Henry Brown.

Arminian inconsistencies and errors; in which it is shown that all the distinctive doctrines of the Presbyterian confession of faith are taught by standard writers of the Methodist Episcopal Church online

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ject, he had no other way of evading the force of the Apostle's as-
sertion than by saying, 'I believe Paul was in the wrong.' And
another friend lately, who was once highly prejudiced against elec-
tion, ingenuously confessed he used to think St. Paul himself was
mistaken, or that he was not truly translated." Gillies' Life of
Whitefield, page 629.



THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. 105

us to differ from those who are now as we once were?
Then this grace by the very terms must be distin-
guishing, or in other words, electing grace. And to
suppose that God should make his choice at the time
of our calling, is not only unscriptural, but contrary
to the dictates of reason, and the ideas we have of the
divine perfections."

This brings us to show

IV. That the teaching of Messrs. Wesley, Watson
and the General Conference, as already given, is
scriptural also. This appears from the fact, that in
the Scriptures the people of God are represented as
chosen to salvation and eternal life; toknow the will
of God : to holiness to obedience to faith, and to be
conformed to the image of Christ.

Thus Paul, addressing the Thessalonians, says,
"We are bound to give thanks always to God for you,
brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from
the beginning chosen you to salvation through sancti-
fication of the Spirit and belief of the truth, where-
unto he hath called you by our gospel, to the obtaining
of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."*

The Rev. R. Watson, commenting on this passage,
says, "The beginning here refers to the very first
reception of the gospel in Thessalonica," and, he
argues that these Thessalonians were then converted,
and, then chosen, &c.f But, if this be so, then it
follows that they were all converted about the same
time, which is very improbable. Again, the inter-
pretation of Mr. Watson is in conflict with Rev. xvii.
8: "They that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose
names were not written in the book of life from the
foundation of the world." This teaches,

1. That the names of some are "in the book of

* 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14.

f Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap. xiv.



106 THE DOCTRINE OP ELECTION.

life." 2. That they were written there from the
foundation of the world. Evidently then, when Paul
said to the Thessalonian Christians, " God hath from
the beginning chosen you to salvation," he refers to
the same period to which the Second Person of the
Trinity refers when he says, " The Lord possessed me
in the beginning of his way;"* and to which the
Apostle John refers when speaking of Christ, he says,
"In the beginning was the word, and the word was
with God, and the word was God. The same was in
the beginning with God."f The passage thus ex-
plained, teaches, 1. That the people of God are
chosen. There is election. 2. That they were " chosen
from the beginning." There is the eternity of their
election. 3. That they were " chosen to salvation."
There is the end of their election. 4. "Through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
There is the holiness and faith that follow election.
5. "Whereunto he hath called you by our gospel."
There is the appointed means to bring the people of
God to the salvation to which they have been
" chosen."

Again, Luke speaking of the success that followed
the ministry of Paul at Corinth, says, "As many as
were ordained to eternal life believed." Acts xiii. 48.

This teaches, 1. That some are " ordained to eternal
life." There is an election of grace. 2. That their
"ordination to eternal life" preceded their faith, and
so was not conditional; that is, on account of it.
3. That all who are ordained to eternal life believe.
Again, Ananias, addressing the awakened Saul,
says, " The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that
thou shouldst know his will," &c. Acts xxii. 14.

This teaches that the people of God are "chosen to
know his will." Of course then they must have been

* Proverbs viii. 22. f John i. 1 3.



THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. 107

chosen before they do know his will. Then it follows
that their election is before their conversion, and so
not conditional, or on account of it.

Again, Eph. i. 4, 5 "According as he has chosen
us in him before the foundation of the world, that we
should be holy, and without blame before him in love,
having predestinated us unto the adoption of children
unto himself by Jesus Christ, according to the good
pleasure of his will."

If then the people of God were " chosen before the
foundation of the world that they should be holy,"
their election is before their holiness, and so, is not
conditional, or, on account of their holiness.

Again, if they are "predestinated to the adoption
of children," they must have been so predestinated
before they are children, so that they could not have
been "predestinated to the adoption of children," be-
cause they were children.

