C. H. Spurgeon
Thessalonians 2:13-14) But we are bound to give thanks alway
to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the
beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit
and belief of the truth:  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to
the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If there were no other text in the sacred word except this one, I think
we should all be bound to receive and acknowledge the truthfulness of the
great and glorious doctrine of God's ancient choice of his family. But
there seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this
doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing
Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems
to be most frequently disregarded and discarded. In many of our pulpits,
it would be reckoned a high sin and treason to preach a sermon upon election,
because they could not make it what they call a "practical" discourse.
I believe they have erred from the truth therein.
Whatever God has revealed, he has revealed for a purpose. There is nothing
in Scripture which may not, under the influence of God's Spirit, be turned
into a practical discourse: for "all Scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and is profitable" for some purpose of spiritual usefulness. It
is true, it may not be turned into a free-will discourse - that we know
right well - but it can be turned into a practical free-grace discourse;
and free-grace practice is the best practice, when the true doctrines of
God's immutable love are brought to bear upon the hearts of saints and
Some of you who are startled at the very sound of this word, will say,
"I will give it a fair hearing, I will lay aside my prejudices; I will
just hear what this man has to say." Do not shut your cars and say at once,
"It is high doctrine. Who has authorized you to call it high or low? Why
should you oppose yourself to God's doctrine? Remember what became of the
children who found fault with God's prophet, and exclaimed, "Go up, thou
baldhead; go up, thou baldhead." Say nothing against God's doctrines, lest
haply some evil beast should come out of the forest and devour you also.
There are other woes beside the open judgment of heaven - take heed that
these fall not on your head. Lay aside your prejudices; listen calmly,
listen dispassionately: hear what Scripture says; and when you receive
the truth, if God should be pleased to reveal and manifest it to your souls,
do not be ashamed to confess it. To confess you were wrong yesterday, is
only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser to-day; and instead of
being a reflection on yourself, it is an honor to your judgment, and shows
that you are improving in the knowledge of the truth.
The Bible must be first and God's minister must lie underneath it. We must
not stand on the Bible to preach, but we must preach with the Bible above
our heads. After all we have preached, we are well aware that the mountain
of truth is higher than our eyes can discern; clouds and darkness are round
about its summit, and we can not discern its topmost pinnacle; yet we will
try to preach it as well as we can. But since we are mortal and liable
to err, exercise your judgment; "try the spirits whether they are of God;"
and if on mature reflection on your bended knees, you are led to disregard
election - a thing which I consider to be utterly impossible - then forsake
it, do not hear it preached, but believe and confess whatever you see to
be God's word. I can say no more than that byway of exordium.
Now, first, I shall speak a little concerning the truthfulness of this
doctrine: "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation." Secondly,
I shall try to prove that this election is absolute: "He hath from the
beginning chosen you to salvation, not for sanctification, but "through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Thirdly, this election
is eternal; because the text says, "God hath from the beginning chosen
you." Fourthly, it is personal: "He hath chosen you." Then we will look
at the effects of the doctrine - see what it does; and lastly, as God may
enable us, we will try and look at its tendencies, and see whether it is
indeed a terrible and licentious doctrine. We will take the flower, and
like true bees, see whether there be any honey whatever in it; whether
any good can come of it, or whether it is an unmixed, undiluted evil.
First, I must try and prove that the doctrine is true. And let me
begin with an argumentum ad hominem: I will speak to you according to your
different positions and stations. There are some of you who belong
to the Church of England. Now, I know you are great believers in what the
(Thirty-nine) Articles declare to be sound doctrine. I will give you a
specimen of what they utter concerning election, so that if you believe
them, you can not avoid receiving election. I will read a portion of the
17th article, upon Predestination and Election:
"Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before
the foundations of the world were laid) He hath constantly decreed by his
counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He
hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting
salvation, as vessels made to honor. Wherefore they which be endued
with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose
by his Spirit working in due season: they through grace obey the calling:
they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be
made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously
in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting
I have only used this article to show you, that if you belong to the Establishment
of England, you should at least offer no objection to this doctrine of
Another human authority whereby I would confirm the doctrine of election,
is, the old Waldensian creed. If you read the creed of the old Waldenses,
emanating from them in the midst of the burning heat of persecution, you
will see that these renowned professors and confessors of the Christian
faith did most firmly receive and embrace this doctrine as being a portion
of the truth of God. I have copied from an old book one of the articles
of their faith:
"That God saves from corruption and damnation those whom he has chosen
from the foundations of the world, not for any disposition, faith, or holiness
that he foresaw in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ Jesus his Son,
passing by all the rest, according to the irreprehensible reason of his
own free-will and justice."
