert that God did from eternity decree to make man in His own image, and also decreed to suffer him to fall from that image in which he should be created, and thereby to forfeit the happiness with which he was invested, which decree and the consequences of it were not limited to Adam only, but included and extended to all his natural posterity.

Something of this was hinted already in the preceding chapter [“Terms: Parts 1 and 2”], and we shall now proceed to the proof of it.

(1) That God did make man in His own image is evident from Scripture (Gen. 1:27).

(2) That He decreed from eternity so to make man is as evident, since for God to do anything . . .

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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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