Again, 1 Peter i. 1, 2 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus
Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus,
Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect ac-
cording to the fore-knowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience,
and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus."

If then the people of God are "elected unto obedi-
ence," their election must be before their obedience,
and consequently before their sanctification also, be-
cause no sanctified person can be a disobedient
person.

Again, Rom. viii. 29 "For whom he did fore-
know he also did predestinate to be conformed to the
image of his Son." If then, some have been predesti-
nated to that blessing, they must have been so pre-
destinated before they obtain it.

We have now seen that the people of God were
eternally "chosen to salvation," "to know his will,"
" that they should be holy," "unto obedience" "or-



108 THE DOCTRINE OP ELECTION.

dained to eternal life" " predestinated unto the
adoption of children" "to be conformed to the image
of Christ," and consequently, to faith, for no one can
possess these graces without faith. If then they were
chosen to these graces, the choice could not have been
made because they were foreseen to possess them.
Accordingly, Paul tells us that " when Rebecca had
conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, (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. As it is written, Jacob have I loved but
Esau have I hated." Rom. ix. 11.

From this we learn, 1. That certain special favours
were intended for Jacob such as were not intended
for Esau.

2. That these favours were not bestowed on Jacob
conditionally, that is, on account of superior merit,
for he was not yet born, neither had he done either
good or evil. But

3. " That the purpose of God, according to election
might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth."
We find, accordingly, that piety commenced with
Jacob, nor has it ever entirely left his posterity.
From him were descended most of the prophets, all of
the Apostles, and our Saviour himself. To his pos-
terity were committed the "Oracles of God," and
through them they have been handed down to us.
And though " blindness in part hath happened unto
Israel until the fulness of the gentiles be come in, all
Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come
forth of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn away un-
godliness from Jacob." Rom. ix. 10, 11.

With Esau, on the contrary, extreme wickedness
commenced, and extreme wickedness was a prominent
characteristic of his posterity. And though, as a na-



THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. 109

tion, they became great and powerful, ages long since
they have been blotted out from under heaven. How
wonderful are the ways of Providence, and how forci-
ble is the language of the Scriptures, "By grace are ye
saved, through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is
the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should
boast : for we are his workmanship, created anew in
Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before
ordained that we should walk in them." " Who hath
saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not accord-
ing to our works, but according to his own purpose
and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before
the world began."*

We have now seen that the Calvinistic doctrine of
personal unconditional election, as taught by Mr.
Wesley and the Methodists of his day, and as since
taught by Mr. Watson and the General Conference,
is sustained by reason, by fact, by the Presbyterian
Confession of Faith, and the Bible. But as the Me-
thodist Episcopal Church maintains two sides at least
of every question in dispute between them and Cal-
vinists, we will show next what they teach on this
subject as Arminians.

As Calvinists, they teach, as we have seen, that
election is eternal, personal, and unconditional. But
as Arminians, they teach, on the contrary, that it is
an election in time, of character, and conditional.
Thus Mr. Wesley and the General Conference say,
"Faith in Christ producing obedience to him, is a
cause, without which God elects none unto glory. "f
Mr. Watson and the General Conference say, " Per-
sonal election is conditional. It rests, as we have
seen, upon personal repentance and justifying faith."!
" To choose men to salvation considered as believers,

* Eph. ii. 8, 9, 10; 2 Tim. i. 9.

f Doctrinal Tracts, page 140.

j Theological Institutes, Part II. Chapter xxvi.

10



110 THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION.

gives a reason for election which not only manifests
the wisdom of God, but has the advantage of being
entirely consistent with his own published and express
decree: 'He that believeth shall be saved,*and he

that believeth not shall be damned.' The

choice not being of certain men as such, but of all
persons believing."*

Dr. Fisk and the General Conference say, " God
did decree from the beginning, to elect, or choose in
Christ, all that should believe, to salvation."f "We
do not say we believe because we are elected, but we
are elected because we believe. "J " Ours is an elec-
tion of character, and so far as it relates to indi-
viduals, it relates to them only as they are foreseen
to possess that character."

