Election or Predestination in the Restoration Movement: Contrary to John Calvin, God elects believers to salvation; He does not elect sinners to be believers. Walter Scott of the American Restoration Movement against predestination or election by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit.
WHEN the apostles preached the gospel they gave commandment to the discipled to retain it as it had been delivered to them, anathematizing man and angel who should dare to disorder, alter, or corrupt it. The whole New Testament was written either to establish or defend it, or to detach it from the corruptions of Jews and Gentiles, to whom it was either a stumbling block or an institution of manifest foolishness.
The Epistle to the Galatians is directed against the corruptions of the former, who, under the mask of an affected zeal for the law of Moses, eagerly desired, like some modern zealots,
to superadd it as "a rule of life." But "if I or an angel," says the Apostle, "preach any thing else to you for gospel, let him be accursed," and he repeats the anathema.
The four Evangelists, the great bulwarks of christianity, are for the purpose of supporting its reality on the principle of the conformity of its author's birth, life, offices, death, resurrection, and glorification to the predictions of the ancient oracles and the great power of God.
The gospel proposes three things as the substance of the glad tidings to mankind
the remission of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life;
and the apostles every where, in conformity with their mission, plead for reformation towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, as the state of mind adapted to the reception of these inestimable blessings.
In the proclamation of the gospel, therefore, these high matters were ordered thus--faith, reformation, baptism for the remission of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life;
but how this order has been deranged, some things added, some subtracted, and others changed, must be manifest to all who know, and, alas! who does not know this, that even now whole bodies of worshippers deny the resurrection of the body;
some would, to this day, superadd the law as "a rule of life;" others deny the gift of a Holy Spirit; the Socinians totally object to the sacrifice; and almost all who do embrace it reject nevertheless the remission of sins in baptism, which the sacrifice has so greatly secured to all who believe and reform.
Some have substituted sprinkling, some the mourning bench, for the baptism of remission;
and even those who most of all affect to be orthodox, publicly preach in direct contradiction to God's most universal commandment,
that a man can neither believe nor repent; |they publish that faith comes by the Spirit, and not by the word,
"thus making the word of God of non-effect,"
and contradicting the apostles, who every where speak of the Spirit as a "Spirit of promise" to those who should receive the gospel.
Others will immerse, but not for the remission of sins; and others preach the gospel maimed, disordered, changed, and corrupted, in connexion with a scholastic election,
which not only retards the progress of the glad tidings,
but opposes itself to christian election--to political election--to all rational ideas of election, and causes the entire gospel to stink in the estimation of all unprejudiced men.
The Apostles never preached election to unconverted people as the Calvinists do;
and the disciples themselves were never spoken to on this matter as persons who had believed, because they were elect,
but rather as those who were elected because they had believed--"formerly you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;" "you are an elect race;" "make your calling and election sure."
After preaching the ancient gospel for a long time, I am finally convinced nothing,
not even the grossest immorality,
is so much opposed to its progress, as the scholastic election, which, indeed,
is just the old fatalism of the Greeks and Romans.
Every election necessarily suggests to us six things:
- the elector or electors
- the person or persons elected
- the principle on which the election proceeds
- the ends to be accomplished by it
- when the election commenced, and when it shall cease.
Let us peep at the scripture election, in this order; and, first, in regard to the elector. No one, I presume, will dispute that God is He. ..
As for the person or persons elected, I would just observe, in accordance with the ancient oracles, that, although there were in the world previous to the days of Abraham, and even during the life of that patriarch, many who feared God and wrought righteousness;
yet till then none but he ever worshipped the true God in the character of an elect person.
Elect and election are words which do not occur in scripture with a reference to any who lived before Abraham; previously there were no elect head, no elect body, no elect principles, no ends to be accomplished by an elect institution; and
therefore the scriptures speak of none of his contemporaries as they speak of Abraham: "Thou art the God who didst choose (i. e. elect) Abraham."
This patriarch, therefore, is positively and scripturally the first elect person mentioned in the divine oracles; consequently the history of the doctrine of election commences with the fact of God's having chosen, for general and magnanimous purposes, this ancient worthy.
