AP.000 Refutation of Absolute Predestination by John Rowe

A Refutation of The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination of All Things That Come to Pass in the World

 by John Rowe,

Columbus, GA 1889

In the writing of the following pages I hope I am not motivated by the love of controversy (except for the truth's sake) or a vain-glorious spirit, though I am conscious I am not free from such fleshly influences. I, in common with other men, have my weaknesses, fleshly aspirations, so that I am often at a loss to know what spirit I am of, or what are my motives in doing what I do. However, I alone am responsible to the great God for what I write upon any subject, and a consciousness of that fact of itself begets in me a fearfulness that that perhaps would deter me from my purpose in this writing were it not for the strong impression I feel to publish my sentiments upon the subject with which this article is headed.

Besides the fearful responsibility resting upon those who attempt to expound the deep mysteries written in the Scriptures of divine truth, the subject of this treatise is a point of controversy among my own people, the Primitive Baptists. That consideration has its weight upon my mind so as, I trust, to beget in me a spirit of prayer for the direction of the divine spirit while with my pen I attempt to express my views upon the point. For a number of years it has been a subject of prayerful investigation (as I trust) upon my part as to whether God did from eternity predestinate all the wickedness of men and devils that has been or shall be in the world as some contend. The writer hopes it may be constantly borne in mind by the reader that the question is not as to whether the subject is deep and mysterious, but as to whether the wickedness of this world are fruits of God's holy decrees. That is the question. Mysteries do not necessarily imply absurdities. I hope it may not appear as presumptuous in me to say I believe that in answer to prayer God has shown me that he has not in a sense of effective decrees appointed any of the wickedness of the world. However, I desire to treat upon the subject wholly unfettered by Arminian slang which discards the principle of predestination as clearly revealed in the Scriptures, or by predestinarians' extremes which would bring vile wickedness from God's spotless decrees. There may be in the Scriptures a foundation for what is meant by those who declare that God has absolutely from eternity appointed the wickedness of men, but the Scriptures declare no such thing to my mind.

In a recent correspondence with a brother, I asked the following question among others: Is not God's predestination the original source of things predestinated? I was answered as follows: "I understand predestination to be not only the source, but the end, the design and the fulfillment of the eternal purpose before all worlds were made, and the complete accomplishment of that purpose in all the events and incidents in every minutiae that brighten or darken life's pathway.

The brother's answer, it will be seen, is in the first part of his sentence----"I understand predestination to be not only the source, but the end," &c.

So there is no disagreement between us as to whether things predestinated are fruits of that predestination, but as to whether spotless perfection can be the source of the wickedness is the question at issue; and it appears strange to some people that the negative would need a justification. They---but a few of them---will declare to us that God is the author of sin, which shows that they may reverence him, notwithstanding they hold some grievous errors. Still I think it were better for us, and more glorifying to God, to abandon any theory unless we are willing to abide the consequences following it. Should I express a high appreciation of a crab tree, I don't think I should be heard declaiming against the fruit which it bore. However, if I should do so, and allege that it is a great mystery that the tree should be good and its fruit bad, I could not expect thereby to sustain my proposition. Because, not only the sense of rational men, but the revelation of God's word, contradicts such a view, as seems easy to perceive. If predestination is the original source of things predestinated, as is agreed, and if God has predestinated the wickedness of the world, then God's predestination is the original source of such wickedness, and holding such views, how is it possible to escape the charge of teaching that God is the author of sin?

The saints are designed to be the light of the world, both in their doctrine and order, the mouths of gainsayers are to be stopped, {See Tit 1:9} and we shall never be able to do this by teaching that vile wickedness has originated in God's holy decrees. I do heartily wish that brethren would consider this. It is no pleasure to me to withstand such rash conclusions except as I see that the cause of truth requires it.

But we are told that carnal reason cannot reach matters so high as the absolute predestination of all things. No, in fact, nor as spiritual revelation has never declared such things, carnal reason will never sustain such a theory. If I have ever heard any carnal reasoning upon the subject of predestination, it has been in hearing the inferences which some have drawn from that class of Scriptures which declares the sovereignty of God. By his omnipotent power the winds blow and are still; the sea rolls and foams and is made quiet; kingdoms of earth rise and fall alternatively; day and night, seed time and harvest, summer and winter, succeed each other; the earth, with the planetary heavens, is preserved in perfect order; the devil himself has his bounds prescribed. And so of wicked men, they shall do no more than what our God please; and so far as they are permitted to go in wickedness, their rash deeds are turned, in many instances, against their designs, and made subservient in the obtainment of the purpose of him who established the heavens. If there are any who rejoice in such a view of God's sovereignty more than myself, I conclude it is such as have clearer conceptions of the question of sovereignty than I have received. But I can see no logical or scriptural propriety in blending the question of sovereignty with the question of predestination, as though God's overruling the wickedness of men necessarily implies that he appointed such wickedness that he might have opportunity to overrule it. Such a view, to my mind, reproaches the Almighty as being the author of that which he censures, condemns and punishes, for his appointments are the original source of things he has appointed. This has been agreed, and such things would never have been but for his appointment; that is, none of the race of Adam would ever, have borne the image of the devil except God had declared that they should. So they teach. But what does the Bible teach upon the point? "Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." Ro 8:29. Hence it is clear that our bearing the image of Christ, if we bear his image, is of God's predestination, and if our bearing the image of the devil is also by God's effective decree, then it surely may be seen that the same thing in principle has secured very opposite results, and there are some of us who can't understand how such things can be. Moreover, there are some of us who can't understand how God should approve one thing he has predestinated, and abhor and condemn another thing which he has effectively decreed. If I should determine that my neighbor should do me a wrong in such way as there was no way for him to avoid it, and if he did me a wrong upon that principle, the advocates of the predestination of all things, I suppose, would conclude that I had no ground of complaint. Not that I conclude that the first man Adam might have stood in obedience in spite of God's foresight of his fall-that is not the point-but my argument is that God's foreknowledge nor his effective decree laid no necessity upon Adam to transgress, of which I will speak more hereafter.

God's purpose and work tend to the transforming of his people, and conforming them to the image of his Son, and to their adoption as children, and to an inheritance in Christ. All such things are especially decreed of our God, and he claims to he the author of those things. Hence, to impute such things to the purpose and work of another, would be an offense to his majesty. But, lo and behold, it is held that God has as certainly and effectively decreed the sin of the world as he hath the salvation of Israel, but that he is not the author of it. Strange conclusions they have reached. Should we conclude that God will regard himself honored by teaching that he has effectively decreed the wickedness of the world, and that he is not the author of it? Rather let us consider whether it would honor him to affirm that he is not the author of those other things he declares he has predestinated. Should we reproach the Almighty by affirming that he has established empty decrees? Surely if he has decreed the wickedness of the world, and if that wickedness is no consequence of his decree, then it is an empty decree. On the other hand, if he has decreed the wickedness of the world, and if such wickedness is a consequence of that decree, then he that decreed it, and of whose decree it is a consequence, must be the author of it, and no other view could I hold at any peril.

And I have put forth such questions and arguments before, and the only answer I have received as yet is about as follows: "God is a sovereign, and what he does is surely right, whether carnal reason perceives it or not." Such sayings are true enough, but they fall far short of answering my questions, or showing that God has effectively decreed the wickedness which he forbids and punishes.

If I were to affirm that God approves the wickedness of others and condemns the obedience of this people, and if no further testimony was required than for me to say God is sovereign, and what he does is right, then it were no difficult matter for me to sustain my proposition. What God does is right, and right, too, because he does it. His will is the rule of righteousness, and righteousness is the rule of his will; nevertheless it is "impossible for him to lie," because it would be contrary to his holy character. Still it appears to me no more impossible for God to lie than it is impossible for him to appoint, by an effective decree, the wickedness he forbids, for, to my mind, that would appear a practical lie.

