Samuel Trott

My Views On The Absolute Predestination Of All Things

I, a few weeks since, received by letter a request from a brother out West that I should give through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES my views on the Absolute Predestination of All things. I judge from this letter that this brother is sound on the subject; but I also judge from his letters, as also from a copy of the Minutes of the Association with which he is probably connected, that he is surrounded by Baptists not sound on all points, and not upon the subject upon which he wishes my views. I feel, therefore, disposed to yield to his request, if by any means I might say anything that would strengthen and confirm him in the truth, and instruct others who have hearts to understand. But I have in times past so fully discussed this subject through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and so frequently expressed my views on it, that I can hardly be expected to give anything new relating to it, yet it is a fruitful subject. One remark more: What I write on this subject I write for Old School Baptists. I do not expect others are prepared to receive what establishes the full sovereignty of God.

To come to the subject: Old School Baptists will admit concerning Him who is our GOD, that “all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3); that all things were created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16); that “the Lord made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4). It is true the first two texts were written of Him who is the only begotten of the Father, and His Son, and of course the third applies to Him also; but the Son is the Savior, and the Savior of Israel is the Lord Jehovah, the God of Israel (See Isaiah 43:3). Hence it is written, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). Is it not, then, evident that all things that are made were created FOR Himself, that He had a use for them all, even for the “small dust of the balance” (Isaiah 40:15), and for “the wicked” (Proverb 16:4), and for the “waster to destroy” ? (Isaiah 40:15). If He created “the wicked for the day of evil,” and the “waster to destroy,” had He not, when He created them for such, pre- determined the use He would make of them ? God had use for the waster, Satan, to introduce sin into the world, and He certainly had use for sin in the world for carrying out the purpose which He had “purposed in Christ Jesus,” that of saving sinners, and “bringing many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10). He had use for Nebuchadnezzar to waste Judah. Tyre and Egypt, &c. And He had use for all the wasters from Nebuchadnezzar down to the little insects that destroy one another, and can be discovered only by the microscope. If God “made all these things for Himself,” He certainly has a right to them, and to govern and dispose of them. Can it be supposed with any reason, that when God had made man for Himself, that He permitted him by sinning to take himself away from under His control and government, so that man can in anything thwart the purpose of God? Or, that Satan has obtained a control of man above the control of God? But whatever men may suppose concerning this, God has said, and that settles the question, “Surely, the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10). Again, David says, “Deliver my soul from the wicked which is Thy sword “ (Psalm 17:13). If the wicked is His sword, then He of course has use for them, “in the day of evil” which He will bring upon men. Thus God says of Nebuchadnezzar: “O Assyrian, the rod of Mine anger, and the staff in their hand, is Mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation.” (Isaiah 10:5,6; also verse 15).

Once more: We are told by inspiration of God that, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God,” (Romans 8:28). In the first of the above texts, we have it in substance affirmed that whatever wrath man shall be allowed to act out, shall praise God, and the remainder of wrath He shall restrain. This must embrace the sinful actions of men in general (“Thou shalt restrain”). In reference to the restraining of wrath, we have one instance in the crucifixion of Christ. God had said, through the type of the paschal lamb, “a bone of Him shall not be broken.” Whilst the soldiers break the legs of those crucified with Him, yet when they saw that Jesus was dead already, they did not break his legs; yet they would vent their wrath on Him in some way, and one of them pierced His side with a spear. There they were restrained from doing that which God said should not be done (Exodus 12:46 & John 19:36) yet in acting out their wrath they did exactly that which was foretold should be done (John 19:32-37 and Psalm 22:16). Yet these Roman soldiers did not design nor know that they were doing the will of God.

In the quotation from Isaiah 18:5,6, we have one illustration of how God uses the wicked as a sword or staff to visit evil upon men. In the quotation “that all things work together for good,” &c., there must be included in these all things all the trials from the reproaches and persecutions of men, from the temptations of Satan, and from the crosses and afflictions of life, that His people are subject to. In the quotations I have given it must, I think, be admitted that most of the wicked actions of men and devils are represented. And it is shown that God controls them, for His people, for accomplishing His purpose, and for the good of His people.

Old School Baptists will admit that God’s foreknowledge is infinite, and therefore must have embraced from eternity every event, however minute. If God then foreknew all of the wrath of men that should praise Him, and all that He would restrain, and all the use He would make of the wicked, it must have been He purposed that wrath which should be acted out, and that use which He would make of the wicked, and the events He would accomplish by them. Hence He say, “As I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Isaiah 14:24-27).