It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to
proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism,
but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ
Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I
see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr,
standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or a believer in
the doctrine of free-will, I should have to walk for centuries all alone.
Here and there a heretic, of no very honorable character, might rise up
and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith,
I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren; I behold multitudes
who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion
of God's own church.
I also give you an extract from the old Baptist confession. We are Baptists
in this congregation the greater part of us at any rate - and we like to
see what our own forefathers wrote. Some two hundred years ago the Baptists
assembled together, and published their articles of faith, to put an end
to certain reports against their orthodoxy which had gone forth to the
world. I turn to this old book - and I find the following as the
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and
angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus
Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in
their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly
and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that
it can not be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are
predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid,
according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel
and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory,
out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature
as a condition or cause moving him thereunto."
As for these human authorities, I care not one rush for all three of them.
I care not what they say, pro or con., as to this doctrine. I have only
used them as a kind of confirmation to your faith to show you that whilst
I may be railed upon as a heretic and as a hyper-Calvinist, after all I
am backed up by antiquity.
If a handful of us
stand alone in an unflinching maintenance of the sovereignty of our God,
if we are beset by enemies, ay, and even by our own brethren, who ought
to be our friends and helpers, it matters not, if we can but count upon
the past; the noble army of martyrs, the glorious host of confessors, are
our friends; the witnesses of truth stand by us. With these for us,
we will not say that we stand alone: but we may exclaim, "Lo, God hath
reserved unto himself seven thousand that have not bowed the knee unto
Baal!" But the best of all is, God is with us.
The great truth is always the Bible, and the Bible alone. My hearers, you
do not believe in any other book than the Bible, do you? If I could prove
this from all the books in Christendom; if I could fetch back the Alexandrian
library, and prove it thence, you would not believe it any more; but you
surely will believe what is in God's word.
I have selected a few texts to read to you. I love to give you a whole
volley of texts when I am afraid you will distrust a truth, so that you
may be too astonished to doubt, if you do not in reality believe just let
me run through a catalogue of passages where the people of God are called
elect. Of course if the people are called elect, there must be election.
If Jesus Christ and his apostles were accustomed to style believers by
the title of elect, we must certainly believe that they were so, otherwise
the term does not mean any thing.
Jesus Christ says, "Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh
should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath
shortened the days." "False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and
shall show signs and wonders to seduce, it if were possible, even the elect."
"Then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from
the four winds, from the uttermost parts of the earth to the uttermost
part of heaven." (Mark, xiii. 20, 22, 27) " Shall not God avenge
his own elect who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with
them?" (Luke, xviii. 7.) Together with many other passages which
might be selected, wherein either the word "elect," or "chosen," or "foreordained,"
or "appointed," is mentioned; or the phrase "my sheep," or some similar
designation, showing that Christ's people are distinguished from the rest
But you have concordances, and I will not trouble you with texts. Throughout
the epistles, the saints are constantly called "the elect." In the Colossians
we find Paul saying, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved,
bowels of mercies." When he writes to Titus, he calls himself, "Paul, a
servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith
of God's elect." Peter says, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God
the Father." Then if you turn to John, you will find he is very fond of
the word. He says, "The elder to the elect lady;" and he speaks of
our "elect sister." And we know where it is written, "The church that is
at Babylon, elected together with you." They were not ashamed of the word
in those days; they were not afraid to talk about it.