In a discussion of the subject of predestination, it is irrelevant and a departure from the subject to refer to that class of Scriptures which declares the sovereignty of God, as though that point of the christian faith is denied when the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things is called into question. I desire it should constantly be borne in mind that in opposing such a view of predestination, I regard the sovereignty of God as another question or point which remains untarnished by a refutation of the theory I am opposing. The only way to fairly and scripturally reach a conclusion as to whether God appointed all the wickedness of the world is to consider whether he effectively decreed that first transgression of Adam. If it should ever be shown that the first transgression of Adam was a fruit of an effective decree of his Maker, then I will consent that all subsequent sin was predestinated of God, for it must be consented that all subsequent rebellion is a fruit of that first transgression. That, then, is a question, and the only question, that comes properly under consideration in a discussion of this subject. Men's inferences taken from texts declaring God's overruling hand and power, whereby the wicked devices of the world are confused and turned to his praise, and other wrath and wickedness restrained to the same end---these, I say, furnish no support for their theory. Then let us strike at the root of the point in question, and consider whether the Bible furnishes any proof that God had effectively and eternally decreed that first sin of Adam. And if the contrary appears from the light of the Scriptures, let men refrain from affirming that the pure and spotless God has effectively and unalterably decreed all the wickedness of men and devils, which is offensive to him and perplexing to all good men, with no testimony to ground their opinions upon except their misconception of these texts wherein the sovereignty of God is declared.

It should be considered that while Adam was made "lower than the angels," he was also made higher than the beasts. He was made a rational, intellectual being, otherwise he had not been a subject of government by the law. Beasts are not rational, hence no law was given to them----they should be governed by instinct. But man, be it still remembered, was made higher, made of a sound, rational judgment, and was a suitable subject of government by law. Of this we need no better testimony than the fact that the law was given to him.

There is no escape from the conclusion that the Creator determined to govern his creature man by law, which fact, of itself, is a contradiction to all ideas of an effective decree that he should transgress. Hence the advocates of such a theory must necessarily have taken a wrong inference from those passages they bring in support of their views; for surely it may be seen that such a positive decree either that man should or he should not transgress, destroys all intelligible ideas of government by law. Surely none would assume that Adam was under no obligation to obey the law of his Maker, for without such obligation his disobedience, of which Paul speaks in Ro 5:19, could not be conceived of. For in all cases disobedience implies and must be inferred from obligation. Supposing that none will dissent from such conclusions, we may now consider what follows.

It being agreed that Adam was under obligation to obey the law, and that God laid that obligation upon him, in giving the law, and still, if it is true that behind all this there was a positive decree of the Almighty that his creature should transgress, then it follows unavoidably that the holy Creator laid upon his creature an obligation to do that which his effective decree forbade his doing, and the only implied terms of life to man was to make null and void his Maker's decree. Surely it would appear better and safer for us to question our understanding of some passages of Scripture than to cling to such enormities. But when men are wedded to a theory, however illogical and unscriptural it may be, it is easy for them to pronounce any argument against their favorite views, carnal reasoning, and make themselves easy with the suggestion that carnal reason can't reach the secret counsels of God. Well, in fact, if all the wickedness of this world, and all the suffering that is consequent upon it, has resulted from Adam's failure to withstand his Maker's decree that he should eat of that tree, that is a secret nowhere revealed in the Scriptures, and should therefore be regarded as secret to the advocates of such theory as to others. The whole question must rest just there, and all attempts to waive or avoid it are fruitless.

If God decreed from eternity that Adam should eat of that tree, of which he said if he did he "should surely die," then, as aforesaid, the only implied terms of life to Adam was to withstand such a decree of his Maker. And must I believe such things in order to be sound in the faith? I do not profess nor desire to be sound in such faith.

A correspondent wrote me the following: "But you feel fearful that the doctrine (predestination of all things) will make God the predestinator of all the wickedness and sin that there is in the world." As though no such thing should be inferred from their teaching. Well, we know that in the Scriptures the words "all men," and "all people," and "all things," are sometimes used when the universality of men, people, and things are far from being meant. As when Peter and John healed the lame man at the gate of the Temple it is said, Ac 4:21, that "All men glorified God for that which was done." But besides the "all men" who glorified God for the healing, others were there threatening and charging the Apostles to teach no more in the name of the Lord, and there are various other like examples which might be referred to but for want of space.

Now, if the advocates of the doctrine of God's predestination of all things would have some things excepted, as the extract from my correspondent's pen would imply, and if the things excepted are allowed to be all the wickedness of men and devils, then we can agree upon the point.

My correspondent further reminds me that I had said if an angel were to declare it I would not believe that God's predestination is the source of all evil, and then adds, "You cannot mean what your words here imply." However, in this he is mistaken, for I do mean just what my words there express, and will re-affirm that were an angel to declare it I would not believe that God effectively decreed that Adam should eat of that tree, and for the reason that he told him he should not eat of it. No, were an angel to declare it, I would not believe that God laid an obligation upon man in giving the law to obey it, and that his positive decree necessitated the transgression of it, and all that the suffering that men are heir to is a consequent of Adam's failure to withstand heaven's decrees. Neither God nor the devil ever deceived Adam in the matter of transgression, for the Bible declares in terms that "The man was not deceived." Then he transcended the bounds prescribed him by his Maker, knowing that what he did was wrong when he did it, and hence the responsibility fell upon him, and justly so, too. But to say the transgression, after all, was only a fulfillment of God's will and decree, I must say, to my mind, destroys all intelligible ideas of man's responsibility. I had rather think----in fact, I do think---that our brethren do not mean what their words imply when they affirm that all the wickedness of the world has emanated from that which is as holy, just and good as God's decrees must be regarded as being. I hope, at least, that there are few who would venture to affirm in terms that God is the author of sin, nevertheless their argument signifies nothing less to my mind.

My correspondent writes the following: "Thou shalt not eat of it, and kindred expressions, such as you quote from the law, is a measuring rod laid upon Adam and all his posterity calling for a righteous obedience and we have no natural power to acquire, and showing that is our natural standing, we come short of the glory of God." Then, to illustrate his view, adds, "A square laid upon an imperfect surface, does not make that surface perfect, but shows its imperfections, so the holy law of God, through all the long ages and generations of time, calls for and shows the need of a righteousness found alone in our Lord and Savior."

While the above extract may be true in the main, it still needs a sifting. "The law, as a measuring rod, laid upon Adam and all his posterity calling for a righteous obedience which we have no natural power to acquire," &c. I am glad it is granted that the law calls for obedience, but also, for their theory, it supposes that the same God who called for obedience had determined the transgression before the obedience was called for and that God called for which he had effectively decreed against. True enough, "The legs of lame are not equal." Now, as Christ is not divided, so neither is the Father; his requirements and calls are manifestations of his will, and if he has decreed against his requirements and calls, then he must be divided, rather than to believe which, I think I would part from the most cherished theory. No, God has not willed against his own will, for then it were uncertain which will of the Almighty would prevail. The law, as a "measuring rod," never required of Adam a better obedience than he had up to the time he transgressed, nor did the law require of him to acquire an obedience, but to keep that he had; hence I can't see the beauty of my correspondent's figure of a "square laid upon an imperfect surface," as he would apply it. This is what needs sifting out of the quotation. I can, in fact, see that the law discovers the guilt of guilty men, for, as is avowed, the "square laid upon an imperfect surface" discovers the imperfections of that surface. But this won't apply to Adam, considered simply as the creature of God, for as such he was declared to be very good. While the "square laid upon an imperfect surface shows its imperfections," the law discovered no vileness in Adam, had no quarrel against him until he had transgressed; but afterwards it shows his defects, as the square discovers the unevenness of an imperfect surface. Hence it is not just, neither true, to say, "The law, as a measuring rod," was laid upon Adam without such qualifications, especially when the purpose is to ground an argument in discussion upon such a figure. Again our correspondent writes, "It would be a very uncertain predestination that declared the end from the beginning, and left all that came between to chance." That sentence, abstractly considered, will not be objected, however, that which the writer would build upon or infer from it, may, nevertheless, be called into question. The Bible shows that wood, hay and stubble may be built upon a firm foundation. The quotation signifies the writer's opinion that except all the wickedness which God has overruled and turned to his praise was decreed of him, then the final accomplishment of his purpose must depend upon chance. Such argument is also designed to make the impression that all who dissent from their views regard God's purpose as an uncertainty. However, I can see no such consequences following even upon the supposition that their views are extreme and unscriptural. If, as they seem to conclude, God's fore seeing produced or in anywise influenced the thing foreseen, then such argument might be in point; but as no such thing is true, there is therefore no foundation for their argument, and hence, their argument can never sustain their proposition.