What is God’s purpose but His predestination? Men in all ages charged the predestination of God with destroying the accountability of the creature. Paul knew of the natural prevalence of this objection, hence he said, “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?” The answer: “Nay, but O man, who are thou that repliest against God?” (Romans 9:19-24).

And here perhaps it would be wisdom to leave that point where Paul has left it. I will, however, just add that the Scriptures nowhere represents that God’s purposing or predestinating the actions and events produced by it, in any case, destroys the sinfulness of the actor.

God had purposed that Joseph should be sold into Egypt, but his brethren sinned in the transaction, doing it from wicked design. Hence Joseph said unto them, “ye thought evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). So in the case of the Assyrian, while God foretold that He would use him as a rod and a staff in His hand against a hypocritical nation, &c.; yet He said, “Howbeit he meaneth not so,” and “it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few” (Isaiah 10:5- 19). Also, in Acts 2:23, concerning the Jews in crucifying Christ, we see the work of God in these cases. We see His purpose carried out by the wicked actions of wicked men and Satan, yet we cannot see Him work. We cannot comprehend His ways. Shall we deny His power? Deny that He does it, because we cannot comprehend how He does it, so as to have man a guilty transgressor and Himself pure and just? And shall we, therefore, ascribe the controlling power as well as the resulting acts to men and to devils? Every event prophesied of, both in the Old and New Testaments, concerning Israel, concerning the four great world empires of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, of the division of the Greek Empire, of the division of the Roman Empire into ten kingdoms, and of the rise of the seven headed Beast and of the two horned one – were and must have been predetermined of God, or it would not have been declared of God that they should take place. God said He would send Nebuchadnezzar or the Assyrian against Judah and Jerusalem, as has been seen from the 10th chapter of Isaiah. God named Cyrus as the man that should destroy Babylon and break the Assyrian Empire, and establish the second great empire, the Persian, and deliver the Jews – a hundred and thirty-eight years before Cyrus was born (see Isaiah 45:1-4). Yet He says of the Assyrian, that he meaneth not so, &c., and therefore that He will “punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 10:7-12). And He called Cyrus “a ravenous bird, that He calleth from the East to execute His counsel, &c., (Isaiah 46:11). It is evident, as is the case in the Assyrian above noticed, both from the Scripture account and from secular history, that Cyrus and all these kings and nations and people were acting by ambitious motives to exalt themselves: the one in the destruction of the other. Yet God says, in reference to these and preceding events, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure; calling a ravenous bird” etc. – (Isaiah 46:9-12). What can be a more full and decided declaration of absolute predestination than this?

There are those in this section of the country who, though they consider themselves “Old School Baptists,” deny the absolute predestination of all things; yet they admit the predestination of those events immediately connected with the coming and death of Christ, and the predestination of the elect unto salvation and to the adoption of children. And I suppose, my brother, you have the same class of “Baptists” around you. It may therefore be well to say something on this point.

If the coming of Christ in the flesh was predestinated before the foundation of the world, then all events, all things connected with His coming, were predestinated. He “came into the world to save sinners;” then it must have been predestinated that His people should be “sinners,” and therefore that Adam, by transgression, should bring sin into the world. Rahab must become a harlot, and have a house in a retired place on the walls, that she might receive and hide the spies sent by Joshua, and thus secure her own deliverance from the destruction of Jericho, and become the mother of Boaz (David’s grandfather) by Salmon, and thus secure the succession from whence Christ was to come after the flesh (Joshua 2 and 6:25; Matthew 1:5). Tamar must assume the garb of a harlot, that she might entice her father-in-law, Judah, that she might bear unto him an heir, that the succession from Judah to Christ might be preserved as prophesied (Genesis 38:12-30). So the birth of Solomon was preceded by adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. Those were all sinful acts and were intimate in securing the succession from Abraham down to Jesus. Satan had quite an important part to act in bringing this about; not only in entering into Judas and leading him to betray Jesus, but in exciting the Jews. Satan did not this with the design of furthering the purpose of God, but to frustrate it. He was acting out the enmity of his own heart against God. The act of Judas in betraying Jesus had been prophesied of by David, and therefore must have been predestinated, and of course, Satan’s entering into him was also foretold (Psalm 109). Even Jesus said unto Judas, after Satan had entered him, “That thou doest do quickly.” Yea, all this did not lessen his sinfulness in the act. If God can thus control and make use of Satan’s enmity in accomplishing His own purpose, and yet leave him a devil, He can with equal ease control the wrath and wicked acts of men, and yet leave them still the sinners. We discover from this that Satan must be ignorant of the spirituality of the Scriptures, or he would have known that he was fulfilling them by tempting Judas. And he was equally ignorant of the spirituality of Christ’s kingdom, or he would not have thought to crush it by procuring His death.