Now-a-days the word has been dressed up with diversities of meaning, and
persons have mutilated and marred the doctrine, so that they have made
it a very doctrine of devils, I do confess; and many who call themselves
believers, have gone to rank Antinomianism. But notwithstanding this, why
should I be ashamed of it, if men do wrest it? We love God's truth on the
rack, as well as when it is walking upright. If there were a martyr whom
we loved before he came on the rack, we should love him more still when
he was stretched there. When God's truth is stretched on the rack, we do
not call it falsehood. We love not to see it racked, but we love
it even when racked, because we can discern what its proper proportions
ought to have been if it had not been racked and tortured by the cruelty
and inventions of men.
If you will read many of the epistles of the ancient Fathers, you will
find them always writing to the people of God as "the elect." Indeed the
common conversational term used among many of the churches by the primitive
Christians to one another, was that of the "elect." They would often use
the term to one another, showing that it was generally believed that all
God's people were manifestly "elect."
But now for the verses
that will positively prove the doctrine. Open your Bibles and turn to John,
xv. 16, and there you will see that Jesus Christ has chosen his people;
for he says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained
you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should
remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give
it you." Then in the 19th verse, "If ye were of the world, the world
would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen
you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
Then in the 17th chapter and the 8th and 9th verses, "For I have given
unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them,
and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed
that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but
for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Turn to Acts
xiii. 48: "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified
the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
They may try to split that passage into hairs if they like: but it says,
ordained to eternal life," in the original as plainly as it possibly can;
and we do not care about all the different commentaries thereupon.
You scarcely need to be reminded of Romans viii., because I trust
you are well acquainted with that chapter, and understand it by this time.
In the 29th, and following verses, it says: "For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that
he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate,
them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom
he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things?
If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son,
but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely
give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?"
It would also be unnecessary to repeat the whole of the 9th chapter of
Romans. As long as that remains in the Bible no man shall be able
to prove Arminianism; so long as that is written there, not the most violent
contortions of the passage will ever be able to exterminate the doctrine
of election from the Scriptures. Let us read such verses as these:
"For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil,
that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works,
but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the
younger." Then read the 22nd verse: "What if God, willing to show his wrath,
and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels
of wrath fitted to destruction. And that he might make known the riches
of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto
Then go on to Romans xi. 7: "What then? Israel hath not obtained
that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest
were blinded." In the 5th verse of the same chapter: "Even so then at this
present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
You, no doubt, all recollect the passage in I Cor. 1:26-29 "For
ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh,
not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish
things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak
things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things
of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and
things which are not, to bring to naught things which are: that no flesh
should glory in his presence."
Again, remember the
passage in I Thess. v. 9: "God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." And then you have my
text, which methinks would be quite enough. But, if you need any more,
you can find them at your leisure, if we have not quite removed your suspicions
as to the doctrine not being true.
Methinks, my friends, that this overwhelming mass of Scripture testimony
must stagger those who dare to laugh at this doctrine. What shall we say
of those who have so often despised it, and denied its divinity, who have
railed at its justice and dared to defy God and call him an Almighty tyrant,
when they have heard of his having elected so many to eternal life? Canst
thou, 0 rejecter! cast it out of the Bible? Canst thou take the penknife
of Jehudi and cut it out of the word of God? Wouldst thou be like the woman
at the feet of Solomon, and have the child rent in halves, that thou mightest
have thy half? Is it not here in Scripture? And is it not thy duty to bow
before it, and meekly acknowledge what thou understandest not? - to receive
it as the truth even though thou couldst not understand its meaning?
I will not attempt to prove the justice of God in having thus elected some
and left others. It is not for me to vindicate my Master. He will speak
for himself, and he does so: "Nay, but 0 man, who art thou that repliest
against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast
thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same
lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?" Who is he
that shall say unto his father, "What hast thou begotten?" Or unto his
mother, "What hast thou brought forth?" I am the Lord thy God, I create
light and I create darkness. I the Lord do all these things. Who art thou
that repliest against God? Tremble and kiss his rod; bow down and submit
to his scepter; impugn not his justice, and arraign not his acts before
thy bar, 0 man!