Solomon says, "A wise man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself." But should we suppose that the wise man's foreseeing the evil produced that evil? If so, then that evil had no existence until it was foreseen, and how could that be either seen or foreseen of man which had no existence? No, foreseeing is not the origin of things foreseen, for then it would follow that man is held responsible for God's foreknowledge. The Bible says plainly that "By one man sin entered into the world," and entering thus, God's foreknowledge, his predestination and his overruling power manifest in his subduing sin to his purpose, these I say ought not to be regarded as the source of sin. But again my correspondent writes, "I will say, however, that none of us hold that the spirit of God leads men or devils into wickedness. It is in this sense that God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man. This idea is not embraced in the doctrine of predestination." I am glad they do not hold that the spirit of God leads men or devils into wickedness, even if they still hold to their theory. I am glad they ignore its consequences. How they would honor God by teaching that he has effectively decreed things that he would disdain to work out, that even themselves dare not impute to him. Still it is both logical and scriptural to conclude that the tree is no better than the fruit it bears, nor can the decree be any better than the thing decreed. A decree of evil must be an evil decree, else what understanding have we? Our Savior fully sustains these propositions by this declaration of the thing which adultery may consist in, viz: to "lust after a woman."

God predestinated his people "To be conformed to the image of his Son," therefore his spirit leads them into that image. He has also predestinated his people "Unto the adoption of children," and by him they are adopted. In Christ his people have an "inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things (that he does work) after the counsel of his will." All these things the spirit of God leads his people into and works in them, and must, as he has declared the decree; and if he is the author of some things he has predestinated, and if he is not the author of other things he has predestinated, where do we obtain such information? If God has decreed the wickedness of men and devils, though our correspondent says his "spirit does not lead them into that wickedness" and if spirit does not, yet some other thing does lead them into it, and if the decree is holy, why should the being be condemned that leads God's creatures into it? How unaccountable that rational men will impute to our God decrees that he himself will not lead his creatures into, but condemns them to torture the being that does. If we must believe that God has decreed the wickedness of the world in order that we be sound in the faith, then should we not believe that he is pleased with his own purpose? And if pleased with his own purpose then why displeased with the spirit that leads into and accomplishes it? Suppose God had waited for this people to be transformed and conformed to the image of Jesus and for their adoption as children, I ask, if he had waited for such thing to occur without any influence of his spirit then when should we suppose that would have occurred? No, whatever God appoints he also accomplishes by his own wisdom and power, nevertheless that wisdom and power has been manifested in scores of instances in taking the "wise in their own craftiness," and turning, at his will, their wickedness to his praise and against their designs. Even men would be ashamed to publish a design that they would be ashamed to carry into effect, nevertheless men say that our God has published his decree of all wickedness, but they are ashamed to say he works out such a purpose, or that he is the author of sin. God effectively decrees a thing, but another must take the shame of accomplishing it, so they teach.

While God manifests his sovereign power by turning the shafts of wickedness against the perpetrators, surely there is no necessity upon us on that account to believe that the wickedness he overrules has emanated from his unalterable decree.

Our correspondent writes that, "As the end is predestinated from the beginning, all that comes between is connected with and emanates from the same unalterable decree." Now we know that all the holy obedience of the saints since the foundation of the world comes between the beginning and the end which God has determined. But that obedience comes not without the work of him who appointed it. Certainly not, for Paul says, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Why so work if such obedience could have occurred by God's appointment without such working of the divine Spirit? or if it should be agreed that the working of the divine Spirit is indispensable in order to such obedience, notwithstanding God has appointed that obedience from the foundation of the world, then why argue that other things which he has solemnly appointed occurs without his influence? My opponents agree that God is entitled to the honor of working out some of his holy purposes, but the devil and wicked men must bear the shame and punishment of performing others of his holy decrees. Surely they can't justly complain at such statements of mine. All that the saints have experienced in the world, or shall experience, their self-loathing on account of sin in the flesh, the struggling warfare between the flesh and spirit, their being exposed to wild and fearsome beasts and to the burning flames, their wandering about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented, all this, and much more comes between the beginning and the end which is determined by the Almighty, and by the effects of his decree his people have been and doubtless shall be strengthened to endure such a great fight of affliction. But we should believe that fiendish disposition of men thus to afflict all the saints, that all the abominations of the earth, all the murder, all the adultery, all the thieving, all the lying, cheating and defrauding---I ask, should it be supposed that all such abominations have emanated from the same holy decree of a spotless source which has influenced the obedience of the saints and strengthened them to endure the severest persecutions of their enemies? May I be excused for repeating again that I would not believe such things were an angel to declare them. Now let it be remembered that just things are asserted by my correspondent. Read his words again, "As the end is predestinated, all that comes between is connected with and emanates from the same unalterable decree." Now, notwithstanding such things are boldly asserted that God's unalterable decree is the source of all the filth of the earth, nevertheless, when the artificial polish is taken from their theory, there is generally a loud and lamentable cry of misrepresentation. But let my readers who read my correspondent's assertions, judge whether I misrepresent him or not. His words not only need no qualification, but they admit of none. They must be recalled, or otherwise stand condemned by the unerring word of God. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" What do we infer from such a question? Doubtless it was put to confirm the negative. But should we not as soon expect to grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, as to suppose that the filth of the world has originated in God's predestination. If the wickedness of the world has emanated from God's decree, as it affirmed, then it originated there, for we know that all things emanate from their original source.

Again, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." There again it is evidenced that the quality of fruit shows the character or nature of the tree which produced it, clearly establishing the view that all things partake of the nature of their origin, and to be sure it may be seen that the idea that vile wickedness has emanated from God's holy decrees, is not only contradictory to his word, but a contradiction to the laws of nature which he has established. Our Savior did not refer to such laws of nature because the people had not sense enough to know they did not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles, but, as it were, to contradict the theory I am opposing, and show beyond dispute that God's holy decrees are not the source of evil. When it is affirmed that righteousness and wickedness emanates from the same source, the inspired Apostle James denies and reproves such a view unquestionably. Hear him: "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" Now if the inspired Apostle was on earth to-day in controversy with an advocate of the doctrine of the predestination of all things---the doctrine that God has effectively decreed all the wickedness of mankind---I say, if the Apostle was here to-day in contact with advocates of such theory, it seems to me he could not find a figure that would more clearly refute such doctrine. He does not at all consent that opposites emanate from the same source as may be clearly seen. Nevertheless our correspondent's rejoinder is written, and he affirms that all the blessings and all the curses, all the righteousness and all the wickedness that has abounded in the world has emanated from the same source, from God's unalterable decree.

"Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain yield both salt water and fresh." We see, then, that the Savior and James were of the same opinion, but neither of them consent that opposites emanate from the same source, as is affirmed by the advocates of the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things. And as neither Christ not James, nor any other inspired man ever believed such things, so neither do I But it is easy to pronounce this carnal reasoning. Well, carnal or spiritual, it is just what Jesus and the Scriptures teach. The advocates of the doctrine of the predestination of all things do, some of them, manifest a disposition to bear with the weak and feeble ones who can't understand their teachings, but they think there ought not to be a "doubtful disputation" of the point. No, though it is contrary both to reason and revelation to suppose that light is the source of darkness, they imagine that they see it is so, and conclude that it ought not to be questioned. Is this misrepresentation? Certainly not, for who cannot see that to teach that all the filth of the world has emanated from God's holy decrees, is fully equivalent to affirming that light is the source of darkness. Now he is not regarded as an understrapper who affirms that the wickedness of the world has emanated from God's decree, but is a man of acknowledged ability. He throws a little Greek into his composition, which I could not read without help. However, a little smattering of Greek and Hebrew will never convince me that that has emanated from God's decree that his decree never contained. Paul instructs the saints as follows: "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." But he does not venture to affirm that the darkness they some time were was from exactly the same source as the light which they now are. Again the Apostle has written as follows: "And you who were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled," &c. But we are not informed that the former alienation and enmity of the saints emanated from the same source as did their reconciliation. No, such things are not written in the Scriptures, let who will affirm them. It is not, however, very marvelous that such as imagine that all things good and evil, emanate from the same fountain, should also imagine an eternal church of children of God in eternal union with Christ, and that there is no part of the Adam man saved by Christ, even scorning a resurrection of the body, "Both of the just and unjust," calling it a dirt resurrection. However, it is but justice to say that there are some advocates of the doctrine of the predestination of all things who have not adopted those heresies, but I know not one who has adopted them but what is also an advocate of the doctrine of the predestination of all things, and it ought to be seriously considered whether that doctrine is the root of such heresies. For our encouragement and comfort, the Savior says, 'Now are ye clean through the word I have spoken unto you." But that is not so if our former filth emanated from God's unalterable decree. If there is any one thing at all, either in heaven or earth, that both fouls and cleanses, such a thing could be of no great profit either to God to man. If I could invent a machine that destroyed the supplies of all farmers in the world, and then if that machine recovered the supplies of a small remnant only, I should certainly have done the world no great good. True, it may be objected that God's decree does more than to simply recover the saints to their standing in Adam, nor would that be denied. But what about the damage the decree has done the rest of the world according to their teaching? Should we conclude that God will regard himself as honored by our teaching that his decree benefits a small remnant only, but has ruined all the rest of mankind.

My correspondent refers me to several texts of Scripture, and earnestly requests me to consider them. This is good advice, though given by comparatively a young man. But I think I should feel ashamed by this advice having been thirty years in the ministry, had I not considered those texts before his advice was written. However, I have to confess that, with all the consideration that God has given me, there is, to my mind, dark sayings in the Scriptures. My judgment is, that poor, frail man knows nothing beyond the letter of the Scriptures except as they are opened by the spirit to them in their experience.

It is my experience, with the Scriptures harmonizing therewith, as I believe, that forbids my adopting the doctrine that all the wickedness of the world has emanated from God's holy decrees. When in my first experience I was much troubled about my guilty sins, I did not feel like the holy God had appointed all of my former course, and that in my wickedness I had simply pursued his will. No, I knew, and this I know, that I had sinned not only against God, but against my better judgment just as the first Adam did. And when at last it pleased God, as I trust, to reveal to me the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Christ, I did not then feel like I had fully been cleansed from such filth as had emanated from God's holy decrees, not even now, though I trust I have had some small growth in "grace and knowledge." Nevertheless, when I go astray walking after the flesh and bring leanness and sadness in my soul; honestly I do not feel like God has appointed my errings, and that all my failings and backslidings have emanated from God's holy decrees. No, God's teaching in his word, and also in the experience of the saints, is a contradiction of such a theory.

But it is now time to consider some of the texts of Scripture which are thought to signify such things as they teach. The first one cited by my correspondent is Pr 16:4 "The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." Now, what ever may be taught there, whether myself or my correspondent understands it or not, it will never be proven by that or any other passage, that God ever made a wicked sinner. There is no record of such a work of God in the divine oracles. There is where dissention and confusion originate----from drawing conclusions from abstract sentences of Scripture without a due consideration of the general scope of revealed truth. While it is true that God made the wicked, it is not true what he made them wicked. For then he would be as well pleased with his wicked creatures as with the good, otherwise you say he despises the work of his own hands. Hence, though I may not be able to explain what the text does mean, I think that I have shown what it does not mean, and negative teaching is allowed in the Scriptures and is profitable in its place. Surely I would sooner confess that I don't understand the Scripture that to infer from it that the holy God has formed wicked beings, and then despises them, considered simply as his creatures. Had God made the wicked in the sense they would prove that he has, i.e., had he made them wicked, don't we see that God punishes the wicked just because they are exactly what he made them? Away with such doctrine, cast it "to the moles and to the bats." God only made one man originally, and he said that one was a very good man. But it may be said perhaps that God created all men in Adam. True enough, but all the race as creatures in Adam were necessarily as good as he was. Had God made man the vile being that he made himself, as head of his race, then the text cited might be some support to their theory, but as the matter stands, it is positively none. The teaching of the Scriptures is that "By one man's disobedience many (i.e., all of his race) were made sinners," and surely this is apart from their teaching that God's effective decree many were made sinners. Doubtless God had a purpose in all he made; he also has a purpose in the punishment of the wicked, viz., the manifestation of his justice; but if the wicked are exactly what the Lord made them, I see not how their punishment could be a consequent of their sin. As God punishes the wicked because they are wicked, that seems to be just----just what his justice calls for, but to suppose that God punishes the wicked just because they are just what he made them, is a theory they will never be able to sustain, neither by right reason, nor revelation. That God, overrules the wickedness of the wicked, and heaps his wrath upon them at last, which is signified in the text, does not signify that that which he condemns and punishes was embodied in his holy decree. He not only saw, but he also declared the end from the beginning; hence it may well be said that all that comes between was previously in his view. He saw beforehand that man would make himself a fit instrument through which he would obtain his high designs, but as corrupting his way upon the earth, man is not less a subject of justly incurred wrath, because his wickedness through the sovereignty of God is made subservient to his will. Hence there appears a beauty in the text cited which their inference from it would totally destroy. Isa 45:7 is cited with full confidence, because it reads, "I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil, I the Lord do all these things." Whatever that text may mean, and investigation of it ought to begin with the consideration that creation was finished the sixth day, and whatever may be said to the contrary, God said all he had made was very good. See Ge 1:31. Hence it must be absurd to suppose that any of his creatures, considered simply as creatures, are evil, therefore I say the text must be discussed with that fact in view. It should be noted that our Lord says, I create (not created) evil. Hence, in the sense of the text, doubtless creation is going on in this day. Evil, in the sense they would prove that God has created it, is not a creature at all, but is the act of a creature, and that act is defined in the Scriptures to be a "transgression of law." From that consideration, if from no other, it may be seen that their theory gets no support from that one of their favorite texts to prove the predestination of all things. Neither is darkness a created substance; it has no existence except in the absence of light. Hence, I say as before, that in the sense of the text, creation is going on this day. How, I ask, does God create darkness but by withdrawing or withholding the light? A man goes into a room at night and blows out a candle or lamp, and thus he creates darkness in that room. So God "forms the light," i.e., he grants light, both natural and spiritual, and he "creates darkness," i.e., he withholds or withdraws the light and benign influence of this spirit, and darkness ensues. In like manner he "makes peace and creates evil." For instance, by God's providential restraints laid upon wicked men, such as busy bodies and tattlers, neighborhoods may enjoy peace and tranquility. But when it pleases him to withdraw his restraints and leave corrupt human beings to act out the corruption of their nature, then feuds, broils and confusion prevail in families and in neighborhoods, for which God creates evil, i.e., brings chastisement upon them. Thus he makes peace and creates evil in families and in neighborhoods. By his constant watch over nations, restraining the corruption of ambitious rulers, setting their liabilities to lose their grandeur and power against their thirst for more, the nations enjoy peace so long, and the Lord makes it. But when, for the correction or for the destruction of individuals or of nations, the Lord is pleased, as in many instances, to withdraw his restraints and let the deep rooted corruption of proud kings and haughty rulers extend, then the evil of strife, commotion, war and bloodshed abound abundantly, and the Lord creates it. Not in a sense of producing, but as withholding his restraints, just as he hardened Pharaoh's heart by lifting off him the restraints which his weighty judgment laid upon him. The Lord in his word frequently speaks of things as they are viewed by men as in the following places, Jer 44:27 "Behold I will watch over them for evil, and not for good." Yea, he watches over all men, restraining them at his will, and especially he watches over his saints in all of their backslidings, and visits his afflicting hand upon them which seems evil to them.  Thus he creates evil today upon his wayward children just as he watches over them for evil.  To be sure we should not conclude that God is watching with an evil eye.  Also in Job 42:11, "His relatives and acquaintance bemoaned him and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him."  Thus he created evil upon Job, i.e., brought affliction upon him, which was regarded as evil.  In the same sense and upon the same principles, God "forms the light and creates darkness."  Such a construction I know is not against the teaching of the Scriptures which show that creation was finished the sixth day, and that all God's creatures in that sense of creation were very good. While it may be seen at a glance that if God created evil in the sense they would prove that he has, then that declaration that all of his creatures are "very good" could not be true.