To this we reply, that these divines completely
refute themselves by teaching that faith and repent-
ance are the gifts of God. Thus, Mr. Watson and
the General Conference, after describing saving re-
pentance, say, " Such is the corrupt state of man
that he is incapable of repentance of this kind. . . .
To suppose man to be capable of a repentance which
is the result of a genuine principle, is to assume
human nature to be what it is not. For if man be
totally corrupt, the only principles from which that
repentance and correction of manners which are
supposed in the argument can flow, do not exist in
his nature. 1 1

Mr. Wesley says, " Repentance flows from love to
God, and hatred to sin," .... and he asks, " Is it
possible for a heart totally depraved, dead in tres-
passes and sins , to exercise such repentance ?"Tf

* Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap. xxvi.
j- Calvinistic Controversy, the Sermon.
J Christian Advocate and Journal, Feb. 19th, 1852.
| Calvinistic Controversy, the Sermon.
|| Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap. xix.
Sermon on the New Birth.



THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. Ill

Here then, we are distinctly taught that man is so
corrupt as to be incapable of evangelical or saving
repentance that such repentance, being the result of
a genuine principle which does not exist in human
nature, is therefore the gift of God. This, then, is
one of the conditions of election, according to Ar-
minians; take the other.

"Boasting of our faith," say Mr. Watson and
the General Conference, "is cut off by the considera-
tion that it is the gift of God."*

Mr. Wesley says, " Of yourselves cometh neither
your faith nor your salvation. It is the gift of
God the free undeserved gift the faith through
which ye are saved, "f Again, he says, " The true
living Christian faith, which whosoever hath is born
of God, is not only an assent, or act of the under-
standing, but a disposition which God hath wrought
in his heart."J Again he asks, " Why have not all
men this faith?" and answers, "Because no man is
able to work it in himself. It is the work of Omnipo-
tence it requires no less power thus to quicken a
dead soul than to raise a dead body that lies in the
grave it is a new creation, and none can create a
soul anew but He who at first created the heavens
and the earth," &c.

If then, " Election is an election of character, and
so far as it relates to individuals, relates to them
only as they are seen to possess that character"
" conditional, resting upon personal repentance and
justifying faith," and these graces which constitute
the character, are themselves the gifts of God ; then,
unless he gives them to all, it follows that he must
have selected those to whom he gives them. This,

* Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap, xxiii.
f Sermon on Salvation by Faith.
j Sermon on The Marks of the New Birth.
I Southey's Life of Wesley, Vol. II. page 82.



112 THE DOCTRINE OP ELECTION.

however, is the personal unconditional election of the
Calvinists : so that, although these divines shift
their ground, they do not escape the difficulty. But,
says Mr. Wesley and the General Conference,
"Believing is the gift of the God of grace, as breath-
ing, moving, and eating are the gifts of the God of
nature. He gives me lungs and air, that I may
breathe; he gives me life and muscles, that I may
move; he bestows upon me food and a mouth, that I
may eat; and when I have no stomach, he gives me
common sense to see I must die, or force myself to
take some nourishment or some medicine; but he
neither breathes, moves, nor eats for me; nay, when
I think proper I can accelerate my breathing, mo-
tion, and eating; and if I please I may even fast,
lie down, or hang myself, and by that means put an
end to my eating, moving, and breathing."

"Again, faith is the gift of God to believers as
sight is to you. The parent of good freely gives you
the light of the sun, and organs proper to receive it.
He places you in a world, where the light visits you
daily; he apprizes you that sight is conducive to
your safety, pleasure, and profit; and everything
around you bids you use your eyes and see : never-
theless, you may not only drop your curtains, and
extinguish your candle, but close your eyes also.
This is exactly the case with regard to faith."* But
if this be so, then it follows that unbelief, atheism,
blasphemy, theft, lying, Sabbath-breaking, adultery,
murder, &c., are in the same sense the gifts of God,
as faith and repentance are, since the powers by
which these things are done, are as much the gifts
of God, as those by which, according to Arminians, a
man repents and believes.

This, indeed, is very little like Mr. Wesley, who,

* Doctrinal Tracts, pp. 235, 236.



THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. 113

when speaking of a sinner "made sensible of his lost
estate," said, " He knows himself to be dead while
he liveth, dead to God, having no more power to
perform the actions of a living Christian, than
a dead body to perform the functions of a living
man."* Very little like Mr. Wesley, when he asks,
" Can you give yourself this faith ? Is it in your power
to see, or hear, or taste, or feel God? to raise in
yourself any perception of God, or of an invisible
world? to open up an intercourse between yourself
and the world of spirits ? to discern either them, or
him that created them ? to burst the veil that is on
your heart, and let in the light of eternity? You
know it is not. You not only do not, but cannot (by
your own strength) thus believe. The more you
labour so to do, the more you will be convinced it is
the gift of God .... which he bestows .... on
those who, till that hour, were fit only for everlasting
destruction. "f And very little like Mr. Watson and
the General Conference, when they say, " Men hav-
ing become totally corrupt, are not capable of obedi-
ence in future."J

But, says Mr. Watson, "What true personal elec-
tion is, we shall find explained in two clear passages
of Scripture. It is explained negatively by our Lord,
when he says to his disciples, "I have chosen you
out of the world." It is explained positively by St.
Peter when he addresses his first epistle to the " elect
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience,
and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus."

" To be elected therefore, is to be separated from
1 the world,' and to be sanctified by the Spirit, and



* Sermon on the Way of Salvation.

f Southcy's Life of Wesley, Vol. II. page 82.

j Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap, xxiii.

10*



114 THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION.

by the blood of Christ. It follows then, that elec-
tion is not only an act of God, done in time, but also
that it is subsequent to the administration of the
means of salvation. The ' calling' goes before the
'election;' the publication of the doctrine of 'the
Spirit,' and the atonement, called by Peter, the
' sprinkling of the blood of Christ,' before that 'sanc-
tification,' through which they become the 'elect' of
God."*

To this we reply; if the elect are sanctified before
they are elected, then it follows, that they must obey
before they are elected, for no sanctified adult can be
disobedient. But according to the Scriptures, it is
to these graces they are elected. While, however,
Paul says, "chosen that we should be holy;"f and
Peter says, " elect unto obedience,"! Mr. Watson
says, Holy, that we may be chosen, and obedient,
that we may be elected. And while David says,
"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest
to approach unto thee," Mr. Watson would say,
Blessed is the man who approaches unto thee, that he
may be chosen. And when Ananias said to Paul,
"The God of our Fathers hath chosen thee, that thou
shouldst know his will,"|| Mr. Watson would have
said, The God of our Fathers will choose thee after
thou hast known his will. And when Paul says,
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy,"**
Mr. Watson says, " An act of God done in time, sub-
sequent to the administration of the means of salva-
tion."

While therefore, according to Arminians, election
takes place after the subjects of it are "holy" after
they believe after they "know the will of God"

* Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap. xxvi. f Eph. i. 4.

| 1 Peter i. 2. \ Psalm Ixv. 4. || Acts xxii. 14. * Eph. i. 4.



THE ATONEMENT. 115

after "obedience" after they "approach unto God"
after they are "adopted as children" after they
are " conformed to the image of Christ," &c., Calvin-
istic election and the election of the Bible is "to holi-
ness," to faith, "to approach unto God," "to know
his will," "to obedience" "unto the adoption of
children," &c.

Let us now hear Paul: " God who is rich in mercy,
for his great love, wherewith he loved us, even when
we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with
Christ, (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus, that in the ages to come, he might show the ex-
ceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward
us through Jesus Christ,"* "having predestinated us
unto the adoption of children, according to the good
pleasure of his will."f



CHAPTER X.

THE ATONEMENT.

THE nature and extent of the Atonement are neces-
sarily involved in a discussion of the doctrine of
election. This is seen and felt by Arminians, and
hence there is no point in the whole Calvinistic con-
troversy on which they lay so much stress. Biit
notwithstanding they have here laid out all their
strength, if we are not greatly mistaken, we shall find
their inconsistency by no means trifling.