But there are some who say, "It is hard for God to choose some and leave
others." Now, I will ask you one question. Is there any one of you
here this morning who wishes to be holy, who wishes to be regenerate, to
leave off sin and walk in holiness? "Yes, there is," says some one, "I
do." Then God has elected you. But another says, "No: I don't want to be
holy; I don't want to give up my lusts and my vices." Why should you grumble,
then, that God has not elected you to it? For if you were elected you would
not like it, according to your own confession. If God, this morning, had
chosen you to holiness, you say you would not care for it.
Do you not acknowledge that you prefer drunkenness to sobriety, dishonesty
to honesty? You love this world's pleasures better than religion; then
why should you grumble that God has not chosen you to religion? If you
love religion, he has chosen you to it. If you desire it, he has chosen
you to it. If you do not, what right have you to say that God ought to
have given you what you do not wish for?
Supposing I had in
my hand something which you do not value, and I said I shall give it to
such-and-such a person, you would have no right to grumble that I did not
give it to you. You could not be so foolish as to grumble that the
other has got what you do not care about. According to your own confession,
many of you do not want religion, do not want a new heart and a right spirit,
do not want the forgiveness of sins, do not want sanctification, you do
not want to be elected to these things: then why should you grumble? You
count these things but as husks, and why should you complain of God who
has given them to those whom he has chosen?
If you believe them to be good, and desire them, they are there for thee.
God gives liberally to all those who desire; and first of all, he makes
them desire, otherwise they never would. If you love these things, he has
elected you to them, and you may have them; but if you do not, who are
you that you should find fault with God, when it is your own desperate
will that keeps you from loving these things - your own simple self that
makes you hate them?
Suppose a man in the street should say, "What a shame it is I can not have
a seat in the chapel to hear what this man has to say." And suppose he
says, "I hate the preacher; I can't bear his doctrine; but still it's a
shame I have not a seat." Would you expect a man to say so? No: you would
at once say, "That man does not care for it. Why should he trouble
himself about other people having what they value and he despises?" You
do not like holiness, you do not like righteousness; if God has elected
me to these things, has he hurt you by it?
"Ah, but," say some, "I thought it meant that God elected some to heaven
and some to hell." That is a very different matter from the gospel doctrine.
He has elected men to holiness and to righteousness, and through that to
heaven. You must not say that he has elected them simply to heaven, and
others only to hell. He has elected you to holiness, if you love holiness.
If any of you love to be saved by Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ elected you
to be saved. If any of you desire to have salvation, you are elected
to have it, if you desire it sincerely and earnestly. But, if you
don't desire it, why on earth should you be so preposterously foolish as
to grumble because God gives that which you do not like to other people?
Thus I have tried to say something with regard to the truth of the doctrine
of election. And now briefly let me say that election is absolute;
that is, it does not depend upon what we are. The text says, "God hath
from the beginning chosen us unto salvation;" but our opponents say, that
God chooses people because they are good; that he chooses them on account
of sundry works which they have done. Now, we ask, in reply to this, what
works are those on account of which God elects his people?
Are they what we commonly call "works of law" - works of obedience which
the creature can render? If so, we reply to you: if men can not be justified
by the works of the law, it seems to us pretty clear that they can not
be elected by the works of the law; if they can not be justified by their
good deeds, they can not be saved by them. Then the decree of election
could not have been formed upon good works.
"But," say others, "God elected them on the foresight of their faith."
Now, God gives faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account
of faith, which he foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the
street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one
say that I determined to give that one a shilling; that I elected him to
have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would
be talking nonsense. In like manner, to say that God elected men because
he foresaw they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would
be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. Faith is the gift of God.
Every virtue comes from him.Therefore it can not have caused him to elect
men, because it is his gift.
Election, we are sure, is absolute, and altogether apart from the virtues
which the saints have afterward. What though a saint should be as holy
and devout as Paul; what though he should be as bold as Peter, or as loving
as John, yet he would claim nothing from his Maker. I never knew a saint
yet of any denomination who thought that God saved him because he foresaw
that he would have these virtues and merits.
Now, my brethren, the best jewels that the saint ever wears, if they be
jewels of his own fashioning, are not of the first water. There is something
of earth mixed with them. The highest grace we ever possess has something
of earthliness about it. We feel this when we are most refined, when we
are most sanctified; and our language must always be:
"I the chief of sinners am;
Jesus died for me."