I am willing now to leave it to the candid consideration of my readers as to whether the above brief solution of the text appears more intelligible and more scriptural than to infer from it that God has created the wickedness of the world, and then try to show that he is not the author of it. If I should ever be convinced that evil wickedness was a part of the six days' creation of God, then I will not argue that he is not the author of his creatures, as though all except myself were void of understanding.

Da 12:10, is next cited: "But the wicked shall do wickedly." Does my correspondent refer to that declaration with the understanding that God infuses wickedness into and propels the course of the wicked?

If otherwise, why refer to it at all as proof of the predestination of all things. The outward conduct of men evidences their inward spirit of what manner it is, and surely none have ever done wickedly from motives begotten of God. If he should own a decree of wickedness, as is supposed, yet we know he has never commanded such wickedness, nor in anywise influenced it, for if the text cited in Daniel be regarded as a commandment, and if the wicked did wickedly at God's command, why are they not as fully in obedience as those who do righteously at his command? How could wickedness be wickedness done at God's command? Surely it will be seen that if there is any proof in the Scriptures of the predestination of all things, my correspondent was hard pressed to find it, else he had not referred to that in Daniel. God, in that place, only declares, (not command) what the wicked will do when left without restraint.

Ro 9:22, is cited, "What if God willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction," &c. That text certainly proves that the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction, but how their fitness for destruction consists altogether in their pursuing the will of their Maker, and making good his decree, is a thing difficult for me to understand or believe. That they were fitted and appointed for destruction is not denied, but that fitness for destruction is a fruit of willful transgression of law, and in no sense resulted from God's purpose or work. True, his purpose respects and warrants their destruction, but that their wickedness, of which their destruction is the end, is a fruit of God's holy decree, I have never learned to believe. What had been the difference in principle if God had appointed man to destruction without respect to his sin? I ask, what would have been the difference in this end and in his decree? If a sovereign is bent upon the execution of a subject, he had as well hang him at once, without respect to law or to transgression, as well as to put him under a law with a previous and irresistible decree that the subject should transgress, and then hang the poor man for nothing else than what had emanated from the sovereign's decree. Talk about the opposers of the doctrine of God's absolute predestination of all things trying to fix up an excuse for the Almighty to punish the wicked. It is rather the advocates of that theory, if any, that would excuse him. They teach that men justly deserve punishment for their wickedness, but still that wickedness has emanated from God's decree, as they teach. If such things were true, then the wickedness of men would be a poor excuse for the Almighty to punish them. If our God needed an excuse to punish the wicked, he would accept such a one as they present.

The next reference is Ac 4:27-28 "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." That the crucifixion of Christ was predetermined, and that the characters spoken of were gathered together for that purpose, certainly is not denied. Upon that event was hinged God's purpose in the salvation of all his people. But it should be noted that it was the crucifixion of Christ there declared to be predetermined, and not the wickedness of those that crucified him. This considered, and all their argument inferred from that text, certainly loses all of its weight. If I were to determine the death of a dog by believing him to be a lion, that were not to determine the disposition of the lion to destroy the dog, nor could it be supposed that the lion received his disposition from my decree. So the crucifiers of Christ, as manifest enemies to him, needed no influence from his decree to incline them to their deed, nor did they receive any influence from that source. It was but for God to lift off of them his restraint, and they, with "wicked hands" crucified him, as the Scriptures avow. It was not as sinless that Christ suffered, yet he died not as a transgressor, but "was made to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Bearing our sins in his own body, he ought to have suffered, to which he himself consents. That he should suffer, the covenant with his father stipulated in the first instance, and in the second instance, the honor of God's violated law required it, because he bore in his body the transgression of his people. But the crucifiers of Christ, in perpetrating their deed, acted under no authority or influence of God's law or decree, for then their act had been obedience, whereas it is declared wicked. For Christ to die was obedience or in compliance with covenant stipulations, and in dying he endured the penalty of the violated law, and thereby released all whose sins he bore. That then, be borne in mind, was the reason that the death of Christ was determined by the Father, not because he had transgressed, but because he bore the transgressions of such as had. Hence it is clear to my mind that the thing determined was just. But to sustain their theory, that wickedness of the crucifiers of Christ originated and emanated from God's decree, they must show that they were influenced by that decree, and this they will never make out. The crucifiers of Christ, and all other corrupt men, inherited their corruption from the first Adam, and it has previously been shown that his corruption did not originate in God's holy decree will now say that I have, with all the earnestness and candor that God has granted me, considered the texts referred to by my correspondent, and must say, after all, that I think it strange that such inferences as they take should be drawn from such passages, with general scope of revelation to govern their construction. Others of my correspondent's opinion have thought the following convincing testimony to their point: "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou refrain."----Ps 76:10. There also the sovereignty of God is strongly declared, in which, no doubt, the Psalmist rejoiced, and so may we. But how strange that such a declaration of God's sovereignty should be construed as teaching God's effective decree of all things. I hope no reader of this treatise will so perversely construe my views as they construe that passage. If I were to select a text to prove against their theory, I could do not better that to take the above quotation. It certainly shows that the wrath of man shall praise the Lord, but how shall it praise him? Certainly not as him being the author of it, but as overruled by him and made subservient in the advancement of his will rather than obtaining the purpose of the wrathy man. Thus God's praise abounds not through the wrath and wickedness of man, abstractly considered, nor yet as having originated and emanated from God's holy decree, but as subdued by him and made an advancement of his will. What about the wrath and wickedness of men which God restrains? Did he predestinate that? If he predestinated any he did, for there is but one source of wickedness, and this must be agreed. Then if God appointed the wrath and wickedness which he restrains, don't we see that he is circumscribing and restraining his own appointments? And who believes this? Positively I don't, whether I be regarded as a Fullerite or an Arminian. How should God be honored by restraining his own appointments? Rather than regard the passage as proof of their theory, I should be willing to ground my whole opposition to it upon that one text they bring in support of it. To suppose that God is restraining his own appointments is to conclude that he is divided against himself, and I have never understood that our Lord had learned by experience that "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

