It has been said, `That redemption is universal, and that the reason why salvation is not universal, is because men do not avail themselves of the advantages of redemption.’ This gives plenty of scope for universal invitations, and just suits the pride of the human heart, because it gives to man a sort of self-dispensing power over the eternal favours of God, and denies God’s sovereignty in the dispensations of his own blessings. This also makes the redemption work of Christ to come a certain distance toward the sinner, but not to reach all the way to him as a sinner, without strength, dead in sins, and at enmity against God, in order to fetch him out from that very state. But if the ladder which Jacob saw had not come all the way to the earth, it could have marked out no way of intercourse for him with heaven, or heaven with him: and so the work of Christ would do nothing if it did not reach all the way to the sinner’s case as a sinner. But quite contrary, and very happily so, to the above nonsense of the sinner’s availing himself, the apostle Paul declares the work of our Lord Jesus Christ to extend to the sinner as a sinner considered, and not to him merely considered as a coming saint: saying, `When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly,’ Rom 5:6; `While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’ verse 8; `When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,’ verse 10. And this the apostle calls God’s commendation of his love to us, verse 8; and considering this being done in the great love of God, that there is now a much more abundant certainty, that all shall be finally saved from wrath, for whom this work of Christ has thus been done./p>
And this notion of man’s `availing himself of the advantages of redemption,’ leaves the Holy Spirit’s work out altogether, as having nothing to do with the matter of personal godliness and salvation in such gentlemen’s theology; although our Lord himself hath so plainly said, `When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment,’ John 16:8-11; `He shall testify of me,’ 15:26; `He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you,’ 16:14. And this notion of self availing’ goes also to say, that man’s not availing himself of certain things in his own strength and of his own will, does more for the saint’s everlasting ruin in hell, than all the good will, the love, the promises, and all the gracious works of the Lord will finally avail to save it; and that Christ has redeemed in vain, or redeemed with a redemption that may turn out to be no redemption at all, unless the ruined will consent to its being effectual! And I think how happy and pleased such men as the above must feel in their dear good selves, as being so good as to avail themselves of the advantages of redemption, while there are so many who are so much more naughty and wicked as not so to avail themselves, Luke xviii 9. But when God by mercy shall take in his prodigals, and righteously turn out his never- offending, and shew up the full truth to effect, that nothing but God’s workmanship, and none but new creatures in Christ Jesus, who are born of God and of incorruptible seed, shall inherit the kingdom of God, how will this self-availing scheme stand then in the judgment of God?
John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.