Our only hope, our only plea, still hangs on grace, as exhibited in the
person of Jesus Christ. And I am sure we must utterly reject and disregard
all thought that our graces, which are gifts of our Lord, which are his
right-hand planting, could have ever caused his love. And we ever must
"What was there in us that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?
'Twas even so Father, we ever must sing,
Because it seemed good in thy sight."
"He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy:" he saves because he will
save. And if you ask me why he saves me, I can only say, because he would
do it. Was there any thing in me that should recommend me to God? No; I
lay aside every thing. I have nothing to recommend me. When God saved me,
I was the most abject, lost, and ruined of the race. I lay before him as
an infant in my blood. Verily, I had no power to help myself. Oh how wretched
did I feel and know myself to be! If you had something to recommend you
to God, I never had. I will be content to be saved by grace, unalloyed,
pure grace. I can boast of no merits. if you can do so, I can not.
I must sing:
"Free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affection and held my soul fast."
Then, thirdly, this election is eternal. "God hath from the beginning chosen
you unto eternal life."
Can any man tell me when the beginning was? We go back to years gone by,
when worlds were made and systems fashioned; but we have not even approached
the beginning yet. Until we go to the time when all the universe
slept in the mind of God, as yet unborn, until we enter the eternity where
God, the Creator, lived alone, every thing sleeping within him, all creation
resting in his mighty gigantic thought, we have not guessed the beginning.
We may go back, back, back, ages upon ages. We may go back, if we might
use such strange words, whole eternities, and yet never arrive at the beginning.
Our wing might be tired, our imagination would die away. Could it outstrip
the lightning's fiashing in majesty, power, and rapidity it would soon
weary itself ere it could get to the beginning.
But God from the beginning chose his people; when the unnavigated ether
was yet unfanned by the wing of a single angel, when space was shoreless,
or else unborn, when universal silence reigned, and not a voice or whisper
shocked the solemnity of silence; when there was no being, and no motion,
no time, and naught but God himself, alone in his eternity; when without
the song of an angel, without the attendance of even the cherubim; long
ere the living creatures were born, or the wheels of the chariot of Jehovah
were fashioned; even then, "in beginning was the Word," and in the beginning
God's people were one with the Word, and "in the beginning he chose them
unto eternal life." Our election, then, is eternal. I will not stop to
prove it; I only just run over these thoughts for the benefit of young
beginners, that they may understand what we mean by eternal, absolute election.
And, next, the election is personal. Here, again, our opponents have tried
to overthrow election by telling us that it is an election of nations,
and not of people. But here the apostle says, "God hath from the beginning
chosen you." It is the most miserable shift on earth to make out that God
has not chosen persons, but nations; because the very same objection that
lies against the choice of persons lies against the choice of a nation.
If it were not just to choose a person, it would be far more unjust to
choose a nation; since nations are but the union of multitudes of persons;
and to choose a nation seems to be a more gigantic crime - if election
be a crime - than to choose one person. Surely, to choose ten thousand
would be reckoned to be worse than choosing one; to distinguish a whole
nation from the rest of mankind does seem to be a greater extravaganza
in the acts of divine sovereignty than the election of one poor mortal,
and leaving out another.
What are nations but men? What are whole people but combinations of different
units? A nation is made up of that individual, and that, and that. And
if you tell me that God chose the Jews, I say, he chose that Jew, and that
Jew, and that Jew. And if you say he chooses Britain, then I say he chooses
that British man, and that British man, and that British man. So that it
is the same thing after all. Election, then, is personal: it must be so.
Every one who reads this text, and others like it, will see that Scripture
continually speaks of God's people, one by one; and speaks of them as having
been the special subjects of election.
"Sons we are through God's election,
Who by Jesus Christ believe;
By eternal destination
Sovereign grace is here received."
We know it is personal election.
The other thought is that election produced good results. "He hath from
the beginning chosen you unto sanctification of the Spirit, and belief
of the truth." How many men mistake the doctrines of election altogether!