We are frequently asked if God did not foresee the wickedness of the world? And if so, how can he foresee an uncertainty? Such are irrelevant questions, showing more want of judgment than of sound argument. Doubtless God did foresee the wickedness of the world, and it is not less certain that he foresaw all the holy obedience that has been or shall be in the world. But he foresaw the obedience of the saints as fruit of his decree and as wrought in them by his Spirit; and if he foresaw the wickedness of the world, as from exactly the same source, that were precisely the same in principle as "Blessing and cursing out of the same mouth," and so God should abide his own reproofs as written in Jas 3:10. There is not safer to reach a right conclusion as to the incorrectness of a theory than to consider what follows it, and when such absurdities follow, their source is unquestionable. It has previously been shown that all subsequent sin has its origin in that first transgression of Adam, and that God foresaw that transgression, need not be denied to refute the doctrine of God's predestination of all things, as they set it forth. If they would distinguish between God's effective and his permissive decrees as Gill, Hassell, and other eminently learned men, then no confusion would arise. It was not on the ground of God's foreknowledge, nor on the ground of an effective decree that Adam rebelled against his maker. Neither did the certainty of the transgression that was foreseen have any influence upon Adam's violation, for of such things he knew nothing, neither could he until after he had transgressed. Men worry themselves very needlessly wondering what would have become of God's purpose and provision of salvation if man had not sinned. They ought to conclude that the transgression was as certain as foreseen of God as if effectively decreed of him. It will never be shown from the Scriptures that the purpose of God respecting the transgression of Adam extended any further than to leave him without restraint to follow his own volition as a rational creature. If it should ever be shown that God's eternal decrees, or his foreknowledge, or the certainty of the transgression foreseen-----I say, if it should ever be shown that these had any influence upon man's will to transgress, then their theory may be sustained, otherwise, to my mind, it appears as folly to argue such things. Some have concluded that the following implies the predestination of all things. "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto this glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?"---Ro 3:7. They understand, or rather, misunderstand, that in place Paul is laying down a principle, that his teaching in that place is that the truth of God abounds through lying, when in fact the Apostle is warding off a false charge. He was accused of teaching that men should do evil that good may come, as will be seen there, but how believers in the absolute predestination of all things, teaching all the wickedness of the world was effectively decreed of God that his grace and truth might abound, I say, how can they escape the charge urged against Paul is a thing which has not occurred to my mind. However, it has occurred to my mind that Paul relieves himself of such false charges by denying that they teach. Rather than arguing that truth abounds through lying wickedness, the Apostle takes the negative, otherwise he could not have defended himself against the charge of his enemies. That is exactly what the enemies of the cross of Christ today allege, that according to the doctrine of predestination and election men may as well do evil as good, and according to the views of some, that grace and truth abounds through wickedness, it would appear even better that men should be wicked that so grace might abound through such wickedness. However, Paul concludes (far from consenting to their charges) that their "damnation was just," as is shown here. And I conclude that if truth and grace abounded through lying wickedness, there has been eno

I quote the following from the pen of Dr. S.M. Carlton, of Texas: "The angels of hell, as well as the angels of heaven, are in perfect submission to his mandates, will and decrees. And when you repudiate his absolute sovereignty, you repudiate his immutability and set up another controlling power that prevents him from executing his will, and you make him submit to the wicked devices of men and devils, which he would not do if he had power to prevent it."

The above follows a lively strain on the doctrine of the predestination of all things, and shows the Doctor's opinion that to repudiate the predestination of all things is equivalent to a denial of God's sovereignty, that God's control of all things may not be supposed without supposing he has predestinated all things. However, I think it may be seen not only that the principle of sovereignty will stand firm against their teaching. To predestinate is simply and briefly to foreordain or appoint. Sovereignty is the exercise of supreme power. Now Dr. Carlton is the sovereign ruler of his family, and may he not control his children except he has ordained all of their deviations? Or does his right to command and restrain his children consist altogether in his having ordained all of their misdoings? Such seems to me to be his argument, but who believes it? The sovereign rulers of state have not irreversibly decreed every transgression of citizens, and have they therefore no right or power to govern. I had thought that a man, M. D. following, would have known better that to argue such things, even if he had never seen a Bible. Perhaps it may be said there are no sovereigns of earth to be compared with the Almighty. Very well, that is understood, but nevertheless there are sovereigns of earth, and the principles of sovereignty and of ordination, as exercised by such, are the same as the principles of sovereignty as exercised by the Almighty. Hence I hope and believe it will be seen by some that the principles of sovereignty stand firm, not only without their teaching upon the subject of predestination, but against it, as aforesaid. I have noted with disgust the effort of some to make the impression that such as opposed the predestination of all things, as they set it forth, was at war against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, and that they ignored God's predestination in toto. However, I have been consoled with the opinion that they will never sustain their own views, nor refute the argument of their opponents, by misrepresenting and charging upon them such sentiments as they abhor as much as themselves. When the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things is called in question, its advocates generally come to the front with such proofs of God's sovereignty as may be consoling to such as believe in that point as fully as themselves, but laboring to convert to such views their labor is in vain, just as I should spend my breath in vain laboring to convince a believer in the predestination of all things that all things were predestinated. After his high soaring essay upon the doctrine of predestination and sovereignty, blending the two points together as the same, which is their habit, Dr. Carlton says to such as don't accept his views, "I would advise you to go to the Fullerite Baptists where you belong, for the true disciples of Christ have no fellowship for your theory."  Another writes, "I do not suggest this iron bound doctrine (the predestination of all things) should be eaten with soft shell teeth." Still another says, "I have been amused at their opposition to the word 'absolute,'" &c. Now I think I shall do those brethren no injustice in expressing my opinion, that had they been advocating true principles, from proper motives, they had felt more a spirit of sadness and prayer than of 'amusement' for such as they regard as weak and unestablished. I think I may safely say that I do not refer to those things in a spirit of resentment, but signifying that I do not think such slang evidences a right spirit. Don't think that God predestinated it. The following questions are frequently asked: Does any thing occur in the world contrary to the will of God? And if so, would not God be confused and frustrated by such occurrences? Such they regard as prevailing argument in favor of the predestination of all things. Their first question, however, may be answered, nay, and their second question, yea, without supposing that God effectively willed that he has not effectively willed against. I suppose we have as clear a declaration of God's will in the law as any modern teacher could write. "Thou shalt not eat of it," was God's declaration of his will in the matter, and who will take upon himself to affirm the contrary? Who, in the face of that declaration, will affirm that God effectively willed exactly the contrary? Such take upon themselves a responsibility that ought to make them shudder. But the sense of that declaration of law, "Thou shalt not eat of it," was not that God had effectively willed or decreed that Adam should not eat, for then he could never have passed the bounds of such a decree of his Maker. Then the sense of the law was, as the sense of the law is, to lay obligation upon Adam not to eat and leave him to his own volition, he being a rational, intelligent man, and hence a suitable subject of government by law. Let these things be considered as they ought to be, and it will be seen that their questions throw no weight in their end of the scales. God says in the moral law to his people under the old covenant, "Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."----Now should we conclude that God had effectively decreed that those people should indulge in all such abomination as they did? or should we not rather conclude that God dealt with them as rational beings, laying obligations upon them by his law and leaving them without restraint to act from their own volition? We know that God did not restrain them from their transgressions, and as well we know he could have done so if the sense of the law had been that he would, and surely the sense of the law was not that they indulge their lust. Then how easy it is to perceive that God intended no more in giving than to lay obligation upon them to curb their lusts and to punish them justly for their willful transgressions. As aforesaid in this treatise, the supposition of irresistible decrees, either the subjects shall or that they shall not transgress, destroys all intelligible ideas of law. The saints in the present age are not "without law to God, but under law to Christ." See 1Co 9:21.

Now, christian reader, I will appeal to your experience. However great your "growth in grace and knowledge" may have been, I ask, when like Paul you do things you "hate" and feel in your own soul the reproofs of the Spirit, do you feel comforted with the understanding that those sins of omission and commission were decreed of the Almighty? If so, your "glorying is not good," but "earthly, sensual and devilish." If your consolation is good, it abounds through thoughts of God's compassionate mercy rather than through notions of his appointment of your deviations. Hence a proclamation of the predestination of all things, after all, is but an empty sound. As for myself, if I believed such thing, it would, I think, add greatly to my grief. For if God so wills that we shall not transgress as to forbid our doing so, inflicting penalties upon us when we go astray, and if he so will that we shall transgress that there is no possible way for us to avoid it, positively we are in a bad state. But no, he deals with us as his children as knowing his will, and chastises us justly and for our good when we run counter.