In reference to the predestinated salvation of His people, Christ says of His Father, “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him” (John 17:2). What was the use of this power being given to Him over all flesh, if it was not necessary that He should have the control of all flesh, and their acts, in order to give eternal life to His people? It is as necessary that they should experience their first birth as their second; of course, He must have the control of every event that could effect their preservation in their ancestry to their being born, that there might be no frustration in that; and after their birth till called to the knowledge of the truth. This power over all flesh is declared by Christ to be, “All power in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18). If He has all power over all flesh, then there is none other that has any power over them to control their actions contrary to His purpose. I cannot think that any consistent Old School Baptist can think that God created or brought into existence any part of the human family merely to be damned; or in other words, that He had not use for in the world in carrying out the great purpose of creation, namely: the salvation and glorification of His people, either as channels through whom the elect are to descend from Adam, or through whom the wicked are to be brought into existence “against the day of evil,” or to compose the votaries of the false systems of religion which God has in all ages permitted to exist in the world, by which, through contrast with them, the glory and beauty of His truth may be made more manifest, and the riches of His grace more displayed in bringing His people to the knowledge of the truth, and in preserving them to glory. He must have the control of all these masses so as to secure their filling the places assigned them in the purpose of God. Indeed the term flesh in the expression “all flesh,” seems to be used to denote those who only are born of the flesh, in distinction from those who are born of the Spirit, as it reads, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”(John 3:3). It is true, this “power over all flesh was given” to Him as Son and Mediator – as God it could not be given Him, and that it is as Son that He reigns, and has reigned since His glorification or exaltation, and must reign until all enemies are put under His feet. (John 17:1-2, I Corinthians 15: 24,28). But it is not merely as the “begotten of the Father,” and having therefore only a derivative existence, and exercising only a given or delegated power, that He reigns. For although those around you may think that the character of the Redeemer is portrayed as truly sublime when He is represented as having no other Godhead than what was begotten and therefore derived, yet the Scriptures represent Him as absolutely Jehovah, the one self- existing God. Hence while as the Son He could say, “My Father is greater than I,” and “I and, My Father are one.” He is thus God, and the Son of God, in the same glorious personage as Mediator. Hence He said to Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” If so He brings all the attributes of the Godhead into His work as Mediator, as He exercises His mediatorial powers. Being therefore, God, He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. Hence in the exercise of His power “over all flesh,” He is so controlling all that they are made to subserve the very purpose for which they were created, and therefore that which had been predestinated concerning them before they were created in Adam. Certainly it cannot be supposed that God created men for a purpose and yet had not determined what that purpose should be. It is equally absurd to suppose that He created them without a purpose! Hence we may rest assured that notwithstanding the wrath of men they can do nothing but what will be found among the “all things that work together for good to them that love God.”

Some Baptists are opposed to the predestination of all things being preached or agitated in our papers. They say that it tends to make men worse. Whether such are Old School Baptists in heart, or not, it is not my province to say. It certainly is the case that there is nothing which so directly draws out the enmity of the human heart against God and His Sovereignty, as the doctrine of predestination. But if the doctrine of predestination is true, it is certain that men will act out no more wrath than God will cause to praise Him, for the remainder of wrath He will restrain. And it is true, or there is no dependence in the prophecies of the Scriptures. They would be all guess-work, if God had not determined just how far men should act out their wrath, and wherein He would restrain it. On the other hand it is truly consoling to the child of grace to feel assured that his God, his Savior, has the sovereign and all-powerful control of every event, and has determined all for good. Our Savior says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” Of course no shot can hit, no bird of prey can wound or kill a sparrow but as God pleases. Christ said to His disciples, “Fear not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

Samuel Trott (1783-1866) was an American Primitive Baptist preacher. He was appointed pastor of the Welsh Tract Baptist Church, Newark, Delaware. In 1832, he drafted the Black Rock Address which drew a line between the Hyper and Moderate Calvinists. The Hypers assumed the name “Old School” while the Moderates were called “New School”. The Schools were based on the writings of two English theologians—John Gill (1770’s), representing the Old School; Andrew Fuller (1780’s), representing the New School. Henceforth, the Fullerite teachings which splintered the Particular Baptist churches of England eventually divided the Primitive Baptist churches of America.