But the choice of Abraham was accompanied with the following promise, which at once reflected the highest praise on God and honor on the patriarch:
"In you and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Now the Apostle, in Galatians iii. says, "The seed is Christ." Substituting, therefore the definition for the term itself,
then the promise would read, "In you and in Jesus Christ, or the Messiah, shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
God here, then, has set forth two persons in which a man may certainly be blessed: for let it be attentively noticed that it is in Abraham and Christ, not out of them, that the blessing is to be obtained.--
Christ and Abraham only are here represented as being strictly and primarily elect persons; for it is said of Christ, "Behold my elect."
All other persons must be found in them before they are elect, and as a person can be related to Abraham and Christ only in one of two ways, i. e, by flesh or faith, it follows that if any one, from the patriarch's time to the present, would enjoy the blessing of an elect person or worshipper of the true God,
he must be a child of Abraham. By one or both of these principles he must be a Jew or a Christian.
THE election taught by the college men (fathers) contemplates all the righteous, from Abel to the resurrection of the dead,
as standing in the relation of elect persons to God;
than which nothing can be more opposed to fact and scripture: for though Abel, Enoch, and Noah,
were worshippers of the true God, they were not elect men; nay,
though Melchisedeck himself, king of Salem, was at once priest of the Most High God, and the most illustrious type of Messiah; though he received tythes of Abraham, blessed him, and, as Paul informs us, was greater than he; yet neither Melchisedeck nor any of the numerous worshippers for whom he officiated in the quality of God's priest,
did ever stand in the relation of elect worshippers in the scripture sense of the word elect.
Abraham was the first elect man; and it remains for those who assert the contrary of this, to prove their proposition--a thing they never can do by scripture.
The elect institution reared upon the patriarch Abraham, and which has been made the deposite of covenants, laws, services, glory and promises,
is quite distinct from the general righteousness of the world, whether that righteousness may have been derived from revelations made to men before the commencement of the elect institutions, or afterwards from traditions, or from an apprehension of God's existence derived from the face of nature, the currency of events, and the nature of human society among Gentiles, ancient and modern.
I say the election is a sui generis institution, in which the worshiper does not, with the uncertainty of a Mahometan idolator, a Chinese or Japanese,
ask the remission of sins; but in which this blessing is stable and certain, secured to him by the promise and oath of God, two immutable things, by which it was impossible for God to lie,
that the man might have strong consolation, who has fled into this institution for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before him in the gospel; which is the second apartment of the elect building, as Judaism was the first,--
"In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed"--a promise made to no other institution.
In our last essay we ascertained two of the six things suggested to us by the term election, viz. that the living God was the elector, and that Abraham was the first elect person; and now if we ask when it began and when it shall end, I answer, first, that election will close at the end of the world--all the gracious purposes of the institution will be accomplished at that time--false religion and bad government--the domination of political and trading influences--and every thing which opposes itself to the religion and authority of this institution--shall have been put down; and angels and men shall behold this truth, that the God of Abraham is the true God, and Jesus the Messiah his Son; and that Mahomet and Confucius, Zoroaster, and Brahama, were self-created apostles.
As for the commencement of the election, if Abraham was the first elect person, as we see he was, it follows this must have been when God called that patriarch from his native country to be the head of the elect people: "Now the Lord had said to Abraham, Get you out of your country, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you, and I will make of you a great nation; and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Gen. xii. Here, then, is the commencement of that institution which is finally to triumph over imposition and falsehood.
It only remains for us to speak of the great and illustrious purposes for which God has set up this institution in the earth, and finally of the principle on which a man of any nation may be admitted to the privileges of it, viz. the remission of sins of mankind--"In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed , &c.; &c.;
First, then, in regard to the ends of the election, I say, it is the blessing." This is God's declared purpose in regard to mankind by the
institution called "the election;" consequently its purpose is not (like the election of Edwards, Calvin, and others,)
to exclude, curse, and destroy;
but to gather, to bless, and to save! "In you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"--"I will make you a blessing."