The following are the only inspired declarations of predestination that have been written, and they are enough, and as much as should be inferred from any other Bible teaching upon the point: "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son."---Ro 8:29. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will."---Eph 1:5. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."----Eph 1:11. Now, understanding some can afford to endeavor to make the impression that such as do not hold to the predestination al all things are not predestinarians at all, yet I venture to say there not a Baptist in good standing in the United States, or elsewhere, who would raise an objection to that inspired teaching upon the point. And it does seem to me that as inspired men of God were satisfied with such declarations of God's predestination, the very wisest of our brethren ought to, and if they had, then there had been far less strife, and God's name certainly not less glorified in the saints on earth.

But Dr. Carlton says, "Because of their obtuse spiritual vision they fail to comprehend some of the deep things of God, they deny the gift to others." Truly that is high sounding, but I suppose a man may speak so who imagines that his penetrating vision perceives that the "People of anti-christ were raised in the fall of Adam from their degradation in hell (in a spiritual sense) to a level with the heirs of promise (in a natural sense) who were in Christ spiritually before the world was. And both families shook hands, as it were, in Adam and Eve naturally and morally." I shall lament the day should I live to see it, when the church generally is prepared to follow after such teachers, relying on their penetrating vision rather than upon the word of the Lord and what he has taught them in their experience. A people, the people of anti-christ, raised in the fall of Adam from their degradation in hell! Now, does the Bible know anything of a people raised in the fall of Adam from their degradation in hell? or of another people degraded by God's predestinating the fall of Adam and of a hearty hand-shaking of the two peoples in Adam and Eve? According to the Doctor's teaching, if the people of anti-christ fell at all, they must have fallen upward; in fact, that is just what he affirms, that the "people of anti-christ were raised," &c. Then, if they were raised, certainly they were not damaged by the fall of Adam, but advanced, at least, temporarily, and when they shall be driven back to their degradation in hell, I see not why they should be as jolly as before they left the infernal regions. And that other people who are supposed to have fallen down from heaven in the fall of Adam, if they should be so fortunate as to get back to heaven at last, I don't see how they shall have been benefited by God's predestinating the fall of Adam, or anything else, except they enjoyed temporarily that hand-shaking with the devil's children in Adam. Such things are written in a pamphlet entitled, "Truth Vindicated." But not to speak of vindication, if there is any indication of truth in such teaching, it has not appeared to my mind. With me it matters not what men mean by such folly, I am heartily disgusted at seeing the Lord's people bewildered and confused by such teaching. If there had been a people in Christ before the world was, that people could not have fallen by the fall of the first Adam, but only by Christ's falling. And yet there is a sense in which God's people were in Christ before the world was, i.e., they were chosen in him and had representative existence in him, so that "By his obedience they should be made righteous," as the Apostle affirms. If the people of God had been in Christ as a people in the same sense that Adam's children were in him, then they could not need to be made righteous, for as in Christ, in that sense, they never could have been anything else than righteous as he is righteous. What was that Christ came to redeem? Was it a seminal seed eternally in him? How should such a seed need redemption except Christ had fallen? And if Christ had fallen, how could he redeem his seed that fell in him. They had as well talk about the first Adam redeeming his seed. But it is easy for them to prove to their own satisfaction there was seminal seed eternally in Christ, and that such only are saved, when such certainly could not need to be saved except Christ, as their head, had needed salvation, and if he had, then he could not have saved his seed. From such folly it is inferred and affirmed by some that "nothing ever goes to heaven except that which comes from heaven." A man, a staunch believer in the predestination of all things, once asked me, "Do you believe that the Adam sinner is saved?" I answered him that I reckoned so, that I knew of no other class of sinners. Once, in my presence, an Elder remarked to Elder Respess, "If you are saved it will not be Respess in heaven." To which Elder Respess very aptly replied, "If it not, then it had as well be Bill Smith as far as I am concerned."

Now if the children of men "must be born again," as our Savior avows, then what are those children of men as born again but children of men in the flesh and children of God in the Spirit? And such, I must be allowed to believe, are all the children of God the Bible knows anything about. Neither that which was embodied in the first Adam, nor that which was embodied in Christ, neither the one nor the other, abstractly considered, is properly denominated the church or children of God. But the Lord's people are first born in the flesh, and then born again of the Spirit, as the Savior says they must be, and all such, deriving life and spirit from both heads, are individually saints, and collectively the church and children of God. What does the Bible know of a people being raised in the fall of Adam from their "degradation in hell?" or of another people eternal in the heavens, and of the two peoples shaking hands in Adam and Eve? The best information I have obtained from the Scriptures is, that a part of the fallen race of Adam are the heirs of promise through Christ, and that such hope, through mercy, to reach the high heavens where they never abode previously. Likewise I have gathered, or think I have, from the divine oracles that the heirs of perdition are of the ruined race of Adam who never previously existed in the infernal regions, but shall be driven there as a reward of their wickedness. There is a great comfort in believing that our God is a complete sovereign in heaven, earth, and hell, and there are many Bible declarations of that point, such as need not be strained, mystified or perverted to sustain it. That God made the world, the heavens and the earth, with all the hosts of them, shows beyond dispute that his power is unbounded. When in the creation darkness was upon the face of the deep, it was but for God to say, "Let there be light, and there was light."----Ge 1:2-3. Yea, to this day he commands the light to shine out of darkness (its opposite element) else his glorious light had never shined out of such dark and depraved mortals as we are. When he would destroy the old world by the letting forth of his power, the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the floods carried away the world of the ungodly, while his chosen of man and beasts, fowls and creeping things of the earth, went by his sovereign decree into the ark and were saved from the deluge. Though Daniel should be by God's permit cast into the den of lions, the same sovereign power that formed such ferocious beasts could so control them that they should do the Lord's servant no harm. Though the burning fiery furnace should be "heat one seven times hotter than was want to be," and Shadrack, Meshac and Abednego cast therein, yet upon their bodies the fire should have not power. Though the whale should swallow Jonah, God was able to preserve him in the fish's belly until the fish should carry him back to the place where the Lord had a use for him. Though the red sea lay between Egypt and the promised land, the way the Hebrews must go, nevertheless the same sovereign power that formed the sea was sufficient to open it so the his people should pass through safely. These, with hundreds of other open displays of God's power, point unmistakably to his character as a sovereign; nor has a proclamation of that point ever caused any wrangling among brethren to my knowledge. But what has been the fruit of preaching that God has effectively decreed all the wickedness of the world? To my knowledge, many years ago, a member of the church brutally abused a negro servant, and when brought under discipline by the church, he urged that his conduct was predestinated of God, and that the negro's conduct was also predestinated, and so had to be. The church, however, expelled that member, as she ought to have done; but still, if the man had told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then what was the church's charge grounded upon? I do not instance that case as signifying that all believers in the predestination of all things otherwise, in either view of the case they are saved only by the reigning grace of God, and this every consistent Baptist believes. However, one writes and speaks of sin as a disease and of grace as a remedy: "The spiritually minded child of God hardly know which most to admire, the remedy or the disease, for who says he would known the riches of his grace if sin had not entered." How horrible such teaching appears, and especially by a man of high learning. To be sure if their doctrine was truth it could need no such argument to support it. When the "spiritually minded" express an admiration for sin, their mind must be exercised by the spirit of the enemy, for the spirit of God in his people no more admires sin than God himself. No, the Lord's people, when under the influence of his Spirit, do not admire sin, as they know, not even on the ground that they had not "known the riches of his grace if sin had not entered," for it may be supposed that if the disease had not occurred, then the remedy had not been needed. Suppose a man lingers in bad health for a time, and is at last stricken down with aches and fevers, under such circumstances he would likely send for a physician who may go and administer a remedy that restores his patient to better health that he enjoyed before he was stricken down. Now which would that man most admire, those aches and fevers or the remedy which restored to good health? If grace reigned through sin, then the Elder's argument might be in point, but so far from that, nothing but sin implies our need of grace. What better ground for their argument or saying against Paul could his enemies have desired to accuse him of teaching that "men should do evil that good may come"----I ask, what better reason for such acquisition could his accusers had than for him to have expressed an admiration for sin? or what better cudgel do the enemies of the cross of Christ today need to beat us with than is put in their hands by Elders expressing an admiration for sin? Surely such things ought to be looked to at whatever peril.

