YOU CAN ONLY GET RID OF ELECTION BY GETTING RID OF THE BIBLE!
God has spoken them. God has placed them there. They cannot really be at variance with each other. The day is coming when we shall fully understand their harmony. Let us wait till then, and meanwhile tremble at the thought of misinterpreting or distorting so much as one jot or tittle. Most assuredly we shall not bring about the agreement in any such way. We are only widening the breach, and opening but new difficulties.
If I am asked, how can you preach a free gospel, and yet believe in election? I answer, I ‘believe in both, and preach both, be- cause I find both in the Bible. I have no authority for preaching an unconditional gospel but what I find in the Bible; and I have the same authority for preaching an unconditional personal election. God has told me that both are true; and woe be to me if I profanely attempt to mutilate either the one or the other. If one man refuses to take the simple meaning of “election”, another may refuse to take the simple meaning of “gospel”. And were I called upon to say which is the worse, the more profane of the two, I should say the former. I should, indeed, tremble at the thought of denying either election or the gospel; but I confess that I think the denial of the latter a less direct, and less daring insult to the sovereign majesty of Jehovah. It would be a shutting out of His grace, closing up of all the manifestations of His character which have come to us since Adam sinned; and it would be drawing a dark cloud over our eternal prospects,—but it would not be taking the reins of government out of His hands,— it would not be the usurpation of His throne,—it would not be giving the right hand of fellowship to atheism.
But there is no need of any such comparison. Perhaps it was wrong to make it. I have done so, however, in order that you may be led to see that election belongs to the highest and most sacred order of truths – that it is not a doctrine to be concealed and muffled as if we were either ashamed or afraid of it, but to be firmly held, and faithfully preached, whether men will hear or forebear. Mere philosophy might tell men that, if there be a God, He must be absolutely sovereign in all things. Mere philosophy might expose the shallowness and selfishness of those who trample on God’s free will, in order to establish man’s — even if theology and Scripture were silent on the matter.
Why do I preach a free gospel? Is it because reason has revealed it? Is it because I find it suits me best? No, It is because God has declared it; that is my sole authority. Why do I believe in election? Just because God has made it known. I may find that reason confirms this. I may see that there can be no really free gospel without election; but still my ground for believing it is because I find it most plainly revealed.
YOU CAN ONLY GET RID OF ELECTION BY GETTING RID OF THE BIBLE!
And hence you will find, among others who deny election and the work of Christ for His church, a great dislike at those passages of Scripture which allude to these topics. They pass them by, they turn away from them, they are angry if another even quotes them, though without a comment. Now I ask, would they do and feel thus, if they believed that these passages really contain the meaning which they put upon them? If these passages are quite in harmony with their views, why do they shrink from quoting them, or hearing them quoted? Is not this the plainest of all proofs, that they feel that theirs is not the honest interpretation? Does it not show that they themselves are secretly persuaded that these passages do teach unconditional election, and the absolute sovereignty of Jehovah? They feel that thev have twisted them from their plain sense, and that the mere reading of them is enough to expose their distortions. They feel that they have not dealt fairly with the Word of God, and that their one-sided dealings cannot bear the light of day.
Let us learn to ‘ ‘tremble at the Word”. Let us take it plainly and honestly in its simple sense. Let us not be afraid of its apparent contradictions. Let us not think ourselves capable of reconciling and harmonizing all its declarations. We see here but through a glass darkly. The day of light and harmony is coming. All shall then be plain. God will solve our difficulties. Meanwhile, let us reverence every jot and tittle of His holy Word. Let us trust our own hearts and reasonings less, and God’s Word more. Let us not be so anxiously asking, how can this be? how can we rec- oncile God’s sovereignty with man’s responsibility? how can we harmonize the Spirit’s free agency with man’s free agency? Let us leave difficulties in the hands of God; and let us beware of making those difficulties greater by our miserable attempts to reach at things too high for us, or our miserable efforts to pervert and mutilate’ the Word of the God who cannot lie.
I do not mean, by any of these remarks, to imply that there is not the most perfect harmony between all the different doctrines taught us in the Bible. Nor do I mean to say that this harmony is incapable of being discerned here. I believe, on the one hand, that all is harmony in the truths of God, and that that harmony is discernible and demonstrable even now. But still there is an apparent jar. To a certain extent we can reconcile every one of the supposed discordances. Yet there are difficulties connected with them which no theory can solve, and which will remain difficulties till the great day. To attempt to reconcile or remove these by denying the plain and natural sense of Scripture is sinful and pernicious. It accomplishes nothing. It only takes away one difficulty to replace it with a greater.
There are doubtless other causes of the evil over which we mourn; but these are the three chief roots of bitterness. To these may be traced more of the manifold errors of our day than many may be willing to al- low. Till these are removed, I have little hope that the instability of the times will die out, or cease to operate for the injury and subversion of the truth. Till the soul gets rest—not the name, but the reality— and till the conscience is awake and sensitive, and till the Word of God is reverenced and honestly interpreted, I see small prospect of an end of these changes, if, indeed, we may venture to hope that such can be until the Lord shall come. Yet be not amazed. Jehovah changes not; neither does His Word. It abideth forever!