*Eph. ii. 4 7. flbid. i. 5.



116 THE ATONEMENT.

In the Articles of Religion and Discipline of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, we have the following
definition of the Atonement, viz:

"The offering of Christ once made, is a perfect
redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the
sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and
there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that
alone."*

Is this definition correct ? If it is, why should any
of the human family be finally lost? Will any of
those who are "bold to affirm that justice and equity
in God are what they are taken to be among reason-
able men, "I tell us how "it is possible to reconcile it
to any n<5tion of just government that has ever ob-
tained";}; to send men to hell, when "for all their sins,
both original and actual, a perfect redemption, propi-
tiation, and satisfaction has been made?" "The bare
statement of such an idea is enough to chill one's
blood."

Now that such a consequence does follow the doc-
trine we have just stated, is admitted. Thus says the
Rev. N. L. Bangs, " The law of God being completely
satisfied by the obedience of Christ unto death, it can
have' no just demand upon those for whom satisfaction
was made. And if the law has no demand, there can
be no condemnation. "||

But, says the Rev. R. Watson, "As to a future
state, eternal life is promised to all men believing in
Christ, which reverses the sentence of eternal death. . .
Should this be rejected, he (the sinner) stands liable
to the whole penalty, to the punishment of loss, as to
the natural consequences of his corrupted nature,
which renders him unfit for heaven ; to the punishment
of even pain for the original offence . . . and to the

* Article XX. f Theol. Institutes, Part II. Chap. xxvi.

t Ibid. Calvinistic Controversy, the Sermon.

|| Reformer Reformed, page 186.



THE ATONEMENT. 117

penalty of his own actual transgressions, aggravated
by his having made light of the gospel."*

Ah, indeed! and all this, when "for all his sins
both original and actual, a perfect redemption, pro-
pitiation and satisfaction" has been made? Is not the
sin of unbelief included among " all the sins of the
whole world?" If it is, then, according to Arminians,
"a perfect satisfaction" has been made for it, and it
can make no manner of difference to a sinner whether
he believes or not. If it is not so included, then
" the offering of Christ once made, is (not) a perfect
redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for all the
sins of the whole world."

Whenever Mohammed was charged with having
violated a precept of the Koran, he said the angel
Gabriel had revealed a dispensation to cover the case.
Now, although no such revelations are claimed^ by Ar-
minians, yet, when one doctrine brings them into a
difficulty, without abandoning it, they do invent an-
other to bring them out. Accordingly, in the case
before us, they shift their ground and tell us, that
"To die for us, signifies, to die in the place and
stead of man, as a sacrificial oblation, by which, satis-
faction is made for the sins of the individual, so that
they become remissible upon the terms of the evan-
gelical covenant. When, therefore, it is said, that
Christ, 'by the grace of God tasted death for every
man,' and that he is the 'propitiation for our sins, and
not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole
world,' it can only, we think, be fairly concluded
from such declarations, and from many other familiar
texts, in which the same phraseology is employed,
that, by the death of Christ, the sins of every man
are rendered remissible, and that salvation is conse-
quently attainable by every man."f

* Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap, xviii.
f Ibid. Chap. xxv.



118 THE ATONEMENT.

Mr. Wesley says, "For the sake of his well-be-
loved Son, of what he hath done and suffered for us,
God now vouchsafes on one only condition (which he
himself enables us to perform,) both to remit the pun-
ishment due to our sins, to reinstate us in his favour,
and to restore our dead souls to spiritual life, as an
earnest of life eternal."*

Before, "the offering of Christ was a perfect re-
demption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins
of the whole world," but now it is "a sacrificial obla-
tion, by which satisfaction is made for the sins of the
individual, so that they become remissible" only, and
"salvation is consequently, attainable by every one,"
so that this "perfect satisfaction for all sin," is con-
ditional ; that is, " poised on the possibility of being
or not being, (it) being left to the will of intelligent



Online LibraryHenry BrownArminian inconsistencies and errors; in which it is shown that all the distinctive doctrines of the Presbyterian confession of faith are taught by standard writers of the Methodist Episcopal Church → online text (page 8 of 32)