The same writer in the same article quotes, "Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" and includes in parentheses (not a part,) thus teaching that God works not only the righteousness of men, but all of their wickedness. And it must be granted that if God has decreed the wickedness of men, then he works it in them, for he it is that fulfills all of his effective decrees.

The same writer has written that, "He that knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished, knows how to introduce sin into the world, and not be the author of it." I wish the Elder had informed us whether God knew how to work all the wickedness of mankind, and not be the worker of it. If God works all things, i.e., if he works wicked as well as righteous things, why should another be condemned and punished for that which God has wrought?

I quote the following from the pen of St. Paul: "I please all men in all things." Now suppose one should include in that sentence, "not a part," and affirm the men of the city were well pleased with Paul when he must be let down over the wall in a basket to escape their rage. Or how well should we suppose the forty who "bound themselves under a great curse that they would neither eat nor drink until they killed Paul," I ask, should we conclude that all of that number were pleased by the Apostle? Would the Elder accept his inclusion, "not a part," in those sentences?

Another writes an article, the drift of which is an endeavor to show that all things occur as appointed of God, and before closing, the writer says, "How good it is that our God does not delegate to any other power to perform his appointments he performs," emphasizing the words, "he performs." Thus teaching, as best I can understand them, that God appointed and that he performs all the wickedness of this world. But they say it is a great mystery that God appoints and performs the wickedness of the world, and is not the author of it; and truly I regard a mystery of iniquity for men to teach such things. While the ministry cannot quicken nor impart spiritual knowledge to the unregenerate, yet we are bound to teach the moral precepts of the law. What is the attitude of men when they teach that men should refrain from immoralities and then affirm that God's decrees hinder men from moral rectitude and obliges their immoralities? Surely parents are bound to restrict their children, and to impart moral instruction to them: and is it a just conclusion that God obliges parents to instruct their children to go against his effective decrees? It has been said that I treat upon the subject so as to make their theory as contemptible as possible to the carnal mind. But my effort has been to show it contemptible to the spiritual mind; the carnal mind could not look with contempt upon such plea for its wickedness. It can be nothing but a solace to the carnal mind to be taught that its wickedness is of God's appointment, and that he would be disappointed without its wickedness.

I could not afford to publish the following if it were not published already. In the Signs of the Times, a paper purporting to be an Old School Baptist periodical, I am published as a railer, a blasphemer, and an infidel, because of my view on the subject of predestination. I hope it will not be supposed that I refer to such proceedings in a spirit of animosity or revenge. None can regret more than myself that there are any in the Baptist connection so devoid of propriety. I only refer to it because their proceedings furnish me a closing argument. That the church has been infected with such characters, at intervals, as I am advertised as being cannot be denied, but the Bible most plainly prescribes the manner in which the church must rid herself of such. Even if I am the railer, the blasphemer and the infidel that they pronounce me to be, it is still true that I have been held as an Elder in the church more than thirty years. Now if it be so that I have succeeded in deceiving the church so long, having labored in the ministry in twelve states, and if the publishers of the Signs of the Times were the first to discover my heresy, what should have been their course? Answer: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject."----Tit 3:10. Now when my accusers have shown from the Scriptures that God has appointed them to violate his special order in dealing with heretics by rejecting me without a single admonition, then I may consent that they have reached their purpose to prove that all things are predestinated of God. The church of my membership is God's appointed arbiter to judge of my doctrine and order, and how should it be supposed that he has appointed individual members, a thousand miles distant from me and my church, to take such business into their hands? If the publishers of the Signs as individuals may denounce and despise me by God's appointment, then why may they not depose any other Elder that, in any way, may incur their displeasure? I know, and every Baptist ought to know, that God has not appointed any such proceedings. It must be heaven-daring presumption for editors and publishers to assume the reins of government in Zion, and publish out of fellowship whomsoever they choose, and that without any previous notice to such as they essay to depose. But I hope it will be considered that I am here discussing a point of order with no design to tarnish the reputation of any of mankind. I am glad that I can say at this moment that my feelings are kind toward the publisher of the Signs, and would be glad if they could feel to withdraw the denunciation of me, not for my sake, but for the sake of order in the kingdom of Christ. After all, what have I done more than hundreds and thousands of Baptists have done? I have expressed my unbelief of the doctrine of God's effective decree of all wickedness, and I feel confident there is not more than one Baptist out ten in the United States but what is agreed with me, and I don't believe there is more than out of twenty. No, I don't believe there is one Baptist out of ten thousand that would differ with me upon the subject of predestination if I could make myself understood. I don't believe that God is the author of sin, and therefore I do not believe that has decreed it any otherwise than as has decreed to suffer, or permit it. I do believe that God is a sovereign in the fullest sense of the term, and also that he is a God of prescience or foreknowledge. But I do not find the questions of predestination, sovereignty and foreknowledge blended together in the Scripture as the advocates of the predestination of all things blend them. They are separate questions, and ought to be discussed upon as such. When they prove the sovereignty of God, which is easy to do, I rejoice with them in such a view of him. When they prove that he is a God of prescience of foreknowledge, they prove no more than I believe as certainly and as fully as I believe anything. But when they essay to prove that vile wickedness is a fruit of God thought, that the questions of predestination, sovereignty and foreknowledge were jumbled in their mind. This I inferred from the fact that I could see that when they set out to prove the predestination of all things, they succeeded well in proving the questions of sovereignty and foreknowledge, and thought such proof was a sufficient evidence of their views on the subject of predestination. But I do not feel bound to think so, but lest there be some misunderstanding of my statement that the publishers of the Signs of the Times, "as individuals," denounced and discarded me on account of my views on the subject of predestination, it occurs to my mind to say that after such individual proceedings had been sharply and publicly rebuked, those individual laid their conduct toward me before their churches, and their individual course was fully and officially ratified by their churches. But what could that amount to except more disorder and confusion? If their individual course was reprehensible and deserving rebuke, surely the churches ratification of such disorder could not sanctify it. Every sensible man is bound to conclude that a ratification of disorder involves ratifiers in the same disorder that they ratify, whether there be strength to reprove those ratifiers or not. I once had a contact with a regular Parkerite Two-Seeder, but I did not feel that was my province to denounce and declare non-fellowship for him as an individual, and then, influence my church to ratify my usurpation. If I had, my church doubtless would have rebuked me, as she ought. I tried to admonish him, and seeing he would not be admonished, I reported him to the church of his membership as a heretic. But he had defiled his church with his doctrine so that a majority sustained him; but when it was seen that no effort or admonition would reclaim them, the churches of the Association to which he belonged, withdrew their fellowship from him and his followers, and thus the churches rid themselves of heresy, avoided usurpation, and preserved order. We may talk of peace and complain of strife and division, but such things will abound among us until the government of God's word and spirit is established. It is fleshly ambition and vain aspiration, mostly of the ministry that is precipitating affliction and division in Zion at this time. None of it should be charged upon God's holy decrees except as he has decreed to suffer or permit it for a reproof and correction of his people. Whatever amount of odious reproach may have been or may hereafter be heaped upon me for my writing on the subject of predestination, I could not nor would not today recall one sentiment I have written upon the subject. But my style is my own and some of my expressions may be inappropriate. I am willing for my brethren who are agreed with me in sentiment to judge of the correctness of my words, and wherein they judge my expressions to be improper let them substitute their own words in a vindication of our views. As there has been some play made upon my expressions, I think the above is enough for me or any one else to say about my words.

I, in confidence, submit what I have written to that God who knows the hearts and tries the reins of men, knowing that he respects no man the more because of this standing in the world or in the church. For no man has a standing in the church except as God gives it to a corrupt being in the flesh, who, inspiration shows, will swerve or dissimulate as soon as left to his own fleshly spirit.

Where I have used the words "imperative decree" in first edition,I have used the words effective decree in this, with the same meaning.

THE END