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then, were not chosen by God for the mean partial purpose of being dragged into heaven, will or no will, on the principle of final perseverance;
but for the general and benevolent purpose of saving mankind by an institution of which they were made the root or foundation.--
While the pulpit of fatalism represents the God of heaven both partial and cruel,
The Magna Charta of the whole elect institution are the covenants made by God with Abraham; from the superior and inferior branches of which are derived what the apostle, in Heb. viii. calls the new and old, the first and second, the inferior and better; or, in other words, the Jewish and Christian, covenants, i. e. the law and the gospel--the one enjoyed by the Jews on the footing of flesh, the other by men of all nations on faith. It is thus the apostle,
by a metonymy of principle and privilege, styles the law flesh, and the gospel faith. The infancy and rudeness of the age of law, is indicated by the apostle in the following metaphor: "So the law was our school master until Christ."
Again allegorically--"Now I say, as long as the heir is a minor he differs nothing from a bondman, although he be lord of all; for he is under tutors and stewards, until the time before appointed by his father." The grossness of fleshly relationship and the spirituality of faith, together with the substitution of the last for the first of these principles, is thoroughly enforced upon the Galatians, in the allegory of Sarah and Hagar: "Cast out (says the scripture) the bond maid and her son; for the son of the bond maid shall not inherit with the son of the free woman. Well then, brethren, we (christians) are not the children of the bond maid, but of the free woman:" i. e. not of flesh but of faith. It must be manifest, therefore, from what has been written, that the entire election has been managed, first and last, upon these two principles, and that the one half now superseded the other....
Having given the reader a clue to the question of God's Sovereignty, I shall now review some Scriptures which have been quoted as opposing the doctrine of the Christian Baptist, against the partial pickings of sectarianism.
Proof-Texts for Calvinistic Election Examined
1. It is said, Romans viii. "Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated 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."--
Now what is this, but that God, as may be seen from fact and from the ancient writings of the prophets,
foreknew that the Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately, would believe on his Son,
and for that,
had predestinated or appointed them to share in his honors; he therefore, in the fullness of time, called them; remitted their sins, and glorified them as his only worshippers, by making to rest upon them, the Spirit of God and of Glory.
But it is said: "Well then, he has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardens." This is true--and blessed be his holy name,
that he will, if the scriptures mean what they say,
have mercy on all who believe, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also;
and the unbelieving wretch who will not accept of pardon on the gospel plan, ought to be hardened and heated seven times in a furnace of fire; Romans ix.
The ancient idolaters were hardened, and the case of the modern Jews illustrates this verse. Again it is said, Eph. 1st chapter,
"According as he has elected us in him, before the foundation of the world."
This is also very true, and means what it says; but, observe,
- that it is one thing to elect us in him,
- and quite another to elect us to be in him.
- Stone then gives some examples:
- It would be one thing to elect a Jacksonite,
- and another to elect a man to be a Jacksonite;
- the one would be to make him a Jacksonite,
- and the other to elect a Jacksonite to some other matter;
We many times determine who shall fill certain offices,
- so soon as we have succeeded in the election of a superior officer.
- Many Jacksonites were marked out for offices long before the general was inaugurated;
- and so the disciples of the Messiah, were chosen to love and purity, before the foundation of the world
while the disciples of Mahomet, Confucius, and others have been appointed to no such distinction.
But again, "No man can come to me unless the Father draw him." How common is this form of speech, even among ourselves!
Who has brought you here, and what has drawn you here, are phrases which are current every where, and yet,
who ever thinks that the charm or power by which one person is drawn after another is a physical one.
The power of drawing is moral, not physical, and so the Saviour, in the 5th John, says that no man could come to him, unless the Father draw him,
because the political mob which he addressed, had followed him, from the gross and animal reason of having got their bellies filled the night before with the loaves and fishes;
paying no regard to the divine power which wrought the miracle, "Verily, I say to you,
you followed me not because you saw the miracle, (Father in the miracle,) but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled."
Quotations from "Walter Scott's four-part essay "Election" was first published in The Christian Baptist, Vol. VI, No. 8, March 2, 1829; Vol. VI, No. 10, May 5, 1829; Vol. VII, No. 3, October 5, 1829.