And how my soul burns and boils at the recollection of the terrible evils
that have accrued from the spoiling and the wresting of that glorious portion
of God's glorious truth! How many are there who have said to themselves,
"I am elect," and have sat down in sloth, and worse than that! They have
said, "I am the elect of God," and with both hands they have done wickedness.
They have swiftly run to every unclean thing, because they have said, "I
am the chosen child of God, irrespective of my works, therefore I may live
as I list, and do what I like."
0, beloved! let me solemnly warn every one of you not to carry the truth
too far; or, rather not to turn the truth into error, for we can not carry
it too far. We may overstep the truth; we can make that which was meant
to be sweet for our comfort, a terrible mixture for our destruction. I
tell you there have been thousands of men who have been ruined by misunderstanding
election; who have said, "God has elected me to heaven, and to eternal
life;" but they have forgotten that it is written, God has elected them
"through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." This is
God's election - election to sanctification and to faith. God chooses
his people to be holy, and to be believers.
How many of you here then are believers? How many of any congregation can
put their hands upon their hearts and say, "I trust in God that I am sanctified?"
Is there one of you who says, "I am elect" - I remind you that you swore
last week. One of you says, "I trust I am elect" - but I jog
your memory about some vicious act that you committed during the last six
days. Another of you says, "I am elect" - but I would look you in
the face and say, "Elect! thou art a most cursed hypocrite! and that is
all thou art." Others would say "I am elect" - but I would remind them
that they neglect the mercy-seat and do not pray. 0 beloved! never think
you are elect unless you are holy. You may come to Christ as a sinner,
but you may not come to Christ as an elect person until you can see your
holiness. Do not misconstrue what I say-don't say, "I am elect," and yet
think you can be living in sin. That is impossible.
The elect of God are holy, They are not pure, they are not perfect, they
are not spotless; but, taking their life as a whole, they are holy persons.
They are marked, and distinct from others; and no man has a right to conclude
himself elect except in his holiness. He may be elect, and yet lying in
darkness, but he has no right to believe it; no one can see it, there is
no evidence of it. The man may live one day, but he is dead at present.
If you are walking in the fear of God, trying to please him, and to obey
his commandments, doubt not that your name has been written in the Lamb's
book of life from before the foundation of the world.
And, lest this should be too high for you, note the other mark of election,
which is faith, "belief of the truth." Whoever believes God's truth, and
believes on Jesus Christ, is elect. I frequently meet with poor souls,
who are fretting and worrying themselves about this thought - "How, if
I should not be elect!" "Oh, sir," they say, "I know I put my trust in
Jesus; I know I believe in his name and trust in his blood; but how if
I should not be elect?" Poor dear creature! you do not know much about
the gospel, or you would never talk so, for he that believes is elect.
Those who are elect, are elect unto sanctification and unto faith; and
if you have faith you are one of God's elect; you may know it and ought
to know it, for it Is an absolute certainty. If you, as a sinner,
look to Jesus Christ this morning, and say -
"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling,"
you are elect.
I am not afraid of election frightening poor saints or sinners. There are
many divines who tell the inquirer, "election has nothing to do with you."
That is very bad, because the poor soul is not to be silenced like that.
If you could silence him so it might be well, but he will think of it,
he can't help it. Say to him then, If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
you are elect. If you will cast yourself on Jesus, you are elect. I tell
you - the chief of sinners - this morning, I tell you in his name, if you
will come to God without any works of your own; cast yourself on the blood
and righteousness of Jesus Christ; if you will come now and trust in him,
you are elect - you were loved of God from before the foundation of the
world, for you could not do that unless God had given you the power, and
had chosen you to do it. Now you are safe and secure if you do but come
and cast yourself on Jesus Christ, and wish to be saved and to be loved
But think not, that any man will be saved without faith and without holiness.
Do not conceive, my hearers, that some decree, passed in the dark ages
of eternity, will save your souls, unless you believe in Christ. Do not
sit down and fancy that you are to be saved without faith and holiness.
That is a most abominable and accursed heresy, and has ruined thousands.
Lay not election as a pillow for you to sleep on, or you may be ruined.
God forbid that I should be sewing pillows under armholes that you may
rest comfortably in your sins. Sinner! there is nothing in the Bible to
palliate your sins. But if thou art condemned, 0 man! if thou art lost,
0 woman! thou wilt not find in this Bible one drop to cool thy tongue,
or one doctrine to palliate thy guilt; your damnation will be entirely
your own fault, and your sin will richly merit it. Because you believe
not you are condemned. "Ye believed not because ye were not of my sheep,
and ye would not come to me that ye might have life."
Don't fancy that election excuses sin - don't dream of it - don't rock
yourself in sweet complacency in the thought of your irresponsibility.
You are responsible. We must give you both things. We must have divine
sovereignty, and we must have man's responsibility. We must have election,
but we must ply your hearts, we must send God's truth at you; we must speak
to you, and remind you of this, that while it is written, "In me is thy
help;" yet it is also written, " 0 Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself."
Now, lastly, what are the true and legitimate tendencies of right conceptions
concerning the doctrine of election. First, I will tell you what the doctrine
of election will make saints do under the blessing of God; and, secondly,
what it will do for sinners if God blesses it to them.
First, I think election, to a saint, is one of the most stripping doctrines
in all the world - to take away all trust in the flesh, or all reliance
upon any thing except Jesus Christ. How often do we wrap ourselves up in
our own righteousness, and array ourselves with the false pearls and gems
of our own works and doings. We begin to say, "Now I shall be saved, because
I have this and that evidence." Instead of that it is naked faith that
saves; that faith and that alone unites to the Lamb, irrespective of works,
although it is productive of them.
How often do we lean on some work, other than that of our own beloved,
entrust in some might, other than that which comes from on high. Now if
we would have this might taken from us, we must consider election. Pause,
my soul, and consider this. God loved thee before thou hadst a being. He
loved thee when thou wast dead in trespasses and sins, and sent his Son
to die for thee. He purchased thee with his precious blood, ere thou couldst
lisp his name. Canst thou then be proud?
I know nothing, nothing, again, that is more humbling for us than this
doctrine of election. I have sometimes fallen prostrate before it, when
endeavoring to understand it. I have stretched my wings, and, eagle-like,
I have soared toward the sun. Steady has been my eye, and true my wing,
for a season; but, when I came near it, and the one thought possessed me
- "God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation" - I was lost
in its luster, I was staggered with the mighty thought; and from the dizzy
elevation down came my soul, prostrate and broken, saying, "Lord, I am
nothing, I am less than nothing. Why me? Why me? "
Friends, if you want to be humbled, study election, for it will make you
humble under the influence of God's Spirit. He who is proud of his election
is not elect; and he who is humbled under a sense of it may believe that
he is. He has every reason to believe that he is, for it is one of the
most blessed effects of election, that it helps us to humble ourselves
Once again. Election in the Christian should make him very fearless
and very bold. No man will be so bold as he who believes that he
is elect of God. What cares he for man, if he is chosen of his Maker?
What will he care for the pitiful chirpings of some tiny sparrows when
he knoweth that he is an eagle of a royal race? Will he care when the beggar
pointeth at him, when the blood royal of heaven runs in his veins? Will
he fear if all the world stand against him?
If earth be all in arms abroad, he dwells in perfect peace, for he is in
the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High, in the great pavilion
of the Almighty. "I am God's," says he, "I am distinct from other
men. They are of an inferior race. Am not I noble? Am not I one of the
aristocrats of heaven? Is not my name written in God's book?" Does he care
for the world? Nay: like the lion that careth not for the barking of the
dog, he smileth at all his enemies; and when they come too near him, he
moveth himself and dasheth them to pieces. What careth he for them?
He walks about them like a Colossus; while little men walk under him and
understand him not. His brow is made of iron, his heart of flint
- what doth he care for man? Nay: if one universal hiss came up from the
,Wide world, he would smile at it, for he would say,
"He that hath made his refuge God,
Shall find a most secure abode."
I am one of his elect. I am chosen of God and precious; and though the
world cast me out, I fear not. Ah! you time-serving professors, some of
you can bend like the willows. There are few oaken Christians, now-a-days,
that can stand the storm; and I will tell you the reason. It is because
you do not believe yourselves to be elect.
The man who knows he is elect will be too proud to sin; he will not humble
himself to commit the acts of common people. The believer in this
truth will say, "I compromise my principles! I change my doctrines? I lay
aside my views? I hide what I believe to be true? No! since I know I am
one of God's elect, in the very teeth of all men I shall speak God's truth,
whatever men may say." Nothing makes a man so truly bold as to feel that
he is God's elect. He shall not quiver, he shall not shake, who knows
that God has chosen him.
Moreover, election will make us holy. Nothing under the gracious influence
of the Holy Spirit can make a Christian more holy, than the thought that
he is chosen. "Shall I sin," he says, "after God hath chosen me? Shall
I transgress after such love? Shall I go astray after so much loving-kindness
and tender mercy? Nay, my God; since thou hast chosen me, I will love thee;
I will live to thee -
'Since thou, my everlasting God,
My Father, art to come,'
I will give myself
to thee, to be thine forever, by election, and by redemption, casting myself
on thee, and solemnly consecrating myself to thy service."
And now, lastly, to the ungodly. What says election to you? First, you
ungodly ones, I will excuse you for a moment. There are many of you who
do not like election, and I can not blame you for it, for I have heard
those preach election, who have sat down, and said, "I have not one word
to say to the sinner." Now, I say you ought to dislike such preaching as
that, and I do not blame you for it.
But, I say, take courage, take hope, 0 thou sinner, that there is election!
So far from dispiriting and discouraging thee, it is a very hopeful and
joyous thing that there is an election. What if I told thee perhaps
none can be saved, none are ordained to eternal life, wouldst thou not
tremble, and fold thy hands in hopelessness, and say, "Then how can I be
saved, since none are elect?" But, I say, there is a multitude elect, beyond
all counting - a host that no mortal can number. Therefore, take heart,
thou poor sinner! Cast away thy despondency mayst not thou be elect as
well as any other? for there is a host innumerable chosen. There is joy
and comfort for thee!
Then, not only take heart, but go and try the Master. Remember, if you
were not elect, you would lose nothing by it. What did the four lepers
say? "Let us fall unto the host of the Syrians, for if we stay here, we
must die, and if we go to them we can but die." 0 sinner! come to the throne
of electing mercy. Thou mayest die where thou art. Go to God; and, even
supposing he should spurn thee, suppose his uplifted hand should drive
thee away - a thing impossible - yet thou wilt not lose any thing; thou
wilt not be more damned for that.
Besides, supposing thou be damned, thou wouldst have the satisfaction at
least of being able to lift up thine eyes in hell, and say, "God, I asked
mercy of thee, and thou wouldst not grant it; I sought it, but thou didst
refuse it." That thou never shalt say, 0 sinner! If thou goest to him,
and askest him, thou shalt receive; for he never has spurned one yet! Is
not that hope for you? What though there is an allotted number, yet it
is true that all who seek belong to that number. Go thou and seek; and
if thou shouldst be the first one to go to hell, tell the devils that thou
didst perish thus - tell the demons that thou art a castaway, after having
come as a guilty sinner to Jesus. I tell thee it would disgrace the Eternal-with
reverence to his name - and he would not allow such a thing. He is jealous
of his honor, and he would not allow a sinner to say that.
But, ah, poor soul! Not only think thus, that thou canst not lose any thing
by coming; there is yet one more thought - Dost thou love the thought of
election this morning? Art thou willing to admit its justice? Dost thou
say, "I feel that I am lost; I deserve it; and that if my brother is saved
I can not murmur. If God destroys me, I deserve it; but if he saves
the person sitting beside me, has a right to do what he will with his own,
and I have lost nothing by it." Can you say that honestly from your heart?
If so, then the doctrine of election has had its ,right effect on your
spirit, and you are not far from the kingdom of heaven.
You are brought where you ought to be, where the Spirit wants you to be;
and being so this morning, depart in peace; God has forgiven your sins.
You would not feel that, if you were not pardoned; you would not feel that,
if the Spirit of God were not working in you. Rejoice, then, in this. Let
your hope rest on the cross of Christ. Think not on election, but on Christ
Jesus. Rest on Jesus - Jesus first, midst, and without end.
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